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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 23, 2015

If you’re feeling as deflated as Patriot’s football this week, hopefully the fact that markets ended the week on a bit of a positive note is enough to cheer Friday. And, if recent market movements haven’t got you puzzled enough, at least Miss Universe Canada’s costume has got pundits and social media focusing on something other than the plunging price of oil. Like the beauty pageant contenders, Canadian brokerages are definitely dressing up their offers to score big points with DIY investors.

In this week’s roundup we continue to track January’s storm of deals & promotions, shine a spotlight on the first discount brokerage award of 2015, highlight a newcomer into the investor education space, walk through the investor education events coming up and close out with some timely conversations from the investor forums.


The race towards the March 2 RSP contribution deadline continues to draw Canadian discount brokerages into an already overcrowded deals game. This past week a typically quiet deal provider, HSBC InvestDirect, jumped into the promotions pool by offering up a commission-free trading offer. While the offer has been officially listed as live since the beginning of the year, it appeared only recently on their website. The timing of the launch was perhaps intended to coincide with the launch of Dalbar Canada’s Direct Brokerage Service Award (see below).

Another promotion also hit the deals wire this past week, this time from BMO InvestorLine. Their previous ‘smile promotion’ campaign ended on January 18th and was promptly replaced by an RSP focused offer of $300 cash back. Check our deals & promotions page for more details on the current open offers from Canadian brokerages.

That’s we in the Spotlight

Dalbar Canada’s 2014 assessment of the service quality at Canadian brokerages was announced this week as part of their Direct Brokerage Service Award. The two online brokerages that received top honours were HSBC InvestDirect and RBC Direct Investing. Dalbar has made a transition away from naming exclusive winners of the award, instead using the “Winner’s Circle” approach in which multiple brokerages can get recognition for their performance on Dalbar’s assessment.

Interestingly the announcement of the award was made on Wednesday and we’ve yet to see mention on either of the two ‘award’ winners’ website. A further point of interest is that both winners this year were also winners last year. Although both RBC Direct Investing and HSBC InvestDirect have claimed top honours in years past, it is unclear how having to share the accolade will shape their messaging around winning the award this year.   For more information on the Dalbar Direct Brokerage Service Award, check out our feature piece here.

Virtual Brokers Stepping into Education

Keeping up with the Jones’ is no easy feat, especially when those Jones’ are other Canadian online brokerages. As mentioned in our special year-in-review series, one of the big focal points for 2015 mentioned by Canadian brokerages was investor education.  Currently six online brokerages are actively providing (or have partnerships in place to provide) investor education. This past week, however, we learned that Virtual Brokers will be joining in the provision of investor education.

As Virtual Brokers works to keep pace with the value-add features provided by other banks and brokerages, one of the areas they’ve lagged has been in investor education. In an interesting move, Virtual Brokers has teamed up with personal finance author Gail Bebee to hold a two-part webinar on investing and portfolio management.

Event Horizon

A light week of educational activities is in the offering.

Jan. 24 (Sat) TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Investing

Jan. 26 (Mon) TD Direct Investing – Market Outlook – Winter 2015

Jan. 27 (Tues) TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Fundamental Analysis

Jan. 28 (Wed) Virtual Brokers – Investing Basics

From the Forums

It’s a Hard Knock Life

Asking lots of questions and doing due diligence before taking on DIY investing is key – as is frequently checking in on your account. This post from the Reddit Personal Finance Canada subreddit highlights one individuals unfortunate ‘surprise’ at having a margin balance.

That’s a wrap for this week’s roundup. Regardless of how far under ice or water certain folks may be (am I right Vancouver?) here’s a neat and strange tale of what can be found even in the most remote of places. Have fun and stay sharp for next week!

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