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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – March 30, 2018

What better way to cap off March and segue into Easter than with the talk of goodies and mythical bunnies bearing gifts? For Canadian DIY investors hunting for new and exciting features it seems like the best place to look at the moment is further south where all kinds of interesting trader treats are already being released.

In this Good Friday edition of the roundup, we kick things off with a closer look at the latest US online brokerage rankings, specifically with an eye towards interesting findings and cool feature trends. From there we’ll buzz over to a rebrand at one online brokerage that is preparing itself for the next chapter in its storied history. As usual, we’ll cap off the roundup with chatter from Twitter as well as in the investor forums.

Interactive Brokers crowned best online brokerage in the US

Although the recent news cycle south of the border makes Canadians less envious of living in America, trading in America continues to evoke a sense of envy with Canadian DIY investors – and for good reason.

Just over a week ago, Barron’s published their latest rankings of 19 online brokers in the US and found that Interactive Brokers provided online investors with the best overall online experience.

As with all rankings, it’s important to understand what the criteria mean and how the assessment is conducted, and thankfully Barron’s does a great job of providing the details of the online brokerage ranking in a way that none of the Canadian broker rankings do. Specifically, Barron’s actually enables readers to download an excel spreadsheet that contains the details of how the scores were derived.

Before getting too far into the weeds, it’s useful to point out that Barrons’ latest online brokerage rankings assessed brokerages based on the following categories:

  1. Trading Experience & Tech
  2. Usability
  3. Mobile
  4. Range of Offerings
  5. Research Amenities
  6. Portfolio Analysis and Reports
  7. Customer Service, Education, Security
  8. Costs

That Interactive Brokers topped the field of US online brokerages when it comes to costs is perhaps not that surprising. In fact, in looking at the spreadsheet drill down for the margin rates and commission cost per trade, Interactive Brokers stands out as a considerably cheaper option than many of its peers.

What was potentially more surprising was the degree to which Interactive Brokers was able to score highly on the other categories that comprised the online brokerage rankings. Over the past two years or so, it has become increasingly more noticeable that Interactive Brokers has been making additional efforts to go beyond their active trader roots and expand the support, services, products and educational content for online investors. The latest rankings from Barron’s, however, demonstrate just how well Interactive Brokers has managed to do so in the US.

Following Interactive Brokers in first place, the brokerages in second (Fidelity), third (TD Ameritrade) and fourth (Charles Schwab) were all separated by 0.8 points, a sign that it is a very close race between the top four online brokerages in the US.  That said, the graph shows that it isn’t really until after 10th place (Lightspeed Trading) that rankings scores drop off substantially. Firms at the bottom end of the rankings certainly have their work cut out for them, however, as it is clear that this is a very dynamic space.

From a Canadian perspective, it is also interesting to note how small the DIY investor market is here in Canada relative to the US and whether there are too many brokerages in Canada fighting for too small a market share. Barrons’ latest ranking covers 19 online brokerages in the US (with some notable omissions like Robinhood) however that is only slightly more than the 14 online brokerages currently here in Canada, soon to be 13 (or 12) once the Qtrade Financial and Credential Direct merger takes place. Ironically, despite the conditions favouring far more competition here in Canada between discount brokerages, it appears we’re innovating far slower than in the US.

In digging into the actual spreadsheets of the brokerage rankings, there were a few interesting trends noted that might be on the horizon (or just wishful thinking) for Canadian investors. For example, one of the categories that showed up in this year’s detailed ranking breakdown was whether an online brokerage offered cryptocurrency trading.

Already there were 8 online brokerages in the US that had come connectivity to cryptocurrency trading data or trading enabled. Interestingly, Charles Schwab was the only brokerage in the top five ranked online brokers that didn’t offer some kind of connectivity to trade cryptocurrency (e.g. Bitcoin futures).

Other features that we noted that were far ahead of what’s available to Canadian DIY investors included integration with smart home devices, such as Amazon’s Echo. Five online brokerage firms already have this integration deployed or are actively working to do so. Similarly, chatbots on social media are another feature that appears to be growing in popularity with online brokerage providers.

Another interesting observation of the results was the position that Tastyworks ranked in (8th), an amazing feat considering that it was just shy of edging long-time brokerage E*Trade and that Tastyworks has not been around nearly as long. Whether Tastyworks can sustain its growth and challenge better-funded incumbents remains to be seen, but the fact that they’re already scoring as highly as they are means whatever is resonating with investors.

Finally, another feature that casts a very unfavourable light on Canadian online brokerages is the speed with which online brokerages in the US are able to onboard and enable clients to begin trading. Wait times range from almost zero to four days in the US, with the many firms enabling same day trading and account opening.

The US is certainly a faster moving market when it comes to feature development and deployment than Canada is. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that the Canadian online brokerages looking to make a splash here would be wise to pay attention to some of the abovementioned features.

For the moment, Canadian DIY investors have to content themselves with peering over the fence to see how the other side trades.

To Bee or not to Bee: Desjardins Online Brokerage gets a logo refresh

On the marketing front, Desjardins Online Brokerage updated its corporate logo to bring it in alignment with the parent Desjardins who also updated their storied logo.

This modern incarnation of the logo retains elements of the previous iteration, such as the green colour and the honeycomb hexagon however this logo does not have the stylized bee drawing in the centre of the logo. Also updated was the typeface, with sans serif font replacing the previous version which had serifs.

While it certainly isn’t market moving news, the story behind the logo change reflects that Desjardins is moving in response to the market and readying itself for the next, digital chapter in its story.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

Overall a bit of a quiet week on Twitter aside from the usual mixture of sneers and jeers. Mentioned this week were Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE, TD Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers.

From the Forums

Tax Talk

At this time of year DIY investors are diligently working to compile trading statements and calculate the tax implications for their trades. Ironically, managing the required paperwork is itself taxing.

In this post (on TD Direct Investing) and this post (about BMO InvestorLine) it is interesting to see how some DIY investors are managing the business of keeping their transactions in order.

Short and not sweet

Playing in the investor forum sandbox can sometimes be a place for some tough love. This post, from reddit’s Personal Finance Canada thread highlights one investor’s curiousity about selling puts and a response received to proceed with caution.

Into the Close

Whether you were short the week or long the weekend, on behalf of everyone here at, we wanted to wish you a safe and ‘hoppy’ Easter! Remember be on the lookout for pranksters this weekend!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – March 23, 2018

Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to dive right into the next season head first. For online brokerages, after RRSP season comes tax return season. Judging by the response so far to the next busiest time of the year after RSPs, it seems like most Canadian discount brokerages are now shifting gears to figure out their next moves.

We kick off this edition of the roundup with a review of the deals and promotions scheduled to expire at the end of the month. From there we highlight some interesting email newsletters from a pair of online brokerages that prove that e-mail can still hold its own in a social media world. Next, we profile an important strategy document released by one of Canada’s regulators that maps out how to better protect senior investors. Finally, we close out the roundup with a review of the buzz on Twitter and in the DIY investor forums.

Deals Melting Away

The end of March is just around the corner. And, while it signals a positive sign for warmer weather, it won’t only be snow that’s melting away. At the end of March, there are three discount brokerage promotions that are set to expire as well as one from BMO InvestorLine at the beginning of April. Desjardins Online Brokerage did have their commission-free trade credit offer set to expire at the end of March however it has been extended out to May 31st.

That will take the total number of advertised offers down to 19 if there are no replacement offers planned.

Here’s a list of deals that are set to expire at the end of March:

  • HSBC InvestDirect Cash Bonus & Transfer Fee Coverage (expires March 30)
  • Virtual Brokers Discounted Commissions (expires March 31)
  • BMO InvestorLine Cash Bonus & Transfer Fee Coverage (offer expires April 1)

Interestingly, our internal data reveal that online investors are very interested in offers from Canada’s bank-owned online brokerages.  The two bank-owned online brokerages with current offers that are attracting attention from visitors are BMO InvestorLine and National Bank Direct Brokerage.

We’ll be watching to see what, if any, offers are replaced or extended heading into April.

It’s a good sign for DIY investors that Desjardins Online Brokerage has already extended their signature commission-free trade offer through to the end of May and, based on the data from early 2018, there’s a good chance that more extensions and new offers will not be far behind next month.

Trade the News-letter

Interactive Brokers Mines Shareholders for Clients

This week there were two interesting email newsletters from online brokerages that proved email marketing is still a viable method of reaching out to online investors, even in a world cluttered by social media feeds and fragmented sources of information.

The first interesting development was observed in a shareholder letter/newsletter from Interactive Brokers in which a letter from founder and CEO, Thomas Peterffy, provided some unique insight into why Interactive Brokers sought to go public.

According to the letter, Peterffy stated “We went public to raise our profile and as an adjunct to our marketing efforts, in the hope of gaining more customers who would help us become better at servicing them.” It does take quite a bit of effort and consumes resources to go public as well as maintain a listing – reasons perhaps why some of Canada’s non-bank-owned brokerages never saw the need to follow suit. What was particularly noteworthy about this e-mail, however is the direct appeal to become a client before considering to be a shareholder – which is a particularly bold move and perhaps very savvy marketing move.

Source: Excerpt from Interactive Brokers shareholder letter

For all sorts of reasons, the ability to reach out to shareholders is a clever marketing tactic that appeals, likely, to individuals who invest, who know the brand, who are willing to read the notice and who stand to benefit themselves if they also become clients. In terms of marketing and sales, this is a huge coup since the cost of trying to reach, let alone convert, online investors in the US market is quite high. So, not only did Interactive Brokers benefit from being able to raise their profile by being in public markets as a publicly traded firm, this also enabled them the opportunity to market directly to shareholders – many of whom would be ideal target clients and users of their service.

And, whatever Interactive Brokers is doing, seems to be paying off as they were also just crowned the best online brokerage in the US by Barron’s annual ranking of US online brokers.

As with all developments in the US online brokerage space, we often wonder whether something similar could happen with an online brokerage here in Canada.

Could an independent online brokerage like Questrade, for example, simultaneously tap the public markets by going public themselves and open up an entirely new and low-cost marketing channel by advertising directly to shareholders?

Whether or not they need or could efficiently deploy any capital raised from public markets is a separate question altogether, but the benefit of the capital would certainly help fund the scale required to compete against larger peers. And, if Interactive Brokers is any indicator, being public has enabled them to transparently showcase their success quarter after quarter which is the kind of marketing that investors of all stripes can get behind.

Scotia iTRADE Pushes Education

Also spotted in our inboxes this week was a newsletter from Scotia iTRADE which highlighted their shift to focusing more attention on their help/support and educational resources. In the world of DIY investor education, we typically break things down into two major categories of investor education, so it has been interesting to observe Scotia iTRADE build resource and capacity in the ‘education’ space.

The first type of ‘education’ is product orientation, which, simply put, helps clients understand how to use the tools, platforms and features of a particular online brokerage’s service offering. The second category is information about investing itself. So, this latter category refers to topics such as technical analysis, how ETFs or options trading might work etc.

In last week’s roundup, we mentioned that there has been a shift in the way DIY investor education has been delivered by Canada’s online brokerages. In many respects, there’s been a pullback in the resources online brokerages are allocating to orientation and education, and the kind of resources now available are typically video recordings or documents rather than live help sessions or in-person seminars.

As such, it was interesting to see Scotia iTRADE’s latest newsletter on investor education as it is a clear signal that unlike many of their peers, they are continuing to invest in marketing their educational offering as a cornerstone feature to their brand.

In both instances with Interactive Brokers and Scotia iTRADE, it’s clear that email communication with clients is still very much alive and well as a channel to choose from however (and this applies to social media too) being consistent and reliable with producing this content isn’t easy. Scotia iTRADE is making strides in the right direction when it comes to marketing itself and highlighting some of their key differentiators. For their existing clients, this is an important thing to do to keep clients from peering over the fence at what other brokerages are doing. More interesting for Scotia iTRADE, however, is for those clients who do have additional accounts elsewhere to see how competent and interesting Scotia iTRADE might be at delivering updates and talking about feature enhancements.

Strategy for Senior Investors

This past week, the Ontario Securities Commission published its Seniors Strategy (OSC Staff Notice 11-779) that outlines the securities regulator’s vision for evolving the regulatory landscape to better service a growing segment of the Ontario (and Canadian) population – older adults.

The strategy document is fairly comprehensive in its approach, drawing on extensive research of literature and best practices from countries around the world, as well as from research conducted in Canada on the financial profile of older and aging Canadians and by consulting with many experts and seniors advocacy groups. The result of this work is a lengthy but important document that will help to inform the approach of securities regulators and the financial services sector in Canada in doing more to provide important safeguards for older investors.

Some of the concrete steps recommended in this report include:

  1. Requiring that registered firms and their representatives make reasonable efforts to obtain the name and contact information for a client’s trusted contact person if there’s a concern about a client’s behaviour or transactions in a client’s account;
  2. Enabling registered firms and their representatives to place a temporary hold on disbursements from a client’s account.
  3. Enhancing outreach activities to provide tools and resources for older investors, their families and caregivers who support them.

Importantly the report recognized that labels such as ‘seniors’ aren’t reflective of a homogeneous set of attributes and there is a lot of complexity that accompanies the intersection of aging and financial well-being.

It was an interesting week for this report to get published as this week also saw the publication of a somewhat scathing report from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) regarding the lack of sufficient controls at Canada’s biggest banks to ensure clients are getting their best interests served ahead of the banks that the front line employees represent.

This is especially important given some of the data published in the report, in particular that:

“Low financial knowledge makes the roles of registered firms and their representatives even more important to helping older Canadians meet their financial goals. Investing As We Age found that a majority of investors aged 65 and older work with at least one registered firm; research has also found that registered firms and their representatives have a significant influence on their clients’ investment choices, and that investors working with a registered firm place significant trust and confidence in that firm and its representatives.” P17

For Canada’s online brokerages, it is an interesting prospect to consider how they can more effectively and appropriately consider serving older adult clients.

For starters, understanding that clients have differing needs means that the attributes of a clients will factor more prominently into how services are delivered and potentially what kinds of products or services individuals may have sent to them (e.g. via marketing emails).  Additionally, how materials are prepared, the user experience in the online platforms, the statements and account performance summaries and potentially even the stock screeners, picks and trades that individuals can execute (or allow to be executed on their behalf) could see changes made based, in part, on the findings and recommendations from this study. Could ‘safety’ settings, for example, be in place on stock screeners or cautionary labels be put in place that would apply specifically to older investors?

For DIY investors, the strongest recommendation still continues to be caveat emptor when it comes to choosing an online brokerage. While some folks take the position that there isn’t that big of a difference between online brokerages to entail worrying over which one is the best, the data show that the ‘right’ brokerage is one that meets an investor’s needs rather than one that tries to sell a client on features they do not.

As such, an important step in the DIY investor journey is to determine what those needs are prior to signing up for an account. The forum post below provides an interesting example of this for one DIY investor looking to switch online brokers. For observers, the difference between online brokerages might not be important today, however as this report outlines, as needs change, it is important to be with a service provider that can keep up and keep the client in mind.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

With tax season now upon us, there was an uptick in tweets about getting accounts and documentation in order. Mentioned this week by Canadian DIY investors were BMO InvestorLine, CIBC Investor’s Edge, Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE, TD Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers.

From the Forums

Market Order

Many investors firmly believe that buying the basket of stocks listed on major indices, such the S&P 500, is an easier approach than trying to pick individual stocks. Of course, picking individual brokerages might not be as easy. One way to figure out which one discount brokerage to choose when attempting this strategy is to crowdsource. This post, from reddit’s Personal Finance Canada thread, highlights several discount brokerages online investors use to keep fees low when buying the market.

Investor Scorned

There are threads about choosing an online brokerage, and then there are threads about choosing an online brokerage. This post, from the Financial Wisdom Forum, offers a fascinating look at how experienced and knowledgeable DIY investors undertake the process of moving brokerages. There’s actually so much information in this post that it is well worth the time to read. It’s especially informative to see that even long-time service providers can fumble the ball to the point that a client wants to try something different.

Into the Close

So, with all that’s going on in the news and markets now trying to price in a number of different, challenging scenarios, Friday really couldn’t come fast enough. That said, there’s really no rhyme or reason for the Trump media train to stop or slow down. It is already turning into another incendiary weekend so don’t forget to ignore the doom and gloom and try to enjoy the weekend. Spring is here after all.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – March 16, 2018

March Madness is here. Whether that means trying to entertain kids who are off school, figuring out brackets and odds, or making sense of any given news day, keeping up with all of what’s going on and still having time to invest is no easy feat. For those in the online brokerage space – as well as those in the robo-advisor space, finding products and services that fit into the busy realities of everyday investors is key to keeping clients happy.

In this edition of the roundup, we take a look at some interesting stats about online investors and how the wealth management space is evolving to respond to the realities of today’s investor. Next, we put the spotlight on a quiet trend that has emerged around online investor education at several bank-owned brokerages. As usual we’ll also take a look at the DIY investor conversation online on Twitter as well as in the investor forums.

And the Survey Says….

Every so often, one of the major online brokerages or financial institutions in Canada takes the pulse of the investor segment to gauge perceptions about investing topics. Earlier this week, BMO’s SmartFolio published some of the results of a study it commissioned in November of 2017 which asked adult Canadians how they felt about investing online.

The survey results painted an interesting portrait of the overall perception of investing online in 2018 and how those attitudes and perceptions varied according to the age cohort the respondents belonged to, namely: Baby Boomer, Generation Xer and Millennials.

One interesting set of data points revealed that nearly half (46%) of those surveyed felt intimidated by having to make investment decisions, almost two thirds stated they need to learn more about investing (60%) and just over one third (38%) don’t feel they have enough time to invest. Certainly, this combination of perceptions underscores the importance of the decisions that people make with their investment capital, as well as the associated anxiety and hesitation that accompany putting money into harm’s way in order to earn a return. In other words, many Canadians believe investing is hard and it matters if you don’t get it right.

Aside from the ‘investor belief’ insights that the survey uncovered, there were two additional stats that provide insights into product experience and what online investors are seeking out.

First, when measuring the satisfaction of the investment choices made by digital advisors, there was a notable gap between what Baby Boomers felt satisfied with compared to Millennials or Gen X’ers.

According to the survey, only 33% of Baby Boomers felt satisfied with the recommendations that were made by a digital advisor compared to 79% of Millennials and 76% of Gen X’ers who felt satisfied. The natural question that arises is why that would be the case? What is it about the investment choices that were made for Baby Boomers that just don’t resonate with the majority of those investors?

Another interesting statistic revealed by this survey was the extent to which different demographic groups are seeking out tools to help them “invest smarter.”

According to the survey, 38% of Baby Boomers are seeking out tools to help them “invest smarter” while 58% of Gen X’ers are looking for those tools and 67% of Millennials are seeking out these tools.  The survey highlights an inverse relationship between age and the desire to seek out tools to ‘invest smarter’ which is a curious finding. Part of the answer may lie in what exactly constitutes being able to “invest smarter.”

Interpreted one way, it could imply that individuals are looking for above market returns. Considering that trading/investing can be a zero-sum game, it doesn’t seem likely that everyone will achieve market beating-performance. Based on the inverse relationship with age shown in the desire to invest smarter, perhaps older individuals have enough experience in the markets or have different expectations of how investing can/does work such that they know ‘tools’ are likely going to provide modest returns.

Another point of view might be that the individuals may always be on the lookout for tools to improve the investing experience and that might improve the performance of their portfolio. Again, the age factor is interesting because it might imply that older individuals are either less motivated to find those tools or they believe they already have such tools and therefore don’t need to seek them out.

As the digital advice/robo advisor landscape continues to evolve, it will be interesting to watch how services like BMO SmartFolio translate the insights gained from these surveys and turn them into features and services for online investors.

An interesting interview this week on BNN also highlights how the digital advice space is maturing.

Specifically, it appears that digital advice or robo-advisor portfolios can be used not only by consumers themselves but in a hybrid fashion by advisors who work with clients to provide advice but who also utilize the robo platform to help automate the operational side of managing clients and delivering consistent service to multiple clients.

The big picture on the survey results point to perennial issues when it comes to investing, generally that DIY or online investors could use more confidence, experience and perhaps time when evaluating investment opportunities. While many investors may opt to go the DIY route to learn about investing, there’s clearly a need for individuals who help others navigate investment decisions.

Despite the presence of DIY services, the challenge for robo-advisors and wealth managers in general, it seems, is to provide consumers with the confidence that by spending their money in the form of fees, they are actually going to receive the benefit of confident, competent and convenient service – and that a particular provider is better than a very long list of competitors.

Investor education: The quiet evolution

Investor education from Canada’s online brokerages has certainly changed over the past four years. Gone is the rush to hold multi-city seminars and trumpet investor educational resources as a cornerstone of the online brokerage offering. Instead, in 2018, many online brokerages have either pared back their investor education offering or moved to an ‘on demand’ model that uses webinars or video content. Moreover, what used to be free and widely available has shifted behind the login screen to be a ‘client perk’ rather than a marketing hook.

While this has happened industry wide, it has been most prominent at the bank-owned online brokerages over the past few months where we’ve noted some quiet upgrades to the investor education sections.

One of the most recent we noted was from Scotia iTRADE which reorganized its educational content and offers an easier to navigate experience for content based on what activity investors are interested in learning about. Scotia iTRADE’s YouTube channel also has an easy to access archive of educational content, including webinars on topics related to trading and investing.

Another bank-owned online brokerage that has quietly been enhancing its educational content has been CIBC Investor’s Edge.

Their “knowledge bank” is a mixture of webinar topics as well as insights on economic outlooks, as well as tax and financial planning. In fact, coming up next week is a session on tax tips featuring Jamie Golombek that DIY investors may want to tune into.

Perhaps the most elaborate example of the shift in deliver of investor education content is from TD Direct Investing. Although they do continue to offer webinars and the occasional seminar, the big focus for DIY investor topics is the MoneyTalk Investing site by TD which has an extensive selection of personal finance information, including investing, videos and content for investors to consume on a regular basis.

With tax season now upon us, it will be interesting to see if any additional helpful video/webinar content starts to filter out to DIY investors.

Seasonal content aside, there has been a noticeable pullback in the amount of ‘investor education’ being provided by Canadian discount brokerages and there is a clear divide between online brokerages who are providing investor education content to audiences for free (perhaps as part of a marketing strategy) and those that are restricting that content to existing clients only.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

Mentioned by Canadian DIY investors were BMO InvestorLine, CIBC Investor’s Edge, Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE, TD Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers.

From the Forums

Transfers Gone Wild

Every so often something comes along that is a genuine surprise. This post, from the Canadian Investor thread on reddit, is a fascinating story about how one online brokerage client ended up with $600K (in cash and securities) that was accidentally transferred into their account and the chain of events that happened next. Definitely worth a read when considering switching brokerages.

Cross Border Math

Keeping track of costs and transactions is important when investing online. In this post, one user executed a limit order but found the price they ended up paying was higher than what they had set. Fortunately, some helpful forum users helped break down the math that showed how buying across currencies requires some extra math to ensure everything adds up.

Into the Close

That does it for another week. Next week should be another wild week as interest rates in the US are set to creep higher and, of course, there will be no shortage of funny business in the oval office. Fortunately, even if your portfolio didn’t end the week in the green you can still celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and continue the hunt for that elusive pot of gold next week! Best of luck with your brackets and little leprechauns! Have a great weekend!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – March 9, 2018

From real war to trade war, what are either good for? Attention apparently. As provinces and countries trade barbs, online brokerages battling one another have turned to toasting rather than roasting.

It was a very full week for Canada’s discount brokerages so there’s lots to get to in this week’s roundup. First, we dive in with a look at the response to the Globe and Mail online brokerage rankings and how Canada’s online brokers have cleverly found ways to shine a light on their perceived strengths. From there we’ll take a quick look at several important developments that took place this week, including the celebration of International Women’s Day and the possible ramp up to online account openings at one of Canada’s largest online brokers. Also on deck this week is an interview we spotted with an online brokerage CEO. As usual we’ll round out the week with a look at DIY investor tweets as well as comments from the investor forums.

Rank & File

One of the greatest boxers of all times, Muhammad Ali, said ‘it ain’t bragging if you can back it up’. While Ali was certainly no stranger to clever marketing, marketing teams at Canadian online brokerages are no light weights either when it comes to trumpeting their achievements.

Following the release of the Globe and Mail’s Canadian online brokerage rankings, several Canadian discount brokerages have ramped up their marketing efforts, highlighting in particular their status as the best Canadian online brokerage. So, how can everyone be Canada’s best online brokerage?

The short answer is that there are enough different measurements of online brokerages that savvy marketing teams can cherry pick which specific category strength best suits their objectives. Below is a compilation of the online brokerage websites and some display ads that we reviewed this week that had some element of claiming to be ‘the best’ online brokerage in Canada.

Discount Brokerage Website Source of Ranking
BMO InvestorLine 2017 Best Mobile Customer Experience Surviscor, Nov. 2017
CIBC Investor’s Edge MoneySense ranks us #1 in Fees and Commissions Moneysense (powered by Surviscor), Jun. 2017
Desjardins Online Brokerage “Highest in investor satisfaction with self-directed brokerage firms” in Canada according to J.D. Power J.D. Power & Associates, Sep. 2017
National Bank Direct Brokerage A study conducted by Surviscor has concluded that we offer the most competitive pricing among direct brokerage firms Surviscor (date not specified)
Qtrade Investor The Globe and Mail’s best online broker in Canada 2018 Globe and Mail, Feb. 2018
Questrade Canada’s leading non-bank online brokerage Not specified
Scotia iTRADE Top Bank-Owned Firm

19th annual review of Canada’s online brokerages by Rob Carrick of The Globe and Mail

Globe and Mail, Feb. 2018
Virtual Brokers Virtual Brokers takes the #1 spot again in the 18th Annual Globe and Mail Online Brokerage Ranking of 2016 Globe and Mail, Dec. 2016


As readers will note from the table above, there are at least 8 online brokerages who are making the claim to be the best in some fashion, which brings us back to a topic that we’ve covered extensively at – how does one really define what makes an online brokerage the best?

On the front end of an online brokerage’s website, however, recognition awards look great. And, while the details of those awards may not be fully explained or revealed, some DIY investors who may quickly glance at the messaging might consider it enough to see that something has been won even if that award might be out of date.

For example, Virtual Brokers’ website still has the material stating that it came in first in the Globe and Mail ratings from 2016, but does not mention the 2017/18 rankings at all. Conversely, Qtrade Investor has the current rankings specified in the titling and even includes a version of the full Globe and Mail article.

Of course, while text can be highly specific, it is even more interesting to compare the ‘best online brokerage’ award communication visually.

Take the example of a very well-designed graphic for Scotia iTRADE which appeared on their website this past week. The artwork simply states “Top Bank-Owned Firm” and the 19th Annual Online Broker Ranking however it actually doesn’t specify the source. So, while it looks official, it is not an actual seal issued by the Globe and Mail the way that Surviscor or J.D. Power might award a seal.

By comparison, the badge used on CIBC Investor’s Edge website for the MoneySense rankings has a very visible #1 Best Online Brokerages but doesn’t specify that it’s for pricing – that comes later in the text. Interestingly, because CIBC Investor’s Edge and Questrade were both tied for the ‘best pricing’ recognition, Questrade could verbatim claim the same thing.

For DIY investors the takeaway remains: it is important to understand how the results of online brokerage rankings are measured and what they are actually measuring. Clearly, online brokerages are keen on showcasing results and recognition when they do well – and for some brokerages this might be easier to do than others. Nonetheless consumers need to be mindful of looking at the online brokerage provider’s marketing language closely. Ultimately, brands that make bold promises set expectations high and, as a result, they have to back up the hype with follow through.

Financial Firms Celebrate International Women’s Day

This week, International Women’s Day was recognized the world over and a much-needed spotlight was shone on the progress achieved for equality and challenges that still lie ahead. Encouragingly, recognition and participation in this event continues to grow.

To mark the occasion many Canadian financial service firms put together customized content that spoke to the experiences of women in business as well as delivered perspectives on investing. A couple of noteworthy pieces came from BMO as well as from RBC.

BMO had a few items in place for International Women’s Day. Earlier in the week, BMO Wealth Management along with media personality Lena Almeida (@Listen2Lena) teamed up once again for another Twitter session on investing. This session was specifically geared towards highlighting issues and perspectives related to women and investing. As with the sessions previous, this was a very informative and insightful hour-long session that enabled lots of discussion (and featured lots of gifs) on some very interesting questions. We’ve pulled the questions and answers for those who missed it.

In another piece by BMO, which was shared via Twitter, Joanna Rotenberg, Group Head of Wealth Management shared her perspectives on International Women’s Day and where the challenges and opportunities exist for women in a professional setting.

As part of their Inspired Investor content series, RBC Direct Investing also compiled a very interesting collection of perspectives on investing by women investors.

Having women share their own experiences and impressions of investing first-hand provides a powerful and hopefully engaging way in which to make investing – and DIY investing – more accessible to women.

Read the full article here.

Interview with Questrade’s CEO

This past week, CEO of Questrade appeared on a podcast by Kornel Szrejber of to discuss the world of investing online and where Questrade fits into the Canadian landscape of investment service providers. It was an interesting interview with a broad range of topics covered, however of particular interest to DIY investing followers, was Kholodenko’s perspectives on the competitiveness of the Canadian discount brokerage market. At about the 13-minute mark, he provides his view that competition between Canadian online brokerages is incredibly fierce and that all firms, including Questrade, will be continuously tested to deliver great trading experiences.

TD Direct Investing Rolls Out Online Account Opening

It looks like news of the online account opening feature at TD Direct Investing is starting to percolate. After a bumpy start to 2018, TD Direct Investing appears to be prepping for a larger spotlight to be cast on its online account opening feature.

This week we spotted an article on the TD newsroom site that linked to a sponsored post from a personal finance blogger, David Carlson, who caters specifically to millennials on primarily US-focused content. Carlson’s article provided a walk-through of the account opening process and highlighted some of the noteworthy features, the most important one being the speed with which signups for a TD Direct Investing account can now happen online.

Stay tuned on this story as online account opening will no doubt be an important feature for 2018 that will be the focus of several online brokerages who do not already have this in place yet.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

Tweets from DIY investors were an interesting mix of technical and user issues as well as a handful of compliments. Mentioned this week were BMO InvestorLine, Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE and TD Direct Investing.

From the Forums

Off to a Balanced Start

Passive investing is very popular with many Canadian investors. It is also a major selling point for robo-advisors. This post, from reddit’s Canadian Investor thread highlights a possible threat to robo-advisors and opportunity for online brokerages who can deliver a ‘robo’ like performance to clients without having them switch.

On the Record

Now that tax time is here, there inevitably questions about when forms and documentation arrive. This interesting post from one online investor highlights the timing that TFSA contributions may take to show up in the CRA’s system. As a result, it is a good reminder that part of the reality of online investing entails keeping organized records.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on another week. Somehow it seems like sanity is going to prevail, with the pharma-bro getting his comeuppance, diplomacy resurfacing and the Cleveland Browns getting a capable quarter back. Of course, things are still stormy in the weather, the White House and between Alberta and BC so there’s still no shortage of drama to tune into this weekend – just a shortage of an hour. Wherever you happen to find yourself, have a great weekend and don’t forget to “spring forward”!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – March 2, 2018

Whether or not we like it, we can’t seem to avoid politics drifting into markets. One thing there is no shortage of, however, is controversy. This week is no exception. With uncertainty creeping into markets, how online brokerages are navigating their way through a very dynamic situation is both exciting and, at times, nerve wracking.

With the start of a new month, we kick off this week’s roundup with a look at the latest action on the deals front and what one Canadian online brokerage appears to be doing to stand out from the crowd. Next we take a look at the return of volatility to the trading markets as well as the return, in a big way, of DIY investors. Also on the docket, a very interesting article that once again raises the specter or hope of a world in which DIY investors don’t pay any trading commissions. We’ll cap off the roundup with a look at what DIY investors were saying on Twitter and in the investor forums.

Deals March On

With the rush of the RSP contribution deadline now behind everyone, Canadian online brokerages are taking a bit of a pause to crunch the numbers on their efforts to attract new clients and deposits into RRSP accounts.

While we wait for the dust to settle on February, early action from the deals and promotions side heading into March point to a pullback in the number of cash back offers as well as an interesting maneuver by Qtrade Investor to incentivize DIY investors to consider making a switch.

Starting first with a quick overview, in this month’s deals & promotions, we noted that with the expiry of cash back offers from Qtrade Investor, TD Direct Investing, CIBC Investor’s Edge and Scotia iTRADE, the field of providers who currently offer the most cash back bonus at a given deposit tier is very diverse.

As the chart above shows, Questrade’s referral cash bonus offer stands out in the <$10K range and surfaces again in the $100K to $200K deposit level. BMO InvestorLine, whose offer does not apply to TFSA accounts, dominates between $200K and $999K. Perhaps a bit of a surprise name on this list is Credential Direct whose offer at the $1M+ level is currently the highest, but also at the $15K to $25K level and between $50K and $100K. Another surprising name is HSBC InvestDirect which happens to have the top offer in the $25K to $50K deposit range however to qualify for that offer, investors need to execute at least three commissionable trades.

Fortunately, there are still many commission-free trade offers which aren’t scheduled to expire just yet, so for some investors, there’s still some value to be had on the way into a new brokerage account.

Of course, making the switch to Qtrade Investor just became a little easier this week. Their new transfer fee reimbursement threshold has been moved down from $25,000 to $15,000. Historically this has been a limited time option and part of a special promotional offer however the website offer details (see below) don’t attach a timeframe to the offer. They do state that the offer can be revoked at any time, however this seems like it might be the new normal. If it is, then Qtrade Investor’s transfer fee coverage becomes one of the most competitive currently in the market.

It’s remarkable how consistent the transfer fee reimbursement is across brokerages. The minimum deposit of $25,000 is pretty much par for the course and for the handful of brokerages (National Bank Direct Brokerage, RBC Direct Investing, HSBC InvestDirect) whose deposit requirements are under $25,000, it is very interesting to observe that Qtrade Investor is the only non-bank-owned brokerage of that bunch.  Strategically, this helps Qtrade Investor stand out quite prominently – they stand out against almost everyone else, and they stand out against bank-owned online brokerages. In addition, the recent Globe and Mail online brokerage rankings will also help amplify their position in the market place.

The good news for DIY investors, in spite of the cash back retracement, is that there are still a number of competitive offers out there. The next big push will be for the tax refund pool before things potentially either taper off for the summer or ratchet up significantly as marijuana legalization comes back into the spotlight, and with it, attention on the cannabis stocks. Of course, volatility in either direction is usually a boon for online brokerages, which just so happens to be a great segue  into the trading stats reported by Interactive Brokers for February.

Guess Who’s Back?

The big V in February this year was not Valentine’s but rather Volatility. After all but disappearing for the better part of five years, uncertainty has crept back into the markets. What the catalyst was is itself the cause of speculation however the bet against volatility seems to be on its way out.

An interesting interview that Chairman and CEO of Interactive Brokers, Thomas Peterffy, had with CNBC pointed to a storm brewing as traders look to unwind bets and are largely at the mercy of the market to do so. Why this matters for investors is because it represents a shift in trading strategies – certainly for options traders – that will no doubt take time to adjust to. Secondarily however, volatility is great for traders and even more beneficial for online brokerages.

The stats from Interactive Brokers’ February 2018 trading metrics also clearly point to volatility pushing up trading activity. The number of Daily Average Revenue Trades (DARTs) is a whopping 50% higher on a year over year basis and 13% higher than already volatile January.

Another stat that stands out at Interactive Brokers is their continued account growth. It’s genuinely hard to argue with their growth in accounts however as good as they were in February, we’re keen to see what rival E*Trade comes out with. In January, they reported an incredible year over year increase of 149% in net new brokerage accounts (factoring in those who joined and those who left). Whether that momentum, largely driven by a frenzy in cryptocurrency, can serve as a catalyst or if it is just a blip that will revert over the next few months, there is clearly a case for volatility to stick around with many more investors jumping into the markets.

Another Final Countdown

Readers of the roundup will no doubt pick up on the reference to the song which capped off last week’s roundup. Admittedly it may have found its way onto my workout playlist however it deserves mention again this week because of an interesting article that surfaced on Seeking Alpha.

The article, which raised the specter of zero-commission trading, focused on whether Interactive Brokers could survive in the ‘post-apocalyptic’ online trading environment of commission-free trading. It is a great question which is even more interesting to ask of Canadian online brokerages whose primary business is order execution.

As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, order execution should become frictionless, instant and essentially without cost. That, at least, is the business case of online brokerage Robinhood, which now boasts commission-free trading of stocks and options. Here in Canada, commission-free ETF trading already exists at National Bank Direct Brokerage and it will be an incredibly transformative moment should any of the major online brokerages decide to plumb the depths of sub-$5 per trade as a standard rate. Based on what’s happening in the US, it’s a matter of when, not if.

For DIY investors looking for a break, the catalyst to the move down in pricing may come sooner rather than later. After all, strategically all Canadian brokerages have to confront the same reality. The brokerage with the largest amount of assets under management has the best odds of financially weather the zero-commission reckoning. Whoever does it first in Canada will get the biggest headlines, will likely see a flood of assets and will get a very big head start on firms planning for this (and a very big head start on those who deny it could happen here).

Perhaps that catalyst may come from an unlikely place. The Canadian Securities Exchange is rolling out a blockchain platform for instant clearing and settlement of securities, something that the newest and most ‘buzzworthy’ stocks would conceivably want to take advantage of.

By reducing the time it takes to clear and settle a trade to zero, there’s a lot of friction (and cost) to the transaction of trading a stock that can be eliminated, which again makes the case for commission prices to go lower and for the monetization strategy for online brokerages to shift away from charging such high fees per trade.

So, while patience has definitely been a virtue to investors, it seems like the days of trading commissions are finally numbered, and that is definitely worth waiting for.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

We’ve hit a technical hiccup in grabbing the tweets this week. Stay tuned as we investigate this further. In the meantime, here’s a selection of what we’ve gathered so far.

From the Forums

Connections and Transfers

Getting an effortless investing strategy up and running can sometimes take quite a bit of effort. This post from reddit’s Personal Finance Canada section highlights some account funding issues that cropped up for one investor trying to fund a TFSA.

Art of the Deal

With deals on everyone’s mind, it doesn’t hurt to wonder what kind of pricing improvement could be obtained by bargaining with an online brokerage. Find out the experience of one investor who was interested in bargaining down an online brokerage on commission fees in this reddit post here.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on a week that featured hypersonic nuclear weapons, trade wars and markets still hanging in there. I guess if there is no market to wake up to then the world has bigger problems. On that rosy note, for Toronto investors interested in the rebounding mining sector, be sure to check out the PDAC convention to get an ‘on the ground’ sense of companies who deal ‘underground’. Yours truly will be there so be sure to tune into the SparxTrading Twitter feed for highlights. #HaveAGreatWeekend


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Discount Brokerage Deals & Promotions – March 2018

*Updated Mar. 19* With so much activity and anticipation leading up to the RSP contribution deadline for the 2017 tax year, the rollover into March 1st feels a little like the start of a new year.

This past RSP season was one of the busiest in recent memory with almost all of Canada’s discount brokerages offering up some kind of deal or promotion to open a new account. Not only has the calendar rolled over, but also a few offers from Canada’s online brokerages have also turned a corner.

In the weekly roundup preceding the launch of this deals update, we also broke down how savvy DIY investors can get more mileage out the current discount brokerage deals by considering multiple brokerages instead of just one. Another important point from that post was that the details of the offer also matter, so be sure to understand the terms and conditions of the offer before agreeing to sign up.

So, with the rest of 2018 now ahead of us, the deals crop at the start of March looks healthy, clocking in at least 24 offers for DIY investors to choose from. We’ve crunched the numbers on the current cash back offers to list the ones that offer the biggest rewards at each deposit tier currently being advertised by all online brokerages. With the exit of TD Direct Investing and Scotia iTRADE, the standout cash back bonus offer field now includes Credential Direct and HSBC InvestDirect – at least for a portion of March.

As always, if there are any offers that you know about that other readers might find helpful, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

Canadian discount brokerage promotions - cash back offers
Cash back bonus offers for Canadian discount brokerages (As of Mar. 19, 2018)

Expired Offers

Starting first with the promotions that expired heading into March. Qtrade Investor’s cash back promotion officially expired at the end of February as did Scotia iTRADE’s cash back bonus and the transfer offer which accompanied it. At the time of writing, offers from TD Direct Investing and CIBC Investor’s Edge are set to expire at 11:59pm ET on March 1st.

Extended Offers

BMO SmartFolio extended its offer of one year with no management fees. The new deadline to take advantage of this offer is now April 1st.

New Deals

The newest offer to cross the tape for DIY investors is from Qtrade Investor. The transfer fee “promotion” lowers the deposit level to qualify for a $150 fee rebate from $25,000 to $15,000. It is not the first time this offer has been run by Qtrade Investor however it is interesting to note that there is no deadline associated with this offer suggesting this might now become a standard offering. Also interesting is the timing given the wave of contributions to RRSPs that has just taken place. The deposit amount looks like it will be friendly to younger investors and beginner investors with modest portfolio sizes as well as those who are looking for an inexpensive way to “try out” Qtrade Investor.

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

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, 2018
Open and fund a new account with Virtual Brokers with at least $5,000 and you may be eligible to receive up to two months of trading at $4.99 per trade (maximum of 15 trades per month). Use promo code 499COM2017 when signing up to qualify. See terms and conditions for full details. $5,000 Up to 2 months of trading at $4.99 per trade (max 15 trades per month) Commissions will be reimbursed after June 30, 2018. For more details, click here March 31, 2018
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 March 31, 2018
Open a new account at National Bank Direct Brokerage with at least a) $10,000 or B) $20,000+, and you may be eligible to receive up to A) 10 or B) 25 commission-free trades. For the 10 free trades offer, enter promo code FREE10 and for the 25 free trades offer enter promo code FREE25. This offer is also available to existing clients. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. A) $10,000 B) $20,000+ A) 10 commission-free trades B) 25 commission-free trades 12 months Free Trades Campaign April 30, 2018
Open a new account with HSBC InvestDirect by transferring in at least A) $25,000; B) $100,000; C) $250,000; D) $500,000 or E) $1,000,000 or more from another Canadian financial institution and execute at least three commission-generating trades by April 30th, 2018, and you may be eligible to receive a cash bonus of up to A) $88; B) $188; C) $288; D) $688 or E) $988. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. A) $25,000 B) $100,000 C) $250,000 D) $500,000 E) $1M+ A) $88 B) $188 C) $288 D) $688 E) $988 Transfer-in bonus will be deposited by November 30, 2018. Winter Offer – Transfer-In Bonus March 30, 2018
Open and fund a new qualifying account with at least $25,000 and you may qualify for one month of unlimited commission-free trades and up to one month free of an advanced data package. Use promo code ADVANTAGE14 when opening a new account. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. $25,000 commission-free trades for 1 month + 1 month of advanced data. 1 month Active Trader Program December 31, 2018
BMO InvestorLine Open a new qualifying account with BMO InvestorLine or fund a qualifying existing account, with at least A) $100,000; B) $200,000 or C) $300,000+ in net new assets and you may be eligible to receive up to A) $200 or 20 commission-free equity trades; B) $400 or 40 commission-free equity trades; or C) $750 cash back or 75 commission-free equity trades. Commission-free trades are good for up to two months. 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 or SPARXTRADES when signing up for the commission-free equity trade bonus. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer. A) $100,000 B) $200,000 C) $300,000 A) $200 or 20 commission-free equity trades. B) $400 or 40 commission-free equity trades. C) $750 or 75 commission-free equity trades. Cash back will be deposited the week of Nov. 12, 2018. Commission-free equity trades are good for up to two months. BMO InvestorLine Winter 2018 Campaign April 1, 2018

Expired Offers

Open and fund a qualifying account with TD Direct Investing with at least A) $10,000; B) $50,000; C) $100,000; D) $250,000 or E) $500,000+ and place at least 5 commissionable trades within 90 days of account opening and you may be eligible to receive either A) $100; B) $200; C) $300; D) $500 or E) $1,000 in cash back. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for eligibility for this offer. A) $10,000 B) $50,000 C) $100,000 D) $250,000 E) $500,000+ A) $100 B) $200 C) $300 D) $500 E) $1,000 Cash award will be paid to the client before the last day of the month following the conclusion of the qualification period (90 days). #RetireReady Promotion March 1, 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
Open 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) $1M+ and you may be eligible to receive a cash bonus of A) $75; B) $125; C) $200; D) $500 or E) $1,000. For new clients, use promo code CASH2018RSP when applying. Existing clients can access this promotion from the promotions page available on the account backend. A donation equivalent to 10% of the bonus payout will also be made by Credential Direct to Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. A) $15,000 B) $50,000 C) $150,000 D) $500,000 E) $1M+ A) $75 B) $125 C) $200 D) $500 E) $1000 Cash will be credited to qualifying investor accounts the week of August 20, 2018 Winter Offer 2018 March 16, 2018
Last Updated: Mar. 19, 2018 15:50 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 B) $10,000 C) $25,000 D) $50,000 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 October 31, 2018

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Mar. 1, 2018 19:00 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 Qtrade Investor from another brokerage and Qtrade Investor may cover up to $150 in transfer fees. See terms and conditions for more details. $150 $15,000 Transfer Fee Rebate none
Transfer $15,000 or more to HSBC InvestDirect, and they will pay up to $150 in transfer fees. $150 $15,000 2018 Winter Offer – Transfer-In Bonus March 30, 2018
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
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 April 30, 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 March 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 or SPARXTRADES to be eligible for the commission-free trade offer. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer. $200 $200,000 BMO InvestorLine Winter 2018 Campaign April 1, 2018

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Mar. 1, 19:00 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 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

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Mar. 1, 2018 19:00 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. $1,000 1 year no management fees STSF April 1, 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. $1,000 $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: Mar. 1, 2018 19:00 PT