Some people don’t even refer to this month as November anymore. “Movember” – the trendy moustache-growing period of the year, has now overtaken the second last month of the year all with the aim at raising men’s health awareness, of course, and having a little fun. As many traders and online brokerage providers know, however, the trend is your friend until it ends.
In this week’s roundup we take a look at the evolving trends in the deals and promotions circuit, with some interesting changes to the deals mix that took place at the start of the month. Next, even though many razors will be on hiatus for November, there is one that seems to apply to Canada’s largest brokerage in their bid to pull ahead of their brokerage peers. In keeping with the roundup tradition, we’ll close out with a look at the tweets from the past week as well as investor education events and some interesting chatter from the Canadian investor forums.
Let’s Make a Deal
It’s a new month and with it comes updates on the status of promotional deals being offered by Canadian discount brokerages, as well as a look at monthly trading activity stats from Interactive Brokers in the US.
Starting first with the deals, Questrade once again leads the online brokerage pack with almost half of the 15 current promotions or deals coming from the alone. Leading the news on the promotional front, Questrade is once again offering an iPad mini 2 for anyone opening an online account by Dec. 31 and funding it with a minimum of $100,000.
Questrade is also still offering contest entrants a chance to win $5,000 towards a professionally-managed RESP, offer ending Jan. 31, 2016, as well as a $50 Amazon.ca gift card for opening a new online account, with at least $5,000 in funding, between Nov. 9 and Dec. 31. Another new Questrade contest involves a chance to win a $5,000 portfolio with Portfolio IQ. This contest opened Oct. 31 and ends on Jan. 31.
BMO InvestorLine is looking to ring in the New Year resolutely with a promotional offer. Anyone opening an account by Jan. 6, with a minimum of $100,000 in assets, is eligible to receive $200 cash back, and 20 trades that are good for use for up to a year. This offer started on Nov. 2. Unfortunately, their youth-oriented offer didn’t fare as well. It expired at then end of October after a very long run through 2015.
Desjardins Online Brokerage is also busy on the promotional side of things with a unique offering of its own. Current and new clients are getting a combined $1,646 discount to enroll in the Power of Options Educational Course from Trade Global. The $995 course is available for $99 under the promotion, and enrollees also get three months access to optionsource.net, a stocks and options advisory service normally priced at $750 for the three months.
On the trade activity front, U.S.-based Interactive Brokers has released its monthly report for electronic brokerage activity. Of note, there were 655,000 daily average revenue trades (DARTs) in October, which is a one-percent drop from September, and a 4-percent drop from last October. Average commission per cleared client order was at $3.70 for the month, which includes exchange, clearing and regulatory fees.
On the Razor’s Edge
Everyone’s heard the expression: simplicity is a virtue, but not everyone’s heard of Occam’s razor, which is a philosophical principle dating back to the 12th century that selects alternatives based on simplicity. So, if you take Occam’s razor to a set of competing options, the simplest one wins.
Translating this principle into practice for online brokerages, however, has not been so simple. Trading platforms for DIY investors have been notoriously challenging to use – either with too many features, which makes them challenging to learn or too few, which inevitably limit the usability for many types of investors. This year, however, there has been a clear focus on improving usability and simplifying the interface investors use to manage their investments and trade online.
TD Direct Investing is the latest brokerage to upgrade their platform with their new TD WebBroker investor platform. The discount brokerage is touting the greater simplicity of the new online design. A primary feature of this new simplified layout is the navigation menu at the top left of the screen. It contains three links that are always readily available — Accounts, Research, and Trading — all with extensive sub-menus viewable with a click, as well as an easy-access Quick Links toolbar menu to the right.
The new WebBroker homepage layout can be personalized, and includes a summary of a client’s accounts, market and real-data updates — available before, during and after trading hours. If you’ve become accustomed to Microsoft Windows’ tile layout, WebBroker provides a similar nifty feature by placing a client’s accounts in tiles that can be scrolled horizontally and selected with a simple click.
In fact, if there’s one thing that stands out with the new homepage layout, it’s just how many features are available on the same page. Scroll down, and a big “Go to Balances” button takes a user to a detailed view of real-time balances for all accounts. Scroll down even further, and an impressive Top Movers section provides an easy-to-see layout of holdings that are experiencing the greatest market value change for the day.
So, if there are a couple of things that stand out with this new layout, it’s that it’s visually more appealing and accessible than the old format, with more features readily available in one location. The new WebBroker also appears to be simpler: streamline navigation, easier access and customizable features.
Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week
This week’s discount brokerage tweets showcase customers using Twitter to look for answers from brokerages and receive relatively prompt responses. Making the roundup this week are BMO Investorline, Scotia iTrade, Questrade, and TD Direct Investing.
It’s a busy week ahead for discount brokerage-sponsored investor education events. Here are some upcoming sessions that may be of interest to those who are new to investing, intrigued by technical analysis, and options enthusiasts. An ETF portfolio primer rounds out this week’s selection.
Scotia iTRADE – Active Investing Strategies with Independent Investor Institute
TD Direct Investing – Options Fundamentals
Scotia iTRADE – ETF Model Portfolios with Horizons ETF
TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Investing
Scotia iTRADE – Price Volume Divergence with AJ Monte
From the Forums
Make the switch
There are a growing number of reasons for individuals to move their money from one institution to another. It’s easier than ever to switch your discount brokerage due to the number of promotions for opening accounts and paying transfer fees, you can check them out here. In this post from the Canadian Money Forum, a user is looking to see what benefits or promotions they can get when they move their portfolio to RBC Direct Investing. Another individual asks for an exit strategy for their Tangerine TFSA invested funds in this thread from the RedFlagDeals investing forum.
ETFs coming to TD
For those of you interested in trading ETFs, TD Direct Investing has joined the party. In this post from the RedFlagDeals investing thread, a user informs the community about TD’s plans to offer ETFs in 2016. It’s going to be a great new year for ETF investors!
Into the Close
The theme of the week appears to be change with a new brokerage platform as well as new deals and promotions to accompany a news cycle that included a surprising change in Blue Jays management, a new World Series champion Kansas City Royals, and fresh faces in a federal cabinet yet to be tested with its new duties. It looks like 2015 may have a few more surprises after all.