For such a short week, there was certainly a lot of activity to go around. Many students started school; Apple launched its latest set of toys, Tom Brady laced up for the official start of the new NFL season. Even volatility seemed to be, well, volatile. Yes, for better or worse change is the market’s only constant. To borrow from the launch of the latest iPhone: The only thing that’s changed is everything.
In this week’s roundup we take a look at the ‘back to school’ themed activities that permeated across the discount brokerage and DIY investor landscape. Next, we take a look at the current contests being run by Canadian brokerages as a slightly different approach to get the attention of investors. This week’s discount brokerage tweets also reveal an interesting mix of conversations. Finally we’ll showcase some of the upcoming investor education events and close out with the latest forum chatter from Canadian investors.
Kicking it Old School
This past week there were a number of very interesting moves made by several Canadian discount brokerages that all had a distinctive ‘back to school’ theme to them.
Starting first with Virtual Brokers who was literally going back to schools to do some promotional activity. As spotted on their Twitter account, Virtual Brokers visited the campuses of three universities this week: Ryerson, University of Toronto Mississauga and McMaster.
Thank you for having us @RyersonU! Virtual Brokers welcomes all students to this year’s Street Festival, come by and check us out!
— Virtual Brokers (@Virtual_Brokers) September 8, 2015
Thank you for having us @McMasterU! Virtual Brokers welcomes all students to this year’s Sidewalk Sale, come by and check us out!
— Virtual Brokers (@Virtual_Brokers) September 10, 2015
While post-secondary students typically don’t have lots of extra funds to invest, there are a number of strategic sub-groups within the university crowd that make sense for a discount brokerage to build awareness with.
Like several other brokerages, Virtual Brokers has younger, cost-conscious investors on their wish list. To that end, Virtual Brokers has developed student oriented products, such as the Kick Start Investment Program which are directly being pitched to students and recent graduates.
So, while it may be tough to command the attention of undergrads between pub crawls and frosh week nuttiness, Virtual Brokers looks like they’re putting a more personal approach into their online brokerage image.
Putting Energy into Education
Another non- bank-owned brokerage, Questrade, was also up to some creative education-themed marketing. Coming up later this month Questrade is holding an investor education webinar on a popular investment area for many Canadian investors: the energy sector.
The session, entitled the 2015 energy investing outlook webinar, is being presented by the OTC Markets Group in association with Canadian Oil Sands Limited, Canadian Energy Services and Technology Corp and McMillan LLP. The agenda for Questrade’s upcoming webinar is an interesting one.
Topics to be covered include an introduction to the energy sector, strategies energy company executives use to manage capital and preserve dividends, the impact of currency fluctuations on energy companies and how to read financial statements from energy companies.
Unlike other discount brokerages such as Scotia iTrade or TD Direct Investing who tend to hold frequent investor education events, Questrade appears to be leaning towards doing less frequent but bigger events. Earlier this year, Questrade also ran an event that featured key speakers from the Canadian financial media that looked at investing trends for 2015.
The session is scheduled to take 75 minutes with 60 minutes for the presentation and 15 minutes for the question/answer period. For more information on this webinar, click here.
Intuition to Win Tuition
Taking a different approach to the back-to-school season, BMO InvestorLine is banking on promotions and contests to win over younger investors. Specifically, BMO InvestorLine has decided to extend their commission-free trade youth promotion into the fall.
At the outset of September the InvestorLine website did not have the updated dates and offer, however the information eventually made its way up there.
As an extra incentive, BMO is also running a contest with a top prize of $10,000 towards tuition at a post-secondary institution as well as $500.00 towards books. Eligible individuals who open an InvestorLine ‘Young Investor Account’ can qualify for this prize draw.
For those who prefer to go the ‘no purchase necessary’ route or who have a light course load, there is an option to submit a (legibly) handwritten 500-800 word essay on “why students should plan their financial future.”
With interest in investing and trading picking back up again as we head into the fall, Canadian discount brokerages are definitely looking to get the attention of DIY investors. In addition to the regular slate of cash-back or commission-free trade offers, some brokerages also use contests strategically to get the attention (and contact information) of investors.
As mentioned above, BMO InvestorLine in conjunction with their parent bank, BMO, are running the ‘win tuition’ contest. Like most things in the discount brokerage world, however, BMO InvestorLine is not alone in using contests. RBC Direct Investing and Questrade both have contests themed around education/learning.
In the case of RBC Direct Investing, their current contest offers three chances per month to win $1,000. The contest, which began in April and runs until December 27th, is open only to members of the RBC Direct Investing Community. One of the features of the RBC Direct Investing platform is that there is a robust practice account feature as well as a large community of investors to learn and benchmark personal performance against (anonymously).
Finally, Questrade has a contest currently underway geared towards the ‘back-to-school’ sentiment. The contest offers the chance for individuals to win $5,000 toward a professionally managed RESP using Portfolio IQ.
When it comes to contests, it is actually quite interesting to see the amount of resource (in dollar terms) that RBC Direct Investing is contributing towards their investor community feature relative to what other brokerages are spending on these type of efforts. The only other big bank-owned brokerage offering a major prize contest is BMO InvestorLine and even then, the contest is actually being run by the parent BMO and spread across many different business units to qualify.
Also, for comparison, the selfie contest that Scotia iTrade ran this past summer for the prize of a movie pass shows the magnitude of difference between what RBC is putting forward and how other brokerages are responding. At a time when competition is forcing discount brokerages to look for cost efficiency, RBC is once again raising the ante for the other bank-owned brokerages to come up with a compelling incentive.
Tweets of the Week
This week on Twitter was an interesting one. While there was a good diversity of participation and topics covered, it was particularly noteworthy to see Virtual Brokers’ social media efforts restart. Prior to this past week, their Twitter account was dormant through a good chunk of the summer. Mentioned this week were CIBC Investor’s Edge, Questrade, Scotia iTrade and Virtual Brokers.
This week’s discount brokerage-sponsored investor education events include upcoming sessions that may be of interest to mutual funds enthusiasts, and those curious about options and ETFs. Introduction to investing, trading strategies, and fundamental analysis round out this week’s selection.
September 12 – September 18
From the Forums
In this post from reddit Personal Finance Canada, a beginner investor is looking to get started with some simple TD e-series mutual funds in a TFSA. It definitely generated a lot of interesting comments and instructive perspectives on how to get started with investing and is worth a read for beginners.
In this quick thread, on Canadian Money Forum a user is curious about how to go about trading options in their TD direct investing account. What’s also interesting is how some DIY investors can turn to fellow forum posters ahead of or in lieu of brokerages directly.
In this post from another reddit forum on investing, the Canadian Investor, one user is looking for some perspective on which discount brokerage may be best penny stock trading. Though the forum isn’t as big as the other forums, it is an interesting perspective on a trading strategy.
Into the Close
That’s a wrap for this week’s roundup. There’s been a lot of chatter about two dirty four letter words in the news: rate hike. Not all hikes are bad though. If you’re the outdoorsy type, take the chance to enjoy a late summer hike; if you’re a football fan, then there’s also another type of hike you might enjoy. Of course, everyone is still waiting and worrying about that “other” hike, but until it comes, hopefully there are still some chances to take advantage of the fun kinds. Have a great weekend!