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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – July 27, 2018

Summer is in full effect. And, as is typically the case, it’s the time of year when folks work a little harder to tone up or bulk up for the beach. Interestingly enough, it looks like Canadian online brokerages are also taking the summer to get themselves into top form for the months ahead.

In this edition of the roundup, we stay with the summer vibes and keep things brief and easy. We kick off the roundup with an article about one online brokerage taking a measured approach to competing by using content effectively. Next, we dive into the chatter from DIY investors on social media and what investors were talking about in the forums.

CIBC ramps up new digital content

In last week’s roundup, we took a look at how online investor education is evolving at Canadian online brokerages and, in particular, how online content is becoming a key area for online brokerages to differentiate themselves with as well as to deliver value to their clients. And, even though TD Direct Investing is a major force in the space, their bank-owned competitors are not standing still when it comes to content development.

This week we spotted two interesting content pieces on the CIBC Investor’s Edge website which further validate the observations noted in last week’s roundup about the importance of delivering good content.

The first small but still noteworthy development is the release of the latest edition of the CIBC Investor’s Edge newsletter. Long time clients and regular readers of the newsletter will have noticed the changes in format to the newsletter, which were initially rolled out in 2016, as well as to the design of the Investor’s Edge newsletter.

What is especially interesting about this summer edition of their newsletter, however, is that offers interesting content related to investing that is a bit more focused on what DIY investors might be able to use in understanding different investing strategies. Notably, articles in this newsletter focus on options trading basics as well as on momentum investing. Also interesting is the inclusion of a tax planning component that is often overlooked for DIY investors when it comes to ‘educational’ content, other than AT tax time.

Screenshot of CIBC Investor’s Edge website (taken 2018-07-27).

From a content perspective, this investor newsletter is quite well done – short enough to be digestible, but long enough to provide some helpful information. The biggest draw of the newsletter, however, is that it is accessible to non-CIBC Investor’s Edge clients. In this respect among its bank-owned peers, CIBC Investor’s Edge is relatively unique.

CIBC Investor’s Edge produces and publishes a newsletter for DIY investors that is available on the front end of their website (and also happens to be a part of a well curated section of educational/informative materials called the ‘knowledge bank’). This is not what most of their competitors do and as a result, enables Investor’s Edge to compete using educational content in a way that other brokerages aren’t doing.

Another content element that caught our attention was the publishing of an upcoming webinar on RESPs that will be taking place in September. There are two interesting features of this webinar. The first is that it is being offered in English (on September 5th) and in French (on September 20). French language webinars are rarely found outside of typically French-focused online brokerages (Desjardins Online Brokerage or National Bank Direct Brokerage) or occasionally TD Direct Investing.

The second interesting observation is that the timing of the presentation is lined up with the ‘back to school’ point in the calendar as well as the month (September) with one of the highest rates of births in the calendar, which means that the topic is timely to be raising.

Overall, it appears that going beyond the content machine that is TD Direct Investing, there are signs among other online brokerages that there are opportunities to compete effectively and deliver value to DIY investors in the form of value-added content. CIBC Investor’s Edge has shown that it is possible to put together a strong content offering at a reduced pace but still do it well. The next hurdle for Investor’s Edge to overcome is to let DIY investors know these features exist.

Lightening Roundup

Here are a few small but potentially important items that crossed our radar this week.

TD Direct Investing continues to invest in growth

Earlier this week, the Globe and Mail published an article about TD’s plans to boost its wealth management business by hiring about 200 financial advisers to come on board next year. Buried in that article was an interesting reference to ongoing projects and possible features. The first noteworthy mention on the direct investing side was that TD has invested $125M into revamping mobile trading functions and, most importantly, have set the stage for digital/robo-advice.  Another interesting reference was to TD having the appetite to acquire more new clients in the wealth management division, which will undoubtedly get people talking about who TD Direct Investing might consider partnering with or acquiring outright.

Good content on personal finance

Finding good content on the internet, especially those seeking out information on Canadian markets, is generally a challenge. Fortunately there are a handful of reliable and engaging sources from which to do so. Check out this podcast from Canadian Couch Potato which offers an interesting perspective from the Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick on the landscape for DIY investors in Canada and how he has managed to keep his own personal finance content relevant to changing populations of investors.

Speculation on E*Trade Financial merger

Earlier this week, an interesting article surfaced that looked at the likelihood of TD Ameritrade as being the most likely suitor to acquire E*Trade. While it is all speculative at this point, it is an interesting story to watch unfold because it sets up the business case for a deal being done with E*Trade.

The move in the US may also provide a hint of what’s to come here in Canada. Questrade, like E*Trade, is an established player in a market that has seen substantial merger and acquisitions activity. While the price has to be right, for Canadian DIY investors, the possibility that Questrade ends up being acquired by a larger online brokerage is not as far-fetched of an outcome.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Keeping Costs in Check

When it comes to online investing – especially for active investors – trading costs (such as commission) are important to consider. In this interesting post from reddit’s Personal Finance Canada section, one user is trying to ascertain the difference between Interactive Brokers and a different platform to get started.

Slow to Move

While ETFs might be popular with investors, they may not be as popular as they could be. In this post from reddit’s Personal Finance Canada thread, one user sparks an interesting conversation around adoption of ETFs by Canadian investors.

Into the Close

What an end to another crazy week. For Facebook shareholders, it’s been a rough ride and the prospect of having a couple of days to reflect on what went wrong there is undoubtedly welcomed. Of course, in spite of the crazy headlines and stranger-than-fiction stories coming out in the news, markets continue to march upwards. Enjoy the trend while it lasts. Wherever your adventures take you for the weekend, have fun (hopefully in the sun) and make the most of the good weather – as there is undoubtedly a storm brewing on the horizon for DIY investors.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – July 20, 2018

There might be no more teachers or no more books, but just because summer’s here, doesn’t mean that lots can’t be learned. In fact, it appears that several online brokerages are banking on the fact that investor education may not be coming from books (or teachers) for much longer.

In this edition of the roundup, we take a look at a slow-moving development that has finally reached an interesting juncture – the end of the in-person seminar for investor education. Find out which bank-owned online brokerage is driving the digital bus. Next, we cover the slow and steady plan for global supremacy in the online brokerage space by one ambitious online broker. As always we’ve got a great selection of DIY investor chatter from the tweets and forums for the past week.

Investor Education Goes Digital

For online traders and investors, especially the DIY kind, there’s always something new to learn when it comes to trading and markets. What has been fascinating to watch over the past several years is how ‘investor education’ has evolved at Canadian online brokerages.

Normally, the Weekly Roundup profiles things that are event-driven, however when it comes to investor education from Canadian online brokerages, the story here is that there has been a slow but noticeable shift away from in person education events to ‘on demand’ and digital content to cater to investors’ needs.

What piqued our interest in revisiting this topic, was TD Direct Investing’s transition away from their previous seminar website towards their new webinar focused one. Specifically, when trying to access TD Direct Investing’s old seminar and webinar site: we were repointed to the Investor Education section of the TD Direct Investing website.

Yes, gone is the map of Canada that displayed the number of seminars in different regions around the country and in its place, there is a selection of video content, as well as FAQs, investor terminology and tools and resources.

For those looking to stay sharp or learn about different investing topics, fear not, there is an extensive collection of about 115 webinars available. With so many webinars available, TD has taken an interesting approach to the webinars page by creating filtering and search capabilities and categories of videos are accessible via a ‘hamburger’ menu icon.

The list of webinar categories include:

  • Upcoming & Recent Events
  • Most Popular
  • All Webinars
  • Getting Started
  • WebBroker
  • Advanced Dashboard
  • Thinkorswim
  • Mobile Trading
  • Account Types
  • Investment types
  • Portfolio Management
  • Researching Your Next Trade
  • Chart Tools
  • Options Trading
  • ETFs
  • BNN Money Talk Aftershow

Another interesting feature of these webinars is that many of them are available to Mandarin and Cantonese speakers – something that none of the other Canadian online brokerages’ investor education tools have managed to do.

In fact, in comparing the webinar and recorded investor education video sections of other Canadian online brokerages offering investor education webinars, really the only competitors are Scotia iTRADE, National Bank Direct Brokerage and Desjardins Online Brokerage. Of those, it is only Scotia iTRADE which has taken a highly structured approach with their ‘Knowledge Navigator.’ Even then, the webinar archive for Scotia iTRADE, which is available on YouTube, 66 videos long and not segmented out as extensively as TD Direct Investing has done it.

Of course, we couldn’t talk about TD Direct Investing and digital content without mentioning the Money Talk site, which is by far one of the most comprehensive approaches to finance media published by any Canadian financial services provider – event to the point where it rivals a news channel for in-depth topic coverage.

Why this matters to DIY investing in Canada is because strategically, financial news content (especially video) in Canada is hard to come by – BNN and Bloomberg were once competitors but then joined forces in order to sustainably compete in the Canadian space. On a relative basis, TD’s digital content strategy and implementation is very far ahead of their peers, including and especially in the online brokerage segment, which means TD can keep themselves top of mind to a lot of curious consumers.

DIY investors looking for free, insightful content that on demand and frequently updated can (and might inevitably) turn to TD (and TD Direct Investing) to stay current on market news or to get a pretty decent handle on key topics.

For both the evergreen topics of investing basics and strategies, to the event-driven market moving information, TD (and by extension TD Direct Investing) has successfully made the transition from being a powerhouse in investor education seminars to being dominant in digital content – including educational webinars.

Clearly, TD’s digital content teams are putting on a master class of their own when it comes to content production and it will be genuinely interesting to see how or if other online brokerages can step up to the content challenge.

All Roads Lead to Interactive Brokers

Whether it’s Game of Thrones or Risk, global domination is not a game for the faint of heart. What does that have to do with online investing? Well, interestingly enough, it appears to be the (very) long term vision of Interactive Brokers – specifically of founder and CEO, Thomas Peterffy.

Interactive brokers held their Q2 2018 earnings conference call this week to walk investors through the strong performance of the company and to provide context and ‘colour’ to the direction of the business. Without spending too much time on numbers, perhaps some of the most pertinent are the record high number of customer accounts – up 27% in a year to 542,000.

While the growth streak continues at Interactive Brokers, the part of the conference call that piqued our interest was the following statement made by Thomas Peterffy in which he stated:

“Our introducing broker segment continues to benefit from two major trends, the increasing regulatory burden worldwide and the growth of the new investor class in developing countries. First, in developed and developing markets around the world there are thousands of brokerage firms, some just being newly formed. For a new firm it is almost impossible in terms of time, knowledge, and money to create the compliance processes and technology needed to be in business. For an existing firm new, more onerous regulations constantly come up so an existing broker must either increase its personnel and regulatory cost significantly to comply or come to us. In both cases the brokers optimal choice is to outsource their account opening, order routing, and back office functions to us. That means our platform will be used for the introducing brokers trading, clearing, and custody so what the brokers customers see is a front end with the brokers logo.”

This is a significant position to take for several reasons.

First, especially within a smaller marketplace like Canada, the odds of a new online brokerage setting up shop to seriously compete with existing players is low. In order for that to be true, there would likely have to be some kind of hybrid (which we’ve seen unfold already) with a larger financial services firm essentially providing resources to an online brokerage to compete against a larger firm.

Alternatively, if there were to be a ‘new’ brokerage, in all likelihood, the new brokerage would take care of the customer service while Interactive Brokers would take care of the trade execution. In other words, Interactive Brokers still benefits. Thus, the current Canadian online brokerages are essentially playing a game of chicken with one another to see who may flinch on pricing. What they may not fully realize, however, is that Interactive Brokers has already got pricing in their favour and may come to play a role in the Canadian investing space the way that robo-advisors may start to play an increasingly prominent role in reducing the operating costs for wealth management firms. The key will clearly be technological supremacy which is integral to keeping operating costs low.

Another statement that should concern existing online brokerages (which was also made by Peterffy) is that Interactive Brokers isn’t just going to stay in the ‘online trading’ space. They’ve been steadily widening the scope of their financial services business to include integrated cash management, introduction of a mastercard, bill payment functionality and very soon, payroll direct deposits. According to Peterffy, “This means our customers will have less and less reason to leave our platform to transact any of their financial business.”

Of course, other online brokerages and financial service providers are not going to gingerly stand by, however Interactive Brokers has been living lean for a long time and continue to operate with remarkable efficiency by relying extensively on automation.

With far too many Canadian online brokerages, including several bank-owned online brokerages, still sorting out how to transition to online account opening or have stable, feature-rich, trading platforms, the Canadian space seems particularly fertile ground for disruption. Because of the size of the Canadian market, innovation in the online brokerage segment is slower however it’s clear that Interactive Brokers’ global ambitions and our proximity to the US market, might disruption might happen sooner than anyone had planned for.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week


From the Forums

Looking at the Fine Print

Terms and conditions can contain some pretty extraordinary stuff. When it comes to online brokerages, however, one DIY investor, in this reddit post, felt the Questrade terms and conditions attached to the “online security guarantee” were worthy of a second opinion. Find out what the community had to say.

Cents and Sensibility

Having a bank-owned online brokerage account holds a great deal of appeal with online investors. One investor who was somewhat on the fence about going the online brokerage route, asked what fellow DIY investors in the reddit forums, thought about the benefits of a bank-owned brokerage.

Into the Close

That brings another week to a close. For Raptors fans, the word trade has a particularly strong sting to it, however just as in basketball, the markets thrive on trade – so let’s hope the Raptors made the right move. Wherever this weekend takes you (even it if is to San Antonio), have a great weekend!!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – July 13, 2018

It’s Friday the 13th and National French Fry Day. Just like a market, depending on your perspective this is either a pretty awesome way to end the week or a fittingly ominous one. One thing is for sure, perception rather than reality drives the bus when it comes to market moves.

In this edition of the roundup, we profile the latest new trading platform to come to market from a Canadian online broker – likely just in time to play the uptick in trading volatility. From there, we take a summer-style approach to interesting news from around the online brokerage world, including shortening of customer service hours, bullish investor sentiments and crypto-currency trading that might inspire a Canadian brokerage or two.

Virtual Brokers Making Waves with New Platform

For most of Canada’s online brokerages, progress, in the near term, will likely be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. We’ve already observed this trend over the past several years in website upgrade/refresh after website upgrade, and a concerted effort by many online brokerages to focus on continuous fine tuning of user experience.

One important incremental change was recently spotted at Virtual Brokers, with the unveiling of a new trading platform, called VB wave.

We first spotted the presence of Virtual Brokers’ new trading platform on their website a few weeks ago and mentioned it on Twitter. Since that time, we’ve gathered a few more details on what has been a rather quiet unveiling of this new product.

VB Wave (1.0) is a desktop-based trading platform that has been developed for Virtual Brokers to be able to cater to active or very active traders. Like most active trading platforms, VB Wave provides a lot of features traders like, including a customizable dashboard that consists of trading charts, market depth, watchlists as well as important account and position details. Users of VB Wave can trade equities and options.

It is worth noting that Virtual Brokers is somewhat unique among Canadian online brokerages in that VB offers a variety (8 in fact) of trading platforms – with several notable professional grade platforms. So, on a number of levels, it is interesting to see the launch of what is a key differentiator to their brand (i.e. another trading platform) emerge so quietly.

One of the reasons for the subdued entry is likely that the platform is still very much at the 1.0 stage. In an industry where users are very quick to note technical difficulties loudly and publicly, the VB team may be playing it safe by getting the feedback from early users.  As such, VB Wave appears to be in an ‘open-beta’ style situation where early users will help in identifying potential issues, bugs or enhancements that might need to be made before the marketing machine fully ramps up

Another interesting angle to the launch of the new platform is where it fits into the VB family of trading platforms. On either side of the new VB Wave, there is VB WebTrader which is a web browser based application that caters to the essential needs of a user. Then, on the active side, there is the application-based PowerTrader Pro which is billed to handle active and professional traders alike.

So where exactly does VB Wave fit in?

Simply put, it appears that VB Wave offers a desktop application experience for active investors or traders. A key area where VB Wave does differ from PowerTrader Pro, however, is in pricing.

VB Wave comes with a monthly platform fee of $75 CAD for standard commission account holders and $150 CAD for users on the commission-free plan. Compare that to the pricing on PowerTrader Pro, which is $250 USD and immediately there is a significant difference. Data fees apply on top of the platform fee so total pricing depends on the desired market data.

Currently, VB Wave is available only to clients on the standard commission plan however when VB Wave officially goes live – which is scheduled for the beginning of September – both commission plans will be supported on the platform.

As part of the initial roll out, there is a promotion that waives (no pun intended) the platform fee until September 1st.

The timing of the launch of VB Wave for the beginning of September also coincides with the time of year when marketing efforts pick up, so there is a good chance DIY investors will hear and see more about this platform then.

In the meantime, it’s a safe bet that VB will be refining and optimizing the platform until things roll out in a major way in September. Fortunately, there will also undoubtedly be some curious active traders who’ll be looking to kick the tires on Virtual Brokers as a result of the new platform, so one way or another, word of the platform is sure to ‘make waves’ this summer.

Lightning Roundup

Like a refreshing summer salad, we’ve got a light but fulfilling mix of interesting developments across the online brokerage space that might be of interest.

Scotia iTRADE Dials Back Client Service Hours

The days might be brighter but when it comes to customer service hours at Scotia iTRADE, it looks like the sun has set on reaching client service reps later on in the day and on the weekend.

Scotia iTRADE announced that as of June 30th their contact centre hours would change from 8am to 9pm ET (Mon-Fri) and 8am – 6pm (Sat) to new hours of 8am to 8pm ET (Mon-Fri).

This shift in client service rep availability is an interesting move, especially in an era where accessibility of a rep is still fresh in the minds of many DIY investors who were caught waiting in long call queues earlier in the year and who were told to try contacting their broker at less busy hours.

US Online Investors Bullish According to E*Trade

Economic and trading indicators can come from all over the place, however an interesting survey from US online brokerage, E*Trade Financial, points to somewhat optimistic investors south of the border.

According to E*Trade’s most recent survey of active investors, US online investors don’t see the current negative news headlines as a reason not to be optimistic about the direction of the stock market.

Bullish sentiment for Q3 was reported at 57%, 5 percentage points higher than Q2 of 2018 (52%). By comparison, however, bullish sentiment was at 68% in Q1 of 2018 and 63% in Q4 of 2017 indicating that while still positive, there’s definitely a pullback in the percentage of folks who see a rise in markets relative to the end of last year.

Robinhood Adds More Coins to Trade for Free

An interesting piece of news for followers of cryptocurrency trading emerged this week as no-commission online brokerage Robinhood added the ability to trade Litecoin and Bitcoin cash into its lineup of tradeable cryptocurrencies.

Robinhood continues to highlight the massive and pronounced appeal of the commission-free trading model, something that might yet be a signal to Canadian online brokerages to consider doing the same.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Free trades agreement?

Getting something for nothing often feels too good to be true. In this post from reddit’s Personal Finance Canada, one user managed to not get dinged the usual commission from CIBC Investor’s Edge for purchasing an ETF but couldn’t quite deduce why.

Making money moves

With mo money, comes mo problems – like insurance on said monies. One reddit user queried whether Questrade was an appropriate destination for a large portfolio and received a slew of interesting and generally well-behaved responses.

Into the Close

That’s it for another wild and crazy week. With so much activity happening in Europe this weekend, it’s going to be anything but dull and realistically anything but relaxing. So, if you manage to find a way to take it easy and enjoy the summer weather, good work. For the traders out there, though, it looks like this will be a weekend to start shopping around (and because Prime day is coming up!).

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – July 6, 2018

There’s no mistaking it, summer is here (for most of Canada) and it’s a scorcher. Of course, for Canada’s discount brokerages, it’s not just the heat that’s causing them to sweat, it’s also the hurried pace they’re moving at to position for what’s shaping up to be a very busy fall season.

In this edition of the roundup, we kick things off with a recap of a hot topic for DIY investors – promotions at Canada’s discount brokerages. From there, we do a lightning round of interesting stories for DIY investors that crossed our radar during this shortened week. To keep things moving, we’ll close out with tweets of the week as well as interesting forum posts.

Summer Deals

With vacations, nicer weather and no looming deadlines for taxes, there aren’t a whole lot of reasons to be thinking about your online investing account. As such, summer is an interesting time for online brokerages to test or launch promotional offers. And, this month didn’t disappoint.

The July crop of discount brokerage deals and promotions are now live and even though the beginning of the month technically started off slowly because of the long weekend, this month is filled with brokerages making interesting moves.

Heading into this month, as we mentioned in a previous roundup, Scotia iTRADE took a measured step back into the deals pool by offering up a cash back promotion targeted at existing clients only.

It was interesting for a number of reasons, most notably because they are a bank-owned online brokerage, they launched an aggressive cash back offer and this offer was extended only to existing clients.

From a strategy perspective it is noteworthy because it seeks to incentivize individuals who have bought into Scotia iTRADE already (i.e. existing customers) and who are presumably happy with them to deepen their relationship. So, rather than spend resources on trying to win over new customers, Scotia iTRADE appears to be dedicating those marketing dollars towards preventing existing customers from considering their competitors.

Another bank-owned online brokerage also made some moves of its own early on in July. BMO InvestorLine launched their newest offer – a tiered cash back incentive that provides rewards of up to $1,000. While there was technically a brief lag between the expiry of BMO InvestorLine’s previous offer (which expired on June 30th) and the launch of the new offer (on July 3rd), for DIY investors, it was likely worth the wait.

Cash back promotions are generally preferred by DIY investors, so at this moment, the online brokerage offers available to the general public are with either BMO InvestorLine or Questrade. And, in comparing the two, they are reasonably close in value.

Which offer has the ‘edge’ comes down to a couple of factors. For instance, whether or not an individual can get a referral bonus of $50 from BMO InvestorLine tips the scales in BMO InvestorLine’s favour. Additionally, the offer from BMO InvestorLine is open to existing clients who bring in additional assets to an existing account whereas the offer from Questrade is for new clients only. Finally, depending on the assets being brought over, either Questrade stands out or BMO InvestorLine does.

What it all boils down to for DIY investors hunting for a new online brokerage account is that there are still interesting offers to consider – especially during the summer months. And, even though the National Bank Direct Brokerage commission-free trading offer has expired at the time of writing this roundup, there are still alternative offers available and there’s a good chance that promotions activities will offer some more summer hits before the season is out – so definitely stay tuned.

Lightning Roundup

Even though it was a ‘short week’ there were still a number of developments in the DIY investor and online brokerage space that are worth mentioning. While we don’t dive into these too deeply, it’s great to see that this space continues to be highly dynamic.

National Bank Direct Brokerage & Horizons Announce Biggest Winner Contest

Even though it was a competition based on fantasy money, one lucky contestant in the Horizons ETFs Biggest Winner competition walked away $7,500 richer. Joel Couture from Levis Quebec managed to take top prize in the competition by finishing with a 16.26% return after six weeks, handily beating the second prize winner who netted $2,500 for finishing with a return of 11.31%. Interestingly, some stats from the competition that the volatility oriented ETFs HOU and HOD (the 2x oil bull and bear ETFs respectively) were among the most popular as was the marijuana ETF, HMMJ. For more information on the contest including the full list of winners and commentary by NBDB, click here.

Senior Unfriendly

An article published in the Globe and Mail by personal finance columnist Rob Carrick highlights an interesting issue that is certain to draw more attention to the way in which DIY investors can be stuck paying more for their portfolios simply because they are older.

At the heart of the matter is that some Canadian discount brokerages don’t have USD registered accounts for RRIFs, which RRSPs must be converted to. While Carrick goes on to cite some intriguing work arounds, the fact remains that brokerages that can make the process much more smoothly will stand out more than those who can’t.

Some Whispers

TD Direct Investing was being whispered about in a few places online this week. Suffice to say we’re printing here because we find it interesting.

First, there was the mention of TD Direct Investing getting new features that older clientele would appreciate, namely in Rob Carrick’s article cited above. Specifically, Carrick stated that TD Direct Investing is actively working on bringing U.S. Dollar RRIFs into reality in late 2018.

TD Diect Investing journaling of trades via webbroker

Another interesting feature to cross our radar was described in a reddit post in which an individual relayed what the TD agent said to them about journaling trades, and that WebBroker would be getting that feature.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Small Potatoes

Sound money management is something that needs to happen with any portfolio size. This post, from reddit’s Personal Finance Canada section, offered a number of really interesting perspectives for someone looking to beat the administration fees on an account balance of $1,000.

It Ain’t Easy Being Green

There was lots of chatter this week from forum participants about both TD Direct Investing and Questrade. Among the debate topics was choosing one or the other for a TFSA. Check out this forum post for more details.

Into the Close

Regardless of what you happened to be celebrating this week, for many soccer fans, there is still a lot more celebration on the horizon. It’s a big week in markets next week with interest rate announcements coming out however if you really want to see interest in action, check out any of the sports bars or restaurants where the soccer games are playing. Stay cool and hydrated out there and have a ball this weekend!

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Discount Brokerage Deals & Promotions – July 2018

*Updated: July 5* With lots of sunshine, July’s crop of discount brokerage deals is still in full bloom. That’s great news for DIY investors looking to open online investing account with a Canadian online brokerage. While the cash back offerings still lag the commission-free category, there remains ample opportunity to get a transfer-free bonus when switching online brokers.

As July 1st falls on a holiday (happy Canada Day!) and a weekend, online brokerage websites may not have been updated with the latest deals for July. Not to worry though, we’re keeping a lookout for new deal announcements that might appear after the long weekend.

All told, after an eventful June, the deals and promotions activity in July looks like it will have a few surprises of its own to offer. Early on this month, we’re watching the National Bank Direct Brokerage offer (which is scheduled to expire July 6th) as well as what will transpire with BMO InvestorLine in the first week of July.

Stay tuned and as always, if you spot a deal that would be interesting to fellow DIY investors, please feel free to let us know or leave a comment below.

Expired Deals

It was interesting to see this deal come to market when it did, and we’re certainly sad to see it go, but the RBC Direct Investing commission-free trade promotion expired mid-month in June. The move by the large bank-owned brokerage is a signal that they can still surprise the marketplace.

Another offer that technically expired heading into July was BMO InvestorLine’s cash back and commission-free trade promotion. Since a replacement has not yet been posted to the BMO InvestorLine website at the time of the deals & promotions update, we’ll count this one out. If history is any indicator, however, there may be a pleasant surprise coming very shortly.

Extended Deals

There were no extended offers to report (yet).

New Deals

*Updated: July 5 – BMO InvestorLine launched a new cash back deal this month which is sure to get onto DIY investors’ radars. The tiered offer, which is open to new and existing clients, provides cash back bonuses ranging from $75 (for a $50,000 deposit) to $1,000 (for a $500,000 deposit). Keep in mind that BMO InvestorLine’s offer can be combined with their refer-a-friend promotion which can add an extra $50 cash back to the total reward amount. See table below for more information.*

At the start of July, there were no new offers that we spotted, however heading into this month there were a pair of important offers in June that caught our attention.

The first new offer that showed up in June was from Scotia iTRADE, specifically a cash back (in the form of a gift card) offer that was being marketed to existing clients. Specifically, this deal is open to existing clients as of May 14th, 2018. We’ve added that deal to the table this month as it is worth enquiring about for new clients to see if iTRADE is prepared to match or provide a better offer when signing up.

Another promotion that crossed the deals radar last month was from BMO SmartFolio, who launched a cash back offering. The cash back amounts on this offer ranged from $25 cash back (for a deposit of $5,000) to $1000 cash back (for a deposit of $200,000 or more). 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

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
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 September 30, 2018
Scotia iTrade Open and fund a new account with Scotia iTRADE (or fund an existing account) 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 card worth A) $100; B) $200; C) $500; D) $800; E) $1,100 or F) $1,500. Use promo code 18SUM when registering. Be sure to read terms and conditions for more details. NOTE: this offer is open to existing Scotia iTRADE clients only (who were clients prior to May 14, 2018). A) $25,000 B) $50,000 C) $100,000 D) $250,000 E) $500,000 F) $1M+ A) $100 B) $200 C) $500 D) $800 E) $1,100 F) $1,5000 pre-paid Visa card will be awarded by Jan. 31, 2019. iTRADE Summer Promo August 31, 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 account or fund an existing account at BMO InvestorLine with new assets worth at least A) $50,000; B) $100,000; C) $300,000 or D) $500,000+ and you may be eligible to receive a cash back reward of up to A) $75; B) $200; C) $500 or D) $1000. Use promo code SPARXCASH when registering to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions. A) $50,000 B) $100,000 C) $300,000 D) $500,000+ A) $75 B) $200 C) $500 D) $1000 Cash back will be deposited the week of April 19, 2019. BMO InvestorLine Summer 2018 Campaign September 3, 2018

Expired Offers

Open a new account at National Bank Direct Brokerage with at least 5,000 and you may be eligible to receive up to 25 commission-free trades, good for up to one year. There is also a promotional discounted commission-pricing available within the first year to individuals who use up their 25 trades; trading commissions for the first year are $6.95. Use promo code SPRING 2018 when signing up to be eligible for this offer. This offer is also available to existing clients. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. $5,000 25 commission-free trades + $6.95 commission per trade pricing 365 days National Bank Spring Offer July 6, 2018
Last Updated: July 27, 2018 21:45 PT

Referral Promotions

Company Brief Description Minimum Deposit Amount Incentive Structure Time Limit to Use Commission/Cash Offer Deposit Details Link Deadline
Refer a friend to Questrade and when they open an account you receive $25 cash back and they receive either A) $25; B) $50; C) $75; D) $100; or E) $250 depending on the amount deposited amount. Enter code: 476104302388759 during account sign up to qualify. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for eligibility and additional bonus payment structure and minimum balance requirements. A) $1,000 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: July 1, 2018 14:55 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 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
Scotia iTrade Transfer at least $25,000 in new assets to Scotia iTRADE and you may qualify to have transfer fees reimbursed up to $150. $150 $25,000 iTRADE Summer Promo August 31, 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 September 30, 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. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer. $200 $200,000 BMO InvestorLine Summer 2018 Campaign September 3, 2018

Expired Offers

Last Updated: July 5, 10:00 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: July 1, 2018 18:55 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. $1,000 1st month no management fees KDKFNBBC None Questrade Portfolio IQ Promo Offer
Cash Back Open and fund a new or existing SmartFolio account with at least $1,000 and you could receive 0.5% cash back up to $200. Use promo code PROMO1000 when opening a new account. See terms and conditions for full details. This offer can be combined with the refer-a-friend promotion. $1,000 0.5% cash back to a maximum of $200. PROMO1000 September 4, 2018 SmartFolio Cash Back Promo
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 30, 2019 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: July 1, 2018 14:55 PT