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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 9, 2015

Whether it’s oil prices, temperatures or Calvin Klein, January has started with a clear theme of racing to the bottom. Thankfully, there’s been a bright spot this past week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where the focus has been on innovation. The latest and most intriguing gadgets get showcased at the show and reinforces something that Canadian brokerages know all too well – to get ahead you have to keep innovating.

In this week’s discount brokerage roundup, we take the theme of ‘innovation’ and review some of the exciting changes that Canada’s online brokerages have planned for 2015 that they mentioned in our special year in review and look ahead piece. We’ll also shine the spotlight on an upcoming conference in Vancouver that’s sure to be on the minds of many resource stock investors. Lastly, be sure to check out some of the interesting conversations between investors from the investor forums.

Discount Brokerages in 2015

It’s been a familiar refrain for over 10 years now – Canada’s online brokerages are in a very competitive arena. While the commission prices were slow to fall, they gradually have been declining with last year providing an incredible price shock across the board.

For 2015, however, many discount brokerages are hoping that commission prices stay put. Even if prices do stand still, the collective perspectives we gathered show that no Canadian online brokerages can afford do so.

We’ve collected the hints and references to what’s coming next that the brokerages that participated provided to us and summarized them below. It should come as no surprise, however, that brokerages provided only a fraction of what they’re actually working on. Nonetheless, here is a brief summary of what we’ve gleaned for 2015.

CIBC Investor’s Edge – Upcoming Features: Documentation/Trade Confirmations

There’s definitely been a resurgence of interest in CIBC Investor’s Edge after their pricing drop announcement. However, there’ve also been a whole host of other activities ‘behind the scenes’ that CIBC has undertaken in order to improve their client experience. One of the key areas of focus will be on paperless confirmations and ‘digitizing’ the record-keeping (and compliance) aspects of online investing.

Credential Direct – Upcoming Features: Webinars & Seminars

Credential Direct has hinted that the upcoming year will be one in which they continue to build on the investor education theme with webinars and seminars. This past week we also spotted a posting for additional marketing support indicating that we can expect Credential Direct to get themselves back into the spotlight in the not too distant future.

Desjardins Online Brokerage – Upcoming Features: Client Experience

The term ‘client experience’ is admittedly broad. That said, it is an accurate reflection of the way Desjardins Online Brokerage is approaching the changes it has planned for 2015. Probably the biggest ‘hint’ of what’s to come came from the interview with Laurent Blanchard, VP & General Manager of Desjardins Online Brokerage, where he let viewers know that a new website is coming soon.

Jitneytrade – Upcoming Features: Trading Platform

Jitneytrade revealed that they’re planning to upgrade their web-based trading platform to enable users to now access account data as well as trade data from the same place. We suspect, however, that recent moves by other brokerages (such as BMO InvestorLine) into the active trader space, direct competitors Interactive Brokers into the registered account space and equity market volatility may spell an interesting 2015 for active traders and Jitneytrade.

National Bank Direct Brokerage – Upcoming Features: Investor Education

The president of National Bank Direct Brokerage, Nancy Paquet, shared her sentiments about 2015 in her interview and in the review piece with a clear message: investor education is going to be a priority in 2015. We’ve already seen their investor education providers and topics broaden. NBDB is kicking off 2015 with a lot of effort to help investors understand their latest product ‘Investcube’. Interestingly, they have increased their push into in-depth investor education by partnering with Learn to Trade Global, whose principal instructors also do work for the Montreal Exchange in teaching about options.

Questrade – Upcoming Features: Platforms

Questrade is not one to stand still for very long. As we reported last week, 2015 may hold more surprises in their wealth management arm with the possible launch of ETFs. From the direct investing side, however, 2015, looks like Questrade will focus on improving their trading experience on the IQ mobile, improving charting and option analytics.

RBC Direct Investing – Upcoming Features: Platforms

RBC Direct Investing played their cards close when it came to the upcoming innovations for 2015. Among the features that were mentioned were the Community feature which now boasts over 12,000 members. Interestingly, the recently released RBC Direct Investing newsletter also highlights the important role that the community platform will play in helping investors choose and monitor potential trading ideas. Another interesting hint from the year in review piece was that RBC Direct Investing will be testing out new features to their trading platforms.

Scotia iTrade – Upcoming Features: Performance Reporting

Scotia iTrade continues in its focus on portfolio measurement and analysis with the addition of a ‘performance reporting tool’. Also on their radar for 2015 will be enhancements to trading platforms.

TD Direct Investing – Upcoming Features: Performance Reporting

TD Direct Investing is looking to join in with other brokerages in augmenting their performance features. Specifically TD has indicated that realized gain/loss reporting is coming up in the early part of 2015.

Flurry of Deals

January kicked off with a number of promotions and deals being extended however as we venture forward it looks like some deals are making a comeback too. This past week Questrade re-launched two promotions: their ‘trade free for 3 months’ offer as well as the ‘100 free trades’.   The timing of these offers coincide with RSP season and, when viewed as a group, the offers from Questrade now appeal to a wide range of minimum deposit sizes from $1,000 to $50,000.

Event Horizon

If you’re an investor in the mining and exploration sectors, you’re likely going to want to either attend or tune into the upcoming Vancouver Resource Investment Conference by Cambridge House International on January 19th & 20th.  This is the 20th anniversary for the show and it comes at a time when junior mining and exploration stocks, many of which are typically the focus of the show, have suffered significant sell offs.  As such, this should be an interesting event with a mix of celebration and optimism combined with the sobering reality of a sector that’s looking to navigate a very uncertain path ahead.  There are many familiar names on the speakers list and a full floor of exhibitors.  For more information, check out their website and the video they’ve prepared as the lead up to the event.

January 13:  Scotia iTRADE – Best Practices In ETF Trading with Horizons ETFs (Online)

January 13: NBDB – Building Diversified Portfolios with ETFs – [Fr] (Montreal)

January 13: TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Investing in Options (Toronto)

January 13: NBDB – Portfolio management using momentum strategies – [Fr] (Online)

January 14: TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Investing in Options (St. John’s)

January 14: TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Investing in Options (Montreal)

January 14: Scotia iTRADE – Advanced Options Strategies with Montreal Exchange (Online)

January 14: TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Technical Analysis (White Rock)

January 15: NBDB – Introduction to technical analysis : Supports and resistances – [Fr] (Montreal)

January 15: TD Direct Investing – Income Investing Using ETFs (Toronto)

January 15: TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Technical Analysis (Ottawa)

From the Forums

To Bot or not to Bot

There’s been a lot of hype through 2014 regarding the presence of ‘robo-advisors’.  In this post from’s investing thread, there’s an interesting perspective on whether or not robo-advisors are all they’re cracked up to be.

Tossing Around the Crystal Ball

It’s always great to see what the sentiment is going into a new year.  In this post from the Financial Wisdom Forum, the forum participants provide their best guestimates for a contest on what 2015 will bring.

That’s a wrap to week two of 2015.  Think warm thoughts – except if you happen to be in Vancouver, in which case you may want refrain from calling your friends elsewhere in Canada to tell them what the weather’s like.  Have a great (and hopefully warm) weekend!

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