A new goals-based investing app from TD shows a brand ready for what’s next

As more Canadians go the mobile DIY route, the brand adapts to help meet evolving needs


With the launch of its new mobile-based direct investing service, TD has shown it has what it takes to evolve with the times, reaching out to a new kind of investor while reinforcing key elements of its brand.

TD Direct Investing has launched TD GoalAssist, a stand-alone DIY app that adapts self-directed investment services for a market that increasingly demands simple, mobile-based tools.

According to Statista, more than 800,000 Canadians use automated online investment tools (or “robo-advisors”), putting a projected US$8.8 billion-worth of assets under management in 2020.

TD Direct Investing discovered investment trends that show an evolution in the direct investing portion of that market.

According to Tony Ierullo, Vice-President of Digital Innovation at TD Wealth, the traditional direct investing client had previously averaged 54 years in age. Typically, they wanted a wide variety of tools in their platform of choice (which was usually bound to a desktop computer) and an equally wide variety of investment products to choose from (stocks, options, bonds, etc.).

But a younger cohort is moving into this space. “This is the generation that mainly grew up online and do everything from their phones,” Ierullo says, adding that approximately 90% of this group (which averages 41 years of age) use their mobile device to place trades and invest. And because of their greater reliance on a smaller mobile screen, most want simpler tools and more streamlined product options than their predecessors.

While TD GoalAssist is a DIY service, it offers a guided experience in what TD calls a first of its kind on a national scale. It frames investing around user-defined goals: users are asked how much money they wish to earn, how much they expect to contribute over time and a target date for their returns. They then see a projection on the likelihood of reaching those earnings goals, helping the user to begin investing as they wish. Research showed newer investors had a preference for ETFs (exchange traded funds), so TD GoalAssist offers an assortment of TD ETFs and stocks on major North American exchanges.

 GoalAssist offers varying levels of customization for choosing ETFs, the prefered investment product of those seeking simple options.

GoalAssist offers varying levels of customization for choosing ETFs, the prefered investment product of those seeking simple options.

“We’ve found this group is very goal-oriented,” Ierullo says. “They want to take control, but seek a more guided experience and validation along the way.”

By putting so much control in consumers’ hands, the app also bolsters key pillars of the TD brand. The iconic green chair in TD marketing has long presented a commitment to provide everyday Canadians with comfortable banking and help them feel confident about their finances. The app includes short, punchy, visually compelling educational videos in a “Learn” section, helping both new and seasoned investors.

“The self-directed market is nearly 40-years old in Canada,” Ierullo says. “What we’re seeing now is the broadening demographics of DIY investors thanks to new and evolving technology. So how we deliver access and empower investors has changed, but what hasn’t changed is our fundamental goal of making investing accessible. TD GoalAssist is an evolution that has taken time, research and investment, but in a sense it is just the next step of our central goal of empowering our clients.”