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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 27, 2017

Sometimes change is good. Sometimes it’s not. Either way for discount brokerages in Canada and the US, change, and more specifically the ability to navigate change, appears to be what will separate the winners from the rest of the crowd.

In this week’s roundup we take a look at the latest digital shift from one of Canada’s largest online brokerages to see how they’re changing elements to keep looking fresh. From there, we take a look at the details from two recent US online brokerage conference calls with a specific eye as to what online brokerages are working on for the future. As usual, we’ll wrap up the roundup with a look at what investors were talking about on social media as well as in the investing forums.

TD Direct Investing Website Gets Refresh

In more ways than one, the new reality for online investors and those that service them is dealing with change. As online brokerages increasingly evolve into technology companies, the need to be agile and responsive is greater than ever before. Their platforms need to keep up with the times, as do all of their websites, social media feeds, mobile apps and so on. More than just the technology, online brokerages also have to keep up with what an online investor looks like – not just those already in the markets, but those who are looking to get in too.

Over the past three years, there has been a noticeable evolution of the websites and marketing at most of Canada’s online brokerages. This month, there has been yet another website enhancement made from Canada’s largest bank-owned online brokerage – TD Direct Investing.

Looking back at the evolution of the TD Direct Investing story, one of the first important changes took place when TD Waterhouse switched to TD Direct Investing in late 2012.

In late 2015, TD Direct Investing then updated the front end of their website, modifying the look and feel of the brand to become more modern, not only in web design terms, but also in portraying what the ‘typical investor’ looks like. As part of a trend amongst the major Canadian banks, looking and feeling more appealing to everyday Canadians meant recognizing the diversity of what Canadians look like and what they support.

Now, in 2017, TD Direct Investing has updated their look and feel yet again in order to appear more modern and harmonize the brand experience the parent brand.

Screenshot of TD Direct Investing website 2017-01-27
Screenshot of TD Direct Investing website 2017-01-27

The front end of the TD Direct Investing section of the TD website, with the scroll features that tells the TDDI story, is remarkably familiar to many robo-advisor websites and borrows design elements that are found on other Canadian brokerage websites that use icons and the scroll-based design.

Clicking through the homepage, there are links that still point to pages that use the previous design standard as well as links that point to the newer look, signaling a gradual transition to a newer look and feel rather than a wholesale change. It is an interesting choice from a design point of view in that users see the old and new imagery and layouts within the same visit.

While the updated design does add an element of change, the key observation is that TD continues to use bold imagery of ordinary looking people. These may be stock images, however there is more thought in their selection that shows they’re conscientious about recognizing a more diverse-looking set of customers. Fortunately, TD Direct Investing is not alone in this regard. This is also true for a couple of TD Direct Investing’s bank-owned brokerage peers – BMO InvestorLine and RBC Direct Investing. With so much divisive rhetoric emerging from the US it’s nice to see Canadian banks being Canadian and embracing the portrait of an online investor as a mixture of men and women, old and young and all shades of skin colour.

On the Line

With markets making new all-time highs and a difficult to predict new president, there’s lots of uncertainty for investors on exactly how they’re going to approach trading this market. To get some insights, it was interesting to review the latest news coming out of US online brokerages’ earnings conference calls as they reported their quarterly earnings and spent time explaining their strategies and vision for 2017 as well as where they see investors headed during these uncertain times.

In the E*trade Financial conference call, one of the interesting priorities for them in the upcoming year will be in marketing. As we had mentioned in a previous weekly roundup, in a hypercompetitive marketplace, in particular in the online brokerage space, an increasing amount of focus will have to be paid to getting client acquisition and retention right. This means undertaking some bold but thoughtful marketing.

The comments made by E*Trade Financial’s CEO Karl Roessner during the most recent conference call certainly highlight that E*Trade will be focused on aggressively onboarding new clients, with the ever-prized active trader segment being of particular interest.

In conjunction with the strategy of acquiring new clients, it appears that E*Trade is also going to be undertaking major branding initiatives and enhancing their digital experience by upgrading their web presence. Like the recent moves observed by TD Direct Investing referenced above, the following quote signals that keeping the digital experience of E*Trade fresh and current is a key component to their marketing plans:

And at the top of a long list of initiatives is the re-launch of our brand. We’ve enjoyed phenomenal brand awareness, and we intend to build on that to reclaim our challenger position in the industry. Expect to see more around mid-year. In the meantime, we are working on updates to our website, including an overhaul to the look and feel, along with improved navigation.

Another conference call from an online brokerage took place this week, this time from TD Ameritrade. While also discussing the results of an integration with Scottrade, there were a number of interesting nuggets on the technology front revealed by TD Ameritrade.

For example, the launch of innovative integrations with Amazon’s Alexa (using the TD Ameritrade skill app) that enable individuals to get stock market updates points to a future where home automation or virtual assistants will meet the world of investing.

In addition, there was also some insight given on the social media monitoring tool, Social Signals, that helps investors look for investment opportunities based on what stocks individuals are talking about online – in particular on Twitter.

One of the most interesting perspectives, however, came from CEO Tim Hockey’s answer on the possible behaviour of retail investors heading into the next few months post-Trump’s election. Specifically, Hockey’s position is that DIY investors will be looking to reposition their portfolios given the new US President’s policies and initiatives. In particular, the comment that investors appear to be moving in a contrarian fashion – pulling money out on the big rallies, signals there’s some skepticism as to the valuation of the US markets and especially in the larger cap names.

While the US online brokerage marketplace is certainly distinct from Canada’s, there is clearly a view towards what the future may hold for the industry in Canada.

With regards to innovation, US brokerages such as TD Ameritrade are clearly developing the next generation of tools that DIY investors can use to monitor and potentially trade with. The race to bring in innovation to the DIY trading world reinforces the observation that online brokerages are going to have to become much more technology based than they already are, which may be easier said than done.

One potentially noteworthy comment by Interactive Brokers’ CEO Thomas Peterffy in their latest conference call probably should serve as a warning to online brokerages. Specifically, Peterffy was asked about why Interactive Brokers took the unusual step of payment of high amount of bonuses to employees at the end of Q4, to which Peterffy responded “It’s a very competitive world.”

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

It was a tough week for online investors caught on the wrong side of a platform outage at Questrade illustrating once again that trading isn’t without its random risks. Mentioned this week were BMO InvestorLine, CIBC Investor’s Edge, Questrade, Scotia iTRADE & TD Direct Investing.

From the Forums

Cut it Out

This past week the firestorm of tweets on Questrade’s platform outage also extended to comments in reddit’s Personal Finance Canada thread in this post. Fortunately, Questrade also stepped in to the discussion to help let people know their options during an outage.

Unpleasant Exchange

In this post, from the investing forum, one user learned the hard lesson about currency conversions at online brokerages – namely that they can get expensive. Read on to find out how others can get around the extra fees related to currency conversions.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on the first chaotic week of the Trump presidency and a record breaking week on the markets. For those trying to figure out where markets go from here, you may want to take the weekend off and simply remember that the trend is your friend until it ends. For all those celebrating the Lunar New Year  this weekend – happy New Year! And for those looking for something to celebrate – Monday isn’t here for another couple of days, make the most of it!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 20, 2017

Trump, or more formally, President Trump is known for many things – among them, the art of the deal. The new US president isn’t the only deal maker around, however, as Canadian brokerages are also looking to start giving some ‘bigly’ deals to DIY investors.

This week’s roundup puts a spotlight on the latest deals action that occurred this week – a signal that competition amongst Canadian discount brokerages is reaching a new high. From there we’ll take a look at what DIY investors had to say to Canada’s online brokerages on Twitter and what was on the minds of investors in the financial forums.

Deals Reach Feverish Levels

This week there were three new offers that were added to the long list of promotions being offered by Canada’s discount brokerages to entice potential clients (as well as a few existing clients) to bring in assets.  Joining the fray this week were offers from Qtrade Investor, Credential Direct and RBC Direct Investing. Both Qtrade Investor and Credential Direct launched cash back promotional offers while RBC Direct Investing launched a points based promotion linked for RBC credit card holders.

With the addition of these new offers, the total number of advertised offers now stands at 32, of which 7 were added to the list in January – a sign that competition amongst Canadian brokerages has increased significantly. Interestingly, the only major Canadian online brokerages not offering a cash back or commission-free trading deal (at least at the time of publication) for new accounts are RBC Direct Investing and Interactive Brokers.

Whether it is the specter of Robo-advisors, the changes forecast with the CRM2 fee disclosures, the rally in the markets, or some combination of these, Canadian discount brokerages are definitely trying to perfect the art of the deal in order to attract new clients (or more precisely, new assets).

Heading into RRSP season, it’s clear that innovation and new features have taken a back seat to cold hard cash. In particular, there’s been a noticeable increase in cash back offers as a proportion of the total deals being offered which speaks to the growing recognition of the preference for these offers with DIY investors over commission-free trades.

With all of the offers now in play navigating them can be somewhat of a challenge. As such, we’ve done a little bit of the homework for readers looking to compare cash back offers between discount brokerages below.

Canadian discount brokerage cash back deals comparison

In terms of cash back offers, there two main types to consider, those that are available without a referral and those that are part of a referral offer. A quick comparison of the two show that for someone opening a new account (or in some cases bringing new assets) with a non-referral offer, the cash back bonus ranges from 0.1% to 0.5% of assets deposited. For the referral-based cash back offers, the range is wider going from 0.1% to 2.5%.

In the case of referral-based cash back offers, these generally are better deals for deposits of between $1,000 and $10,000 simply because there are no non-referral cash back offers for deposits under $15,000. In fact, for deposits under $25,000 referral bonuses offer the best selection and rates for a cash back bonus. Nonetheless, Credential Direct’s offer of $75 cash back for a minimum $15,000 and Questrade’s referral-based offer of $75 cash back for a minimum deposit of $25,000 are the offers that provide clients with the largest bonus in the sub-$25,000 deposit range.

Perhaps the most crowded segment of the deals market is at the $50,000 deposit mark, where there are 7 different offers ranging from a low of $50 (from BMO InvestorLine and Qtrade Investor) to a high of $200 (from CIBC Investor’s Edge). In this segment, CIBC Investor’s Edge’s offer is more than 1.5x that of its nearest competitor, Credential Direct (who’s offering $125 cash back). In addition, at that deposit level, brokerages are also willing to cover transfer out fees meaning that even greater total value can be obtained.

Interestingly, at the $100,000 deposit mark, the field thins out, with four offers specifically targeting minimum deposits at this level. The range for cash back bonuses goes from a low of $100 (Qtrade Investor) to a high of $400 (CIBC Investor’s Edge).

Finally, for deposit tiers higher than $150,000 (up to the $1M+ range), cash back bonuses range between 0.1% and 0.25% with maximum bonuses of $1,000 cash back being offered by Credential Direct and Qtrade Investor at the highest deposit tiers.

The big picture for DIY investors is that there are 27 different deposit tiers that they can qualify for between the referral and non-referral cash back offers – an extraordinary level of choice. Paradoxically, on a percentage basis, at most brokerages the higher the amount of assets an individual brings in, the lower the reward. So, for example, an individual who deposits $50,000 at Credential Direct receives $125 but if they were to deposit $500,000 they would not receive $1250, but only $500 instead.

Arguably, the cash back incentives are not going to be the primary reason an individual chooses a particular brokerage. With the dollar amounts being given out, there simply isn’t enough financial incentive for most people to go through the process of moving investments around just to get a cash bonus. That said, with services, features and pricing at most online brokerages being very close to one another, the tie-breaker will almost certainly come down to who’s more willing to give to get. And, when it comes to getting a new client, money definitely talks loudest.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

January might be the middle of winter but some of this week’s tweet seemed extra cold. Mentioned this week were CIBC Investor’s Edge, Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE and TD Direct Investing.

From the Forums

Stating the Facts

With CRM2 rolling out at Canadian discount brokerages, this post from Canadian Money Forum offers a very interesting look across the board at how investors are reacting to the new statements.

Deal or no deal?

With the launch of their cash back (plus free trade) offer, CIBC Investor’s Edge not only has an ultra-competitive commission cost but now one of the most competitive deals out there for those who qualify. This thread from the investing sub-forum of gauges the reaction of the bargain hunting community on whether the offer from CIBC Investor’s Edge measures up.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on one of the most historic weeks in the new year. Within just a few hours of taking office there’s already lots for traders and investors to digest with Trump now at the helm of the US. At this point, there’s little doubt that things are going to continue to get interesting for investors. For those who are just a little too Trumped out, thankfully there’s some good football ahead. Stay warm!

Thanks Obama
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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 13, 2017

For the superstitious, Friday the 13th is supposedly an unlucky day. As this week draws to a close, however, it seems that DIY investors are in luck as deals and promotions activity is red hot at the outset of 2017.

We’ll keep things light for this edition of the roundup, putting the spotlight on the deals and promotions being offered by Canadian discount brokerages and how the new deals that launched this past week could shake things up for other Canadian brokerages. From there, we’ll take a look at some interesting news and developments from across the online brokerage landscape that caught our attention and round out with the latest tweets from Canadian investors & online brokerages as well as what people are talking about on the investor forums.

Everyone into the Pool

This week, the deals gauge went from hot to red hot, and with good reason. There are now at least 28 advertised offers from Canadian discount brokerages, with cash back/commission-free trades now making a comeback after pulling back late in 2016.

The two brokerages causing the commotion this week, CIBC Investor’s Edge and Scotia iTRADE, have now made the case for all Canadian online brokerages to have a live cash back or commission-free trade offer or risk losing out new business to those who do.

CIBC Investor’s Edge, which has the lowest standard commission costs amongst Canadian bank-owned brokerages, made a big splash by offering up a cash back promotion of up to $400 for deposits of $100K or more. In addition, individuals who set up a ‘Regular Investment Plan’ (amusingly given the acronym RIP), are also eligible for up to 50 commission-free trades.

So, while it is a positive development for DIY investors that CIBC Investor’s Edge has stepped into the promotions space to start 2017, there are also a number of other reasons why their entry is significant.

First, as one of the lowest cost commission rates available, CIBC Investor’s Edge naturally enjoys a competitive edge over its bank-owned brokerage peers as well as the non-bank-owned group. This means that they inevitably get more attention or get considered more often by virtue of the fact that many DIY investors are looking for the best value – and low commissions for many investors equates to just that.

Second, now that CIBC Investor’s Edge is in the fray, the only major bank-owned brokerage without a cash-back or commission-free trade offer is RBC Direct Investing (BMO, CIBC, Scotia and TD are all offering these promos) which means RBC Direct Investing will either have to post a promotion or contend with direct competitors grabbing attention and market share from them. If mortgage rates and other financial services offer any clues, the odds that RBC Direct Investing stands idly by while the rest of the field eats their lunch just got lower.

Finally, while CIBC Investor’s Edge has offered promotions in the past, the presentation of this offer (specifically the push to a cleanly designed landing page) suggests an overhaul to the Investor’s Edge look and feel are probably on the way. The broader CIBC user experience (for example on mobile) has seen an upgrade so to maintain a consistent user experience, it looks like a new website will likely be on its way.

Scotia iTRADE also returned to the deals and promotions section, this time with two offers launching simultaneously. The primary offer of interest to DIY investors is a commission free-trade offer that ranges from 75 trades up to 250 trades, depending on the amount deposited into the new account. The second promotion is actually tied to their travel credit card program in which individuals who do have a Scotia credit card and who sign up for a new online brokerage account can receive a combination of 50 commission-free trades points

An interesting angle on the deals and promotions activity might also be a response to the Rob Carrick article recently published that encourages DIY investors to try non-bank-owned online brokerages on for size rather than defaulting to a big bank. To say that this has made waves is certainly an understatement considering the degree of influence Carrick has with Canadians – and especially within the realm of Canadian personal finance. What this means is that big bank-owned brokerages may need to be more active with deals and promotional activity to counter the recommendation from Carrick’s article for DIY investors to try a non-bank-owned brokerage.

While there are important points Carrick makes in the article about fees and banks recently being in the news for overcharging investors, the point to be made (and certainly reading through comments from investors who are clients at non-bank-owned brokerages also highlights this) is that all financial service providers can make mistakes – whether by omission or commission.  There are simply too many moving parts, from technology integration, compliance, security and more to not expect something to break. The real questions are (or should be) which provider would be best able to address an issue when it comes up and what would be a reasonable price to pay for that as a consumer?

Marketing Pullback

Normally this is the section where we mention upcoming education events or events of interest to DIY investors. One such event that’s coming up is the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference taking place on 22nd and 23rd of January. While the focus of this conference has been primarily on natural resource related investing, historically there have been a couple of Canadian online brokerages exhibiting in person, specifically Desjardins Online Brokerage and TD Direct Investing. Interestingly, neither of these brokerages are on the list of exhibitors this year (as of publication), hinting at least of a redrawing of plans in terms of where brokerages are going to spend their time (and money) connecting with investors.

Rise of the Machines

While robo-advisors are currently getting a lion’s share of the attention with regards to using algorithms in financial services, another story crossed our radar regarding the use of artificial intelligence integrated into the trading platform interface at Interactive Brokers. Their recently deployed “IBot” is gathering data on how individuals trade in the hopes of determining how best to work with human traders in providing information/answers they are seeking. While it seems like a high-powered search engine at this point, it certainly provides a glimpse into the kinds of innovation to the trading experience that will be required to get DIY investors excited. Provided, of course, that it works the way it’s supposed to.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

This week saw the big bank owned brokerages in the cross hairs of more than a few DIY investors. Mentioned this week were BMO InvestorLine, CIBC Investor’s Edge, Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE, TD Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers.

From the Forums


For DIY investors, one of the most popular choices are low cost mutual funds, such as the TD E-series. In this post from reddit’s personal finance Canada thread, one community member was interested in finding out whether the grass was greener on the DIY side of the fence or if E-series was the way to go.

Money-weighted Return

With new CRM2 compliant investor statements heading out to DIY investors, one of the less familiar terms to be aware of is money-weighted return (performance). In this post from reddit’s personal finance Canada section, one Questrade user was looking for a little more clarity and got a number of good examples to help explain the concept.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on this week’s action across the Canadian discount brokerage landscape. Remember, US markets will be closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. With all of the uncertainty in the markets, it seems appropriate to check out something a little lighthearted heading into the weekend. Of course, for all of the market watchers, maybe the picture of a bubble might hold a little more meaning. Stay warm and go Seahawks!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 6, 2017

Welcome to the first roundup of new year! It’s good to be back at the helm in what will likely be one of the most exciting and unpredictable years for DIY investors in recent memory. Given all of the uncertainty, the theme of this year seems to be strategy – the traditional playbook is out and the ability to improvise and rapidly adapt is in. For Canadian online brokerages, this year more than any other will test their resourcefulness as well as their talent for getting creative.

In this week’s roundup we take a look at how the deals and promotions from Canadian discount brokerages started the year and what incentives might be in store for DIY investors heading into 2017. From there we take a look at the preparations brokerages are making for the final stretch of CRM2 and then recap the tweets to and from Canadian brokerages this past week. Finally, we close out with some topics of interest from DIY investor forums.

Deal updates

At the start of 2017, Canadian DIY investors looking to open a new brokerage account (or to switch brokerages) have lots to look forward to in the way of deals and promotions. This month’s deals action has already been swift, with new offers from HSBC InvesDirect and BMO InvestorLine to start the year.

Screenshots of offers from HSBC InvestDirect (top) and BMO InvestorLine (bottom) at the beginning of January 2017.

In total, we’ve spotted 25 public promotions that are now active that DIY investors can look to when shopping around online for a new trading account. Part of the reason this number is at this level was because two bank-owned brokerages, TD Direct Investing and National Bank Direct Brokerage, each launched deals ahead of the holiday season. Also sources at several other brokerages have indicated that January is likely to see additional deals activity so there is even more in the works for online investors.

As far as deals and promotions from Canadian online brokerages are concerned, the lead up to the RRSP contribution deadline will be a busy time.

With markets flirting with new all-time highs in both the US and Canada, an IPO for Snapchat on the horizon and whispers of a potentially frothy year for IPOs in general, the roll out of the final phase of CRM2 and added competition from robo-advisors looking to win over prized millennial investors, Canadian online brokerages will be pulling out all the stops this year to get attention from DIY investors thinking about investing online.

We will continue to monitor the deals and promotions activity but bullish signals such as the long expiry dates for most offers, healthy participation from multiple brokerages as well as renewed enthusiasm in the equity markets will likely translate into Canadian discount brokerages stepping up their efforts to gain market share, and more importantly to them, share of wallet.

Making a statement

For a very long time, investors have had to face unclear and sometimes incomprehensible investment statements. Over the past few years, however, things have gotten better and in 2017, investors are about to see more detail on how their investments are being managed and exactly where the costs for managing their money are coming from.

To better assist Canadian investors with understanding exactly where and how fees are generated on their investment accounts, financial market regulators required financial service providers, including Canadian online brokerages, to disclose fees more clearly to their clients. A great primer on the upcoming changes done by the Globe and Mail can be found here and a good explanation is also provided by FAIR Canada in the video below.

Heading into 2017 Canadian discount brokerages have begun alerting clients on their respective websites and via email that newer, easier to understand, investment statements are now available. Some of the more visible notifications have come from firms such as BMO InvestorLine, National Bank Direct Brokerage and CIBC Investor’s Edge. Interestingly, BMO InvestorLine and CIBC Investor’s Edge went a step further by also including a video that explains the changes to their statements.

Interestingly, and certainly not by accident, Questrade has been anticipating this transition with a popular and widespread campaign on asking tough questions to financial advisors.

The reasoning is that once investors, especially those with mutual funds, begin to see what they’re paying for the service with these new statements, they may start to look around for better value. Curiously, other brokerages have been less visible or have yet to launch campaigns directed at capitalizing on the ‘sticker shock’ of finding out how much in fees is being eaten up.  In this regard, Questrade has managed to get out in front of their competitors and will stand to benefit from having timed their campaign so well.

It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which the new statements being sent to investors would not provoke investors into considering a lower fee alternative. For the larger institutions, there has been a noticeable effort to become more ‘friendly’ and also more service focused, in hopes of being able to demonstrate value for the fees that are being charged.

Perhaps the biggest upshot for investors year end summaries of activity will be able to show how much is being spent on trading commissions. For active traders, this will really hit home to see whether or not trade execution could be more economical at another brokerage. This would certainly be an interesting and opportune moment for a savvy online brokerage to drop standard commission fees or for those with low commission rates to speak up. We suspect either of these may already be in the works.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

Fees, speed, service – this week had a little bit of everything to kick off 2017. Mentioned this week were BMO InvestorLine, CIBC Investor’s Edge, Questrade, Scotia iTRADE and TD Direct Investing.

From the Forums

Dating issues

In this post from the reddit personal finance Canada thread, one user wanted to get what seems like a simple answer to what date the deadline is for contributing to an RRSP in 2017. Interestingly, there is clearly still quite a bit of confusion as to when an individual investor can make a contribution to their RRSP and which year it “counts” towards when making it.

TFSA and Daytrading

This post from reddit’s personal finance Canada thread is a perennial favourite for those who seek clarity on whether or not ‘trading’ in a TFSA is allowed. Definitely interesting to see the variety of interpretations on what is a very grey area to begin with.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on the first week of 2017. While this year is going to be full of surprises, perhaps one of the most curious sights was the clamoring of individuals for ‘free salt’ in Vancouver. Not sure what the lesson is here (or even if there’s just one) but something about supply and demand springs to mind. Whatever you happen to get up to this weekend, hopefully you’re staying warm (and you have enough salt)!

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Discount Brokerage Deals & Promotions – January 2017

*Update: Jan. 17* It’s a new year, a new month and for DIY investors, a chance to get some good news while shopping around for an online trading account. While 2016 saw some interesting developments in the deals & promotions space, one of the more notable occurrences was the pullback in offers from Questrade. In their absence, however, a number of other offers did come to market and as the year drew to a close, we observed a spike in deals being offered by Canadian discount brokerages.

Heading into this new year, there are now 25 offers from Canadian discount brokerages, with major players like TD Direct Investing and National Bank Direct Brokerage launching promotional offers in mid-December. In addition, this month has more promotions coming to market. Even though these offers have yet to be advertised to the public, the deal count appears healthy at the outset of the year.  The only deals set to expire in January are the BMO InvestorLine offer due to expire at midnight (E.T.) of January 3rd, and fee transfer offers from Qtrade Investor and Virtual Brokers.

As always, if there are promotions or deals from Canadian discount brokerages that we might have missed, drop us a note and we can add them to the list.

Expired Deals

*Update: Jan 17 – Qtrade Investor’s transfer fee offer that required a lower deposit amount ($10,000) to qualify has now expired. Qtrade Investor still offers to cover transfer fees but the minimum deposit amount required is now $25,000.*

*Update: Jan 5 – BMO InvestorLine’s cash back plus commission-free trade offer has officially expired and has been replaced with a new cash back offer. See below for more details*

HSBC InvestDirect’s transfer in bonus offer officially expired at the end of December. Fortunately, HSBC InvestDirect is also launching a new deal to replace this outgoing one – see below for more info.

Extended Deals

A couple of deals managed to get extended out into 2017. Desjardins Online Brokerage has extended the deadline for their 1% commission-rebate offer out to the end of February. In addition, Qtrade Investor has extended their transfer fee offer a few more weeks until January 16th.

New Deals

*Update: Jan. 17 – Qtrade Investor has now officially jumped into the cash back promotion race, with a new tiered offer ranging from $25 to $1,000 cash back. See the table below for more details on deposit tiers.

Credential Direct, also surprised us this week by launching a new cash back promotion of their own. Like several offers out there, they have elected to have a tiered cash back reward for different deposit levels. This promotion is open to both new accounts as well as to existing clients who deposit additional funds. In addition, however, Credential Direct will  donate the equivalent of 10% of the bonus payments paid out during this promotion to the United Way, meaning that DIY investors can also do a little good while getting a reward.*

*Update: Jan. 12 –  CIBC Investor’s Edge has now stepped into the deals arena, launching a new cash back and free trade offer . The minimum deposit to qualify for the cash-back promotion is $50,000 in assets however for individuals who set up a “Regular Investment Plan”, there is also a bonus of 50 commission-free equity trades available. See table below for more information. Thanks to a reader Jake for letting us know about this one.

Scotia iTRADE also got back into deal mode with the launch of a commission-free trading deal. Their latest free trade promotion offers up between 75 and 250 commission-free trades depending on the amount deposited. In addition to their latest commission-free trade offer, Scotia iTRADE has also launched a commission-free trade offer + travel points reward offer for Scotia travel credit card holders.*

*Update: Jan. 5 – Two new deals have crossed the wires this week. First, as anticipated, details of HSBC InvestDirect’s 50 free trade offer have been published on the HSBC InvestDirect website so we are able to share the details listed in the table below. Of note, there is no minimum deposit required to qualify for this offer and it appears that those interested in the deal are being encouraged to call in to client services to sign up.

BMO InvestorLine also launched a new deal this week to replace their outgoing cash back + commission-free trade offer. The latest promotional offer from BMO InvestorLine is a traditional cash back deal that offers three tiers of cash back based on different deposit amount. The cash back tiers include $200 cash back for a $100,000 deposit, $400 cash back for a $200,000 deposit or $750 for a $300,000+ deposit. Interestingly, this is one of the first cash back offers to not decrease (in proportionate terms) as deposits increase. See table below for more details*

Although no new deals were technically published online from any of the Canadian online brokerages at the outset of the month, we did get confirmation from HSBC InvestDirect that a promotion has started as of January 3rd which is a commission-free trade offer. Until we see the promotion posted live on the website, we don’t know the full terms and conditions, however we have been told that it is a 50 commission-free trade offer that requires no deposit minimum to qualify. This promotion is scheduled to run from January 3rd through to March 3rd. Additional details will be provided in the table below when they’re available online.

This month we also added the Virtual Brokers transfer promotion back into the list of transfer offers as we noticed it reappeared in their terms and conditions section on their website.

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 a new account with HSBC InvestDirect and you may be eligible to receive up to 50 commission-free North American equity trades. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full offer details. n/a 50 commission-free North American equity trades 60 days HSBC InvestDirect Cash Bonus Promo March 3, 2017
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, 2017
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 Desjardins Online Brokerage is offering new clients 1% of assets transferred into the new account in the form of commission credits (to a maximum value of $1,000). Minimum qualifying deposit is $10,000. To qualify, individuals will have to call 1-866-873-7103 and mention promo code DisnatFlex or email: [email protected]. See details link for more info. $10,000 1% of assets transferred in the form of commission-credits (max credits: $1,000) 6 months Disnat 1% Commission Credit Promo February 28, 2017
Open and fund a new account or fund an existing account at Credential Direct with at least A) $15,000; B) $50,000; C) $150,000; D) $500,000 or E) $1,000,000+ in new assets and you may be eligible to receive A) $75; B) $125; C) $200; D) $500 or E) $1,000. Use promo code CASH2017RSP when signing up. As an added bonus, Credential Direct will donate an amount equivalent to 10% of the bonus paid out to United Way. 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 back will be deposited week of October 9, 2017. Credential Direct Cash Back Promotion March 16, 2017
Open and fund a new account by March 31st with at least A) $20,000 or B) $100,00+ and you may qualify to receive up to either A) $500 or B) $1000 in commission reimbursements. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full offer details. A) $20,000 – $99,999 B) $100,000+ A) up to $500 commission reimbursements B) up to $1000 commission reimbursements 90 days National Bank Direct Brokerage Cash Back Promotion March 31, 2017
Open and fund a new account with Qtrade Investor with a deposit of at least A) $25,000; B) $50,000; C) $100,000; D) $250,000; E) $500,000 or F) $1,000,000 or more and you may be eligible to receive a cash back bonus of A) $25; B) $50; C) $100; D) $250; E) $500 or F) $1,000. 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 – $499,999 E) $500,000 – $999,999 F) $1,000,000+ A) $25 B) $50 C) $100 D) $250 E) $500 F) $1,000 Cash back will be deposited by July 31, 2017. Qtrade Investor Cash Back Bonus February 28, 2017
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 A) 50; B) 100 or C) 200 commission-free trades. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full offer details A) $25,000 – $49,999 B) $50,000 – $99,999 C) $100,000+ A) 50 commission-free trades (max value: $500) B) 100 commission-free trades (max value: $1000) C) 200 commission-free trades (max value: $2000) April 28th, 2017 Commission charges will be credited the month following when the charge was incurred. TD Direct Investing 200 Commission-free Trade Offer March 31, 2017
Open and fund a new account with Scotia iTRADE with at least A) $25,000; B) $50,000; C) $100,000 or D) $250,000+ and you may be eligible to receive A) 75; B) 150; C) 200 or D) $250,000+ in commission-free trades. In addition, new clients will also receive FlightDesk active trading platform free for 90 days. Use promo code W17FT when signing up 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 (max value: $749.25) B) 150 (max value: $1498.50) C) 200 (max value: $1,998) D) 250 (max value: $2,497.50) 90 days Winter 2017 Free Trade Offer March 31, 2017
CIBC Investors Edge Open and fund a new account at CIBC Investor’s Edge with at least A) $50,000 or B) $100,000 and you may be eligible to receive A) $200 or B) $400 in cash back. Also, individuals who setup a regular investment plan may also be eligible to receive 50 commission-free equity trades. Be sure to read terms and conditions for more information. A) $50,000 – $99,999 B) $100,000+ A) $200 B) $400 +Bonus 50 commission-free trades for setting up Regular Investment Plan. Cash back will be deposited within 30 business days after account funding. Commission-free equity trades good for 60 days after setup of Regular Investment Plan. Cash Back & Free Trade Offer March 31, 2017
BMO InvestorLine Open a new qualifying account with BMO InvestorLine, and fund it with at least A) $100,000; B) $200,000 or C) $300,000+ in net new assets and you may be eligible to receive A) $200; B) $400 or C) $750 cash back. Use promo code PROMO750 when signing up to be eligible. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer. A) $100,000 – $199,999 B) $200,000 – $299,999 C) $300,000+ Cash back bonus A) $200 B) $400 C) $750 Cash back will be deposited the week of November 6, 2017. 2017 Winter Campaign April 2, 2017

Expired Offers

BMO InvestorLine Open a new qualifying account with BMO InvestorLine, and fund it with at least $100,000 and you may be eligible to receive $200 cash back as well as 20 commission-free equity trades. Use promo code PROMO200 when signing up to be eligible. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer. $100,000 $200 cash back + 20 commission-free equity trades Cash back will be deposited the week of August 7, 2017. Fall 2016 Promotion Phase 2 (link no longer active) January 3, 2017
Last Updated: Jan. 17, 2016 10:15 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 $1,000 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) $1,000 – $24,999; B) $25,000 – $49,999 or C) $50,000+ may be eligible to receive A) $25; B) $50 or C) $75 cash back. Be sure to read the full terms and conditions carefully for full details. A) $1,000 – $24,999 B) $25,000 – $49,999 C) $50,000+ Referrer: $25 per referral; $50 bonus for each 3 or more referrals. Referee: A) $25 B) $50 C) $75 Cash to be deposited to VB account by March 31, 2017. Cash Referral Program January 31, 2017
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 June 30, 2017

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: Jan. 3, 2016 9:00 PT

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
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
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 Virtual Brokers and they may cover up to $150 in transfer fees. $150 $25,000 Transfer Fee promo January 31, 2017
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 DisnatFlex. See details link for more info. $150 $50,000 Disnat 1% Commission Credit Promo February 28, 2017

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Jan. 17, 2017 8:55 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
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
Open a new account with Virtual Brokers with a deposit of at least $1,000 (for the Classic Commission Account) or $5,000 (for the Commission Free Trading Account) and you may be eligible to receive a one-year subscription to access 5i Research. Use promo code 5iVB2016 when signing up. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. $1,000 (Classic Commission Account); $5,000 (Commission Free Trading Account) 5i Research Offer March 31, 2017

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Jan. 3, 2017 9:30 PT