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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – February 27, 2015

Even though it’s still technically winter, it feels like a ‘white dress vs blue dress’ moment. Sure the calendar says it’s the end of February but there’s a major difference between what winter looks like in Vancouver vs Toronto. Regardless of which version of winter DIY investors are riding out, there’s something that everyone can agree on: the competition between Canadian discount brokerages has been undeniably fierce.

In this edition of the roundup, we take a look at deals and promotions poised to expire in and around the RSP contribution deadline; news about one online brokerage getting approval for clearing activities; an assortment of news that DIY investors are going to want to put on their radars and we’ll cap off the roundup with a look across the investor forums.

Sprint to the Finish

If the expiry dates on deals are any indicator of important times in the calendar year, then the run up to the RSP contribution deadline (March 2nd) is by far the most important time for Canadian discount brokerages.

As February closes out, there are at least nine deals/promotions set to expire between February 26th and March 2nd. Here’s the list of offers heading out (or already out):

  1. HSBC InvestDirect – Winter Offer
  2. RBC Direct Investing – Trade Free for 1 Year Offer
  3. BMO InvestorLine – Tablet Promo
  4. Questrade –  MultiLeg Offer
  5. Questrade – Unlimited Trading Offer
  6. Questrade – RSP Promotion
  7. Questrade – Prepaid Visa Offer
  8. Virtual Brokers – RRSP Free Trade Promotion
  9. CIBC Investor’s Edge – Free Trade + Cash Back Promotion

There are also a couple of contests linked to the RSP season (e.g. from Qtrade Investor) that are set to expire March 2nd.

Clearly Questrade has been the most active of any discount brokerage in terms of offering up deals and promotions. As a result, it seems that others have largely followed suit.  The timing of these offers is definitely meant to take advantage of the fact that so many individuals will be thinking about and contributing to RRSPs just ahead of the deadline.

For Canada’s discount brokerages, February 2015 saw the record for highest number of advertised promotions since we’ve been measuring these. We observed at least 24 listed offers (26 if offers not listed on are counted). Unadvertised offers as well as ‘negotiated’ deals have been reported by individuals on investor forums too, signaling that even more bonuses and incentives are out there.

There has been a fierce battle between providers in the lead up to the RSP deadline however the deals/promotions are likely to pull back once the dust settles. Click here to view all the deals/promos.

Getting Clearance

Earlier this week, Virtual Brokers announced that their parent company, BBS Securities Inc, was approved for membership with the Canadian Derivatives Clearing Corporation (CDCC).  And, while this doesn’t necessarily impact the experience of most of the DIY clients, this does enable Virtual Brokers to better monetize the process of clearing options transactions.

According to their corporate brochure, the “CDCC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Montréal Exchange (MX), acts as the central clearing counterparty for exchange-traded derivative products in Canada.”

As a clearinghouse they coordinate the transaction process and associated settlement tasks. In addition, the CDCC acts as a central counterparty for trades on the Canadian derivatives (e.g. options, futures) markets. A clear explanation of the CDCC can be found on their FAQ page here.

Other Canadian discount brokerages that are members of the CDCC include Interactive Brokers Canada, Questrade, Credential Securities as well as many of the parent brands of the bank-owned brokerages. The full clearing members list is available here.

Given the risks associated with trading derivatives, there is the need for strong controls to be in place.  For most DIY investors that decide to trade in options, in particular Canadian options, many of these risks are controlled at various point through the trading process to the point where they go largely unnoticed.  An interesting overview on the CDCC prepared by Standard & Poors (although it’s a bit dated) can be found here.

Interesting Developments

For those who follow the Canadian markets closely, newer entrants (such as Aequitas) and smaller players (such as the Canadian Securities Exchange) are definitely making headlines.  In terms of the CSE, their recent successes at growing the number of companies listed on their exchange reflects their desire to become a serious contender to a much bigger incumbent.  In another bold move, the CSE has announced the launch of an index, the CSE Composite Index, that now tracks securities listed on that exchange.

There are many interesting features to this index, which is being managed by a German firm Solactive AG, the primary one being the composition of the index.  The CSE Composite Index,  which is made up of 64 listings, has the following sector weightings as of January 30, 2015:

  • Technology: 47.27%
  • Diversified Industries: 25.66%
  • Mining: 16.17%
  • Life Sciences: 7.28%
  • Cleantech: 1.85%
  • Oil & Gas: 1.77%

Like most other indices, the criteria for inclusion can determine what kinds of companies end up comprising the index.  For more detailed information on the new CSE Composite Index, check the information page here.

Changing the Channel

In another big announcement for the financial information landscape in Canada, financial news giant Bloomberg announced that they, in partnership with specialty channel operator Channel Zero, will be launching a Canadian financial news television channel.  Currently BNN (owned by Bell Globe Media) holds an exclusive position in the business television space.

The move by Bloomberg will likely force BNN, which already produces a relatively high quality product, to step up their game.  The Bloomberg brand is very well known and carries not only the weight of its reputation for business news journalism but also the sheer scale of resources to get information on markets locally and internationally.

For DIY investors it will be interesting to see how well the Canadian edition of Bloomberg fairs. There will still be significant business content from the parent Bloomberg channel simulcast so a large amount of US-based news will be streamed through. After all, not every import from the US is guaranteed to succeed (Target anyone?) in Canada – it will take a solid understanding of the viewership in Canada and something genuinely enticing to win the loyalty of BNN viewers.  Either way, it should be an exciting launch.

From the Forums


In this post from Canadian Money Forum, one user has a particular gripe with the onboarding process with Scotia iTrade. In today’s world of online applications, it seems that doing things the ‘old fashioned’ route of paper forms was the source of grief.  The responses from other members, however, provided some sober insight on how other brokers fare.

Just TFSA No

With registered accounts on everyone’s mind, TFSAs are a natural talking point.  One forum user, however, was curious to know which brokerage would be able to help out with an OTC (Over the Counter) stock for a TFSA. The responses, however, cleared the air on an important point that only approved exchanges (which does not include the OTC/pink sheets) are eligible for TFSAs.  Click here to read more.

Nimoy Tribute

A wagon train to the stars was how Gene Roddenberry promoted and ultimately sold his vision for Star Trek, as a television series, to a group of NBC network executives in the early 1960s.

As readers may know, Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed the iconic character Spock, has passed away. He was 83. The staff at is passionate about Star Trek and its vision of a better tomorrow. The roundup wishes to celebrate a life well lived and pay tribute to Mr. Nimoy.

For a nice retrospective, you may be interested in visiting the Star Trek website; NASA also paid tribute to Mr. Nimoy and thanked him for inspiring generations of engineers, scientists and explorers. Finally, here is a simple, yet eloquent video with a wonderful message and we hope the words resonate with you, as they have with us. Live long and prosper.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – February 20, 2015

View image on TwitterIt’s not often that a haircut makes the news. For a change, however, it isn’t the haircut that Greece’s debt holders are going to take – this one comes from North Korea’s Kim Jung Un. So, what does a head of hair from a head of state have to do with Canadian discount brokerages (you might be asking)? This past week they’ve both been taking Twitter by storm.

 In this week’s roundup we’ve pulled together an interesting assortment of news and observations from Canadian online brokerages. First, we take an in-depth look at the latest promotional offer to be launched in an already crowded deal space. Next, we piece together something interesting that’s been happening on Twitter and provide an example of how this social media channel is one DIY investors will want to tune into. On the home stretch we’ll take a look at the official launch of one online brokerage’s new website, cruise through the upcoming investor education events and close out with a look at some interesting developments in the investor forums.

 Credential Direct Deals Themselves In

After standing on the sidelines of the discount brokerage deals and promotions melee, Credential Direct has stepped in swinging with their latest offering.  Along with Credential Direct, Questrade also added a pair of promotions, bringing the total number of advertised Canadian discount brokerage deals to 26.

While Questrade’s newest offers means that they retain the title of offering the most promotions of any discount brokerage, seeing Credential Direct step into the deals and promotions space is going to ruffle a few feathers with their competitors.

Credential Direct’s latest promotion, launched earlier this past week, offers new or existing clients either a cash-back or commission credit amount that varies with the size of the portfolio deposit.  While the cash back and commission credit amounts are in line with offers from CIBC Investor’s Edge and Questrade, what sets this offer apart is the deadline to use the trades (only trades used by September 30 are eligible for rebate) and the tiers of deposit.

Previous to the launch of Credential Direct’s latest promotion, only Scotia iTrade had an advertised deal for deposits of $500,000 or more. With this new deal, however, Credential Direct has now joined the relatively few brokerages that are pitching promotions aimed specifically for clients depositing more than $100,000. And, it is in this category that the Credential Direct offer stands out. Credential Direct is offering unlimited commission-free trading (until the end of September) for clients who deposit $500,000 or more whereas a similar deposit from Scotia iTrade would land 500 commission-free trades.

It warrants mentioning, however, that Questrade also has an unlimited commission-free trading offer with a minimum deposit of $50,000. The dramatic difference in deposit amounts for commission-free trading offers means that both Questrade and Credential Direct are going to likely get compared on how well they each cater to the active trader – the most likely kind of client to take advantage of the commission-free trades. For the brokerages not advertising something ‘special’ to clients bringing in bigger deposits (i.e. >$250,000), they will likely have to come up with something noteworthy just to be seen as ‘keeping up’.


Although discount brokerages being on Twitter is not something new, there is definitely something interesting happening on the social media network.

This month, Credential Direct looks to have officially stepped into the social media space by launching their own Twitter account and TD Direct Investing, one of the largest Canadian bank-owned brokerages, has stepped up their efforts on Twitter.

Most Canadian discount brokerages (and probably many Canadian investors) are still skeptical of Twitter’s utility.  Online brokerages currently on Twitter include Interactive Brokers (although this account is not Interactive Brokers Canada exclusively), Jitneytrade, Questrade, Scotia iTrade and Virtual Brokers. Of that group, it’s fairly clear that Questrade and Scotia iTrade have been the most active for the better part of the past two years.  All that may change, however, now that Credential Direct and TD Direct Investing are stepping in.

In particular, while Credential Direct has just one account, TD Direct Investing appears to be deploying multiple individuals in the service of broadcasting their message. From a user’s perspective, this might make it cumbersome to follow several different TD Direct Investing related Twitter accounts (we’ve made a list which can be subscribed to here) however from the other brokerage’s perspective, this is definitely a cause for worry.

The big question for self-directed investors, however, is ‘so what?’  Does Twitter even matter?  The answer is increasingly ‘yes’. In 2015, Twitter has now become the news, with as many news agencies reporting about what’s happening on Twitter as there are Twitter users tweeting about the news.

Twitter has become one of the ‘go to’ resources for breaking news, a place to vent, and a way to connect.  In a previous piece on discount brokerages on social media, we highlighted that Twitter is a valuable resource to find out about breaking news, outages, deals or new developments even before any of these hit the mainstream media.

For online brokerages, Twitter also is a place where clients come to voice their concerns or, more rarely, sing the praises of great client experience. DIY investors curious about what it is like to deal with client service at a particular brokerage can simply scan the Twitter feed of any of the brokerages (caution: some of the more colourful comments are definitely NSFW) and review the conversations between client and provider.

The latest moves by TD Direct Investing and Credential Direct signal that Twitter is about to become a new arms race. In this battle, victory goes to the most interesting, not necessarily to the biggest player. Questrade was able to pull this off in the lead up to their launch of the wealth management unit. Going forward however, the new entrants and the existing players will have to step up their collective game 140 characters at a time if they want to earn the interest and attention of DIY investors.

TD Direct Investing now Offers Online Trading with the CSE

As a segue from talking about the value of Twitter, this past week showed the value in finding out some valuable information via the social media channel.  This week there were a number of interesting tweets from the TD Direct Investing team about WebBroker (their online trading platform) being able to trade CSE-listed securities.  The reason these tweets are interesting is because there have been no official announcements/news releases from either the Canadian Securities Exchange or from TD Direct Investing on this demonstrating, at least on this occasion, that Twitter can move faster than PR departments sometimes can.  A quick check of the TD helps community forum also confirmed the new development – although even internally there seemed to be some disconnect between features being enabled and front-line staff finding out about it.

With TD now connected to the CSE, the vast majority of Canadian discount brokerages are patched in and DIY investors can trade CSE listed securities directly from their online trading platforms (instead of having to phone in).

Desjardins Online Brokerage’s New Website Launched

As we had reported last week, Desjardins Online Brokerage had scheduled the roll out of their new website before the end of February.  Their new website officially went live on February 18th and, as was mentioned in our preview of the site, it is a major upgrade from their prior site and raises the bar design-wise on most of the other online brokerage sites in Canada.


Event Horizon

Here are this week’s learning opportunities, enjoy!

Feb. 21 (Sat) TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Fundamental Analysis

Feb. 23 (Mon) Desjardins Online Brokerage (Disnat) – Discover the Benefits of the TFSA

Feb. 23 (Mon) TD Direct Investing – Market Outlook – Winter 2015

Feb. 25 (Wed) TD Direct Investing – Understanding Margin & Short Selling

Feb. 25 (Wed) Scotia iTRADE – Options Fundamentals with Montreal Exchange

Feb. 26 (Thurs) TD Direct Investing – Understanding Margin & Short Selling

From the Forums

This past week there was a very interesting development in the investor forums.  One of the more popularly discussed brokerages, Virtual Brokers, joined RedFlagDeals and actually responded to a client complaint.  While Questrade has been dutifully covering all kinds of forum/social media ground, this marks a rare occasion that Virtual Brokers has decided to engage with clients on this particular forum.  The topic – whether fractional shares after a reverse split would be issued – is a very interesting discussion in and of itself and is worth a read to see how it played out.

That’s a wrap on this week’s roundup. While the snow packs may be keeping many folks indoors (not so for the lucky West Coasters), there’s a silver lining that at least the Oscars will be on.  Ironically, of course, a lot of interesting reaction and perspective will be able to be seen on Twitter. #GoFigure #HaveAGreatWeekend

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – February 13, 2015

If Friday the 13th was supposed to be an unlucky day, somebody forgot to tell stock markets.  Heading into Valentine’s Day weekend bullish investors saw fifty shades of green as they pushed markets to a record high close, yet again. Fittingly, Canadian discount brokerages were also out looking for love from DIY investors offering up just about everything but flowers and chocolate.

In this week’s roundup there’s no shortage of excitement to report on.  We start by highlighting the bombshell news from a bank-owned brokerage determined to return to the spotlight. Next we’ll take an exclusive look at one brokerage’s game changing webpage makeover and what that means for other brokerages. Technology is the next treat served up by an independent brokerage and finally we take a look at the award bling one brokerage is now sporting on their homepage.  As always, we’ve also got a tour through the upcoming educational events and the buzz around the investor forums.

CIBC Investor’s Edge Sends Commission Fees on Spring Break

This past week, CIBC Investor’s Edge has, yet again, launched a pricing feature so big that it can’t be ignored.

Specifically they announced that between February 12th and March 31st 2015 they are offering commission-free trading on almost 2000 ETFs to all clients. For perspective, the other Canadian discount brokerages that offer completely commission-free ETF trading clock in at 150 (Virtual Brokers), 60 (Qtrade) and 50 (Scotia iTrade). CIBC’s offer, albeit a limited time one, definitely stands head and shoulders above the other commission-free offers and highlights how creative brokerages are prepared to get now that overall commission prices have fallen.

For CIBC Investor’s Edge the timing of this move is borderline surgical. It is a great incentive for individuals looking to open an online trading account to consider CIBC and is a bonus to anyone who has an account with ETFs to re-balance at little to no cost.  Because the offer extends well beyond the March 2nd RSP contribution deadline, the benefit of commission-free ETFs is still practical.

To boot, there are only a handful of important restrictions and exceptions.  First, the minimum transaction amount is $100.00. Second, many of the popular leveraged ETFs are not eligible for this promotion (sorry double and triple bull/bear fans). Finally, there’s also a minimum holding period of at least one business day.

We’ll be tracking the reaction from this offer as it is bound to make waves with the other bank-owned brokerages and the commission-free ETF crowd.  The only solace for competitor discount brokerages is that this is a limited time offer – for now.

Desjardins Online Brokerage Set to Launch New Website

This past week got an exclusive first look at Desjardins Online Brokerage’s soon-to-be-launched new website. While a new website at a Canadian brokerage is noteworthy, many if not most of Canada’s discount brokerage websites are starting to look and feel dated.  Such is the reality of the digital age.

The challenge for many online brokerages is to appear both innovative and stable all at once.  After all, too much change too often and clients can’t keep up. Too little change and a brand goes from being viewed as a laggard to criticized for not keeping up with the times.  With the website being the crucial touch point for both existing and prospective clients, what it looks like and how it functions matter.

What makes Desjardins’ release particularly strategic is that in design and function it has done something bold and distinctive. Their new website positions Desjardins Online Brokerage as particularly astute at considering user experience.  Crucially, individual investors of today will look at online experiences as extensions and markers of client experience.

Previews of the homepage are available in our sneak peek and more images are available at their website here.

Questrade Launches API

Earlier in the week Questrade’s blog announced the release of an API for individuals to develop apps that interface with Questrade’s IQ trading platform.  For the highly technical DIY investor or app developer, this new level of accessing Questrade and its trading engine mean that there are going to be some creative customizations to the platform in the not-too-distant future.

This is a particularly bold step from this online brokerage as they join only a handful of brokerages (Interactive Brokers being another) that enable external applications to interface with their trading platform and/or market data feed.  In the most compelling form, this paves the way for programmatic/algorithmic trading via their platform.

Victory Lap

Just about a month after they were announced as one of the best online brokerages for client service (by Dalbar Canada), HSBC InvestDirect was spotted this past week flashing their awards. Fellow award winner RBC Direct Investing has, curiously, not yet posted something similar.

Screenshot of HSBC InvestDirect website with their Direct Brokerage Service Awards.

Event Horizon Feb. 13, 2015

Feb. 17 (Tues) Scotia iTRADE – Options for Long(er) Term Stock Positions

Feb. 17 (Tues) NBDB – Introduction to Put Options – [Fr]

Feb. 17 (Tues) NBDB – Enhancing Yields and Cash Flow in Your Stock Portfolio

Feb. 18 (Wed) TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Technical Analysis

Feb. 18 (Wed) TD Direct Investing – Options as an Income Strategy

Feb. 18 (Wed) TD Direct Investing – Advanced Indicators

Feb. 18 (Wed) Scotia iTRADE – Investing in Rising Interest Rate Environment with iShares

Feb. 19 (Thurs) TD Direct Investing – Building Wealth Through Registered Accounts

Feb. 19 (Thurs) Scotia iTRADE – Head and Shoulder Patterns with AJ Monte

Feb. 20 (Fri) TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Technical Analysis

From the Forums

CIBC Investor’s Edge Commission-free ETFs Winning with Investors 

New Account RSP bonuses 

Are Level 2 Quotes Worth It?

That’s a wrap for this week’s roundup.  Have a great weekend in spite of what movies you may or may not have to watch.


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Exclusive: Sneak Peek at Desjardins Online Brokerage’s New Website

Exclusive first look at the new homepage for Desjardins Online Brokerage’s new website

The big story for Canadian online brokerages in 2014 was undoubtedly lower commission pricing. For 2015, however, it appears that Desjardins Online Brokerage has clearly cast user experience and design into the spotlight as they prepare for the launch of their newly redesigned website. was fortunate enough to get an exclusive first look at Desjardins Online Brokerage’s new website and, by all accounts, their new website raises the bar for their discount brokerage peers to step up in both function and form.

One Step at a Time

The new Desjardins Online Brokerage website is another iteration in a coordinated series of improvements to their online user experience.

Last year, for example, they released a newly designed investor education calendar that appeared to presage this new look and feel.  Further, in our profile of Desjardins Online Brokerage, Vice President and General Manager Laurent Blanchard revealed an upcoming refresh to the website was in the works.

As a firm that prefers to discuss features that they are confident they will deliver on, the suggestions of a new website have been few but present for those paying attention.  According to internal sources, the Desjardins team are both proud and excited for the upcoming milestone launch of the new site which is scheduled to go live by the end of February 2015.

Walking the Online Walk

The irony of succeeding as an online brokerage is that you not only have to be able to succeed on the transactional side (i.e. provide the service of online brokerage), but also demonstrate that you understand and can respond to the constant evolution of being online. As the storefront of their online presence, the look, feel and performance of a website will definitely factor into what visitors think of the brand and whether or not ‘they get it’.

While many of Canada’s online brokerage websites don’t get it ‘wrong’ per se, so few have embraced what the US online brokerages already have in terms of simplified design and function for a multi-screen world.

The drastic design difference between Desjardins Online Brokerage’s new website and anything at other Canadian discount brokerages, however, may spur competitors to pay attention to the importance of what a site looks and feels like in today’s world. If, for some reason, it does not, there’s all kinds of data to suggest consumers will choose to use a better designed product (just ask Apple).

New Features

In form and function, Desjardins Online Brokerage’s new website has several important upgrades over their current site.

First, finding information is much easier. The design elements on the new website help make information easier to spot and easier to retrieve. Using the blocked design (e.g. putting things in squares) makes viewing the website on a tablet or mobile device easier and substantially more efficient to navigate.

The top and bottom menus are clear, intuitive and well-spaced out.  There is a manageable number of choices (five) with the most important for most DIY investors (finding out about fees and getting in touch with client service) easily accessed from the top menu.

Top menu on new Desjardins Online Brokerage website

Another defining feature is accessibility to investor education.  Desjardins Online Brokerage is one of a few Canadian brokerages that has invested heavily in investor education and their homepage layout clearly reflects that. The new website clearly positions educational events and investor education video content prominently on the bottom of the page.  This means that clients and non-clients alike can view this information easily and quickly.

Investor education section on the new Desjardins Online Brokerage website

Finally, it’s just interesting to look at. The prominent video background of a fictional investor named ‘Nicolas’ is definitely eye-catching however there is also a very slick market data and stock quote interface that invites users to look up a symbol via Desjardins’ website. Mixed in with the thoughtful visual elements, there is also a good balance between static and dynamic content as well as sections that can slide open or closed.

As is often the case with good design, the devil is in the details. Paying attention to design reflects a well-thought out, user-focused experience however against limited time and finite resources there’s inevitably things still to do. In the case of Desjardins’ website, one of those key pieces will be enabling online account opening. While they’ve acknowledged it’s on their list of features to implement, in the interim, the new website will offer some improvements to the current form-based process.

The Bottom Line

For a Canadian financial services firm, especially one tied to online investing, to capture the look and feeling of being ‘current’ is noteworthy.  More importantly, however, the new Desjardins Online Brokerage website has shone a light on the importance of translating website user experience into what people think about the brokerage.  The new website reflects the broader trend with current websites generally: that paying attention to users matters. With the noise of commission pricing now fading, creating a great end-to-end experience is a message other Canadian brokerages will start to receive loud and clear.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – February 6, 2015

Canadian discount brokerages are hitting February at full speed. With a slew of deals, events and the roll out of new features it doesn’t appear like very much will be slowing down the activity at Canada’s brokerages.

In this week’s roundup we cover the ramping up of the new feature launch at one of Canada’s oldest discount brokerages, a highlight reel of deals and promotions to kick off the month, a tour through the educational events taking place in February and finally a new twist on an old favourite in the forums.

On a Roll

Late last year Desjardins Online Brokerage quietly unveiled their conditional order feature. This past week, they were not so quiet any more as the front page of their website announced the presence of this feature and the official roll out to both the Classic and Disnat Direct clients.

According to their website, the conditional order settings available via Desjardins Online Brokerage include:

  • A trade execution triggers one or more orders
  • A trade execution triggers one or more cancellations;
  • An event triggers one or more orders.

Included on the landing page explaining the conditional order types are also three video tutorials (also viewable on YouTube) that provide additional detail on how these order types work and can be used on the Disnat trading platform.

In both the year in review/look ahead article and the video interview with Desjardins Online Brokerage, 2015 was flagged as a year in which a number of new features and upgrades are coming.

Be sure to check out next week as we have an exclusive first look at another one of Desjardins’ major new projects for 2015.

New Month New Deals

One of the biggest stories from January was just how many promotional offers were being put forth from Canadian discount brokerages. The competition for consumers has certainly paid off as there are now 21 open offers on our deals page as well as additional special offers and contests not listed.

Just how do the offers stack up? This month the deals picture is somewhat unchanged to last month. The count of offers at each brokerage shows Questrade as the most active in terms of promotional offers with at least seven followed by BMO InvestorLine with four and Scotia iTrade with two. All other brokerages had one offer.

Count of Canadian discount brokerage deals for February 2015

Of all the Canadian discount brokerages Questrade is aggressively pursuing clients as seen in their promotional activity, advertising and outreach efforts in most of the Canadian investor forums, Twitter (and reddit). With ultra-low pricing on their side as well, the other Canadian brokerages are going to have to become much more nimble in order to keep pace.

It’s worth mentioning that Qtrade Investor does have a contest running but was not included in this list because it does not meet the standard criteria for commission rebate/credit or reward.

Also, thanks to a user comment from Kris, we’ve updated the transfer fee promos section to include an offer from CIBC Investor’s Edge that wasn’t posted on their website but was confirmed by their client service reps.

Event Horizon

This upcoming week features a number of free investor education events, with a particular focus on options trading. Click on a link below to find out more information.

Feb. 10 (Tues) NBDB – Introduction to Call Options – [Fr]

Feb. 10 (Tues) Scotia iTRADE – Transitioning to an ETF Portfolio with Horizons ETFs

Feb. 10 (Tues) TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Investing in Options

Feb. 11 (Wed) Scotia iTRADE – Options Trading and Volatility with Montreal Exchange

Feb. 11 (Wed) TD Direct Investing – Advanced Options

Feb. 11 (Wed) TD Direct Investing – Option Strategies for your RSP and TFSA Accounts

Feb. 11 (Wed) TD Direct Investing – Building Wealth Through Registered Accounts

Feb. 11 (Wed) TD Direct Investing – Technical Analysis – Candlestick Charting

Feb. 11 (Wed) Desjardins Online Brokerage (Disnat) – Options Trading Mistakes to Avoid

Feb. 12 (Thurs) NBDB – Learn About Investment Basics – [Fr]

From the Forums

This week’s from the forums section, we’re going to try something a little different. We’ve collected some interesting threads from the past week that are related to discount brokerages. The threads have been summarized in our corresponding community sections. Click on the links below to view them.

That’s a wrap for this weekend. No matter if you have a snow shovel or umbrella to fight the elements, stay out of trouble and see you next week. Of course if you somehow don’t manage to stay out of trouble, here’s a guy who knows some guys.

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Discount Brokerage Deals and Promotions – February 2015

*Update Feb. 16/2015* It’s fitting that on Superbowl weekend that we launch into one of the most competitive discount brokerage promotions months on record. After all, for football teams and fans alike this is the biggest weekend of the season.

For brokerages heading into RSP season the sentiment is somewhat similar.  How can we be so sure? With 21 24 open offers (22 26 if you include some of the contests and selectively advertised deals), more than half are timed to end on or just ahead of the RSP contribution deadline of March 2nd.

The deals frenzy has managed to pull most Canadian online brokerages off the sidelines and into the fray.  Brokerages such as HSBC InvestDirect, RBC Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers who have historically been far less active in the deals space each have open offers.  Other big names such as TD Direct Investing and Qtrade also jumped in through January.  There have also been reports of ‘“selectively advertised’ offers from brokerages such as BMO InvestorLine which, because they are generally intended for a select few, are not included in the table below.

Brokerages not offering some kind of promotion are now in the minority – however it’s still early into February and there may be more surprises to come.

Expired Deals

There were three offers that officially expired in January.

  • Questrade’s 25 commission-free trades for a year promotion
  • BMO InvestorLine $250 cash back promotion + 50 commission-free trade
  • Scotia iTrade’s 100 free trades + FlightDesk promotion


One minor extension was spotted on the Scotia iTrade refer-a-friend promotion which saw the expiry date shift from mid-March to the end of the month.


Another interesting change was also spotted on the Virtual Brokers offer.  It appears that Virtual Brokers has had a change of heart with regards to how long commission-free trades will be eligible.  Specifically they’ve elected to roll back the date from the end of September back to the end of April.  While having an offer shorten or expire early is not unprecedented, it is rare, and it drives home the importance of understanding that offers can change without notice.  While the initial offer to use trades until the end of September made it very competitive, the choice to roll back the dates makes the offer more comparable to others out there.

New Deals

At the time of publication (Feb. 1) there were no new deals that were launched at the outset of February.

As always if there’s anything that we’ve missed please pass this information along and we’ll try to include it in our listings.  If we can’t place it in the table (e.g. if it’s selectively advertised) you can also submit it to the deals thread in our community section.

*Update Feb. 4/15* The transfer fee coverage for CIBC Investor’s Edge has been updated.  Although not posted on their website, we have confirmed with client reps that the there is a transfer fee coverage of $135 + tax for deposits of at least $25,000 from another brokerage/institution. This is (and has been) a standing offer and is now included in the transfer fee table going forward.

*Update Feb. 16/15* A trio of new offers are launching at the mid-point in February.

The first offer is from Credential Direct – a brokerage that hasn’t historically offered many promotions/deals.  Nonetheless, the latest promotion from Credential Direct is a choice between either cash back or commission-free trades.  The offer is made up of three tiers based on deposit size.  For the first deposit tier ($25,000-$99,999) qualified applicants can receive either 100 commission free trades or $100 cash back.  The next deposit tier ($100,000 – $499,999) offers 200 commission-free trades or $200 cash back.  Finally, for deposits of $500,000 or more Credential Direct is offering either unlimited trades or $500 cash back.  Included alongside this promotion is a transfer fee coverage deal whereby Credential Direct will cover up to $150 in transfer out fees from another broker for individuals depositing/transferring at least $25,000. There are a couple of important points to be aware of including charges for ECN, SEC and/or marketplace fees.  See table below for further details.

The second offer to hit our radar mid-month was from Questrade.  Their latest offer is a combination of commission-free trades along with a subscription offer to Motley Fool Canada. For deposits of at least $10,000 qualified applicants will receive 100 commission-free trades along with a three month subscription to Motley Fool Stock Advisor Canada newsletter service.  For those interested in learning more about what that service entails, here is a link to the Motley Fool Stock Advisor Canada FAQ page.  See the table below for additional details.

The third offer, also from Questrade, is a Chinese New Year themed promotion that has a cash-back component as well as a draw for a gold coin.  The minimum deposit for this promotion is $5,000 and applies to individuals opening margin accounts or Forex/CFD accounts only.  Registered accounts were not mentioned as being eligible for this promotion.  See table below for additional details.

Discount Brokerage Deals

Company Brief Description Minimum Deposit Amount Commission/Cash Offer/Promotion Type Time Limit to Use Commission/Cash Offer Details Link Deadline
Jitney Trade A Sparx Trading exclusive offer! Use the promo code “Sparx Trading” when signing up for a new account with Jitney and receive access to their preferred pricing package and a massive 45% discount on the Real Tick trading platform. n/a Discounted Commission Rates none For more details click here none
Open a new account with HSBC InvestDirect and you could be eligible to receive up to 50 commission-free equity/ETF trades for 88 calendar days. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for full details. n/a 50 commission-free trades 88 days (payout for rebate is within 90 days of end of free trade period) HSBC InvestDirect 2015 Winter Offer March 2, 2015
BMO InvestorLine For individuals between 18 and 35 who open a new qualifying account with BMO Investorline, they may be eligible to receive 35 commission-free trades, an eBook on investing and potentially waived account minimum fees. Use promo code “New” when signing up. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer. n/a 35 commission-free trades 90 days Youth Promotion March 31, 2015
Open a new qualifying account with RBC Direct Investing and you may be eligible to receive up to 20 commission-free trades. A promotion code is required for this offer; click on the the link for the promotional page to generate a code. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for full details on this offer. n/a 20 commission-free trades 1 year Terms & Conditions & RBC Direct Investing Trade Free for 1 Year Promotion Page March 2, 2015
BMO InvestorLine Download the BMO InvestorLine iPad app and you could qualify for up to 5 commission-free trades. This offer is open to new and existing clients and can be combined with other offers. Clients must have a qualifying account in order to be eligible. Read full terms and conditions for details. n/a 5 commission-free trades ($50 max value) 30 days Tablet Trades Promotion February 26, 2015
Open a new account (TFSA, Margin or RRSP) and receive $50 commission credit . Use promo code: kdkfnbbc $1,000 $50 commission credit none none none
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. $1,000 $50 commission credit (friend) $100 commission credit (referrer bonus) 60 days Refer a friend none
Open and fund a qualifying account (TFSA, Cash/Margin or RRSP) at Questrade with at least A) $1,000 or B) $10,000 and you may be eligible to receive A) 10 or B) 100 commission-free trades. Use promo code 100FREEML15W when registering. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for this offer. A) $1,000 B) $10,000 A) 10 commission-free trades B) 100 commission-free trades 60 days Multi-leg Offer February 27, 2015
Open a new TFSA, margin or registered account with Questrade and deposit at least A) $1,000 B) $25,000 or C) $50,000 to receive either A) 30 days B) 60 days or C) 90 days of unlimited commission-free stock & options trades. Use promo code UNLIMITEDW15 when signing up. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more information. A) $1,000 B) $25,000 C) $50,000 Unlimited commission-free trades during associated period. A) 30 days B) 60 days C) 90 days Questrade Unlimited Trading Offer March 2, 2015
Open a new TFSA, margin or registered account with Questrade and deposit at least A) $1,000 B) $25,000 or C) $50,000 to receive either A) 30 days B) 60 days or C) 90 days of unlimited commission-free stock & options trades. Use promo code UNLIMITEDRSP when signing up. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more information. A) $1,000 B) $25,000 C) $50,000 Unlimited commission-free trades during associated period. A) 30 days B) 60 days C) 90 days Questrade RRSP Promotion March 2, 2015
Open a new account (TFSA, Margin, RRSP or FX/CFD) and place at least one trade within 60 days of opening and you may be eligible to receive a $50 prepaid Visa card from Questrade. Use promo code VISA50. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details on this offer $5,000 $50 Visa gift card Cards will be mailed within 40 business days of reaching account funding requirement. $50 Prepaid Visa Card Offer February 27, 2015
Open a new margin, or FX/CFD account with a deposit of at least $5,000 and place at least one commission-generating trade and you may be eligible to receive a cash back offer of $88.88 and an entry into a draw for a gold coin. Use promo code CHINESESNY2015. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details on this offer $5,000 $88.88 cash back Cash rebate takes place up to 30 days after meeting eligibility Chinese New Year Promotion March 6, 2015
Open and fund a new account with at least A) $5,000 or B)$10,000 in net new equity and you may be eligible to receive A) 50 or B) 100 commission-free trades. Use promo code “RRSP15” when signing up for an account to qualify. Be sure to read the terms and conditions of the offer for full details. A)$5,000 – $9,999 B)$10,000+ A) 50 commission-free trades B) 100 commission-free trades (max commission per trade $6.49) Trades must be used by April 30, 2015 (commissions to be rebated by October 2015) RRSP Free Trade Promotion February 27, 2015
Open a new TFSA, margin or registered account with Questrade and deposit at least $10,000 dollars to be eligible to receive 100 commission-free trades and a three month subscription to Motley Fool Stock Advisor Canada newsletter. Use promo code 100FREEMFSUBwhen signing up. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more information. $10,000 100 commission-free trades 60 days Motley Fool Subscription Promotion April 30, 2015
Scotia iTrade If you refer a friend/family member who is not already a Scotia iTrade account holder to them, both you and your friend get a bonus of either cash or free trades. You have to use the referral form to pass along your info as well as your friend/family members’ contact info in order to qualify. There are lots of details/conditions to this deal so be sure to read the details link. A)$10,000 B)$50,000+ A) You(referrer): $50 or 10 free trades; Your “Friend”: $50 or 10 free trades (max total value:$99.90) B) You(referrer): $100 cash or 50 free trades; Your “Friend”: $100 cash or 50 free trades (max total value: $499.50) 60 days Refer A Friend to Scotia iTrade March 31, 2015
Scotia iTrade Open and fund a new Scotia iTRADE account with at least A) $15,000 – $49,999, B)$50,000 – $99,999, C)$100,000 – $249,000, D) $250,000 – $499,999, E) $500,000 – $999,999, or F) $1,000,000+ and you may be eligible to receive a corresponding cash-back or commission rebate. For commission-free trades use code: WTT15 or for cash rebates use code: DL5RP. Be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully for rebate and cash back eligibility. This offer also includes a free ‘swing trading’ course with Larry Berman and 90 days free of FlightDesk. A)$15,000 – $49,999 B)$50,000 – $99,999 C)$100,000 – $249,000 D)$250,000 – $499,999 E)$500,000 – $999,999 F)$1,000,000+ A) 50 commission-free trades OR $50 cash B) 100 commission-free trades OR $100 cash C) 250 commission-free trades OR $250 D) 350 commission-free trades OR $350 E) 500 commission-free trades OR $500 F) 1000 commission-free trades OR $1000 180 days for commission-free trades Cash back to be deposited by November 30, 2015. 1000 Free Trade Offer March 31, 2015
Open a new account and fund it with at least (A) $20,000 or (B)$100,000 and NBDB may provide up to (A) $500 or (B) $1,000 in commission rebates for qualifying accounts. Use promo code “CashBack2015” when signing up. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for eligibility and refund dates. A)$20,000 – $99,999 B)$100,000+ A)$500 commission rebate B)$1,000 commission rebate 90 days (rebate of commissions depends on sign up date and is outlined on terms/conditions) Cash Back Offer March 31, 2015
Open a new account with Credential Direct and fund it with at least A) $25,000 B)$100,000 or C)$500,00+ to receive either A) 100 commission-free trades or $100 cash back; B) 200 commission-free trades or $200 cash back or C) unlimited commission- free trades or $500 cash back. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. A)$25,000 – $99,999 B)$100,000 – $499,999 C)$500,000+ A) 100 commission-free trade or $100 cash back B) 200 commission-free trades or $200 cash back C) Unlimited commission-free trade or $500 cash back Trades must be used by September 30, 2015 and will be reimbursed on October 15 2015. Cash back deposited October 15, 2015. Credential Direct Spring Promotion April 15, 2015
Open a new account with TD Direct Investing with at least A) $25,000 B) $50,000 or C) $100,000 and you may be eligible to receive rebates on up to A) 50 B) 100 or C) 200 equity and/or options trades. Be sure to read full terms and conditions A) $25,000 – $49,999 B) $50,000 – $99,999 C) $100,000+ A) 50 commission-free trades B) 100 commission-free trades C) 200 commission-free trades 60 days (commission rebates to be issued on Aug. 15/2015) TD Direct Investing Free Trade Promotion March 27, 2015
Open a new account or fund an existing account at CIBC Investor’s Edge with at least A)$25,000-$49,999 B)$50,000 – $99,999 or C)$100,000+ and you may be eligible to receive A)$100 cash back and 25 free trades; B)$200 cash back and 50 trades or C)$300 cash back and 100 free trades. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for full details on this offer. A) $25,000 – $49,999 B) $50,000 – $99,999 C) $100,00+ A) $100 cash back + 25 commission-free trades B) $200 cash back + 50 commission-free trades C) $300 cash back + 100 commission-free trades Cash back payout occurs within 30 days of account funding; Time limit to use commission free trades is 60 days Investors Edge Cash Back and Free Equity Trades Offer February 28, 2015
Disnat Disnat is offering new & existing clients $300 in commission credits which can be used for up to 6 months. To be eligible, new/existing clients need to deposit $50,000 into a Disnat account. You’ll have to call 1 800 268-8471 and mention promo code Disnat300. See details link for more info. $50,000 $300 commission credit 6 months Disnat $300 Commission Credit Promo March 31, 2015
BMO InvestorLine If you refer a new client to BMO InvestorLine and they open an account with a)$50,000 – $249,999 or b)$250,000+ the referrer and the referee will both receive cash. The new account must be opened with the referral code specific to the referrer. A) $50,000 – $249,000 B) $250,000+ A) You(referrer): $200; Your Friend(referee): $50 B) You(referrer): $300; Your Friend: $100 Payout occurs after 60 days (subject to conditions). Contact InvestorLine for full terms and conditions. October 30, 2015
BMO InvestorLine Open and fund a new qualifying account at BMO InvestorLine with at least $100,000 in net new assets and you may be eligible to receive $300 cash back. Use the promo code RSP2015 when signing up for the account. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for eligibility and further details. $100,000 $300 cash back Payout occurs after 6 months RSP 2015 Promotion March 31, 2015
Open a new TFSA, margin or registered account with Questrade and deposit at least $100,000 to be eligible to receive an iPad mini. Use promo code IPADMINI15Q2 when signing up. Read the terms and conditions for more information about eligibility. $100,000 iPad Mini 2 (16gb wi-fi only) [retail value ~$370 including taxes] iPad Mini will be sent within 60 days of account being funded and 1 commission-generating trade being placed. iPad Mini Offer March 13, 2015

Transfer Fee Deals

Company Brief Description Maximum Transfer Fee Coverage Amount Minimum Deposit Amount for Transfer Fee Eligibility Details Link Deadline
Scotia iTrade Transfer $15,000 or more to Scotia iTrade from another Canadian brokerage, and iTrade may pay up to $150 in transfer fees. $150 $15,000 1000 Free Trade Offer March 31, 2015
Transfer $15,000 or more to RBC Direct Investing and they will pay up to $135 in transfer fees $135 $15,000 Transfer Fee Rebate Details none
Qtrade Investor Qtrade Investor will reimburse your transfer fee up to $150 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. $150 $25,000 Transfer Fee Promo none
Transfer $25,000 or more from another brokerage and Credential Direct will cover up to $150 in transfer fees. Use promo code SWITCHME when signing up to qualify for the transfer promotion. $150 $25,000 Credential Direct Spring Promotion April 15, 2015
Move your brokerage account to Questrade and they’ll cover the transfer-out fee up to $150. $150 $25,000 Transfer Fee Promo none
Transfer $25,000 or more in equity to Virtual Brokers and they’ll cover the transfer-out fees up to $150. $150 $25,000 Transfer Fee Rebate Terms & Conditions March 31, 2015
Transfer $25,000 or more into a new TD Direct Investing account and they will cover up to $150 of transfer fees. $150 $25,000 TD Direct Investing Free Trade Promotion March 27, 2015
Transfer $25,000 or more into a CIBC Investor’s Edge account and they will reimburse up to $135 in brokerage transfer fees. Clients must call customer service to request rebate after transfer made. $135 $25,000 confirmed with reps. Contact client service for more info (1-800-567-3343) none
Transfer $25,000 or more to a National Bank Direct Brokerage account and they will pay up to $135 plus taxes in transfer fees $135 $25,000 Transfer Fee Rebate none
Disnat Disnat is offering up to $150 to cover the cost of transfer fees from another institution. To be eligible, new/existing clients need to deposit $50,000 into a Disnat account. You’ll have to call 1 800 268-8471 and mention promo code Disnat300. See details link for more info. $150 $50,000 Disnat $300 Commission Credit Promo March 31, 2015