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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 29, 2016

If there was one comeback greater than the DeLorean this past week, it had to be in the stock markets. Ok, maybe the comeback wasn’t as great, but at least investors can finally breathe a sigh of relief. The latest rally (or dead cat bounce) left most markets in the green for the week – a rarity so far this year. The markets weren’t alone in being in the giving spirit, however. Canadian discount brokerages are gearing up for their busiest time of year and it looks like they’ll be pulling out all the stops to win the hearts, minds and portfolios of DIY investors.

This week, we take a look at two moves by one of Canada’s most popular bank-owned online brokerages and why investors and other online brokerages will be paying attention. Next, we take a look at another independent online brokerage who is banking on technology being the big disruptor to the traditional online brokerage model. From there we’ll take a look at what DIY investors were talking about on Twitter and round out with what was on Canadian investors’ minds in the investor forums.

TD Direct Investing Steps Up

In addition to markets ending the week on an uptick, DIY investors got another reason to smile heading into the weekend. This past week one of the largest online brokerages in Canada, TD Direct Investing, launched a commission-free trade promotion that is sure to get the attention of investors and other brokerages alike.

The deal itself is one that TD Direct Investing has launched in the past. It is a tiered offer where individuals opening a new account and depositing between $25,000 and $100,000 or more can receive between 50 and 200 commission-free trades. In addition to the free trades, TD Direct Investing is also bundling in 90 days free access to their advanced trader dashboard. More details are available in our deals & promotions section here.

With the introduction of TD Direct Investing into the mix, the total active promotions from Canadian discount brokerages now stands at 17, with 7 of those coming this past month alone. Despite TD’s size and popularity, however, their latest promotion is going to have an uphill battle to stand out from the crowd.

Scotia iTrade’s current promotion, for example, has similar deposit tiers, but offer more commission-free trades at those levels and the trades are also available for use for 90 days as opposed to TD’s 60 days. In addition, there’s the fact that by being the biggest player in the market, other brokerages big and small are likely to step up the offer ante, at least throughout February and possibly into March.

Knowing this, TD Direct Investing isn’t relying solely on the incentive of a promotional offer to appeal to DIY investors – especially those who may not have a minimum deposit large enough to qualify for free trades.

In addition to their latest promotional offer, TD Direct Investing is also updating their fee schedule as of March 1st. Most notably, TD Direct Investing will now count the total account size of individuals within the same household against the minimum funding criteria required to determine account management fees. In other words, if individuals within the same household are clients of TD Direct Investing, the total of the value of their accounts can be used to waive the quarterly administration fee if that total exceeds $15,000.

As Canadian online brokerages continuously try to evolve in the sub $10 per trade world, they are becoming more and more creative. For their part, TD Direct Investing is clearly stepping up their game across the board. From incentives, to administration fees, platforms and educational events it seems like 2016 will be a year that other brokerages are going to have to work much harder and smarter to get take the spotlight away from TD.

Mass App-eal

If there’s one thing that individual traders like to do, it’s to look over at other traders to see what they’re up to or to share with anyone who’ll listen the cheers or jeers about a trading idea. This past week, Questrade gave its clients one more avenue to do that by offering up an integration with popular stock market community

Trading communities are great places for DIY investors to compare notes and to break the loneliness of DIY investing. Unfortunately for most Canadian DIY investors, there aren’t a whole lot of trading community interfaces built into the trading platforms directly. Usually places like Twitter, StockTwits, or the myriad of investor forums are places where traders go interact with other online traders. Occasionally there are even private chat rooms and trader hangouts that individuals can pay for to shadow or follow along with other traders.

The latest integration that Questrade has provided to its clients by enabling the Profit.Ly in the app centre means that Questrade’s platform can now directly populate the Profit.Ly stream of user generated trading content with a Questrade clients trading activity (or at least the activity a user wishes to share).

While having the Profit.Ly bolt-on solution is great, what is even more intriguing is that, unlike most other Canadian online brokerages, Questrade offers DIY investors the ability to interface directly with Questrade’s trading platform via an API. In addition to being able to connect directly to the API themselves, DIY investors can also use 3rd party apps to interact with Questrade’s platform opening up a world of possible extra functionality onto Questrade’s already robust trading platform.

As mentioned earlier, Canadian discount brokerages are having to get very creative in order to compete. Questrade, however, is taking this creativity to a whole other level by opening up their trading platform to 3rd party developers and apps.

In a landscape where being cutting edge is becoming harder and harder to do, Questrade’s investment in developing its trading platform is starting to pay off because of this ability to partner with 3rd party developers. Features such as trading journals, access to advanced charting integration, stock screeners and now trading communities all from within the trading platform mean that the tools and user experience available to DIY investors is hard to compete with – at least for those who are willing to pay for the extra bells and whistles.

As time goes by and these apps gain in popularity and sophistication, the Questrade partner centre will be a feature that will definitely distinguish this online brokerage from almost all of the other Canadian brokerages. While Questrade may have built their brand around being a low-cost brokerage, their next chapter is definitely being crafted with creativity in mind.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

This week it looks like frustrations got the better of most of the DIY investors tweeting to Canadian discount brokerages. Mentioned this week were Credential Direct, Questrade, Scotia iTRADE, TD Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers.

From the Forums

Unrefreshing Experience

Up to date information is key to making a good trading decision. In this post from RedFlagDeals investing thread, however, one RBC Direct Investing user was frustrated with the delay in quotes coming their way. Find out what other users had to say about the delayed market quotes.

Poll Position

This post, also from RedFlagDeals, took a poll of users on ‘which online brokerage is best for ETFs?’ While it is not entirely surprising as to who the community of users selected as a standout (by a large margin) but it was actually more interesting to see who didn’t get much endorsement. Of course, take the results with a grain of salt because of the low number of participants.

Into the Close

That does it for this week’s roundup. For those that have had their share of bumps and bruises in the markets, the weekend is a welcome reprieve. Hockey fans will no doubt also be tuning in to watch the games best, brightest and maybe even the least likely of All-stars take the ice. Of course, all eyes will be on John Scott and for those who’ve read his journey to get there, it might be fair to say he’s a Great Scott.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 22, 2016

From national squirrel day to discovering a whole other planet to the end of week bounce in the markets, there’s been no shortage of interesting events this week. Of course, this strange string of events may have something to do with the X-files officially returning to TV this upcoming weekend. Or so some might want to believe.

While everything from squirrels to celestial events might be used to explain the wild swings in the markets, it’s no coincidence that heading into RSP season banks & discount brokerages alike are ramping up their efforts to win over DIY investors.

In this week’s roundup we take a look at the recent moves by two brokerages to win over investors with chances to win big money. Next we take a look at highlights from a few news stories that emerged this week – from brokerages winning awards for client service to one brokerage’s attempt at a celebrity endorsement Canadian style to one bank’s potential disruption in the wealth management space. As usual we’ve also got a great selection of investor education events and reactions from DIY investors on Twitter and in forums on our menu. Hope you’re hungry!

Winning at the Ballot

As commission pricing among most of Canada’s discount brokerages is now roughly around the same $10 per trade level, brokerages are working hard to make themselves standout from one another. We’ve already seen that deals and promotional offers are a popular strategy among Canadian brokerages with 16 deals currently being advertised. Another category of promotional offer that brokerages appear to be increasingly turning to, however, is the tried-and-true “contest”.

This past week both Qtrade Investor and Scotia iTrade got into the promotional offer mix by launching two contests for DIY investors.

Qtrade Investor’s latest promotion is definitely geared to catch the attention of investors as they are out shopping during the “RRSP” season. Specifically their “love your RSP” contest offers up two grand prizes of $5,000 (to new clients and existing clients). In order to qualify, new or existing clients have to contribute at least $2,000 to their Qtrade RSP account.

Scotia iTrade, on the other hand, is taking a targeted approach to Toronto-based (or those brave enough to visit Toronto from January through March) clientele. In a specific bid to boost traffic through their investor centre, the Scotia iTrade contest is offering up a top prize of $10,000 and one of five prizes of $1,000 to individuals who either attend a seminar (in person); attend a 20 minute session with a relationship manager; open a new account or fund an existing iTrade account all exclusively at the investor centre.

In addition to these brokerages, Questrade is still advertising a pair of contests offering prizes of $5,000 or $1,000 to generate more interest in their managed wealth business line and RBC Direct Investing recently concluded their $1,000 contest for participating in their community feature.

As online brokerages are forced to come up with creative ways to connect with new and existing clients, contests offer a way to generate interest among the DIY investor community. Unlike many other contests, where simply submitting your name is enough for entry, these latest contests from Qtrade Investor and Scotia iTrade can require individuals make a deposit in order to qualify (or to enhance their odds of winning).

Awareness alone isn’t the only value discount brokerages derive from the contest strategy, however. These contests also help to discount brokerages to establish a way of directly contacting new potential clients – through some form of direct marketing effort. As more and more brokerages ramp up their advertising and marketing efforts through the busy RSP season, getting new clients is something they’re not leaving up to chance.

Sharing the Winners Circle

Earlier this week, the results from Dalbar Canada’s 2015Direct Brokerage Service Award were announced.

HSBC InvestDirect and RBC Direct Investing both landed in the winner’s circle yet again and were recognized by Dalbar for their respective performance on a number of client service metrics.

As mentioned in a previous piece on the Dalbar award, this is one of the only major discount brokerage assessments/rankings to take into account the quality of client service. While what defines a “quality” client service team or interaction is certainly up for debate, according to Dalbar’s methodology one of the key elements to receiving this recognition is the completeness of the answer and anticipation of other needs the client may have.

For many DIY investors, the interaction with client service may be minimal and thus not a driver in the decision to go with one brokerage over another. To those for whom service does matter, however, the Dalbar awards offer at least some idea of the service experience without actually having to try out a brokerage directly. Unfortunately for DIY investors, there were no additional details about the rest of the field that were disclosed and as such, the Dalbar award is of limited value when trying to decide on a brokerage’s client service relative to other brokerages.

Hammering Home the Message

If there’s one investment that’s got most of the financial community and media fixated it’s real estate. In an interesting twist to capitalize on the fervor, CIBC Investor’s Edge has recruited home reno personality, real estate investor and author Scott McGillivray to put together a series of 30ish second video clips on DIY investing.

While it is yet another in a series of small changes that CIBC Investor’s Edge has made over the last year, this move in the direction of getting the star factor will definitely get people to pay more attention than some of the other imagery and video being produced by other brokerages. Though it’s not quite the same caliber as TD Ameritrade teaming up with Matt Damon as spokesperson, it is stepping up the game for getting the attention of DIY investors in distinctively Canadian fashion. And as Justin Trudeau has shown, good hair can certainly go places.

Robo Roll Out

This past week offered up another big announcement from the wealth management space. BMO officially rolled out its robo-advisor “SmartFolio” for full release.

As with most products rolled out by a major financial institution, the planning and implementation of the robo-advisory has taken quite a bit of time and effort. Still, even though other upstart services have had a considerable head start, it’s a big deal when a major player such as BMO decides to play in the same sandbox.

Given how closely Canada’s big five banks mirror one another, it should be interesting to watch the response (if any) from the other players. On the one hand, when RBC Direct Investing lowered their standard commission pricing to $9.95 in 2014, almost all of the other major bank-owned brokerages responded within a few months by doing the same. Conversely, when BMO InvestorLine launched the hybrid DIY-advice product called AdviceDirect in 2012, no other large or small brokerage put forward a comparable product.

Roboadvisors are clearly reaping rewards as shown by the monolithic Charles Schwab in the US. Whether or not the same results can be expected in Canada, however, is debatable.

Despite the fierce competition, there are still 15 Canadian online brokerages battling for market share – with some clearly battling harder for new business than others. Whether the wealth management space in Canada is big enough to withstand yet another product remains to be seen. For BMO, however, the spotlight on the robo-advisor space is clearly on them, which is not something that happened with the adviceDirect rollout and yet another reason the other big banks will have to seriously consider the robo-advisor approach as part of their offering.

Event Horizon

Winter’s slowly winding down, and it’s an exciting week ahead for discount brokerage-sponsored investor education events. Here are some upcoming sessions that may be of interest to options and technical analysis enthusiasts. ETFs, registered accounts, and an international resource investment conference round out this week’s selection.

January 23

TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Technical Analysis

January 24

Cambridge House International Vancouver Resource Investment Conference (VRIC) – 2016

January 25

Cambridge House International Vancouver Resource Investment Conference (VRIC) – 2016

TD Direct Investing – Stock Talk

January 26

TD Direct Investing – Alternatives to Mutual Funds: Learn What Else Is Out There

January 27

TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Technical Analysis

RBC Direct Investing – Getting Started with ETFs – iShares by Blackrock

RBC Direct Investing – Getting Started with ETFs – iShares by Blackrock

RBC Direct Investing – Getting Started with ETFs – iShares by Blackrock

Scotia iTRADE – Options Strategies for RRSP & TFSA with Montreal Exchange

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

This week there was definitely more chatter about brokerages on Twitter. From mishaps and hiccups with accounts and trading platforms, brokerages big and small were in the spotlight for tech issues demonstrating that size alone will prevent outages during the trading day.

From the Forums

Reaction to Robo-Advisor Rollout

Given the attention that robo-advisors have garnered from the investor community, the recent move by BMO to widely roll out their smartfolio robo-advisor service has got people talking. Here are two posts – the first from reddit’s personal finance Canada section with some interesting perspectives on rates and value and a second post at Financial wisdom forum with a view from more seasoned investors.

Banking on Change

Making the switch between brokerages is something many DIY investors contemplate. But, is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence? In this post from, one user’s question touched off an interesting comparison between TD Direct Investing and RBC Direct Investing.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on what has been an incredibly busy week. For those suffering through the wrath of Old Man Winter, this may be the best weekend yet to start training hard for the TV marathon. Shovel responsibly!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 15, 2016

Sooo this week happened. For the bulls it was definitely a rough week all around but for the bears it has been a fantastic 2016. Unlike the question people were asking about the powerball lottery or real estate prices in Vancouver and Toronto (which was how high can this thing go?), Canadian DIY investors are looking at the loonie and oil prices and wondering how low can these possibly go?

Canadian discount brokerages are now also a part of each of these two different conversations. On the one hand, there are deals and promotions that have started to heat up again and we find ourselves wondering how high they’ll go this year to win new clients. Interestingly, there was also an industry shaking headline put out by one discount brokerage that had us (and other DIY investors) wondering how low can commission prices really go?

In this edition of the roundup we cover the latest commission price drop that is bound to make waves through the year. Next we take a look at the two latest deals to show up in the growing deals and promotions race. From there we’ll take a look at the discount brokerage tweets from the past week and preview the investor education opportunities coming up in the next week. Finally we close out with a look at what investors were chatting about in the forums.

Virtual Brokers First Canadian Discount Brokerage to Offer Commission Free Trading

This past week Virtual Brokers boldly went where no Canadian online brokerage has gone by announcing completely commission-free trading on equities. You read that right, there is now a Canadian discount brokerage that is offering commission-free trading.

It seems like unfortunate timing that what should have been one of the biggest news events in the DIY investing space since the commission drop by RBC Direct Investing in January of 2014 actually got eclipsed by the major market meltdowns.

Make no mistake, however, the latest move by Virtual Brokers is definitely going to make waves.

Virtual Brokers’ latest pricing plan is actually a part of a much more transformational move by Virtual Brokers to streamline their commission-pricing schedule away from the multiple commission plan model and narrow their offering down to two choices.

Gone are the “penny plan”, the “per trade” plan and the “per share” plan. Instead there is now the “commission-free” trading plan or the “classic plan”.

First, let’s examine the rather mind-blowing move to offer completely commission-free trading on equities.

While many DIY investors are all for paying the least amount possible for commissions, the first question for the skeptics that arises is how exactly anyone can offer commission-free trading?

The simple answer is that even though commissions have been eliminated, other fees and costs haven’t.

In other words, this is not the ‘no strings attached’ commission-free trading offered by US online brokerage Robinhood. Virtual Brokers’ commission-free trading plan has many strings and they are important to know about before considering this plan.

One of the most important pieces of Virtual Brokers’ new commission-free trading structure is the requirement to use one of their application-based trading platforms to place the trades. These platforms include Edge Trader Pro, PowerTrader Pro, RealTick EMS, ITS TraderLite and IRESS. The latter three platforms are typically geared towards and used by professional traders however this commission plan is only offered to non-institutional margin accounts and not for algorithmic trading.

The consequence of using the application-based trading platforms (rather than the web-based ones) is that the application based trading platforms are associated with monthly platform fees starting at $150 USD (for Edge Trader Pro) and going as high as $1344 USD per month (for IRESS and factoring in the 20% markup charged by Virtual Brokers for this platform).

Thus, DIY investors considering the “commission free” plan need to be prepared to pay at least $1800 USD/year in platform and data fees. At current USD/CAD conversion rates (1 USD = 1.45415 CAD) this works out to about $2618 CAD/year. Under the $9.99 flat commission structure which is their new standard offer, this works out to about 262 trades per year (or about 22 trades per month).

Of course, there are a few other important strings to factor in as well as the data/platform costs.

Under the new commission-free plan, ECN fees are charged on the trade and the interest rate associated with trades in this account are 1.5% points higher than the standard margin rates. Add to that the condition that the minimum account balance has to be greater than $2,000 at the time of placing a trade and it starts to become clear that the cost of commission-free equity trading can start to add up.

Finally, unlike the mobile-trading oriented Robinhood platform in the US, Virtual Brokers’ commission-free trading plan only works on the application based platform. Mobile trades are charged at the classic commission rates of 9.99 per trade. Similar to the Robinhood model, however, Virtual Brokers will likely be compensated for routing orders through various exchanges (i.e. they will be paid for the order flow). Exactly how much they earn and whether or not this impacts the ability to clear trades at the best-available market price for the quantity may be a source of controversy (as it has been in the US for brokerages doing the same thing).

The bottom line for DIY investors is that the economics and the conditions of the commission-free trading plan need some careful consideration.

In particular, the fact that the monthly price of the platforms is priced in USD instead of CAD is a very interesting and perhaps necessary move on Virtual Brokers’ part to keep their costs in check. The consequence of the huge difference between the US and Canadian currency means that the cost for this commission free plan will fluctuate in CAD – an extra piece of math that DIY investors may not want to do. Also active traders looking to exit or enter fast moving trades will have to factor in execution costs associated with ECN fees and potential fill issues based on order routing.

With all of the caveats above, however, Virtual Brokers has become the first Canadian online brokerage to offer a very different model for equity trading. They are the first Canadian discount brokerage to take equity commissions all the way to zero and that alone makes for headline grabbing marketing.

It will be a challenge for other Canadian online brokerages to compete with the “headline” factor of no commission trading and while there is still a ways to go before Canadian investors can take advantage of zero-commission trading a la Robinhood, the cracks in the 9.99 per trade pricing are starting to form.

All this in the first two weeks of January means that there’s still a lot that can happen across the board yet.

Markets Drop, Deals Jump

Deals activity continued to pick up even though the markets continued struggle this past week. Two online brokerages added an offer apiece into the deals pool bringing the total number of openly advertised discount brokerage promotional offers to 16.

Starting first with Scotia iTrade who launched a commission-free trading offer which is good until the end of March. The promotional offer, which is open to new clients only, consists of at least 75 commission-free trades which are good for up to 90 days for a minimum deposit of $25,000. Deposit tiers go up to $250,000+ and the maximum number of commission-free trades weighs in at an impressive 500.

Interestingly, while Scotia iTrade has typically been the online brokerage that has pushed the large number trade or cash back offers (often associated with equally large deposits to qualify), they are not the brokerage with the highest deposit number offer this time around.

Credential Direct, not typically known for participating in deals and promotions, and certainly not at the very high ($250,000+) deposit tiers stepped into the deals action this month with a cash back offer of their own.

The offer itself is interesting because not only is there a cash-back component but also because they are donating to a good cause (Kids Life Line) for all new or existing clients that take advantage of the offer. In order to qualify, new or existing clients can deposit anywhere from $15,000 to upwards of $1,000,000+ and receive cash back offers ranging from $75 (for the $15,000 deposit) to $1,000 (for the $1M+ deposit).

The multi-tiered approach taken by both Scotia iTrade and Credential Direct is interesting because it is a way of competing with multiple brokerages’ offers with one umbrella offer instead of having to offer specific offers for different deposit levels.

That said, it is interesting to see Credential Direct being the only brokerage having an offer targeting deposits of at least $500,000 or $1M+. While unchallenged at these deposit levels, the cash back offerings are not necessarily as competitive as other brokerages’ offers based on the amount of deposit required.

For example, Questrade is offering a $500 Apple gift card for a $100,000 minimum deposit. And, while technically not an ‘apples to apples’ comparison to a cash back offer, the value gap is significant. When looking at cash back offers, however, BMO InvestorLine’s $600 cash back offer for a minimum deposit of $250,000 dwarfs Credential Direct’s offering at the same deposit amount level as well as at their next tier.

Where Credential Direct’s offer does stand out is at the low end of the minimum deposit spectrum. The cash back of $75 on a deposit of $15,000 is one of the more competitive cash back offers currently available at this deposit level.

History suggests that more deals are likely to emerge as we head into the storm of RRSP season. Add in the recent market turmoil and Canadian discount brokerages are likely going to have to ante up the offers significantly to provide some measure of confidence to rattled DIY investors.

That said, for investors in the market for an online brokerage, the lesson from the current range offers is clear – be sure to shop around and do some homework on the deals being offered. High deposit requirements don’t always offer the best return however since brokerages are clearly looking to pull in assets, don’t be afraid to ask brokerages to match a more competitive offer.

Event Horizon

It’s full speed ahead, and an interesting week ahead for discount brokerage-sponsored investor education events. Questrade looks to join in the educational event mix this week with a webinar on ETFs. Here are some upcoming sessions that may be of interest to options enthusiasts, and those who are new to investing. Technical analysis, strategy-based ETFs, and risk management round out this week’s selection.

January 18

TD Direct Investing – Understanding Margin & Short Selling

January 19

NBDB – Introduction to Technical Analysis : Supports and Resistances – [Fr]

Questrade – ETF Investing: why all ETFs are not created equal

Scotia iTRADE – Strategy Based ETFs with Pro Market Advisors

January 21

NBDB – Stop Orders: a Winning Solution Worth Knowing – [Fr]

TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Investing

TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Investing in Options

January 22

Scotia iTRADE – The Rubber Band Effect with AJ Monte

Tweets of the Week

The big news out of Virtual Brokers went mostly unnoticed by investors against the backdrop of a market meltdown. Other brokerages were in the spotlight for platforms going down during trading hours and for minor quirks.

From the Forums

Commission-free sizzle turns to fizzle

If there was one place that a commission-free trading offer was bound to get attention it was on RedFlagDeals’ investing forum. In this thread, it was interesting to watch how the reactions of excited investors changed as the finer details became apparent.

To HTML in a handbasket

2015 was a big year for web redesigns and even though RBC Direct Investing’s site is not directly referenced, it was interesting to read this post from Reddit about the RBC website front end change. One of the most interesting pieces had to do with communicating the site changing so that people don’t think they’ve been hijacked.

Into the Close

With a Bank of Canada rate announcement scheduled for next week, the drama for Canadian DIY investors could continue. For those that enjoy the volatility, however, this is prime time. On a sadder note, the world also bid farewell to an iconic artist in the passing of David Bowie this past week. Here’s a tip of the astronaut helmet to an innovator in his own right. Enjoy the weekend and hang on tight, next week could be bumpy.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 8, 2016

source: giphy

The start of the 2016 trading year has been more than a bit loonie. Circuit breakers tripping and then being pulled in China, RBC raising mortgage rates in Canada and the price of oil continuing to plunge have made for quite an opening act to 2016. For Canadian discount brokerages, planning for their busiest season in 2016 just seems to have gotten much more interesting as they are now tasked with enticing DIY investors into opening online trading accounts.

In this week’s roundup, we take a look at the best bet Canadian discount brokerages have to woo investors in our recap of the new promotions that appeared in week one. Next we take a look at one brokerage’s strategy to appeal to the younger generation of investors and potentially encroach on turf well defended by low-cost brokerages. From there we’ll recap the upcoming investor education events and the activity of DIY investors on Twitter. Lastly we’ll close out with some interesting conversations on the Canadian investor forums.

Discount brokerage deals tick up

The discount brokerage deals and promotions activity showed signs of coming back to life this past week. Heading into January, the number of advertised promotional offers fell to 11 however unlike the major stock market indices, there was a modest uptick with a total of three additional offers joining the list.

The promotional offers were a mix of extensions and revivals of deals we had seen earlier in 2015. It was interesting to note, however, that most of these offers had expiry dates that fell just after the RRSP contribution deadline of February 29th.

Both BMO InvestorLine and Questrade tossed in a pair of offers this past week. For BMO InvestorLine, it was a case of repackaging offers that had officially expired at the beginning of January.

The first offer, which is their refer-a-friend promotion, actually changed quite substantially. BMO InvestorLine is now offering to give $50 cash back to both a referrer and referee if the referee deposits at least $50,000. Previously BMO InvestorLine was offering up to $300 cash back to individuals for referring new clients and $100 to new clients that opened accounts with at least $250,000.

BMO InvestorLine’s other offer to launch this month provided individuals with either $200 (on deposits of at least $100,000) or $600 (of at least $250,000) cash back plus 100 commission-free equity trades (commissions to be rebated later in the year). This offer is substantially larger than the commission-free trade offer that expired early January. In the case of that promotion, individuals were being offered 20 commission-free trades which were good for a year and $200 cash back for deposits of at least $100,000.

The battle for the $100,000+ deposit threshold seems to be a two-horse race at this point between Questrade, who is offering up a $500 Apple gift card and BMO InvestorLine with their $200 cash back + 100 trade promo.

At the other end of the deposit spectrum, Questrade put forward two nearly identical commission-free trading offers. The offers consist of either one, two or three months of commission-free trading depending on the deposit levels. Interestingly, the major difference between the offers is the lowest deposit tier of one offer is $1,000 and the other is $2,000. These two offers give Questrade the clear lead in terms of the number of promotions (7) being offered by a brokerage to self-directed investors with 6 of those offers having a minimum deposit of either $1,000 or $2,000.

Another interesting observation in the deals arena is that Scotia iTrade has yet to replace its major offer that expired at the end of December. They did step back into the deals race by extending their refer-a-friend offer but it remains to be seen if they are launching something bigger and bolder heading into the RRSP deadline.

Be sure to check the deals and promotions section regularly through January and February as there are likely to be more announcements of offers in the coming weeks.

Fountain of youth

One of the major buzzwords around the financial services and wealth management space in 2014 and 2015 was ‘millenials’. Specifically, many Canadian online brokerages were trying to figure out ways to make their products and platforms more appealing to the ‘up and coming’ generation of investors.

This past week, it was interesting to note that Desjardins Online Brokerage is now offering a program specifically geared towards individuals between the ages of 18 to 30 years of age.

At first blush, the new program known as ‘Broker@ge 18 – 30’ seems to tick the most relevant boxes for younger investors. Specifically, there are no inactivity fees and no asset minimums to maintain free registered accounts. To sweeten the deal, Desjardins Online Brokerage is also including $50 in commission credits. This program applies specifically to Disnat Classic which is generally geared towards less active investors. On an interesting note, Desjardins also managed to snap a picture of a very “millennial” group of individuals huddled in the Desjardins investor centre.

Looking across the Canadian discount brokerage space, there are only a handful (currently) of incentive programs offered to ‘young’ investors. Virtual Brokers, for example, has their Kickstarter program aimed at students and recent post-secondary graduates; Interactive Brokers has a lower minimum deposit requirement ($3,000 vs $10,000) for individuals 25 years old and younger; and Questrade offers to waive account inactivity fees for clients 25 years and under . While BMO InvestorLine did have a youth-oriented offer for a good portion of last year, there is a lack of bank-owned Canadian discount brokerage that offer up a youth-focused program along with similar incentives.

As was the case at the outset of 2015, Desjardins Online Brokerage is launching 2016 with a new program and it is likely that this move into the younger investor segment will not go unnoticed by their cross-town rivals National Bank Direct Brokerage, but also by the independent brokerages Questrade and Virtual Brokers who actively market to the younger investor segments.

Tweets of the week

With all the activity in markets this past week, there was definitely an uptick in chatter on Twitter. Interestingly many of the tweets provided user feedback to the latest platform rollouts from TD Direct Investing and also Questrade.

Event Horizon

It’s a New Year, and a busy week ahead for discount brokerage-sponsored investor education events. Here are some upcoming sessions that may be of interest to yield hounds, those who are interested in trading strategies, and new to investing. Primers on options, technical analysis, and tax free savings accounts (TFSAs) round out this week’s selection.

January 11

Scotia iTRADE – Generating Income Using iShares ETFs

January 13

TD Direct Investing – The Power of Tax-Free Savings Accounts

Scotia iTRADE – After Your First 10 Trades with Sarah Potter

January 14

Scotia iTRADE – The Ten Most Frequent Mistakes Traders or Investors Make with AJ Monte

NBDB – Introduction to Technical Analysis: Trends – [Fr]

TD Direct Investing – The Power of Tax-Free Savings Accounts

TD Direct Investing – Introduction to Investing in Options

TD Direct Investing – The Power of Tax-Free Savings Accounts

From the Forums

Best brokerage for TFSA?

With TFSA’s on the minds of many DIY investors, this post from investor thread asks if there is a brokerage that may be better than others when it comes to TFSAs. While we’re a little hesitant to crown a single brokerage as the best brokerage for TFSAs, there are some interesting points made by the posts in the thread.

Questrade vs. Tangerine

While not an apples to apples (or oranges to oranges) comparison, the slow and steady DIY investor crowd tends to ask about the value of going with one or the other of these low-cost providers. In this post from the reddit PersonalFinanceCanada thread, there are some interesting perspectives offered to a recently debt-free DIY investor.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap for the first week of 2016. For those watching the NFL playoffs, it might just be a more volatile weekend than the week that just finished. Nonetheless, it should be a great way to think about something other than rattled markets for a few days. See you next week!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 1, 2016

Happy New Year! Welcome to the first edition of the discount brokerage roundup for 2016. It’s hard to believe that we’re turning the page into another year already but when time flies this fast it must mean that we’re having fun.

With a number of market closures, a gearing down of activity with Canadian DIY investors over the final week of 2015,and probably because everyone is out watching Star Wars, it was an opportune time to look back at all of what’s happened with Canadian discount brokerages in the short span of just one year and muse about what it all means for 2016.

To make it a little easier to navigate all of what happened, we picked the stories that stood out each month and put them together into one super roundup of roundups for 2015.

While it is nowhere near as fun as a hot tub time machine, tardis or a delorian, here is a trip into the most interesting and standout stories from around the Canadian discount brokerage industry for 2015.

January 2015: Questrade Punches Heavier

Questrade stepped into the Canadian ETF provider arena signalling a big move for the small independent brokerage. Questrade would go on to make 2015 a year in which they diversified their business away from just an online brokerage to become a wealth management company offering robo-advisor, ETFs and other managed wealth services. Tack on platform updates and a tonne of promotions month in and month out and Questrade’s start in January was just the tip of iceberg.

February 2015: The Website Update Frenzy Begins

Desjardins Online Brokerage’s launch of their new website unlocked an avalanche of website refreshes from Canadian discount brokerages in 2015. The move from their old website to a more modern, user-focused design signalled a clear shift to the “less is more” model from Canadian brokerages. Five other brokerages would also go on to redesign their websites, and, even though Desjardins’ website did not receive high praise in the Globe and Mail online brokerage rankings, the design and user experience considerations that went into the Desjardins Online Brokerage site were thoughtful and trendsetting for 2015.

March 2015: #SocialMediaMatters

Although it had been a long time coming, one of the most interesting stories of the online brokerage world in Canada was watching TD Direct Investing change the social media game for discount brokerages on Twitter. Unlike every other Canadian discount brokerage (and even many financial services firms) on Twitter, TD Direct Investing undertook the bold move to allow multiple representatives the freedom to tweet instead of having just one solitary voice. Considering the number of people to coordinate, this was a huge risk to take on TD’s part however the gamble appeared to pay off in spades. The pivotal moment when things started to really take off, however, started with their webinar in March. With over 300 live attendees (a headline grabbing number on its own) and thousands more registered, TD Direct Investing’s team could now communicate directly and transparently with DIY investors and with each other all in real time. TD Direct Investing would later go on to have its own Twitter account however no other brokerage, except for maybe Questrade (who has had a 4 year head start over TD on Twitter) has had the kind of impact on social media that TD Direct Investing had in 2015.

April 2015: Keeping it in the Family

For a discount brokerage that built its brand on not charging DIY investors account or inactivity fees, the road to Questrade becoming one that does charge inactivity fees has been a bumpy one. This past April, Questrade made yet another bold move to enable clients the ability to avoid  paying inactivity fee by enabling family members to pool resources and have inactivity fees waived.

While offers to clients in the same household are nothing new, what was interesting about this move was that it offered Questrade yet another feather in its cap of being able to compete with brokerages big and small when it came to client acquisition. Empowering family members with more than just referral bonuses means that the value to customer goes beyond a one time deposit or commission credit. Later through the year, Questrade would also raise its fees, but when the firm goes about making itself more personable online, it’s something that the former ‘no fee’ brokerage can pull off without the kind of backlash it has faced in the past. Well played Questrade, well played.

May 2015: We Sherwood Like Lower Commissions

It’s interesting that one of the biggest developments in the online brokerage space in 2015 came from a non-Canadian brokerage. The firm Robinhood, which many Canadian investors may not have even heard of, offers commission free trading to its clients. Yes, you read that right.

In May 2015, Robinhood announced they’d be going global to bring commission-free trading to countries outside of the US with a first stop to Australia.

Whether or not Canada is a place that Robinhood would consider coming to anytime soon is anyone’s guess however the next wave in commission price drops would almost certainly be triggered by news of Robinhood moving into Canada or of another firm here deciding that commission-free trading is possible.

June 2015: Kicking Assets, Taking Names

Yet again, it was another US-based brokerage that grabbed the spotlight for the most interesting development for the first summer month. In particular, Interactive Brokers (which has a Canadian subsidiary) released stats showing just how well they’ve been crushing it when it comes to asset and account growth. Interactive Brokers is almost a goto name amongst active traders – something that is the envy of online brokerages everywhere.

Their secret? Being better at technology and automation apparently. Regionally, however, Interactive Brokers continued to get frozen out of the brokerage rankings throughout the year so despite being a firm that now caters to less active investors and those seeking registered accounts, their “trader” reputation seems to be working against them. Numbers don’t lie and it seems like they’re anything but concerned about not being ranked by a Canadian ranking as they nailed top spot in Barrons’ 2015 online brokerage ranking.

July 2015: Big Screen Not Enough for the Small Screen

In a bid to spark some interest on social media, the folks at Scotia iTRADE decided to try getting investors into their new investor centre to take selfies. Looking back, it’s safe to say that the contest response was a little underwhelming.

It was, however, interesting to see that the lure of the promise of a free movie ticket wasn’t enough to generate the kind of buzz that a free giveaway normally would on social media. As the only brokerage that has not lowered its standard commission prices to compete with every other Canadian brokerage, Scotia iTRADE is clearly incentivizing clients with larger balances to pay attention. It was not entirely surprising, therefore, to see that the promise of a single movie ticket just couldn’t convince DIY investors to make the trek to the downtown Toronto investor centre during the Pan-Am game HOV restrictions.

August 2015: Solving Problems 140 Characters at a Time

One of the realities of the 2015 world is that when consumers have a problem with a company, social media can be a powerful medium to escalate the issue to a global audience. Until this year, many Canadian discount brokerages who were on Twitter were spared the very long back and forth exchanges that can arise between vocal clients and client service reps. In August, however, a rather interesting conversation took place between Scotia iTRADE and one of their apparent clients. While it started seemingly innocuously, the issue eventually gave way to a weeks long affair. The conversation ended up stretching over a couple of months and involved just one individual and multiple brokerages encouraging Scotia iTRADE’s unhappy client to give a different brokerage a try. It was clearly a standout moment as it signaled just how different the ‘customer service’ model has become and how brokerages have now rethink their approach to resolution. (skip to slide 16 in the tweets of the week for the first tweet in this conversation).

September 2015: The Nail in the High Commission Coffin

It’s hard to define an exact moment when the days of high trading commissions became numbered. When RBC Direct Investing lowered their standard pricing to 9.95 per trade in early 2014, it set off a shockwave that culminated in September of 2015 with HSBC InvestDirect finally conceding to lower their standard commission price to under $10 per trade. While RBC Direct Investing enjoyed the spotlight for ‘going first’ (even though the smaller independent brokerages were already charging less than $10/trade), the spotlight for being last now belongs exclusively to Scotia iTrade. Whether or not the two points are related is hard to say, however September was also the month in which the JD Power discount brokerage rankings were published. The data from those ratings clearly illustrate how tight the race is between Canadian discount brokerages and underscores the challenge facing Scotia iTrade to justify the higher price per trade for certain client segments.

October 2015: Raising the Bar on Investor Education

Providing DIY investors with educational resources and tools is something that only a handful of Canadian online brokerages have fully committed to. Among the Canadian brokerages who do provide investor education, however, TD Direct Investing is a juggernaut of seminars, webinars and content. One of the most interesting developments in 2015 for Canadian brokerages was the shift of TD Direct Investing away from doing lots of in person seminars to focusing on delivering educational content online (usually via webinars). What was particularly game-changing for the brokerage-provided education space, was the event TD Direct Investing held with Tastytrade founder and famous options trader Tom Sosnoff. Nothing quite like this event has been put together (in recent memory) for DIY investors and it illustrates just how much harder it will be for Canadian brokerages to deliver quality, entertaining investor education content now that TD Direct Investing is leveraging a powerful platform (ThinkOrSwim) and a very polished production in Tastytrade.

November 2015: Here Come the Droids

Robo-advisors continued to make big strides with investors in 2015. One of the standout stories from the Canadian brokerage world was the news that BMO may be stepping into the robo-advisor arena in the near future. Already Virtual Brokers and Questrade have either affiliations with or their own in house robo-advisory, however a major bank supporting the robo-advisor model could touch off a whole other layer of competition amongst brokerages. While the adoption and understanding of robo-advisors by Canadian investors is still relatively small, the fact that robo-advisors have gained so much traction within such a short amount of time means that this story is only bound to pick up speed going forward into 2016.

December 2015: A Very Good Year

With the 2015 edition of the Globe and Mail discount brokerage rankings published in December this year, it was interesting to see how all the major online brokerages fared over all the rankings. The focus of Rob Carrick’s review clearly shifted away from price and into the realm of user experience – in particular the websites of Canada’s discount brokerages. SparxTrading collected the results of the big three analyses that typically take place and saw that of all the brokerages, BMO InvestorLine appeared to have a banner year.  Also of interest was the strong showing this year by Questrade and TD Direct Investing. Equally interesting was the consensus view that emerged on HSBC InvestDirect has a lot of ground to make up to compete with other online discount brokerages.

Looking back across the past year of news makers for the weekly roundups, there are certainly names that continuously come up and names who barely get mentioned. In that, there may be a method to the weekly roundup madness after all: Brokerages who are busy doing interesting things, will get typically get covered or mentioned in the weekly roundup. For Canadian discount brokerages heading into 2016, this year is one in which being interesting is going to be more important than ever before and we can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on the special roundup of roundups for 2015. Our regularly scheduled tweets and events will be back next week. From everyone here at, we wish you and your families a happy and prosperous New Year. And, for the traders and DIY investors out there a very profitable year too!

Happy New Year (source: Giphy)


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Discount Brokerage Deals & Promotions – January 1, 2016

*Updated Jan. 29/16* For DIY investors, nothing says welcome to 2016 quite like a review of the latest deals and promotions from Canadian discount brokerages. With markets and Canadian online brokerages closed for New Years, the deals and promotions engine looks like it’ll need some time to warm up before it kicks back into gear on the first Monday of 2016. Nonetheless there are some interesting observations out of the gate.

The first and most obvious observation for the beginning of 2016 is that deals section has thinned out considerably.

2016 starts off with 11 promotions currently on the table for DIY investors to choose from however that could drop to a low of 9 if a pair of offers from BMO InvestorLine set to expire on January 3rd aren’t extended. That said, if history and market forces are any indicator, these numbers could shift dramatically over the next few weeks.

For some context, the average number of discount brokerage promotional offers in any given month over the past year has been just over 17. At the crossover from 2014 to 2015, however, there were also 16 open offers, half of which were ‘technically’ scheduled to expire at the end of year. When the dust settled in early January though, there were only three offers that actually expired and by the end of January there were at least 22 offers from Canadian online brokerages to choose from.

The wildcard, it seems, will come from the 7 offers that technically expired December 31st. With the beginning of a new month and year falling on a Friday, there’s a good chance that websites of several brokerages are simply not updated. Which and how many of these promotions are extended for 2016 remains to be seen however with the ramp up to the RSP contribution deadline looming, there’s a good chance brokerages will be anteing up to the table with some interesting offers for DIY investors.

There are also some other factors for DIY investors looking for an online brokerage account to consider.

Four discount brokerages, for example, each have competitive promotions that extend out to the end of March 2016 – a signal that there are definitely offers on the table for DIY investors to take advantage of between now and the RSP contribution deadline.

In addition, that Questrade’s latest offer of 25 commission-free trades for a year is identical to the recent offer from Virtual Brokers is another indicator that Questrade (the most active brokerage when it comes to promotions) is not likely to shy away from going head-to-head with other offers being put forward.

We’ll be keeping a close watch on the deals and promotions section when markets restart on Monday however here is a snapshot of the landscape heading into January.

Expired deals

At the time of publication there are 7 offers that expired on Dec. 31st 2015 with four of those coming from Questrade.

The expired offers are:

*Update Jan. 8/16: BMO Investorline had one deal expire in the first week of January. Their $200 cash back + 20 free trade offer is now over.*

  • 10 free trades or 100 free trades Promo (Questrade)
  • 1 month unlimited trades (Questrade)
  • $50 gift card (Questrade)
  • iPad Mini 2 (Questrade)
  • 500 Free Trades or $500 Cash Back (Scotia iTRADE)
  • Refer a Friend (Scotia iTRADE) Now extended
  • 25 Commission Free Trades (Virtual Brokers)

As stated above, it is likely that several of these offers will find their way into the extended deals column this month and are perhaps also likely to show up again later in 2016.

Extended deals

*Update Jan. 8/16: Scotia iTrade has officially renewed and extended their refer-a-friend offering. The referral offer now expires at the end of March 2016. BMO InvestorLine also renewed their refer-a-friend out to June 30th 2016.*

Only one brokerage has officially extended out an offer well into 2016 at the outset of the month. Desjardins Online Brokerage’s flagship $500 commission-credit promotion has been extended until the end of March.

New deals

*Updated Jan. 29/16: TD Direct Investing officially joined the deals & promotions race this week by relaunching their popular commission-free trade offer. Individuals opening a new account and depositing at least $25,000 may be eligible to receive 50 commission-free trades, which are good for use for up to 60 days. This promotion is a tiered offer so individuals depositing more can get a greater number of commission-free trades. See the table below for more information.*

*Updated Jan. 15/16: Two more deals were added this past week. Credential Direct officially jumped into the deals pool with a cash back offer based on multiple deposit tiers. The minimum deposit level to qualify for a cash back incentive is $15,000. Interestingly, Credential Direct will also contribute an amount equal to 10% of the bonus received to Kids Life Line. See table below for more details on deposit levels.

Scotia iTrade also stepped back into the deals race with a free trade offer aimed at new clients. The minimum deposit to qualify for the Scotia iTrade promotion is $25,000 with free trades ranging from 75 trades through to 500. See table belwo for more details.*

*Updated Jan. 8/16: Questrade’s promotional momentum continued with two new offers launched in the first week of January. While it is not the first time these offers have been seen, they’re here to stay through the RSP contribution deadline date at the end of February. Both the new offers from Questrade offer up unlimited/free trading for either 1, 2 or 3 months depending on the deposit. What is interesting about these latest deals is that Questrade has positioned one of its offers to require a higher minimum deposit ($2000 vs $1000) than other offers on the table.

Not to be left behind, BMO InvestorLine has also upped the ante on a free trades and cash back promotion.  The good news for investors is that BMO InvestorLine is offering $200 cash back and 100 commission-free equity trades (which are good for two months). See table below for more details.*

While 2016 is officially launching without any new offers from Canadian discount brokerages, there was one offer from Questrade that arrived late in December.
Questrade is offering up 25 commission-free trades which are good for up to 1 year for individuals depositing at least $5,000. See the 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 Jitneytrade and receive access to their preferred pricing package. n/a Discounted Commission Rates none For more details click here none
Open a new qualifying account with HSBC InvestDirect and you could be eligible to receive up to 30 commission-free North American equity trades. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. n/a 30 commission-free trades. 60 days Winter free trade promotion March 15, 2016
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 $25 cash back and they receive either A) $25; B) $50; C) $75; D) $100; or E) $250 depending on the amount deposited amount. Enter code: 476104302388759 during account sign up to qualify. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for eligibility and additional bonus payment structure and minimum balance requirements. A) $1,000 – $9,999 B) $10,000 – $24,999 C) $25,000 – $49,999 D) $50,000 -$99,999 E) $100,000+ $25 cash back (for referrer per referral; $50 bonus cash back for every 3rd referral) For referred individuals: A) $25 cash back B) $50 cash back C) $75 cash back D) $100 cash back E) $250 cash back Cash deposited into Questrade billing account within 7 days after funding period ends (90 days) Refer a friend terms and conditions Code Number: 476104302388759 none
Open and fund a new account (TFSA, Margin or RRSP) with at least $1,000 and you may be eligible to receive 5 commission-free trades. Use promo code 5FREETRADES when signing up. Be sure to read terms and conditions carefully. $1,000 5 commission-free trades 60 days 5 commission-free trade offer December 31, 2016
Open and fund a new qualifying account (registered or margin) with at least A) $1,000; B) $25,000 or C) $50,000 and receive either A) 1 month; B) 2 months or C) 3 months of commission-free trading. Use promo code UNLIMITEDW16 when registering. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. A) $1,000 B) $25,000 C) $50,000 Commission-free trades A) 1 month B) 2 months C) 3 months 3 months unlimited trading March 4, 2016
Open and fund a new qualifying account (registered or margin) with at least A) $2,000; B) $25,000 or C) $50,000 and receive either A) 1 month; B) 2 months or C) 3 months of commission-free trading. Use promo code RSP2016 when registering. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. A) $2,000 B) $25,000 C) $50,000 Commission-free trades A) 1 month B) 2 months C) 3 months RSP 2016 Promotion March 1, 2016
Open and fund a new online trading account with Questrade with at least $5,000 and you could be eligible to receive 25 commission-free trades good for use for up to 1 year. Use promo code NEWYEAR2016 when applying to be eligible for this offer. Be sure to read the full terms and conditions for this promotion. $5,000 25 commission-free trades Jan. 1, 2017 25 Commission-free Trade for 1 Year Promotion February 29, 2016
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, 2016
Open and fund a new account (or existing clients can transfer in new assets) at Credential Direct with at least A) $15,000; B) $50,000; C) $150,000; D) $500,000 or E) $1,000,000 and you may be eligible to receive at least A) $75; B) $125; C) $200; D) $500 or E) $1,000. Applicants need to use code CASH2016RSP and fund account in order to qualify for cash back offer. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. A) $15,000 – $49,999 B) $50,000 – $149,999 C) $150,000 – $499,999 D) $500,000 – $999,999 E) $1,000,000+ A) $75 B) $125 C) $200 D) $500 E) $1,000 Cash credited to account on Oct. 15, 2016. Cash Back Offer March 15, 2016
Open and fund a new National Bank Direct Brokerage account with at least A) $20,000 or B) $100,00 and you may be eligible to receive up to either A) $500 or B) $1,000 in commission credits. Use promo code CashBack2016 when registering for an account to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for additional details. A) $20,000 – $99,999 B) $100,000+ A) $500 in commission credit B) $1,000 in commission credit 90 days Cash back promo March 31, 2016
Scotia iTrade Open and fund a new account at Scotia iTrade with at least A) $25,000; B) $50,000; C) $100,000 or $250,000+ and you may be eligible to receive up to A) 75; B) 150; C) 300 or D) 500 commission-free trades. Use promo code TRADES-RSP16 when opening account to be eligible. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. A) $25,000 – $49,999 B) $50,000 – $99,999 C) $100,000 – $249,999 D) $250,000+ A) 75 commission-free trades B) 150 commission-free trades C) 300 commission-free trades D) 500 commission-free trades 90 days Free Trade Offer March 31, 2016
Open and fund a new account at TD Direct Investing with at least A) $25,000; B) $50,000 or C) $100,000+ and you may be eligible to receive up to A) 50; B) 100 or C) 200 commission-free trades. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. 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-free Trading Offer April 15, 2015
Disnat Disnat is offering new & existing clients $500 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 1-866-873-7103 and mention promo code Disnat500. See details link for more info. $50,000 $500 commission credit 6 months Disnat $500 Commission Credit Promo March 31, 2016
BMO InvestorLine If you (an existing BMO InvestorLine client) refer a new client to BMO InvestorLine and they open an account with at least $50,000 the referrer and the referee may both be eligible to receive $50 cash. To qualify the referee must use the email of the referrer that is linked to their BMO InvestorLine account. See terms and conditions for full details. $50,000 You(referrer): $50; Your Friend(referee): $50 Payout occurs after 45 days (subject to conditions). BMO InvestorLine Refer-a-Friend June 30, 2016
Open or fund an eligible account with at least $100,000 and make at least one commission generating trade and you may be eligible to receive a $500 gift card for the Apple Store. Use promo code APPLEWATCH when signing up. Be sure to read terms and conditions carefully. $100,000 $500 Apple Store gift card Gift card will be sent within 30 days of client meeting eligibility requirements. Apple Watch Promo March 31, 2016
BMO InvestorLine Open a new qualifying account with BMO InvestorLine, and fund it with at least A) $100,000 or B) $250,000 in net new assets and you may be eligible to receive either A) $200 cash back and 100 commission-free equity trades or B) $600 cash back and 100 commission-free equity trades. Use promo code WinterSD600 when signing up to be eligible. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer. A) $100,000 – $249,999 B) $250,000+ A) $200 cash back + 100 commission-free equity trades. B) $600 cash back + 100 commission-free equity trades. 60 days for equity trades. Cash back will be deposited the week of Oct. 10, 2016. Commission rebates will be paid week of Oct. 10, 2016. Winter 2016 Promotion March 1, 2016

Expired Offers

BMO InvestorLine Open a new qualifying account with BMO InvestorLine, and fund it with at least $100,000 in net new assets and you may be eligible to receive either A)$200 cash back plus 20 commission-free equity trades. Use promo code FALL2015 when signing up to be eligible. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer. $100,000 $200 + 20 commission-free equity trades Cash award will be paid the week of January 16, 2017. Trades are good for 1 year from signing up for promotional offer. Fall 2015 Promotion January 3, 2016
Open and fund a new account at Virtual Brokers with at least $5,000 and you could be eligible to receive up to 25 commission-free stock or ETF trades good for use for up to one year. Use promo code “TRADEFREE2015” when signing up to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions carefully. $5,000 25 commission-free trades 365 days 25 commission-free trades December 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 – $249,999; or D)$250,000+ and you may be eligible to receive a corresponding cash back or commission rebate. For commission-free trades use code: FTN-F15 or for cash rebates use code: NC-F15. Be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully for rebate and cash back eligibility. Contact Scotia iTrade for full details on this offer. A) $15,000 – $49,999 B) $50,000 -$99,999 C) $100,000 – $249,999 D) $250,000+ A) 75 commission-free trades OR $75 cash back B) 125 commission-free trades OR $125 cash back C) 250 commission free trades OR $250 cash back D) 500 commission-free trades OR $500 cash back 120 days for commission-free trades; Cash for the cash back offer will be deposited directly by September 30, 2016. 500 free trade or $500 cash back promo December 31, 2015
Last Updated: Jan. 29, 2016 23:55 PT

Transfer Fee Deals

Company Brief Description Maximum Transfer Fee Coverage Amount Minimum Deposit Amount for Transfer Fee Eligibility Details Link Deadline
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
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 Transfer Fee Rebate none
Qtrade Investor will reimburse your transfer fee up to $150 when transferring a balance of $10,000 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 Rebate none
Move your brokerage account to Questrade and they’ll cover the transfer-out fee up to $150. $150 $25,000 Transfer Fee Promo none
Scotia iTrade Transfer at least $25,000 or more in new assets to Scotia iTrade when opening a new account and Scotia iTrade may reimburse transfer fees up to $150. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. $150 $25,000 Free trade offer March 31, 2016
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 1-866-873-7103 and mention promo code Disnat500. See details link for more info. $150 $50,000 Disnat $500 Commission Credit Promo March 31, 2016
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 $15,000 500 Free Trade or $500 Cash Back Offer December 31, 2015