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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – November 24, 2017

It’s black Friday which means deal hunters are out in full force online and in the stores looking for a great bargain. For DIY investors, looking for a deal in the markets or even looking for a deal when opening an online trading account got a little easier as yet another Canadian online brokerage joined the deals pool this week.

We’ll keep things light and easy for this week’s roundup with a quick check in on the latest online brokerage deal to cross the wires followed by a roundup of the DIY investor education events that are taking place heading into the end of 2017. As usual, we’ll also serve up a generous helping of DIY investor chatter from Twitter and interesting conversations from the DIY investor forums.

Virtual Brokers launches new promotional pricing offer

Just in time for the Black Friday offers, this week Virtual Brokers stepped back into the spotlight with a new promotional commission price offer.

Trade commissions are now being offered at $4.99 per trade for two months, with a maximum of 15 trades per month at the discounted pricing. According to the terms and conditions of the deal, the full commission will be charged at the time of trade execution and then a reimbursement will be offered after June 30th, 2018 provided eligibility conditions are met.

With the addition of the Virtual Brokers offer, this puts the active advertised deal count we’ve spotted at 25 and is a signal that the 2018 RRSP season will be off to a heated start. Also of interest, the cash back and commission-free trade promotion category is regaining ground lost in 2017 as competition between Canadian discount brokerages heats up.

Click the following link to see the latest discount brokerage deals/promotions info for November.

Investor Education Events on the Horizon

Heading into the end of the year, there are still a couple of investor education events for DIY investors that are worth tuning into or attending in person. We’ve flagged a few that might be of particular interest for getting some perspective on how to trade the markets heading into 2018 as well as a pair of sessions that are focused on every trader’s least favourite (but nonetheless very important) topic: taxes.

Here’s a quick rundown:

What’s Your Investor Personality – Larry Berman – Nov. 25th; Dec. 2nd

Larry Berman will be making an appearance in Vancouver on November 25th as part of the cross-country tour he has been on since mid-October. Vancouver is the second last stop with the final show taking place in Toronto on December 2nd.

On the docket for the presentation in Vancouver is a discussion by BMO ETFs to debunk some of the common misconceptions about ETFs. Following this presentation, Larry Berman will discuss the role that psychology plays in influencing investor behaviour and how some simple ETF strategies can be applied to assist investors with their own investment biases.

For more information on the remaining segments of the tour, click here.

Online Free Trading Workshop  – Ziad Jasani – Dec. 2nd

Ziad Jasani of the Independent Investor Institute is holding a webinar on December 2nd to assess market risks and opportunities heading into the end of 2017. Topics to be covered include: global equity markets; macro assets as well as short and long-term trading and allocation strategies. Click here for more information (just wait about 5 seconds for the registration window to pop up).

Tax-Effective Estate Planning – CIBC Investor’s Edge – Dec. 13th

Over the past several months, we’ve observed an uptick in the number of investor education events being held by CIBC Investor’s Edge. The next webinar coming around the corner is by the ever-popular Jamie Golombek, managing director, tax & estate planning with CIBC and it focuses on steps that individuals can take with regards to estate planning, with a focus on minimizing taxes upon death.

For more information or to register for this event, click here.

Proposals for the Taxation of Private Corporations and Tax Planning Strategies – TD Direct Investing (Montreal) – Dec. 13th

TD Direct Investing has geared down the number of events it’s holding heading to the end of the year, however there was one even in Montreal that caught our attention. Specifically, it is a session will dive into recent proposed tax changes by the Federal Government and how they may impact business owners. For more information on this session, click here.

In case you missed it: 2017 Online Brokerage Year in Review

In case you missed last week’s edition of the weekly roundup where we announced that the 2017 Canadian Online Brokerage Review and 2018 Preview was live, we highly encourage you to read through it.

With responses from 9 of Canada’s most popular online brokerages, this series offers a unique and fascinating overview of what Canada’s online brokerages were up to in 2017 as well as what many of them have in store for DIY investors for 2018.

To view the responses from participating online brokerages, click any of the links below:

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

The temperature outside may be falling but DIY investors turned up the heat on Twitter to report everything from glitches in account opening to platform outages and more. The news wasn’t all bad, however, as there were some bright notes included in this week’s selection. 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

RESP Questions

When it comes to navigating RESP options for Canadian DIY investors, things can get a little complicated – especially when mixing in provincial bonuses and the additional options that are now available beyond online brokerages (e.g. robo-advisors). In this post from RedFlagDeals.com’s investing forum, one user from Quebec is looking for a little perspective on choosing between TD Direct Investing, Questrade’s self-directed account or Portfolio IQ.

Avoiding RRSP Fees

For DIY investors, every penny counts. When it comes to having to pay fees to access your own money, however, getting dinged for that access doesn’t typically go over well. In this post, from reddit’s personal finance Canada thread, it was interesting to see the responses one DIY investor received when asking about getting around withdrawal fees from an RRSP.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on this week’s roundup. With US stock markets closed for Thanksgiving, things were a bit quieter than usual for some. Fortunately, there was lots of hype for Black Friday and sales galore to take advantage of across the weekend and into Cyber Monday. Of course, for anyone dipping into cryptocurrency trading right now, the madness of Black Friday seems pretty tame. Have a great weekend and best of luck hunting for great bargains in the stores and online or just kicking back and relaxing!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – November 17, 2017

If we didn’t need any more reminders that we’re hurtling towards the future faster and more furious than ever, we nonetheless got not one but two this week with Elon Musk’s mindblowing new Tesla semi-truck and updated roadster. What, you might be asking, does this have to do with Canadian discount brokerages? Well, simply put, Tesla’s re-imagining of the trucking industry is a reminder that no industry is safe from disruption by technology, and that includes the online trading industry.

In this edition of the roundup, we look at the recently published and highly-anticipated year in review series as told by the Canadian online brokerages themselves. From there, we’ll review the latest discount brokerage deal to cross the wires as well as some interesting opinions by one online brokerage CEO on the perils of bitcoin trading. Finally, we wrap up with the results of our scans of social media and the DIY investor forums for investor chatter.

2017: A look back on a very eventful year

Earlier this week we published our highly anticipated Canadian online brokerage ‘year in review and preview to 2018.’ This series, which featured participation from leaders from 9 of Canada’s online brokerages, provides a unique window into the performance and priorities for each firm in 2017 as well as a sneak peek into what DIY investors can expect for 2018.

We were genuinely excited by the responses and participation from Canada’s online brokerages. Not only did they chronicle some of the major milestones and accomplishments for 2017, we also were able to see some trends emerging across the responses we received, and have summarized several of them below.

One of the first and clearest trends that emerged across Canada’s online brokerages for 2017 was being able to harness web and trading technology and, in turn, improve user experience.

As financial services firms, Canada’s online brokerages face similar challenges that other financial service providers do in that they require constant responsiveness to changes in technology and consumer technology preferences. This past week, for example, there was news that BMO has created a voice-enable service that pairs with Amazon’s Alexa and also that RBC is field testing a robo-advisor.

Of course, as features and services evolve, online brokerages may be able to deliver more value to DIY investors without increasing commission pricing. The fierce competition among Canada’s discount brokerages mean that everyone is vigilant about enhancing perceived value to their clients by using technology. This past year, for example, saw firms such as National Bank Direct Brokerage drop commission fees on all ETFs or other firms, such as RBC Direct Investing and Credential Direct, launch personal-finance focused content to their clients.

Another important theme that emerged from the responses from Canada’s online brokerages about 2017 was that the trading experience is being fine-tuned across the board.

There are surprisingly many moving parts to the investing/trading process and the entire cycle from how trades are placed to managing and monitoring the status of open orders to keeping track of the documentation associated with an online trading account has seen improvements. BMO InvestorLine, for example, made accessing tax documentation smoother and both Questrade and TD Direct Investing improved the options trading capabilities for clients interested in these products.

In addition to the look back on 2017, several online brokerages provided a glimpse of what’s in store for DIY investors in 2018.

As we reported last week, Qtrade Investor actually published information on many of the enhancements they have planned or have just deployed, including removing account deposit minimums and new features for tracking contributions to registered accounts. However, they are not alone.

Other online brokerages, such as NBDB and TD Direct Investing are forecasting improvements to account opening processes, while on the active trader side of the spectrum, firms such as Interactive Brokers Canada and TD Direct Investing have upgrades planned to account and trade management planned for the near future.

Check out the full list of online brokerages in the year in review article here or by clicking one of the links below.

Scotia iTRADE deals in

Just in time for the Black Friday rush, one more Canadian online brokerage has released its own cash-back offer. This week, Scotia iTRADE rejoined the discount brokerage deals and promotions pool in a significant way by launching their latest offer: a tiered pre-paid Visa card for opening a new account.

Source: Screenshot from Scotia iTRADE website

As with previous promotions, this is a tiered offer that provides a cash back amount in line with the amount of assets deposited. Qualifying deposits start at $25,000 which will land a $50 pre-paid gift card and go up to $1200 for deposits of $1,000,000 or more. Check out the deals section for more details..

Interactive Brokers founder warns of Bitcoin Futures

The new world of online trading has expanded to include cryptocurrency. While still highly controversial, there have been recent developments that show signs that cryptocurrency trading is going mainstream – including the clearing of futures of bitcoin.

This past week, the founder and CEO of Interactive Brokers, Thomas Peterffy, took the bold step of issuing a stern warning to regulators and financial market participants about the potential systemic risk of clearing trades of bitcoin futures.

The ‘father of high-speed trading’ just put bitcoin on blast from CNBC.

One especially interesting nugget that he provided in the interview was that Interactive Brokers would be open to enabling clients trade bitcoin and even possibly bitcoin futures through the appropriate venue. The key takeaway, however, is that there needs to be a separation between bitcoin futures clearing organizations and organizations that also clear regulated securities.

Check out the interview he gave on CNBC above and read the notice he placed in the Wall Street Journal – it definitely helps put some the recent enthusiasm in bitcoin into perspective.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From outages to wait times, most of this week’s tweets provide an interesting look into what happens when things go off the rails at Canadian online brokerages. Of course, there are a handful of positive ones in the bunch too. Mentioned by Canadian DIY investors were BMO Investorline, CIBC Investor‘s Edge, Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE, and TD Direct Investing.

From the Forums

Mini e-Series

TD Direct Investing’s e-Series funds are undoubtedly a hit with DIY investors. In this post from reddit’s personal finance Canada section, one reader was curious about how to optimize participating in the e-Series but minimizing the banking costs. Worth a read.

Starting Young

One of the great things about being young in 2018, aside from Snapchat and high-speed internet, is that many online brokerages have pricing or pricing breaks for younger investors. Find out what tips this young investor on reddit’s personal finance Canada section received when inquiring about the best online brokerage for young investors.

Into the Close

With all this talk of fantastical electric vehicles, it seems fitting to celebrate the weekend by recharging for the week ahead. Of course, traders will almost inevitably be looking for ways to ‘buy low’ for the upcoming Black Friday, so best of luck hunting deals inside of and outside of the stock (or cryptocurrency) market. Have a great weekend!

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2017 Canadian discount brokerage review & 2018 preview

Hard to believe how fast time flies. As we near the end of the 2017, we felt it was an appropriate time to reflect on what has been yet another eventful year for Canadian online brokerages. And, while we could comment on the rise of roboadvisors or the changing preferences of online investors, we figured it would be far more interesting to hear what Canada’s online brokerages had to say about their milestones in 2017 and what they have planned for 2018.

In total, we received submissions from 9 Canadian online brokerages and we’re excited to share these perspectives from, in many cases, the voices of the individuals leading these organizations.

In keeping with the spirit of the exercise, we’ll keep the commentary to a minimum but before diving in, we highlight three interesting themes we noted shine through from comparing all of the submissions. If there’s one takeaway for online brokerage industry however, it’s that brokerages can no longer afford to stand still.

Theme 1: It’s a technological arms race

While it hardly seems surprising that online brokerages would naturally be heavily reliant on technology, the rapidly changing nature of technology has required all of Canada’s online brokerages to become more adept at leveraging this technology in their favour.

Larger online brokerages have had to adapt their technology development cycles to be faster and more agile; smaller online brokerages have had to learn how to leverage technology to do more to compete with larger bank-owned brokerages and nearly all online brokerages have had to learn how to create a seamless trading experience across screens and devices.

As smartphones continue to surpass home computers in usage, price and functionality, and as internet speed and coverage increase, there’s a greater likelihood that consumers will be using smartphones for many aspects of the trading experience. A very interesting example of this from 2017 has been the investment in enhancing options trading capability by Questrade and TD Direct Investing.

A noteworthy mention is Interactive Brokers’ deployment of a ‘personal assistant’ style trading interface (called IBot) which offers a view of how ‘AI’ might find its way into online brokerage services and help online investors execute and manage trades with simplified text and spoken commands.

Theme 2: Delivering more value to DIY investors

In a fiercely competitive discount brokerage landscape, commission costs still stand out as one of the most (if not the most) important factor for many Canadian DIY investors to consider when choosing an online brokerage. While prices still have room to fall (and they are falling), the reductions in standard commission pricing are not likely to be as significant as they were in 2014 and as a result, other features have to help Canadian online brokerages stand out.

Enhancing the value that DIY investors receive, and more importantly perceive, is one strategy online brokerages can use to keep from having to lower trading commissions.

While none of the online brokerages who provided a submission lowered their standard commission pricing this year (so far), they have found ways to lower commission pricing on certain products – such as ETFs in the case of National Bank Direct Brokerage, or to enable DIY investors to use loyalty points to pay for commissions (RBC Direct Investing).

Other sources for enhancing value came from improving and creating DIY investor content. Whether it was through investor newsletters, blogs or other content sources and streams, a number of Canadian online brokerages were actively creating and curating DIY investor-focused content.

Theme 3: Focus on better trading experiences

A third interesting theme for 2017 was to improve the trading experience. Whether it was focusing on making complex trading strategies easier to execute (e.g. TD Direct Investing and Questrade deployed improvements to complex options trading execution) or improving management of holdings and documentation (as in the case of BMO InvestorLine and Qtrade Investor), there has been and will continue to be a lot of resources devoted to enhancing how and where online trading takes place.

Like a good Netflix series, we’ve released all of the submissions provided to us by Canada’s online brokerages – although there are no shadow monsters or stranger things (we promise). So, go ahead and binge-read about some of the highlights from 2017 and get a sneak peek at what’s in store for 2018.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – November 10, 2017

For all the madness that’s been driving the world of cryptocurrencies higher, this past week seems to have introduced the first stumble in quite some time. In the stock market, there was also a stumble of sorts, perhaps the sign that expectations were out of sync with actual results. In either case, the lesson the markets always come back to is real results – which is something Canadian online brokerages are focusing more intently on heading into the end of the year.

In this week’s roundup, we take a look at some of the latest features launched by one online brokerage which will be sure to get the attention of other Canadian discount brokerages as well as DIY investors. From there we take an interesting snapshot of the latest events and developments in the online brokerage space as seen from social media. As usual, there’s also a lot of DIY investor commentary to be had in the discount brokerage tweets of the week and chatter from Canadian investing forums.

Getting more for less

Heading into the end of the year, the activity level at Canadian discount brokerages is showing no signs of slowing down.

This past week, some very important changes were rolled out at Qtrade Investor, one of Canada’s remaining non-bank-owned online brokerages, and a usual top ranking online broker in the Globe and Mail discount brokerage rankings.

The first, and arguably most salient improvements for DIY investors, is the removal of certain fees and fee thresholds. Qtrade Investor has now removed a quarterly administration fee (of $100) so long as individuals set up a recurring electronic transfer of at least $100 per month. In addition, Qtrade Investor has also removed the minimum deposit requirement (of $1,000) to open a new account.

These latest improvements are in line with recent enhancements to the online account opening process in that they also help to streamline account opening, especially for younger investors (most likely to have more modest portfolios).

As a bonus to dividend investors, Qtrade Investor has also updated its dividend reinvestment plan interface to make it easier to identify stocks that are eligible for DRIPs.

On a technical note, there are additional features which have been announced including a handy registered account centre that makes it easier to track contributions and withdrawals as well as additional portfolio tracking tools.

The full list of improvements and new features are available here. Also, be on the lookout next week for the release of exclusive features/content from Qtrade Investor as part of the SparxTrading.com online brokerage year in review series.

Spotted on Social Media

There are certainly tough gigs, however crawling through social media for content is not one of them. While it did take some restraint to avoid trending hashtags, listicles and the never ending …., we did manage to pull some interesting social media posts from or about Canadian online brokerages.

Options Education Day Toronto

This past week there were photos posted from the Toronto edition of Options Education Day which took place on November 4th. This was the last and largest of four events held across Canada and, interestingly enough, was the only one in which pictures were posted to social media. Both National Bank Direct Brokerage and Interactive Brokers Canada were sponsors of this event.

Spotted on the National Bank Direct Brokerage LinkedIn page was a snapshot of NBDB reps ready to field questions about options trading.

 

Also from the day were pictures from the Montreal Exchange’s Twitter feed which included shots of a very busy looking Interactive Brokers Canada table.

Social Finance Forum

Also spotted on Twitter this past week was a tweet from Scotia iTRADE announcing their participation in the 2017 Social Finance Forum in Toronto.

 

The tweets and coverage on social media from this forum were interesting for a number of reasons.

First, it was definitely interesting to see the number of firms and individuals who are active in the social finance space. The tie-in for Scotia iTRADE is in line with initiatives they launched earlier this year on socially responsible investing.

Another notable observation is that investors were in attendance and sought out this conference as a way to put their investment dollars behind projects that hold meaning to them. As the picture below shows, this conference offered one investor an idea of where to invest in a TFSA.

It will be interesting to monitor the trend towards socially responsible investing to see if other Canadian online brokerages not only start deploying these investment tools and options to their clients, but also to monitor whether they also start to show up in a more visible fashion on social media and at events like the Social Finance Forum in the future.

Online brokerages meetup in Montreal

Last month, online brokerages from across North America and across the globe converged in Montreal for the online brokerage summit. Produced by Trading Central/Recognia, this annual event taps into industry participants and commentators to take a snapshot of the state of the industry as well as where the trends are for DIY investors.

Spotted recently on the Trading Central LinkedIn feed was an interesting and insightful blog piece written by Mike Foy, from J.D. Power and Associates North American Wealth Management Practice, on some of the emerging trends and ‘disruptors’ in the online brokerage marketplace.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

Technical issues and customer service woes made their way onto Twitter this past week across the board. Mentioned in this week’s tweets were CIBC Investor’s Edge, Credential Direct, Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE, TD Direct Investing, and Virtual Brokers.

From the Forums

Going international

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, there’s also an increasing interest in looking further abroad for trading opportunities. In this post from reddit’s Personal Finance Canada subreddit, there was an interesting commentary on the realities for Canadian DIY investors looking for online brokerages that let you trade international markets.

Limit(ed) orders

Record keeping is something that is very important for DIY investors to get right. Nonetheless it would be nice if online brokerages could figure out a way to make this easier. This post, also from reddit’s Personal Finance Canada thread, highlights the limitations encountered with one bank-owned online brokerage in trying to access historical trading data.

Into the close

That’s a wrap for this week’s roundup. Wherever the weekend takes you, we hope it’s a safe and enjoyable one. Of course, we also hope and encourage everyone to take some time over the weekend to remember and pay tribute to the brave women and men who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedom.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – November 3, 2017

…Aaand we’re back. Now that November is here, it’s not only fireplaces and furnaces that are heating up, but also the action at Canadian discount brokerages. Specifically, the promotional activity is starting to ramp up and it looks like the gloves may be coming off to end 2017.

In this edition of the weekly roundup, we take a look at the latest deals and promos to go live from Canadian online brokerages and one of the biggest trends we’ve spotted that might make life pretty interesting for DIY investors and other online brokerages alike. From there we take a look at an interesting series about to launch from SparxTrading.com in the next few weeks and follow up with a very unique interview we found of the CEO of one of Canada’s independent online brokerage’s. As always, we’ll take a look at what DIY investors were chatting about on Twitter and in the DIY investor forums.

New Month, New Deals

While we probably won’t see another Black Friday or Cyber Monday style promotion for online trading accounts, the reality is that as RRSP season gets closer, we expect to see more incentive offers come to market, especially from online brokerages that typically sit on the sidelines for most of the year.

Fortunately, by the first Friday in November, there are already two new discount brokerage deals to kick off the month.

First out of the gate was BMO InvestorLine, who launched a new cash back promotion to replace their previous promotion that expired at the end of October.

This new offer has three different cash back levels based on the amount deposited. Cash back amounts range from $50 to $300 depending on the amount deposited. Interestingly, the minimum deposit to qualify for the current BMO InvestorLine cash back promotion is $50,000, which is typically lower than the $100,000 qualifying deposit level from past promotions.

Also noteworthy is that the cash back amounts can be combined with the referral bonus offer ($50 cash). So, new clients can receive a cash back promotion plus the amount from the referral bonus.

Another cash back offer to hit the market this week was from CIBC Investor’s Edge. This is another tiered offer with cash back amounts ranging from $100 (for deposits of $25,000 to $49,999) to $400 (for transfers of $100,000 or more). There is an important detail to this offer which is that accounts eligible for this promo are RRSP or TFSA accounts.

Currently, BMO InvestorLine and CIBC Investor’s Edge are the only major online brokerages offering a standalone cash back offer. All the other cash back offers have to be accessed through the referral offers, and even then, only three online brokerages (BMO InvestorLine, Questrade and Scotia iTRADE) have these cash back referral programs in place.

The bigger trend, it appears, is for Canadian online brokerages to be encouraging switching from competitor firms.

Almost all of Canada’s online brokerages have switching fee coverage offers. BMO InvestorLine offers the most coverage ($200) for transfer fees, however the deposit amount required for that transfer coverage is $200,000. By comparison, RBC Direct Investing and HSBC InvestDirect require at least $15,000 to cover transfer fees.

Interestingly, Desjardins Online Brokerage’s current promotion is geared towards attracting DIY investors from other online brokerages. Their 1% commission-credit campaign was recently updated with and extended deadline (through to January 31st) and has also revised the promotion code with a greater emphasis on the transfer aspect of the promotion. Similarly, the latest promotion from CIBC Investor’s Edge also appears to put greater emphasis on transferring an existing account from another institution.

For DIY investors, this kind of promotion is a signal that discount brokerages are becoming more assertive in pushing for assets, especially those from other brokerages. It should, in theory, push other online brokerages to step up their efforts to a) retain clients but also b) onboard new clients. As a result, we expect November will have additional new offers come online, and all DIY investors will want to keep an ear to the ground for what Canadian brokerages are offering.

Year in Review

It’s hard to believe the year is almost over but with just 7 more weeks until Christmas, the lights, decorations and holiday tunes will be hard to miss.

To get into the giving spirt, exclusively for readers of SparxTrading.com, we’ve got a special present of our own lined up: a collection of reviews and perspectives provided by Canadian online brokerages on the year that was.

While there might still be a few more surprises coming before the year is out, it will nonetheless be a great opportunity to hear what Canada’s online brokerages have to say about their milestones for the year as well as what DIY investors can expect in 2018. Stay tuned as these will start rolling out in the next two weeks!

Questrade CEO Provides Perspective on Investing

Every so often an interesting nugget crosses our radar. Although we didn’t report this last week, we came across an interesting interview by blogger Jessica Moorhouse with CEO and founder of Questrade Edward Kholodenko.

Now, for any veteran investor in the markets and especially anyone doing investing in early stage companies or mining/exploration stocks, one of the key indicators to use in deciding whether to invest in a company is to look at the management and leadership. In the case of choosing an online brokerage, it is a challenge to get a very candid view of the leadership to understand what their vision is of the brand and what direction they are taking the firm in, so this video interview helps to shed some light on Questrade’s story through that of its founder.

Within Canada, Questrade is unique in that sense because they are still an independent brokerage and because their CEO isn’t camera shy. In this almost 30-minute interview, there’s a lot of ground that gets covered – including the story behind how Questrade got started. More interesting, however, is the entrepreneurial approach that Kholodenko has taken in founding Questrade, a theme that seems to have characterized its growth path since its launch. From the time that Questrade launched as a discount brokerage in Canada, they have since broadened their reach into ETFs, market making and managed wealth services, including the robo-advisor space.

Perhaps as a result of constantly evolving their technology offering in the financial services space, Questrade was recently invited to participate on a team to improve delivery of financial services technology in Ontario.

Of course, technology companies are not without growing pains. At discount brokerages in Canada, big and small, technology hiccups occur – and Questrade has had their fair share over the years. Any scan of the discount brokerage tweets of the week show that momentary interruptions in service, especially during market hours, get the attention of active (and typically vocal) investors. Nevertheless, the challenge to evolve and innovate is always there, so this interview offers a unique window into this online brokerage and especially the perspective of its CEO on DIY investing, robo-advisors and more.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

There were glitches galore across the board this past week. Find out what DIY investors were chatting about. Mentioned this week were Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE, TD Direct Investing, and Virtual Brokers.

From the Forums

Friends & Family Feud

Referral programs at DIY brokerages are interesting approaches to acquire new clients. While there are a handful of programs in Canada, one of the most popular is Questrade’s. In this (very long) post from reddit’s personal finance Canada thread, one user provides a very interesting window into their experience with the referral program and all important “fine print” that is so important to read through.

DIY vs Robo

With investors now becoming more familiar with robo-advisors as a choice in the wealth management mix, there’s a natural question as to whether or not DIY investing is better or worse than robo-advisors. In this post from reddit’s personal finance Canada forum, it was interesting to read responses comparing the Canadian Couch Potato vs Wealthsimple.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on another week. Daylight savings ends this weekend so there’s at least one more hour before market open on Monday. With lots of sports on the docket for the weekend, there’s certainly an extra hour to enjoy it all. Of course, now that winter has started to show up (amirite Vancouver?) in some places, the warm glow of a computer screen or LED TV is pretty tempting. Have a great weekend!

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Discount Brokerage Deals and Promotions – November 2017

*Updated Nov. 17* Just because Halloween’s over doesn’t mean there aren’t treats left over for Canadian DIY investors in November. Even though the RRSP contribution deadline for 2017 is still a few months away, Canadian discount brokerages will be starting to gear up for their ‘busy’ season, aka RRSP contribution season, which tends to peak in February and March. Investors who want to get a jump on their personal finances are starting to kick the tires on Canadian online brokerages which means that incentive offers are starting to percolate.

The good news for DIY investors searching for an online trading account is that there are still 23 or so offers available at the start of November.

By far, the most dominant category of offers is transfer fee promotions. So, it looks like almost all Canadian online brokerages are making it easier for DIY investors looking to jump ship to do so. Cash back and commission-free trading offers are the next most popular category, with the balance in this category tilted heavily towards commission-free trade offers.

Heading into the new month there is one new offer from BMO InvestorLine, a transfer offer from Credential Direct that resurfaced, and a slight modification to an offer from Desjardins Online Brokerage.

As always, if there are any promotions that you may come across that we haven’t mentioned, let us know in the comments section below.

Expired Offers

Heading into November, Scotia iTRADE’s personal finance story contest (#mymakeithappen) ended on October 31st. The final draw from the Apple watch will take place on November 24th.

Also expiring at the end of October was BMO InvestorLine’s initial fall cash-back promotion. A new promotion (see below) has been launched to replace it.

Extended Offers

The 1% commission credit offer from Desjardins Online Brokerage has been extended and modified slightly. The new expiry date for this offer has moved to January 31st, 2018 and the promo code to qualify for this offer has also been updated to DisnatTransfer. Another observation about this offer is that it appears to be more targeted towards asset transfers specifically rather than new account opening – i.e. this promotion is for DIY investors transferring from another online brokerage.

New Offers

*Updated Nov. 17 – It may have taken a while, but the deals and promotions turned it up a notch thanks to Scotia iTRADE this past week. This tiered deposit offer ranges from prepaid Visa cards of $50 all the way to $1200. Qualifying deposit amounts begin at $25,000. Be sure to read the table below for more info. *

*Updated Nov. 3 – CIBC Investor’s Edge has jumped into the promotional offer pool with a cash back offer directed at DIY investors interested in registered accounts – specifically RRSP and TFSA accounts. This cash back promotion offers between $100 and $400 cash for deposits ranging between $25,000 and $100,000+. See table below for more details.*

As of November 1st, BMO InvestorLine has officially launched its newest cash back promotion. This promo consists of three tiers, starting with a minimum deposit of $50,000 and ranging to $250,000+. As with previous offers, this promotion can also be combined with the refer-a-friend bonus which means that individuals opening a new account could receive an additional $50. This offer is good through January 1st, 2018. See the table below for more details.

Discount Brokerage Deals

  1. Cash Back/Free Trade/Product Offer Promotions
  2. Referral Promotions
  3. Transfer Fee Promotions
  4. Contests & Other Offers
  5. Digital Advice + Roboadvisor Promotions (new!)

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 $88 in commission credits (up to 17 commission-free trades). Use promo code SPARX88 when signing up. Be sure to read terms and conditions carefully. $1,000 $88 commission credit 60 days Access this offer by clicking here: $88 commission-credit offer . For full terms and conditions, 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, 2017
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 DisnatTransfer 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 January 31, 2018
Transfer at least A) $25,000; B) $50,000; or C) $100,000 into a new or existing RRSP, spousal RRSP or TFSA at CIBC Investor’s Edge before March 1, 2018 and you may be eligible for a cash back offer of A) $100; B) $200 or C) $400. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. A) $25,000 B) $50,000 C) $100,000 A) $100 B) $200 C) $400 Cash back will be deposited the week of May 4, 2018 (for transfers received by Dec. 31, 2017) or July 3, 2018 (for transfers received after Dec. 31, 2017). CIBC Investor’s Edge Cash Back Promo March 1, 2018
Scotia iTrade Open and fund a new account with Scotia iTRADE with at least A) $25,000; B) $50,000; C) $100,000; D) $250,000; E) $500,000 or F) $1M+ and you may be eligible to receive a pre-paid Visa gift card worth A) $50; B) $100, C) $200; D) $300; E) $600 or F) $1200. Use code VISA18 when signing up. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. A) $25,000 B) $50,000 C) $100,000 D) $250,000 E) $500,000 F) $1M+ A) $50 B) $100 C) $200 D) $300 E) $600 F) $1200 pre-paid card should arrive by July 31st 2018 Scotia iTRADE offer March 1, 2018
BMO InvestorLine Open a new qualifying account with BMO InvestorLine or fund a qualifying existing account, with at least A) $50,000; B) $100,000 or C) $250,000+ in net new assets and you may be eligible to receive up to A) $50; B) $100 or C) $300 cash back. In addition, eligible individuals can receive an extra $50 as part of the refer a friend program. Use promo code SPARXCASH when signing up for the cash back offer. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer. A) $50,000 B) $100,000 C) $250,000+ A) $50 B) $100 C) $300 Cash back will be deposited the week of Aug. 13, 2018. Fall cash back offer Phase 2 January 1, 2018

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Nov. 17, 2017 22:30PT

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
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, 2018

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Nov. 1, 2017 21:30 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 $20,000 or more to a National Bank Direct Brokerage account and they will pay up to $135 plus taxes in transfer fees $135 $20,000 Transfer Fee Rebate 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 tbd
Transfer $25,0000 or more to Scotia iTRADE and they cover up to $150 in transfer fees. $150 $25,000 Transfer Fee promo March 1, 2018
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
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 DisnatTransfer. See details link for more info. $150 $50,000 Disnat 1% Commission Credit Promo January 31, 2018
BMO InvestorLine Open a new qualifying account with BMO InvestorLine or fund a qualifying existing account, by transferring in at least $200,000+ in net new assets and you may be eligible to have transfer fees covered up to $200. Use promo code SPARXCASH when signing up to also be eligible for cash back offer. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer. $200 $200,000 Fall cash back offer Phase 2 January 1, 2018

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Nov. 17, 2017 22:30 PT

Other Promotions

Company Brief Description Minimum Deposit Amount Required Details Link Deadline
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 [email protected] 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

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Nov. 1, 2017 21:30 PT

Digital Advice + Roboadvisor Promotions

Robo-advisor / Digital advisor Offer Type Offer Description Min. Deposit Reward / Promotion Promo Code Expiry Date Link
Discounted Management Open and fund a new Questrade Portfolio IQ account with a deposit of at least $1,000 and the first month of management will be free. For more information on Portfolio IQ, click the product link. $1000 1st month no management fees KDKFNBBC None Questrade Portfolio IQ Promo Offer
Discounted Management Open a new account with BMO SmartFolio and receive one year of management of up to $15,000 free. See offer terms and conditions for more details. $5,000 1 year no management fees STSF January 2, 2018 SmartFolio New Account Promotion
Cash Back – Referral BMO SmartFolio clients will receive $50 cash back for every friend or family member who opens and funds a new SmartFolio account. Friends and family referred to SmartFolio will receive $50 cash back for opening and funding an account, plus automatic enrollment into SmartFolio’s mass offer in market at the time. See offer terms and conditions for more details. $5,000 $50 cash back (referrer) $50 cash back (referee) Unique link generated from SmartFolio required. None SmartFolio Website
Transfer Fee Coverage Transfer at least $25,000 into Virtual Wealth when opening a new account and you may be eligible to have up to $150 in transfer fees covered by Virtual Wealth. $25,000 up to $150 in transfer fees covered None None Contact customer service directly for more information.
Last Updated: Nov. 1, 2017 21:30 PT