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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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