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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – August 26, 2016

With fall on the horizon, it’s not just the colours of the leaves that will be changing. As we ride out the final days of August, more and more Canadian discount brokerages are starting to unveil some of the changes they’ve been working on all summer in hopes that they can get on the radar of Canadians who now have more options when it comes to where and how they want their money to grow – assuming of course that they have the money to invest.

In this week’s roundup we take a look at a pair of new feature announcements from Canadian brokerages looking to add bells and whistles onto their existing DIY investor offering. From there we’ll take a look at what investors were tweeting on social media and close off with a look at the DIY investor conversations in the forums.

BMO InvestorLine Gets a Big Screen

Earlier this week, BMO InvestorLine let clients know about several upgrades and enhancements to the online investor experience it’s planning to deploy.

The first upgrade, which is now available, is a new ETF screener and comparison tool from Morningstar.  BMO InvestorLine’s latest ETF screening tool replaces the Lipper-rating driven interface with one that includes some of Morningstar’s filtering capabilities. For example, it is possible to filter ETFs by the Morningstar’s star rating, as well as additional features such as trading volume and detailed drill downs on portfolio and performance metrics.

Screenshot of new ETF screening tool

Given the number of parameters and information to search on, beginner users might find the navigation takes some time to get used to however for those looking to get detailed information on potential investment ideas, this screening tool will certainly feel like a step forward compared to the previous tool.

In addition to the filtering tools, BMO InvestorLine also appears to be upgrading their news feeds and alerts as well as readying for a new homepage navigation release in the fall.

Announcing these changes ahead of time certainly gives clients the heads up that changes are to be expected however, as has been the case with rollouts at RBC Direct Investing and TD Direct Investing, the ultimate test as to whether or not these changes improve or degrade performance will come from the users’ comments themselves.

The changes to the BMO InvestorLine website and digital experience are likely not the last DIY investors will see from this brokerage or its competitors.

To stay competitive, Canadian discount brokerages are constantly having to figure out how to provide better value for their clients. While lowering commission prices might still be an option, many brokerages are reluctant to do so as it directly cuts into their bottom line, which for many in the online investing industry, is long overdue for an upgrade.

Questrade adds robo into workshop

This week, an article in the Financial Post highlighted the partnership between Questrade and stock screening software provider Vector Vest that enables Questrade clients to keep their emotions in check and let a stock picking engine do the “work” of spotting opportunities.

While it sounds “robo-ish” in nature, ultimately pushing go on the trade, still rests with the owner of an account which means trusting the rules that presented the trade in the first place.

Those who know of VectorVest may rightly observe that this “new” feature sounds a lot like what VectorVest already does, which is to screen through stocks and identify which meet particular criteria for buying or selling. What is different, however, is that by integrating with Questrade platform, it becomes much easier to go from finding and spotting a recommendation to execution of a trade.

The announcement of VectorVest bolting onto Questrade’s platform sounds familiar. Since Questrade opened up its trading platform API, there has been a steady stream of third party integrations interested in growing their customer base while at the same time offering up some interesting functionality to the Questrade trading platform experience.

For DIY investors prepared to pay for these add-on features, this means that there is now access to more bells and whistles and for Questrade and the third-party partners, there’s revenue to be generated. It seems like a win-win-win all around. In fact, Questrade’s growing partner centre includes 8 “apps”, five of which are similar to the Vector Vest integration in that they are “Trade Now” enabled (this means that a trade window can be populated with order details when the ‘trade now’ button is pressed on partner sites).

Questrade’s competitors, however, should probably take note of this latest move. By having features developed externally, Questrade has defrayed the cost of operating and innovating their platform. Instead of having to license those features from other trading platform providers or to have to develop them on their own, someone else is doing the heavy lifting.

In this way Questrade can continue to focus on their core platform while other services focus on what they do well.

Further, for any Canadian DIY investor who’s watched BNN for any stretch of time, VectorVest does a LOT of advertising so there’s a good chance that DIY investors considering this option as a selling feature to joining Questrade have seen or heard the name before. The upside for Questrade is that the advertising has been paid for by someone else.

Another interesting twist to this particular story is the marketing ‘spin’ that’s been added to the mix. Specifically, positioning the Vector Vest integration as a “robo” style experience.

The term “robo-advisor” is certainly a hot topic in wealth management circles and Canadian investors are getting more and more exposure to the term so putting a new spin on the familiar product means that people might just shift how they perceive the VectorVest and Questrade combination.

Regardless of the spin, Questrade’s move to build out their trading platform functionality by using third party partners is a smart one. They’ve put quite a bit of time and effort into building a product experience that will be hard for other online brokerages to match unless they’ve got deep pockets and very creative developer teams – and that field is very small.

For now, the robo moniker for this latest feature launch may be a bit of a stretch, however Questrade is certainly pulling ahead in the ‘fintech’ game and until they are seriously challenged by someone else, they’re able to shape the story.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

Summertime might mean fun for some, but for others it means bugs galore. This week's tweets has lots of bugs mentioned from Questrade, Scotia iTRADE and TD Direct Investing.

From the Forums

Picking a broker 101

In this post, from the reddit personal finance Canada thread, is a perennial favourite – which discount brokerage to choose? The interesting twist on this one is that it is being asked by a university student.

Transfer credits

Finding the best way to transfer a TFSA while keeping the contribution room intact is a handy thing to know about for those looking to transfer brokerages. In this post, also from reddit’s personal finance Canada thread, one user is looking to make a smooth transition and gets a few pointers from users, as well as a brokerage.

Into the Close

That’s it for another edition of the roundup. Now that the end of August is almost here, be sure to enjoy the last few days of summer! For those looking for something other than stock picks and rate hikes to chat about, here’s a funny story that could only happen in Canada.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – August 19, 2016

With the 2016 Rio Olympics staring down the final stretch, it has been quite the run for Team Canada and for many athletes the world over. Like the athletes who are focused on getting themselves on the podium next time, Canadian discount brokerages who want to win understand that training to be better happens day in and day out.

In this week’s roundup we take a look at the activity that is starting to pick up as discount brokerages head into their busier season. First we’ll review the latest movement in the investor education space and how brokerages are positioning themselves to leverage this offering heading into the fall. Next, we take a look at one independent brokerage’s quest to keep on improving. From there we’ll take a look at what DIY investors had to say on Twitter and close out this roundup with chatter from the investor forums.

See you in September

After a relatively quiet (on the surface anyway) summer it looks like investor education is poised to step back into the spotlight this September.

In last week’s roundup we took a look at the latest iteration of the investor education offering from Scotia iTRADE, “iTRADE U” which is essentially a splashier remake of their existing offering of seminars and webinars along with a dedicated course on the basics of investing.

This past week, it looks like TD Direct Investing revived their investor education calendar with a number of in-person seminars being planned for September. A closer look at the breakdown of content at TD’s seminars highlights the major focus they’re putting on training clients on how to use the standard TD Direct Investing trading platform: TD’s WebBroker. Interestingly, this past week was also the 20th anniversary for the WebBroker platform and to mark the event, TD shared this on their Twitter feed.

One of the challenges of being an online brokerage is certainly keeping costs down, which is why most Canadian online brokerages don’t put together original content on investing/trading, choosing instead to partner with 3rd party providers of educational services.

The original content that most brokerages provide as “education”, however, centers around platform training and orientation. One notable exception is TD Direct Investing, which has done quite a bit of work putting together original instructional content on trading basics into webinar and seminar format.

For those brokerages that may not be actively presenting educational content, the next best thing is to be associated with that content being presented.

Fortunately for Canadian discount brokerages, the Toronto MoneyShow will be rolling into town September 16th to 18th and there are a number of online brokerages who will be attending.

Toronto’s MoneyShow will be the only Canadian stop for the investment conference franchise and it will feature some of the most well-known personalities in DIY investing and personal finance such as Tom Sossonoff, Rob Carrick, Peter Hodson, Dan Bortolotti and many more. Everything from stock picking strategies to options, ETFs and, of course, Canadian real estate will be on the menu for attendees to learn about.

So far the Canadian discount brokerages who are listed as exhibitors at this event include:

  • CIBC Investor’s Edge
  • Desjardins Online Brokerage
  • National Bank Direct Brokerage
  • Virtual Brokers

With September just around the corner, there may still be more educational offerings to come to market as the planning that has taken place over the summer will finally be rolled out into action.

For DIY investors, the upside is that there are likely to be a handful of very interesting and relevant speakers and presentations that can help navigate how to trade around the US presidential election later this year.

Questrade swipes right on design

Lots of successful athletes know that the off season is a chance to get in great shape for when the real games begin. For Canadian discount brokerages, summertime is generally when things appear to gear down, however as Questrade has shown, they’ve been hard at work putting together some noteworthy upgrades to their trading and user experience.

Earlier this summer, Questrade announced upgrades to its online trading interface and user website navigation and last week they announced upcoming upgrades to their mobile trading experience.

The investment in making it easier, more intuitive and, crucially, more reliable to use online trading services is something all discount brokerages (who are serious about competing) are doing.

In the case of Questrade, their latest rollout shows that they are one of the only Canadian online brokerages building a bespoke trading platform experience on mobile as well as being on point communicating about it.

In terms of specifics, the upgrades to their mobile trading experience feature improvements to buying or selling stocks from quotes pages, improved options trading capabilities as well as enhancements to market depth (level 2) data for those subscribed to that service.

To access the new features users will have to download and install a new app which is scheduled to roll out in September. Getting a new app may be a way to hit restart the ratings and rankings on the app store. Currently the Questrade IQ mobile app is rated with 1.5 stars across 480 ratings on the iTunes store and 2.5 stars on the Google Play store – not a stunning endorsement of the mobile experience.

At this point, financial services firms and especially DIY investing firms, can only ignore good design for so long.

Robo-advisors, which have been growing rapidly in popularity with index investors, have been paying attention to and building mobile experiences for investors that are far cleaner than what most of what Canada’s discount brokerages currently offer to their customers. For comparison, Wealthsimple’s app has scored 4+ stars on both the Google and iTunes stores with a healthy amount of reviews to make that score meaningful.

Early adopters will certainly be eager to test drive and share their experiences with others as soon as the new product rolls out; Questrade, on the other hand, is hoping that the new reboot will be enough to win back some client love while also putting up a solid challenge to the robots.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

This week's tweets highlight a few outages with some major players. Mentioned in the twitterverse were BMO InvestorLine, Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE & TD Direct Investing.


From the Forums

Credentials Issue

This past week, we received an interesting post about one Credential Direct user’s experience trying to have their account shuttered. Unfortunately, it sounds like quite a frustrating scenario but one that might offer some important lessons for those thinking about how easy (or difficult) it might be to move money out of a brokerage account.

Opportunities Abroad

With the focus on countries from all across the globe, it’s natural that some investors would be curious on how to trade internationally listed stocks. This post from reddit’s personal finance Canada section seemed appropriate.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap for this week. While the ceremonies for ending the Olympics are sure to be elaborate, there’s no reason that celebrating the end of another week can’t be fun either. Have a great weekend and stay cool!



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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – August 12, 2016

One the great lessons embodied by the Olympics is that preparation, practice and discipline lead to success. It’s a message that holds true not only in the world of sport but also in the world of investing. For Canadian discount brokerages, one of the ways in which they can help enable investors to succeed is by providing access to great educational resources. While the Olympics may dominate the headlines for a few more weeks, at least one brokerage has big plans about making a big splash by getting back to school.

This week, we take a look at one bank-owned discount brokerage that is doubling down on investor education. Next we take a look at the climate for IPOs and how one brokerage has waded into this pool at a time when many others have stepped out. From there we’ll take a look at what DIY investors were talking about on social media and across the investor forums.

Getting Schooled

After a long absence, investor education is back in the spotlight. This week, Scotia iTRADE rolled out an updated and seemingly more structured version of their investor education offering with the launch of their iTRADE U and trading education boot camp.

With markets pushing new highs, it seems like those on the sidelines may become increasingly inclined to consider getting into (or back into) the world of DIY investing – which makes the rebrand and launch of the Scotia iTRADE investor education offering that much more timely.

So what’s under the banner of Scotia iTRADE U? For the moment, it appears that the webinars are largely the same as they were before, with educational partners such as Horizons ETFs and Montreal Exchange providing webinar content.

In addition to the iTRADE U, there’s also the boot camp that kicks off in early October which is being taught by long time education partner Pro Market Advisors. The four-week long series features courses on stock selection, entry and exit strategies, risk management and bull & bear market ETF strategies. Each course takes place once per week (for two hours on Tuesday evenings) with tutorial times on Thursday evenings. The best part is that these courses are provided free of charge.

What is interesting about the boot camp format is that unlike a one-off seminar and webinars that are the norm, this format seems more like a proper course.

The time allocated for the lessons is longer than the typical one-hour lunch & learn style courses so there are more opportunities to explore topics in detail. Also there are associated tutorial hours for individuals to ask questions or learn from the questions of others. Finally, there’s also the added touch of getting an ebook as well as a checklist to help follow along.

This is certainly not the first time (nor will it be the last) that a Canadian online brokerage has offered up a structured course as part of their investor education offering. Desjardins Online Brokerage, for example, has, in the past, provided structured investor educational partnerships with StockScores and DayTrading Canada. Scotia iTRADE has also previously partnered with Larry Berman at the Independent Investor Institute to offer ‘discounts’ to individuals taking courses.

It is, however, worth noting that this is a major “free” offering from a big-5 bank-owned discount brokerage – something that might induce RBC Direct Investing, CIBC Investor’s Edge or BMO InvestorLine to devote more resources to investor education. Curiously, TD Direct Investing, itself one of the most active online brokerages in providing investor education support, appears to have scaled back it’s in-person seminars in favour of the online format.

The latest educational offering from Scotia iTRADE definitely ups the ante for other Canadian brokerages looking to provide investor education to their clients (or potential clients). As September draws closer, it is likely that other bank-owned discount brokerages will find themselves thinking about how to get back to school.

Questrade’s IPO Centre Six Months In

When Questrade rolled out their new IPO Centre just over 6 months ago, they probably didn’t forecast just how bumpy a ride 2016 would be. First there was the sharp decline in the first few months of 2016, oil prices cratering and then markets have rallying back to make new highs. Then there was Brexit and of course the looming US Presidential election. Unfortunately, one thing hasn’t really made the news this year and that’s IPOs.

In what has turned out to be one of the worst starts for the Canadian IPO market in recent memory, Questrade’s IPO Centre has nonetheless been able to showcase just over 100 different deals that investors could have gotten access to since the Centre’s launch earlier this year.

Our recent post on Questrade’s IPO Centre takes a closer look under the hood and provides some more context on the progress of this feature year-to-date. Click here to read more.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

Bugs, fixes, and suggestions to improve seem to sum up the interesting chatter on Twitter. Mentioned this week are Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE, TD Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers.

From the Forums

Four-letter word

One of the dirtiest four letter words for investors is risk. In a world where consumers expect protection from the risk of having their trading accounts protected, online brokerages are forced to step up the level of protection. This past week BMO InvestorLine pushed a message out to clients about adding an additional layer of authentication to the trading process which touched off an interesting debate on reddit’s personal finance Canada thread. Worth a read for those interested in taking a pulse on the information security landscape of financial service firms.

Not easy being green

Riding out a losing stock is never fun – until it turns around and goes back into the green. Unfortunately for some DIY investors, portfolio values that fall below a certain minimum amount at most brokerages can end up racking up extra fees. In this post from reddit’s personal finance Canada thread, one TD Direct Investing client share their story about holding on to a stock until it turned around and the fees that showed up in the meantime.

Into the Close

That does it for another week. Although markets were off slightly heading into Friday, Team Canada, and especially the Canadian women athletes were busy making us proud in Rio. Have a great weekend &  #GoCanadaGo!

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Questrade’s IPO Centre: What you need to know

If you haven’t heard much about IPOs this year, you’re not alone.

Globally, investment bankers have had a lot more time on their hands and deal flow has slowed to its lowest levels in a decade (see data on Global IPO proceeds below, courtesy of Renaissance Capital).

Global IPO Proceeds to June 2016 Source: Renaissance Capital

Just about 6 months ago, however, Questrade waded head first into IPO deal waters by launching a new feature on their website: an IPO Centre. Despite the challenging environment, Questrade’s vision for this area appears to be one of convenience for those investors looking for information about companies raising capital from initial or secondary offerings.

Here are some highlights for DIY investors:

First, it’s free to access, which is always nice for investors looking for interesting investment ideas. Deals are listed in a table format and after a deal link is clicked on, Questrade provides further details and a summary of the product in question, from the deal size to the use of proceeds. While due diligence is naturally required, fundamental investors will appreciate this essential overview format.  Questrade advises clients to read the company issued prospectus, as would any broker.

Second, there’s more than just companies coming to market. Despite the name, IPOs of company stocks aren’t the only types of offers featured.

Questrade’s IPO Centre also highlights fixed income deals, new structured products, and secondaries for equities. In fact, in the 6 months since its launch, Questrade has featured 106 deals (as per the “closed” section of the IPO Centre), and at the time of publication, there are currently two open offers. Interestingly, of the closed offers, the vast majority (about 88%) have been some kind of treasury or structured product offering, validating many observations that the Canadian IPO market for companies coming to market has been virtually non-existent for 2016. It should be noted that Questrade’s IPO centre covers Canadian IPOs only.

Number of closed offerings on Questrade’s IPO centre ytd (Source: Questrade IPO Centre website)

While the branding and layout are cool, this kind of feature is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. US brokerages such as TD Ameritrade, E-Trade Financial and Interactive Brokers provide similar platforms and in Canada, Scotia iTRADE offers a variation on this deal information. In this case, Questrade looking to differentiate itself from its Canadian discount brokerage competitors. In a highly competitive market, every little feature helps.

Despite the rough year in IPOs,  Twilio’s successful IPO in the US earlier this summer and  speculation that Real Matters may seek to go public in Canada this fall suggests that there still might be a headline or two left before the year is out. In the meantime, all that Questrade’s IPO Centre can do is continue to be prepared.

For additional information on Questrade’s IPO Centre, check out this blog post.


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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – August 5, 2016

Citius, Altius, Fortius – the Latin version of the motto of the Olympics which translates into faster, higher, stronger – seems to be an appropriate jumping off point for this week’s roundup, especially as the US stock markets hit new ‘personal bests.’ As with the Olympic games in Brazil, competition between Canadian discount brokerages is quite fierce – which definitely forces brokerages to step up their game.

This week’s roundup features an interesting review of one of the areas that Canadian discount brokerages continue to battle it out with one another and what that means for DIY investors and the industry as a whole. Next, we take a look at one online broker that may have finally stumbled after putting up strong performance numbers for many quarters in a row. From there we take a look at the chatter from investors on social media and in the investment forums.

Deal Pendulum

Like an intraday reversal, this month’s promotions and deals from Canadian brokerages appeared to show a bit of a pullback at the start of August but have inched up to show signs of coming back to life now that we’re a week in.

An extension of BMO InvestorLine’s summer promotion, an investor data partnership offer from Desjardins Online Brokerage and another contest from Virtual Brokers (this time to celebrate their 7th anniversary) helped to offset the expiring offers from Scotia iTRADE and Virtual Brokers at the end of July and brings the total number of advertised offers we’re tracking to 23.

Virtual Brokers’ choice to go with a contest offer was also in line with its last set of offers, which were also contests. In this case, their latest offer is a bit more engaging requiring individuals to hunt around the VB website in order to get a unique link that they can then enter the contest with.

A quick overview of offers shows that transfer offers remain the most popular, but contest/other offers appear to be gaining ground, especially over and above the cash back or commission-free trade promotions.

Of the several interesting developments this month, one of the more notable observations is that Desjardins Online Brokerage has crept up to four active offers, the same as long-time leader in this space Questrade. Last month it was Scotia iTRADE that mounted a challenge to top Questrade however with the expiry of iTRADE’s “TSX shopping spree” contest along with the accompanying transfer fee coverage offer, Scotia iTRADE now has two active offers in play.

Another interesting observation about the deals/promotion space is that there appears to be a relatively low number of referral offers.  In an industry where competing for new clients and growing an account base is so important, referral bonuses not only keep the costs of acquiring new clients low but they also signal, albeit indirectly, that a discount brokerage believes that their clients will find reasons beyond the financial incentive to endorse the company to their friends/family or colleagues.

Finally, it is also curious to observe that brokerages are not using their cash-back promotion structure even though brokerages are willing to extend coverage of transfer fees – effectively paying for clients. The paradox is that new clients, who don’t require complicated migration of holdings, are actually less expensive, and yet they are not the ones being offered an equivalent cash-back or commission credit incentive.

For DIY investors, although the choice of promotional offers has certainly thinned since the spring, the fundamental picture looks good for incentives to grow. There are more brokerages than there are clients rushing out to open a DIY investing account and brokerages are going to have to get creative to stay within budget while also attracting and retaining new clients.

With US markets hitting new all-time highs, the roll-out of CRM2 and Canadian investor sentiment ramping up, the winds are blowing in favour of online brokerages getting creative with their marketing. On the other hand, given the size of the Canadian pool of DIY investors, the opportunity to grow will largely go to the brokerage that moves the fastest and boldest.

Hitting the Hurdle

Even the best runners in the world occasionally stumble.  For the online brokerage space, Interactive Brokers has been fortunate enough to post strong metrics for so long that the recent announcement of their July performance numbers rattled investors in the stock (IBKR) and revealed an interesting angle on the DIY investing market.

First the stats. While Interactive Brokers continued to grow their account base – now at a whopping 360,000 (and up 1% over the previous month), what those clients were doing (or not doing) is what led to more than a few eyebrows being raised.

For the month of July, trading volume through Interactive Brokers fell 8% year-over-year and 6% month-over-month to 602,000 trades per day. In addition, the number of options contracts were down about 29% compared to a year ago and down 12% compared to June. Finally, on a year-over-year basis, margin lending was down 12% to $15.9B (USD) but up slightly (6%) compared to last month.

Stepping back from the numbers, it is interesting to reflect on what might be at play.

On the one hand with more accounts there should be a greater likelihood that trading, or more specifically, that trading revenue increased. That was not the case here, however, where there were more Interactive Brokers clients but fewer trades being made. Could this be a signal that IB is now attracting a slightly less active segment (or less profitable) client type and thus becoming more “mainstream?” While it is difficult to say for sure, another possible explanation is that traders are finding less to trade and are somewhat uncertain as to what the near term market direction will be (read: US elections) so they’re stepping back.

The next 100 days will be telling as to whether or not the US presidential race will introduce some major volatility into the markets.

With more clients signing on to IB, there are likely more traders waiting for that volatility to show up in force to find some interesting trading opportunities – something that bodes well for Interactive Brokers despite the pull back in activity. The lesson for all those who make a living from the markets though is that as much as earnings and performance numbers help to inform decisions, trading at its core is about speculating on future events and right now there are some very crazy possibilities ahead.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

This week’s tweets featured a good cross-section of interesting positive and negative feedback about Canadian brokerages. Mentioned this week were Questrade, Scotia iTRADE, TD Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers.

From the Forums

Flow of Funds

The less obvious costs of DIY investing are things that all traders should make an effort to find out about.   In this post from reddit, one community member the personal finance Canada group tries to get a better handle on the administration fees associated with moving money into, around or out of Questrade.

In the Red

For many investors learning the ropes of trading sometimes means learning the hard way that some account types let you spend more than you actually have. This post from reddit’s personal finance Canada section provides a good lesson to beginner investors to make sure they understand what kind of account they’re trading with and what happens if they incur a negative balance on the account.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap for this week. The Olympic games are officially underway which means that for most of us, we’ll be watching really fit people exercise on TV. Hopefully the games bring a welcome reprieve from the recent misery and misfortune that has cast a shadow on the games. Best of luck to all the Canadian athletes – bring home the gold!

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Discount Brokerage Deals & Promotions – August 1, 2016

*Updated: Aug. 9th* At the start of August, discount brokerage deals and promotions appear to be in vacation mode.

With a pair of deals that expired at the end of July and one new partner offer that joined the list of promotion, the turnover and activity in offers coming into this month was minimal. While 22 23 offers still provide a lot for DIY investors to choose from, there are some noteworthy Canadian discount brokerages who still continue to sit on the promotional sidelines.

For DIY investors, the good news is that offers are still surfacing. For DIY investors eyeing BMO InvestorLine, their Summer 2016 promotion has been extended out to the end of August. Also entering the deals roster this month is an offer from a partner of Desjardins Online Brokerage, MoneyTalks, who is offering up three free months of their subscription program to Desjardins Online Brokerage clients.

Interestingly, TD Direct Investing held a one-day promotion during July as a “thank you” to clients in which they offered to waive the commission fee for one trade.

While it was positioned as a ‘thank-you’ gesture to TD Direct Investing clients, the move comes against the backdrop of recent technical difficulties which have been aggravating clients. Thus, it will be interesting to see what other promotional activities TDDI is planning and whether the offer of free trades and other deals might help smooth over some of the technical issues that have arisen recently. It is also interesting to see whether any of their competitors will be offering up something similar to existing clients.

With the ramp up to the fall season on the minds of many brokerages, it won’t be too long before more offers start to show up. As always, if there’s anything that we’ve missed that could help DIY investors fetch a better deal, let us know and we’ll post it here.

Expired Deals

Two noteworthy contest offers expired at the end of July from Virtual Brokers and Scotia iTRADE.

Virtual Brokers’ contest for passes to Canada’s Wonderland (or free trades instead) concluded at the end of July.

Scotia iTRADE’s TSX $10,000 shopping spree contest ended in July and along with the contest offer their official transfer fee credit offer also expired. Users who are considering transferring assets to a new Scotia iTRADE account may want to contact the customer service number at 1-888-872-3388.

Extended Deals

Late last month, BMO InvestorLine officially extended their summer 2016 offer to August 31st from the previous deadline of July 31st.  As a reminder this promotion offers new clients between $200 and $1,000 cash back for deposits ranging from $100,000 to $500,000+. See table below for more details.

New Deals

*Updated: Aug. 9th – Virtual Brokers has launched another contest celebrating their 7th anniversary. Both existing or new clients that find a special promo code somewhere on the Virtual Brokers website and enter the code on a new account application will be entered for a draw to win 7 prizes of $500. See table below for more details.*

A new offer that crossed our radar was posted on Desjardins Online Brokerage’s website. The offer is for three free months of Michael Campbell’s Inside Edge investor information service. This service includes content such as interviews with market commentator Michael Campbell, analyst reports and access to bonuses and discounts. The monthly rate for the service is currently $19.95 so this offer translates into a $59.85 value. See table below for more information.

Discount Brokerage Deals

  1. Cash Back/Free Trade/Product Offer Promotions
  2. Referral Promotions
  3. Transfer Fee Promotions
  4. Contests & Other Offers

Cash Back/Free Trade/Product Offer Promotions

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 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 account at Virtual Brokers with at least $5,000 and you may be eligible to receive 3 months of commission-free equity trading and a $150 USD/mo credit towards Edge Trader Pro for 3 months. Use promo code sent at sign up to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for details. $5,000 3 months commission-free equity trading + $150 USD/mo platform fee rebate. 3 months 3 months free trading / Sign up form for promo code available here none
Disnat Disnat is offering new & existing clients up to $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 August 30, 2016
BMO InvestorLine Open a new qualifying account with BMO InvestorLine, and fund it with at least A) $100,000 or B) $250,000 or C)$500,000 in net new assets and you may be eligible to receive A) $200 cash back, B)$500 cash back or C) $1,000 cash back. Use promo code Summer1000 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 – $499,999 C) $500,000+ A) $200 cash back B) $500 cash back C) $1,000 cash back Cash back will be deposited the week of Mar. 6, 2017. Summer 2016 Promotion August 31, 2016

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Aug 2 16:45 PT

Referral Promotions

Company Brief Description Minimum Deposit Amount Incentive Structure Time Limit to Use Commission/Cash Offer Deposit Details Link Deadline
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
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 tbd
If you (an existing Virtual Brokers client) refer a friend or family member to open a new account with at least $5,000 you may be eligible to receive $25 cash per referral. For 3 or more referrals Virtual Brokers will add a $50 bonus. Referred individuals depositing either A) $5,000 – $50,000 or B) $50,000+ may be eligible to receive A) $25 or B) $50 cash back. Be sure to read the full terms and conditions carefully for full details. Be sure to read the terms and conditions to this offer carefully for full details. A) $5,000 – $50,000 B) $50,000+ Referrer: $25 per referral; $50 bonus for each 3 or more referrals. Referee: A) $25 B) $50 Cash to be deposited to VB account by August 15, 2016. Cash Referral Program May 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 45 days after minimum 90 day holding period(subject to conditions). BMO InvestorLine Refer-a-Friend October 31, 2016

Expired Offers

Open a new account (TFSA, Margin or RRSP) and receive $50 commission credit . Use promo code: kdkfnbbc $1,000 $50 commission credit 30 days none none
Last Updated: Aug. 2, 2016 16:30PT

Transfer Fee Promotions

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
Move your brokerage account to Questrade and they’ll cover the transfer-out fee up to $150. $150 $25,000 Transfer Fee Promo none
Transfer at least $25,000 or more in new assets to TD Direct Investing when opening a new account and you may qualify to have transfer fees reimbursed up to $150. Be sure to contact TD Direct Investing for further details. $150 $25,000 Contact client service for more information (1-800-465-5463). none
Transfer $25,000 or more to Qtrade Investor from another brokerage and Qtrade Investor may cover up to $150 in transfer fees. See terms and conditions for more details. $150 $25,000 Transfer Fee Rebate none
Transfer $25,000 or more to Virtual Brokers and they may cover up to $150 in transfer fees. $150 $25,000 Transfer Fee promo September 30, 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 information (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 August 30, 2016

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Aug. 2, 2016 16:30 PT

Other Promotions

Company Brief Description Minimum Deposit Amount Required Details Link Deadline
Credential Direct has partnered with Trend Micro to offer 50% off Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security. Use code “TrendCF” at checkout. n/a Trend Micro Special Offer Code none
National Bank Direct Brokerage is offering a discount of 0.75% on it’s current margin lending rate for new margin accounts for a period of 3 months. In addition, new margin account registrants will receive a commission rate of $6.95 per equity trade. This offer is open to new and existing clients. Use promo code MARGIN2016 when signing up. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for full details. n/a Margin Account Promotion August 31, 2016
Disnat Desjardins Online Brokerage, in conjunction with MoneyTalks, is offering 3 months of the “Inside Edge” investor information service to Desjardins Online Brokerage clients. Use promo code DESJ2016 during checkout to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for more information. n/a MoneyTalks Inside Edge Discount none
Disnat Desjardins Online Brokerage is offering $50 in commission credits for new Disnat Classic clients depositing at least $1,000. See terms and conditions for full details. $1,000 Broker@ge 18-30 Promotion none
Scotia iTrade Scotiabank StartRight customers can receive 10 commission-free trades when investing $1,000 or more in a new Scotia iTrade account. Trades are good for use for up to 1 year from the date the account is funded. Use promo code SRPE15 when applying (in English) or SRPF15 when applying in French. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for full details. $1,000 StartRight Free Trade offer none
Virtual Brokers is celebrating its 7th anniversary with an online contest to win one of 7 prizes of $500. Individuals need to find a special promotion code on a specially marked page on their website and enter the code on an application for a new account. This contest is open to new and existing clients. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for full details. $1,000 Virtual Brokers 7th Anniversary August 31, 2016

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Aug 9, 2016 09:50 PT