Roboadviser Wealthsimple launches savings account with premium rate

TORONTO — Robo-adviser Wealthsimple is hoping to lure clients away from traditional financial institutions by launching a savings account with a premium interest rate.The Smart Savings account, launched in Canada and the U.S. on Thursday, will offer a 1.7 per cent interest rate north of the border. That’s higher than the average offering for similar accounts at Canada’s biggest financial institutions, said Wealthsimple’s chief executive Michael Katchen.“In this space, this will always be premium to the Big Five banks,” he said in an interview.It is the first non-investment product for the Toronto-based digital wealth management firm, marking a further step into the banking realm as Canadians increasingly do their financial transactions online.Wealthsimple savings accounts were offered as a test to a small group of clients in January and were opened up to the rest of its customers in Canada and the U.S. on Thursday with a minimum deposit of $1.It has partnered with EQ Bank, which is backed by federally regulated Equitable Bank, to offer the accounts in Canada. In turn, deposits in Wealthsimple’s Smart Savings accounts in Canada will be protected by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corp., up to certain limits.Katchen said 1.7 per cent is not a “teaser rate.” Transfers in and out of Wealthsimple’s savings accounts are free and unlimited, the company adds.The rate offered by Wealthsimple in the U.S. is lower, at one per cent.Katchen is optimistic that Wealthsimple’s savings product will attract cash that is sitting in existing savings accounts.He points to the $1.1 trillion, or 35 per cent of all financial assets in Canada, held in savings, according to data from Investor Economics.“Canadians need to wake up to the fact that they’re not earning enough on their money. And, we’re trying to make it more and more convenient for people to get access to better rate products,” he said.The amount of interest paid on savings accounts in Canada vary by institution, product, client type, as well as deposit balance.According to rate-tracking website Ratehub.ca, high interest savings accounts can earn between 1.05 per cent to 2.25 per cent. For Canada’s five largest institutions, interest rates for high interest savings accounts range from as low as 0.05 per cent to as high as 1.7 per cent with Scotiabank’s Momentum Plus Savings Account, according to RateHub. Some smaller institutions offer higher rates, such as 2.3 per cent on a high interest savings account with EQ Bank. Other financial institutions such as Scotiabank-backed Tangerine or DUCA Credit Union offer rates of 2.5 per cent and 3.15 per cent, respectively, but both are promotional offers which later drop to 1.1 and 1.5 per cent.Savings accounts are a “natural evolution” for Wealthsimple, Katchen said. Still, getting the federal banking license needed for an institution in Canada to take deposits is not on Wealthsimple’s short-term road map, he said.Wealthsimple does not have imminent plans to offer a chequing account either, but will consider doing so down the road, Katchen said.“If this is something that our clients really want… it’s for sure for something we would look to add in the future,” he said. read more

UN expert urges US authorities to focus on childs rights in Cherokee

“Veronica’s human rights as a child and as member of the Cherokee Nation, an indigenous people, should be fully and adequately considered in the ongoing judicial and administrative proceedings that will determine her future upbringing,” said UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya.“The individual and collective rights of all indigenous children, their families and indigenous peoples must be protected throughout the United States,” he added.At issue is who should raise the child: a South Carolina adoptive couple or the girl’s biological father, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation. The girl’s birth mother, who is not Native American, put Veronica up for adoption while still pregnant. South Carolina authorities have attempted to force Veronica’s father to release custody of her, charging him with custodial interference for his refusal to do so. On 3 September, the Oklahoma Supreme Court took up the case, granting a temporary stay of an enforcement order and allowing him to keep Veronica pending further proceedings.“I urge the relevant authorities, as well as all parties involved in the custody dispute, to ensure the best interests of Veronica, fully taking into account her rights to maintain her cultural identity and to maintain relations with her indigenous family and people,” said the UN Special Rapporteur.The independent expert pointed out that these rights are guaranteed by various international instruments subscribed to or endorsed by the US, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.In his 2012 report on the situation of indigenous peoples in the US, Mr. Anaya noted that the removal and separation of Native American children from indigenous environments is an issue of longstanding and ongoing concern. “While past practices of removal of Indian children from their families and communities have been partially blunted by passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978, this law continues to face barriers to its implementation,” Mr. Anaya stated.Special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work. read more