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Get Smarter About Money


Technical Analysis Tools: no

Fundamental Analysis Tools: no

Markets Covered:  Canada

Notes: Get Smarter About Money is a collection of really well-written and easy to understand resources on personal finance, including many sections and resources related to investing.  Although this is not a tool for stock-specific research, it is a very handy website to consult, especially for beginner investors. There are a number of reasons why this is an important resource for Canadian retail investors to know about, however here are three that we think are most important.

First, this site is sponsored by the Ontario Securities Commission Investor Education Fund, a program developed to “unbiased, independent financial information, programs and tools to help consumers make better financial and investing decisions.” This certainly earns them a gold star in our books.

Second, they have great content around financial planning and literacy.  Investing and trading are just two of the ways you can impact your financial bottom line.  Knowing the landscape of your options, understanding product options or just having a basic grasp of budgeting and financial management – all of these contribute in different ways to making you a savvier investor and trader. Their sections on identifying investment fraud are also super important to take note of.

Third, you get to learn more about other investors and from other investors.  As a self-directed investor or even as someone who wants to take better control of their investments, it can feel like a lonely road.  The research, surveys, articles and stories shared by the different writers (known as the “Masters of Money”) are great to learn about the landscape of other Canadians who are trying to take control of their personal finances.

Overall, this is a great site to know about and to stay plugged in to get you on the right track to personal financial success or to help keep you there. With a wise looking owl for a mascot, it’s reassuring to know that this is a site that definitely gives a hoot!


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Trading Adventures: Breaking Up Is Hard

My first full time job, a Marketing Assistant at an HR firm, came right after university and with it came the realization that not only would I have to pay income taxes but also that some of what little I earned had to be saved. After all I’d heard the story of the ant and the grasshopper and I wasn’t planning on starving in winter.

Ironically, I knew very little about personal finance and money management despite having graduated with a business degree. Recognizing that I would need some extra help I decided to get a financial advisor to show me some ways to save on taxes as well as guide me through the jungle of investment products.

Finding an advisor turned out to be easier than I thought. It so happened that one of my colleagues referred me to an advisor (let’s call her Jane) that was part of her networking group. She had never used Jane before but she knew Jane and that was enough for me to give her a try.  My advisor and I ended up working together for the next two years building my portfolio. It was a good relationship which was lucky, because in hindsight, I should have done more research and done more due diligence before putting all my money in her hands. It could have just as easily turned sour. Some questions I should have asked before signing on included:

  • What can I expect in terms of service? How often will you call me and how often will we meet?
  • How do you research what products I should invest in and what percentage of your time do you spend  researching?
  • How do you get paid?
  • What products do you sell and what products do you not sell?
  • Any client references?

Had I asked these questions I would have known where her motivation lies, what products I would most likely be advised in and whether or not we matched based on our views of personal financial management. She was more conservative than I, despite the movements in the market. My portfolio mix was mutual funds with bonds and Canadian resource companies in the mix. She didn’t like anything being held in cash. Later I discovered that’s where my preference lies: cash and some stocks.

Jane was very kind but we didn’t have the same point of view. As I took more of an interest in financial management I eventually outgrew the relationship.   I started asking questions that couldn’t be answered easily. For example, why was it ok for my mutual fund to say ‘past performance doesn’t guarantee future performance’ and then use examples of past performance to talk about the track record of mutual funds?  It wasn’t anyone’s fault it was just the natural progression of a higher level of education. The more I learned the more I began to recognize gaps in what I was being told. Most importantly, I began to ask more insightful questions which helped me recognize when answers just didn’t add up. Still parting ways can be hard.

I relied so much on someone for so long to make crucial decisions when managing one of the most important aspects of my life: my money; it was difficult imagining anything else. It’s scary to take off the training wheels.  It’s scary having to come face to face with the reality that you can no longer blame someone else for losing money even if you could never have blamed them in the first place. What I have learned is that losing money is always my own fault. Who I choose to manage my money is my choice so I can either pick someone who picks winners or pick the winners myself. I would now be fully responsible for my wins and for my losses. I also liked my advisor. She was really nice and that made breaking up more difficult.

My desire to learn more about trading started when I began working on When I first started I was primarily responsible for the look and feel of the site and our brand. But then I started reading all the articles and watching the interviews with Danielle Park and Tyler Bollhorn among others which really inspired a shift in my mindset.

I realized that while I didn’t know a lot about trading and investing it’s because of a choice I made. I chose not to know. I could continue to make that same decision, to remain uninterested, intentionally unaware of how a system that impacts me so much works. It’s a choice that would have been disadvantageous and would hurt me in the long run.

So now I’m ready to take the little education I have in personal financial management to the next level. I’ll be reviewing some key learning points, running trading simulations, reading analysis from the people who know it best, before putting my skin in the game and opening a trading account.    Join me as I take over the reins of my finances and learn with me from my moments of heartbreak and glory.

Happy trading!


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Online Discount Brokerage Deals & Promotions – June 2012

This month’s discount brokerage deals and promotions from Canadian online discount brokerages still includes some substantial offerings, such as the Disnat Active 5 offer and the Scotia iTrade 100 free trades offer. Some new promos this month include the ‘one free trade’ offer from Scotia iTrade to download and try their mobile trading app (for which you qualify for 1 free equity trade and one free options trade) and the ‘refer a friend’ offer from National Bank Direct Brokerage.  Scotia iTrade also added another promotion that can give you either $100 or $150 plus 25 or 50 trades free (respectively) depending on your deposit – the fine print is a bit tricky so make sure to read it on this one as the promo code is buried in that fine print. Questrade has extended their “stick it to your broker” 10 free trade offer until the end of June.  Lastly there are some exciting whispers floating around that Jitneytrade may be announcing a deal soon and that National Bank Direct Brokerage is working on another promo for release sometime in June. Stay tuned!

Company Brief Description Details Link Deadline
Open a new account (TFSA, Margin or RRSP) and receive $50 commission credit . Use promo code: kdkfnbbc none none
Move your brokerage account to Questrade and they’ll cover the transfer-out fee. Transfer Fee Promo none
Open and fund your account with a minimum of CAD $1,000 before May 31st, 2012 and you’ll get 10 commission-free trades. Use your 10 stock trades within the first 30 days. Buy or sell, one at a time or all at once. Stick12 additional terms here June 30 2012
Refer a friend to Questrade and when they open an account you receive $100 and they receive $50. To receive this deal you must be an existing client with an equity account and refer a person that does not reside with you and who has not previously opened a Questrade account. Refer a friend none
Maximize your returns. Get up to 1% (or more) of your mutual fund value rebated back to you. Mutual Fund Rebate Promo none
Get up to 100 free trades when you fund an account with a minimum of $10 000. You must open this account by August 31st 2012 and fund it with $10 000 within 30 days of account activation to qualify. You must enter promo code “100FREEQ”. There are quite a few other details, including a minimum balance requirement, so be sure to check the details link. 100 Free Trades August 31st, 2012
Get $150 in cash for opening a Disnat Classic account worth at least $25,000 from a financial institution other than Desjardins. Call Disnat at 1-800-268-8471 and mention the promo code “Reference 150”. [Note this offer applies to Disnat Classic not Disnat Direct] Disnat Refer a Friend Promo July 31st 2012
Disnat has created the Active5 offer so that active traders can test drive their services. New Disnat Direct clients get a package of: 5 months of free real-time trading platform, 5 months of theirlowest commissions (starting at $5), 5 months of free Stockscores newsletter and 50 free trades ($ 250 commissions credit). You can hear Tyler Bollhorn of Stockscores talking about the Active 5 offer here. Disnat Direct Active 5 Offer July 31st 2012
Credential Direct Switch your account to Credential Direct and they’ll pay up to $125 of the transfer fees your online broker charges. If after 90 days you’re not completely satisfied, Credential Direct will waive the $125 transfer out fee. To qualify, you must deposit at least $5000 within 30 days of opening a Credential Direct account. Promo code “SWITCH ME” Switch Me Offer June 30th, 2012
Transfer $25,000 or more to a National Bank Direct Brokerage account and they will pay up to $135 plus taxes in transfer fees Transfer Fee Rebate none
Become a new National Bank Direct Brokerage Client before June 30, 2012 and receive a fixed rate commission of $6.95 for 6 months. Minimum deposit not specified. Promo code “TRADE2012”. Call customer service: 1-800-363-3511 – Available to Western Canada Customers only (BC/Alberta) June 30th, 2012
If you are an existing National Bank Direct Brokerage client and you refer someone to join, you each get $100. To qualify, the referred account must transfer at least $25,000 from another financial institution. If at least $25,000 is transferred, up to $135 of the transfer fee is covered. Use the promo code “FRIEND” when opening the account Refer a Friend October 31, 2012
Holders of National Bank Platinum, Ovation Gold, Allure or Escapade Mastercard or a card identified by a professional association can now redeem À la carte reward points for a contribution to your National Bank Direct Brokerage RRSP or Spousal RRSP account, or the new TFSA (Tax-free savings account). As the principal cardholder you can exchange your points, either partly or entirely, for one or more 100 $ contributions (100 $ = 11,000 points). contact one of National Bank Direct Brokerage’s Investor Services representatives (514-866-6755 or 1-800-363-3511). Mastercard points transfer none
Virtual Brokers will cover transfer fees from your transferring institution to a maximum of $150 per account. This offer is only applicable to accounts opened with at least $25,000 in equity before September 30, 2012. Transfer Fee Promo September 30th, 2012
Open a new account with $25,000 before September 30, 2012 and receive 150 trades free. (Applies to the first 150 trades placed within 60 days of account opening at a maximum of $6.49 per trade with a total maximum value of $973) New Account Promo September 30th, 2012
Scotia iTrade Open and fund a new Scotia iTRADE account with at least $25,000 (cheque deposit or transfer of assets) before June 30, 2012 and the commissions associated with your first 100 trades placed within 60 days of the date the account is activated and funded with at least $25,000 in the account, will be credited back to your account within 30 days of each order fill, to a maximum of $9.99 per trade in the currency of the account (maximum total cash rebate from this offer is $999). Offer valid only for the first Scotia iTRADE account opened by new Scotia iTRADE clients who do not have an account with ScotiaMcLeod Direct Investing or TradeFreedom. Free trade credits and other Scotia iTRADE offers have no cash redemption value. This offer cannot be combined with any other promotional offer. Scotia iTrade $100 in free trades June 30th, 2012
Scotia iTrade Download the new Scotia iTrade mobile app and get one trade free (one equity and one option). Trade must be placed on the mobile app. Scotia iTrade 1 free trade June 30th, 2012
Scotia iTrade Open a new iTrade account before July 31, 2012 and receive either: $100 cash and 25 trades free for a deposit of between $25,000-$49,999 or $150 and 50 trades free for a deposit of $50,000 or more. You must use the code SPRING-MA when signing up. Springaccount opening bonus July 31st, 2012
Qtrade Investor Qtrade Investor will reimburse your transfer fee up to $125 when transferring a balance of $25,000 or more. For reimbursement, please mail or fax a copy of your statement from the transferring institution that shows the transfer charge to Qtrade Investor at 604.484.2627 and indicate your Qtrade Investor account number. Transfer Fee Promo none
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IP-uh-Oh: Investor Lessons from Facebook Going Public

Learning Objective:

To understand that investments are driven by beliefs.


Over the past month, one of the most dominating news stories in financial markets has been the debut of Facebook as a publicly traded stock.  There are so many great investor lessons about the world of investing and finance that this historic event can provide and so we at have decided to participate in the Facebook IPO conversation as a chance to impart  the many important lessons to those currently investing and to those who are thinking about it. We will start this series by taking a look at what the Facebook IPO can teach us about our investing biases and tendencies and then explore how this IPO can give us a window into how investing works.

Imagine all the people…

Facebook is a reflection of the current world we live in; it is so much a part of many people’s daily experience that starting to imagine a world without Facebook is becoming difficult. Indeed, with each passing day, I’m slowly forgetting the “old layout” and embracing their timeline.  Facebook is becoming increasingly part of the ‘norm’ for many people across the planet and for some it will be all that they’ve ever known.  That said, all this connectivity with others is new territory for human kind. It is at this kind of exciting frontier that the idea of Facebook – a medium for connecting with so many people – is alluring.   This “thing” called Facebook has captured the world’s imagination.

In the human mind, time can be suspended, rewound or fast forwarded and gravity can be just a footnote. In the “real world” however, time marches on and gravity pulls things down. Imagination is intoxicating and reality is sobering.  There is no doubt that “Facebook  the idea” was born from imagination however “Facebook the business” is in the real world, and being in the real world it is subject to all the natural forces that things in the real world are – profit margins, operating expenses, regulations,  etcetera, etcetera. Businesses are built on ideas but in order to be successful businesses, they still need to make more money than they spend: that’s reality.

A business as an investment

Even though a business may have a great idea, whether or not that business is an attractive investment depends on whether investors believe that company will be profitable in the future.  With “new” companies, or companies such as Facebook where there is a great deal of “potential”, there are high expectations.  Those expectations of what something is worth in the future usually guide investor behaviour – investors (should) act in the best interest of making a profit at some point in the future. Whether or not those expectations can be met, however, will be borne out over time as will the faith the market has in a company’s ability to follow through on its promises.


Even though Facebook may have launched with a lot of enthusiasm, gravity is still ever present.  For share prices to rise “Facebook the business” will have to be an attractive investment and fulfill the promise that the world seems to see in “Facebook the idea.” Whether it is Facebook or any other company, before making an investment, it seems appropriate to ask which world you are investing in, imagination or reality?

To read Part 2 of the Facebook IP-uh-Oh series, click here.