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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – June 10, 2016

In an era of robots and algos, and in a business that stresses keeping things unemotional, there are often times for every trader when emotions and humanity creep back into the picture. This was one of those weeks.

From the news of Muhammad Ali’s passing last week to the outpouring of beautiful tributes that came in through the week and the final service today, this week many of his fans, myself included, found it hard to not reflect on the life of such an incredible athlete and humanitarian. Between the heavy sighs, however, was the reminder that markets and money never sleep. And for many traders, the future is always where the focus lies and the next few weeks will be filled with many challenging events to navigate around.

In this week’s roundup we take a look at a milestone in the history of one online brokerage and what they’re giving away to celebrate. Next we take a look at the little changes that one brokerage is making that DIY investors may be interested in keeping a handle on. From there we highlight some upcoming investor education events and round out with a review of the latest chatter on Twitter and across the forums.

CIBC Investor’s Edge Celebrates 25 years

There have never been more choices for Canadian DIY investors looking to trade ETFs commission free than there are right now. Along with Questrade, Virtual Brokers, Qtrade Investor, Scotia iTRADE and National Bank Direct Brokerage, another online brokerage, CIBC Investor’s Edge, has joined the commission-free ETF roster – albeit for a limited time.

To mark their 25th anniversary, CIBC Investor’s Edge is offering clients commission-free ETF trading on nearly 2000 ETFs for 25 trading days. This promotion runs between June 8th and July 13th.The list of eligible ETFs is here and includes many of the most popular Canadian and US ETFs.

In addition to the promotional offer, the CIBC Investor’s Edge website also has a fun little timeline of the 25 years that explains some of the major milestones for Investor’s Edge over that time.

source: screenshot from CIBC Investor’s Edge website

Despite all the fanfare, however, even celebratory balloons can have strings attached and this offer is no different. Here are some important notes from the terms and conditions.

First ETFs must be held at least one day to be eligible for commission free status. Second, other charges that could apply to trading an ETF, such as an ECN fee would apply to trading these ETFs. Third, the value of the trade needs to exceed $100 in the currency of the trade. Finally, commission-free ETF trades don’t count as qualifying trades for the active trader program.

For swing traders and those looking for an opportune time to rebalance, the commission-free ETF offer is a compelling one, even if the window to take advantage of it is quite small.

With a significant vote on the fate of Britain in the European Union coming up, rate decisions from the Fed chair and a looming US election, analysts are forecasting more volatility on the horizon, so the timing of this promotion may be considered opportune by some (either to get in commission-free or get out commission-free).

It’s somewhat hard to believe that 25 years has gone by as quickly as it has, and to have witnessed first-hand the impact of the dramatic shift in technology that’s occurred over that time. As Canadian online brokerages contemplate what the next 25 years might look like, there’s a good chance that there will a much greater shift in technology and a very different landscape of players and opportunities.

Better Terms

Sometimes there’s big changes that make the news and sometimes it’s the little things that catch our attention. For those brave (and prudent) enough to venture into the Virtual Brokers terms and conditions page recently, they may also have noted some changes to just how long that document isn’t.

Recently, it appears that Virtual Brokers has streamlined their terms and conditions page by taking the terms and conditions for individual promotions and placing them into the promotions pages.

While it may not seem like that big of a deal, for new or existing clients looking to see what their client agreement looks like with a brokerage, it’s nice not to have to wade through lots of irrelevant information to stay up to date. Now that said, there’s also information that still exists that is not quite current such as the information on transfer fee promos that expired at the end of March (and it’s now mid-June).

Another change to the fine print has seen the expiration date of their commission-free trading offer go from non-existent when it first rolled out to May 31st to now December 31st.

The promotion is three months of commission-free trading (and three months of no platform fees) on their commission-free trading account. In a nutshell, it’s three months of free trading for a deposit of $5,000. Like most other offers, however, there are also strings attached to this one so be sure to read (and take a copy of) the terms and conditions before signing on.

Of course, these fine print changes are something that many brokerages reserve the right to change at any time. There are a few upcoming changes to fees from online brokerages that are noteworthy including fee changes at Scotia iTRADE (set to take effect June 15) and BMO InvestorLine (set to take effect July 1st)

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

Nicer weather outside may not quite have translated into nicer comments for Canadian discount brokerages on Twitter. Mentioned this week were Questrade, Scotia iTRADE and TD Direct Investing (and strangely Snoop Dogg).

Event Horizon

The days keep getting longer, 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 technical analysis enthusiasts, and those interested in ETFs in this week’s selection.

June 14

Scotia iTRADE – Active Investing Using ETFs with Horizons ETFs

NBDB – Introduction to Technical Analysis – Oscillators -[Fr]


From the Forums

Limited Timing

The recently announced commission-free ETF offer from CIBC Investor’s Edge seems to have one downside – time. In this post from reddit’s Personal Finance Canada section in the recent promotion was discussed by a few folks with some interesting thoughts on how to best approach the new offer.

To Bank or Not to Bank

In this post from’s investing section, one user asks about the pros and cons of going with either a bank-owned brokerage or an independent brokerage.

Into the Close

Last week the world said goodbye to one of the greatest people of all time, Muhammad Ali. It was a particularly difficult loss for many, myself included, and today was his memorial service. One of the most touching eulogies delivered at the service was that from his long-time friend Billy Crystal. We end the roundup on this bittersweet note with a segment of that speech:

‘But didn’t he make all of our lives a little bit better than they were?

‘That my friends, is my history with a man, and I’ve labored to come up with a way to describe the legend.

‘He was a tremendous bolt of lightning, created by mother nature out of thin air, a fantastic combination of power and beauty.

‘We’ve seen still photographs of lightning bolts, at the moment of impact – ferocious in its strength, magnificent in its elegance.

‘And at the moment of impact, it lights up everything around it, so you can see everything clearly.

‘Muhammad Ali struck us in the middle of America’s darkest night, in the heart of its most threatening gathering storm.

‘His power toppled the mightiest of foes, and his intense light shined on America and we were able to see clearly injustice, inequality, poverty, pride, self-realization, courage, laughter, love, joy and religious freedom for all.

‘Ali forced us to take a look at ourselves. This brash young man who thrilled us, angered us, confused, and challenged us, ultimately became a silent messenger of peace who taught us that life is best when you build bridges between people, not walls.

‘My friends- only once in a thousand years or so do we get to hear a Mozart or see a Picasso or read a Shakespeare.

‘Ali was one of them, and yet at his heart, he was still a kid from Louisville who ran with the Gods and walked with the crippled and smiled at the foolishness of it all.

‘He is gone but he will never die. He was my big brother. Thank you.’

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