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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – September 19, 2014

As summer officially winds down, the news in the markets and amongst discount brokerages seems to be about closing out summer with a bang. A far cry from the tumbleweed of last week, this past week saw some big numbers from the new all-time highs on major indices, the mega-iPOs and a brokerage deal that is kind-of-a-big-deal.

In this edition of the roundup, we take a look at a major deal announcement from a popular discount brokerage, a ‘battle of the brands’ investor educational dust up, a personal finance site hitting a major milestone and of course we round out with interesting chatter from the forums and a geeky allusion to the current market hype.

Free Trade Agreement

Earlier this week the Canadian discount brokerage landscape saw a massive deal unfold. Scotia iTrade announced their latest offer: 500 commission-free trades or $500 cash back for deposits of $500,000 (or more). Yes, that is correct, 500 commission-free trades.

Without question, waving a big red banner with 500 free trades is going to get the attention of bullish investors, competitors and industry observers. Part of that attention may come from a desire to take advantage of the offer, however there is probably another set of voices asking: how much is too much?

Reading between the lines, both the timing and size of this deal are strategically important to Scotia iTrade. Last week we mentioned that the clock is ticking closer to the Globe and Mail discount brokerage rankings and that pricing is going to be a rough patch for Scotia iTrade in the upcoming scoring.

Stay tuned for an in-depth look at this offer and what the strategy behind the offer might signal to both competitors and investors alike. For more information on Scotia iTrade’s latest promotion, check our deals and promotions section.

Taking it Outside

One of the strategic ‘battlegrounds’ between Canadian brokerages has been with investor education. Several brokerages in particular: Desjardins Online Brokerage (Disnat), National Bank Direct Brokerage, Scotia iTrade and TD Direct Investing have committed significant resources to ongoing live investor education.

While each of these brokerages has taken a slightly different approach to providing investor education, partnering with high profile traders/investors has been largely the strategy of Desjardins Online Brokerage (in particular Disnat) and more recently Scotia iTrade.

In the upcoming weeks both of these brokerages will be taking their star-power on the road for multi-city education tours.

For Desjardins Online Brokerage, their popular guided portfolio strategy (GPS) spokesperson and portfolio strategist Steve Deschesnes will be heading to Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria throughout October. Desjardins’ team will also be at the World Money Show in Toronto as will Tyler Bollhorn and Rejean Paul, both of whom are educational partners of Desjardins Online Brokerage.

Not to be outdone, Scotia iTrade also has a big fall educational tour with their marquis educational partner Larry Berman (of BNN’s Berman’s Call). Interestingly, Scotia iTrade will also be present and visible at the Toronto Money Show as show sponsors and with educational partners and reps. The incredibly ambitious Fall road show Larry Berman and his team have planned will take them to 14 cities across the country between now and the end of November.

Of course in addition to the educational tours, there is the Money Show and the Cambridge House International Canadian Investor Conference which should make this fall a busy one for investor education.

A Rising Tide

One of the popular sources for conversation on Canadian personal finance is quickly becoming the personal finance Canada thread (subreddit) on Reddit. The growth in readership on this source has been substantial with the group going from just under 8000 ‘readers’ in May to 10000 ‘scallywags’ as of this past week. The thread covers a wide array of personal finance topics, including many questions about investing and brokerages, as well as insurance, taxes, credit cards and more.

While the pirate/nautical themed language is a recent development, it has been great watching the community grow and help out one another in their journey to improve their understanding of personal finance. Congratulations to the community and here’s hoping there’s many more who find value in the group (yarr).

From the Forums

With that great segue, this week’s forum scan picked up a couple of interesting discount brokerage related stories.

Settling Down

In this first post from the Red Flag Deals investing forum, an active investor who made the switch from TD to Interactive Brokers hit a slight speed bump when it came to accessing their funds immediately after closing out a position. Check out what the community offered up in terms of explanations.

One Stop at a Time

In this post from the Canadian Money Forum, an interesting thread from a user highlights the use of trailing stops as part of a risk management strategy. Check out the interesting response from the community about the reliability of backtesting and how that can impact the interpretation of results.

That’s a wrap for this week – and what a week. With all of the hype coming back into the markets thanks to the massive Ali Baba IPO it’s interesting to see how much further things advance without the markets taking a bit of time to breathe. If you’re a football fan, you might be interested in this IPO-meets-football story that could get your portfolio into the end zone (or turfed). And, if you’ve bought into the hype of the markets so far, here is a somewhat nerdy yet elegant demonstration of the ‘mercurial’ nature of bubble bursting as some food for thought. Have a great weekend!

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