Passiv Review: An Automated Solution for the DIY Investor

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Passiv is a portfolio management tool for self-directed brokerage accounts. If you’re an individual investor looking for a simple solution to always ensure your portfolio is balanced and performing the way you want it to, this is it.

In this Passiv review we cover everything you need to know about this incredible portfolio app.

What is Passiv?

Passiv is an app that works with your brokerage account to balance your portfolio according to your target asset allocations.

Passiv makes it easier for DIY investors to manage their investments with one-click trading, cash management rules, and performance reporting. It’s a tool that improves your trading experience with your existing brokerage account by automating your portfolio analysis and rebalancing.

The power of passive vs active investing

It’s common knowledge that passive investing outperforms active investing. You’re better off leaving your investments alone and let them grow with the market, rather than trying to chase dips and hot stock opportunities for quick gains. In other words, the less you do, the more you’ll profit.

As you may have guessed from the name, Passiv helps you passively manage your investment portfolio. All you need to do is set your target asset allocations, and they’ll take care of the rest. It’s like having a personalized roboadvisor without any of the fees!

Best features of Passiv

Automatic updates allocations. Passiv does the legwork of tracking my portfolio allocations automatically to ensure I’m sticking to my investment plan. If my portfolio drifts more than 90% (you can set this figure) from my targets, it will alert me that I need to rebalance.

Passiv review portfolio allocations
Passiv summarizing the accuracy of my current holdings in my investment accounts with Questrade.

Dividend notifications. Passiv sends me an email every time new dividends are paid to my accounts. I can see exactly how much I’ve received and to what accounts. As someone that’s working towards a dividend income stream that can eventually replace my working income, this is one of my favorite features of the app.

Easy to read performance reporting. Passiv is provides superior performance and income reports than your brokerage account. Not only do they tell you exactly how your investments are performing over time, they’ll show you how much you’re earning in dividends from each individual stock.

Prepare Buy orders directly on the platform. Passiv spares you the hassle of having to log into your brokerage account every time you need to make a trade.

Passiv is free! If you’re a Questrade user, you can subscribe to Passiv Elite’s full suite of features at absolutely no cost for the first year. There’s no reason not to try it out!

Downsides of Passiv in review

Let’s be real: this is a free app that improves your portfolio performance by automating all the essential tasks you would otherwise have to do manually. There are virtually no downsides!

Passiv works best with large portfolios. While the functionality and reporting tools of Passiv are cool, it doesn’t provide much value to small time investors. Why? Because when your portfolio is tiny, even small market changes can drastically throw your asset allocations out of whack. If your portfolio is less than $50,000, you’ll likely be getting tons of alerts and suggestions to rebalance even with small market swings, which you definitely don’t want to do!

The app lacks some organizational functionality. I personally like to view my portfolio allocations by dollar value, but Passiv organizes them all alphabetically. This is an incredibly minor issue that I’m sure they’re going to resolve as soon as they read this comment, but hey, this wouldn’t be an honest Passiv review if I didn’t admit the app isn’t perfect!

Very limited number of brokerages work with Passiv. As of right now, only 4 different brokerages work with Passiv. If you’re a client of one or these 4, then you’re set! But if you invest with someone else like Wealthsimple Trade, you won’t be able to use Passiv to manage your accounts. Hopefully the number of supported brokers increases in the near future.

How does Passiv work?

Passiv connects directly to your brokerage accounts and views your portfolio holdings. From there, it tracks your asset allocations, performance, dividend income, and more.

When you’re setting up your Passiv account, you can use your current asset allocations as your portfolio targets or you can manually enter the percentages you ideally want them to be at. Passiv will tell you how close or how far off your current investments are from your desired allocations.

Once you’ve established what your target allocations are, Passiv will suggest the next purchases you need to make in order to get your portfolio in balance. You can automate these purchases directly in Passiv, so you never have to log into your brokerage account to get your portfolio in line!

Brokerages supported by Passiv

Passiv works with the following brokerages:

  • Questrade
  • Alpaca
  • Interactive Brokers
  • TD Ameritrade

If you’re currently investing with a brokerage not listed above, you will unfortunately not be able to use Passiv with your account.

More than $50,000 with a roboadvisor? Maybe it’s time to manage your own portfolio

If you’re currently investing with a roboadvisor, it’s most likely your portfolio is invested in broad market ETFs. Roboadvisors are incredible tools to get new investors started in the stock market, but as your portfolio and your experience investing grows, you might be looking to take a more hands-on approach.

With Passiv, you can build your own personalized roboadvisor-like service using a combination of ETFs and stocks. Now instead of paying 0.40% to 0.60% of your portfolio value in fees to the robo-advisor, you get to keep more of your money to grow your wealth even further.

If you hold more than $50,000 in investments with a roboadvisor, it may be time to make the switch to Passiv to save on fees. Even at only 0.50% in management fees, a $50,000 portfolio is costing you $250 per year. If you switch to Passiv, that $250 per year saved can add an additional $3,743 to your investment portfolio assuming a 6% return.

Best of all: Passiv is free

You can get started with Passiv for $0. Yes, you read that right: Passiv is free.

Passive has two tiers, the Community subscription and the Elite subscription. The Community membership is always $0 and the Elite membership is regularly $99 per year, but it’s free for Questrade clients for the first year.

Questrade is our favorite low-fee brokerage in Canada and the best place to open a self-directed investing account. If you want to learn more about how awesome they are, check out our complete Questrade Review here.  

Passiv Review: Community vs Elite

The Passiv Community membership is great for a quick look at your portfolio, but you’ll want the Elite membership to truly take advantage of all the tools Passiv has to offer.

With the Passiv Community tier, you’ll get automated portfolio calculations, cash & dividend notifications, and can keep your stock picks separate from your portfolio.

If you want more functionality, you can upgrade to the Elite membership which provides all the same benefits as the Community membership, plus one-click trades, multi-account portfolios, advanced currency handling, and will even let you connect multiple brokerage log-ins. Again, the Elite membership is FREE for Questrade customers for the first year!

My personal Passiv review

Since I signed up for Passiv, I’ve been able to quit manually updating the spreadsheets I maintained to track my portfolio performance. I can readily see the information I care most about (namely performance over time and dividend income!) without needing to export a spreadsheet and create the charts myself.

The Portfolio Visualizer tool goes above and beyond in portfolio analysis. Not only did it give me detailed performance statistics, it showed gaps in exposures to certain markets and assets that I wanted in my portfolio.

A look at the reporting functionality provided by the Portfolio Visualizer tool in Passiv.

Furthermore, Passiv alerts me whenever there is new cash in my account or my investments are drifting from my target allocations. I find it easier to review everything in Passiv and make any changes there rather than logging into Questrade to do the same.

Now I can better manage my investments and get the returns I want, all while doing less work!

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