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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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