Posted on Leave a comment

Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – August 22, 2014

With the markets continuing their push higher yet again, it seems like the bears may just want to find a comfier place to rest – for now. Despite the advances, there seems to be no shortage of market stories looking to poke them back into action. Aptly enough, this week’s roundup has a focus on investors being able to share stories (none of which seem to involve bears though).

This week we take a look at a project launched by one major discount brokerage that seems to have investors talking, followed by an article on trading as a DIY investor, and then hop to a couple of interesting threads from the Canadian investor forums.

RBC Direct Investing Forum Shows Promise

One of the great promises of the internet was that it could bring people together. As a DIY investor, however, trading online can be a bit of a solitary enterprise. Enter investor forums.

As many regular readers of the roundup know, the Canadian investor forums are one of the ways in which investors of all skill levels can connect and discuss a variety of online-investing related topics – or simply brag/trash their latest stock choice.

Recognizing the power of user engagement and the importance of creating a space for investors to connect and compare notes, several Canadian online brokerages including Desjardins Online Brokerage (via Stockscores), Questrade and RBC Direct Investing have created investor-specific forums.

This past week, RBC Direct Investing announced an update on the progress of their investor community and forum. As part of their update, RBC Direct Investing provided some interesting stats on usage of the forums that were launched in 2013. At the most recent count over 8,500 clients have joined the community and RBC has been running a contest in order to encourage more individuals to sign up. One of the unique features of RBC Direct Investing’s community is the ability of users to compare their portfolio against other users (anonymously) which a functionality that none of the other popular forums (online brokerage run or otherwise) currently offer.

Strategically, social and finance is a difficult combination to get right.

One example of it not going right was the now decommissioned TMX social site Waggle. Although considerable money was spent on its development and deployment and it had promising functionality, it never really gained traction. Conversely, the barebones Reddit Personal Finance Canada section continues to grow (and has well over 9500 “readers” at the time of writing), in popularity largely on the strength of community participation.

For RBC Direct Investing, being able to adequately resource the forum doesn’t seem to be the challenge. Instead, like their competitors, the success of their community feature will depend on the time and effort users choose to invest on it.

Do You Like To Trade It, Trade It?

There are more than a few savvy investors that believe that active trading is not only (largely) futile but also detrimental to portfolio performance.

In an interesting piece in the Globe and Mail geared towards DIY investors, author David Israelson highlights this position as he lays out the perils of “overtrading” – a term that the article admittedly acknowledges has no consensus.   While the perspectives in the article provide important guidelines for investors to bear in mind, the article essentially posits that a strategy that loses money in the markets is not a good one. These are similar to Warren Buffet’s infamous advice on investing in the markets: “Rule No.1 is never lose money. Rule No.2 is never forget rule number one.”

What is cold comfort to DIY investors is that just like the professionals, there is no way to know if their portfolio strategy worked until after they’ve tried it. For DIY investors, however, it is especially more of a challenge because they don’t have the same structures and controls in place to manage risk or cut losses that professionals (usually) do.

From the Forums

This past week, there were a couple of interesting forum threads courtesy of the Reddit Personal Finance Canada subreddit.

Fact or Fiction

For DIY investors, one of the most difficult decisions is which discount brokerage to trust with their online trading account. In this post, one user talks about the reports of horror stories associated with Questrade, however the Reddit community chimes in to provide a more balanced point of view.

Are we there yet?

In keeping with the previous thread, the following post is from another user (an account holder with Questrade) who attempted a transfer of funds into their trading account. In an increasingly ‘instant’ world, the delay seemed to get the author a little panicked. While the answers that the community provided where valuable, it was also interesting to note that a rep from Questrade also replied to the author.

That does it for this week’s roundup. For those sports portfolio pickers, good luck on the fantasy football drafts and the season ahead. Have a great weekend and be sure to find excuses to go long on fun!

Leave a Reply