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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 28, 2019

It’s hard to believe but the end of the first month of 2019 is almost here. In the short time the new year has been around there has been no shortage of activity in the markets. As timing would have it, however, we’re just a few days away from Groundhog Day, the Super Bowl and despite the reopening of the U.S. government, a possible round two of a government shutdown.

With news clearly going to tilt towards what’s happening in the U.S., we thought it would be a propos for this edition of the roundup to take a deep look at slate of quarterly earnings calls from US online brokerages, to gauge what sentiment was like with these leading firms and as a proxy for what DIY investors here in Canada can expect to see over the course of the year. Of course, there is also some regularly scheduled Canadian content to look forward to in the roundup, with DIY investor tweets featured as well as what online investors were chatting about in the investing forums.

Reviewing U.S. Online Brokerage Trends for 2019

With the Super Bowl just around the corner, it was fortuitous timing to also check in on US online brokerages as their calendar Q4 earnings calls took place this past week. Even though the primary focus for is on the Canadian discount brokerage market, the fact remains that the U.S. online brokerages offer a very interesting window into the business of being an online brokerage and can serve as a proxy for what Canadian DIY investors can expect to see (or not see) anytime soon.

We reviewed the earnings call transcripts from three major online brokerages in the U.S. – Interactive Brokers, TD Ameritrade and E*Trade Financial and while there’s certainly lots of inside baseball about the financial performance of each of these companies that was discussed, there were also a number of interesting insights about the state of each business and the industry as a whole that was revealed.

While the financials and quantitative side of the earnings discussion describe an interesting perspective of online trading in the U.S., we zeroed in on a few qualitative items that we think are shaping the U.S. online brokerages and, in turn, that could impact how Canadian online brokerages ultimately end up delivering services to Canadian DIY investors.

Byting More Off

One of the first themes that jumps out across the three online brokerages is that there is a concerted push towards automation.

Interactive Brokers is by far the leader when it comes to automation, with an ingrained culture of attempting to automate “anything that moves” this kind of wholehearted commitment to automation has, in their view, enabled them to offer low cost trading, stringent risk management and incredible scalability.

Fundamentally, they are not only becoming the choice of retail investors but also institutional investors and advisors who believe in the technology. The proof, as it were, is in the earnings pudding. Interactive Brokers operates at an enviable 60%+ operating margins while offering among the lowest cost of trading. The implications of this culture of automation are vast, but one crucial area that it impacts is account growth.

Interactive Brokers’ growth strategy is to build a trading experience that clients will want to refer to other investors to. In fact, according to Nancy Stuebe, Interactive Brokers’ Director of Investor Relations on the conference call – “The majority of our new customers come to us by recommendation of existing customers, so the more we do in order for our customers to have a successful experience, the more likely they will enthusiastically recommend our platform to others. The more new customers we onboard now, the more customers they will bring to us in the following weeks and months.”

Again, we have yet to see a month in Interactive Brokers’ history over the past decade where client account growth has contracted. On a year over year basis, their client accounts are up a staggering 24%.

Why we’ve spent so much time on Interactive Brokers is because their playbook is one that other online brokerages are clearly chasing when it comes to automation and digitization. Both E*Trade’s CEO Karl Rosser and TD Ameritrade’s CEO Timothy Hockey cited the importance of technology and innovation as drivers to competing in the online investing space going forward.

Pragmatically, this means organizations switching to agile development environments (something we’ve seen in Canadian online brokerages). As Hockey also highlighted, this path towards increased digitization means removing the inefficiencies that accompany filling/keying in client information manually (e.g. paper forms).

What that means for Canadian online brokerages is clearly that online account openings and digital experiences are going to be the standard. With several online brokerages in Canada still working on online account opening and still requiring some forms to be printed, signed and submitted, the “old way” of doing things will actually make certain online brokerages less accessible to younger investors who don’t have a printer and don’t want to bother trying to get access to one.

Focusing on China

Another really big talking point that emerged in the different conference calls was China. Specifically, Interactive Brokers – who has clear ambitions to become the world’s most dominant online brokerage and TD Ameritrade, who is venturing into the Chinese online investor market space, clearly see online investing in the Asian markets as another path to growth.

What was interesting about the conversations is the fact that these two leading American online brokerages referenced deploying WeChat integrations and citing dynamics in the Chinese markets as impacting financial performance of the online brokerage itself. In other words, there are idiosyncratic experiences of Chinese investors that U.S. online brokerage leadership have had to familiarize themselves with and stay on top of.

For Canadian online brokerages, there are really only two online brokerages (HSBC InvestDirect and Interactive Brokers) that offer a well-telegraphed access to foreign – and Asian in particular – equity markets.

With Lunar New Year just around the corner, it will be interesting to see which Canadian online brokerages also recognize this as an opportunity to tap into a highly prized investor base with direct and indirect ties to trading in Asian markets. We had noted some interesting developments at National Bank Direct Brokerage, for example, in 2018 with their sponsorship of an Asian-focused investing conference in Vancouver and prior to that, Questrade’s special promotion for Chinese New Year as well as TD Direct Investing offering educational sessions in Mandarin and Cantonese.

Clearly there is already activity from a handful of Canadian online brokerages to connect with segments of the Chinese-Canadian population and the movements from TD Ameritrade and Interactive Brokers also reiterate the importance of this trend across the industry.

Suite Tooth

A third (but by no means final) interesting theme to emerge from these conference calls is that the “new” business model for online brokerages goes beyond just DIY investing.

Even though TD Ameritrade, E*Trade and Interactive Brokers may have started as pure DIY investing platforms, the reality of trends in the past three to five years has been a realization that digital wealth management and advice services, are services that their clients may actually be interested in taking advantage of. Extending this point out a bit further, it clearly appears that online brokerages in the U.S. want to become more than just places for an investor to place a trade.

There is a clear effort to go beyond just DIY investing and provide digital wealth management (i.e. robo-advisors), banking services and human advisors as potential service offerings to DIY investors.

Even though Robinhood spectacularly blundered the roll out of their cash management program, Interactive Brokers did not, and launched a new program to pay interest to clients holding less than $100,000. E*Trade, by comparison, has seen a direct benefit for offering a high interest savings account option to clients.

The line between online brokerage and wealth management firm and traditional bank is blurring.

As financial services gets increasingly more digitized, the comments and activities highlighted in each of these three conference calls clearly point to a convergence of financial services. For Canadian DIY investors this likely means a combination of more choice when it comes to services available at the non-bank owned online brokerages (Questrade’s shift to include traditional wealth management is a good example of this) as well as being marketed to about advice services (digital or human) at the bank-owned online brokerages.

What it Means for Canadian Online Brokerages

In looking across the online brokerage industry in the U.S., it is evident just how different in terms of scale their market is to the Canadian one. That scale becomes important in the Canadian space since the smaller market size in Canada restricts the speed of innovation or the scale of undertaking simply because the business case is harder to make here.

For that reason, it is important to keep a pulse on what’s going on in the U.S. because there are developments to trading platforms, account services, and more that will surface in that market before they show up in Canada. Only the most compelling features, however, will seriously get discussed and acted upon at Canadian online brokerages.

Nonetheless, there is one principle that stands firm at U.S. online brokerages: putting the customer experience first. Fortunately this is something that transcends borders, however tactically, what Canadian online brokerages are able to do versus U.S. online brokerages is evidently quite different.

For a lengthy but informative example of the thinking by U.S. online brokerages on how to become a best-in-class online brokerage, Karl Rosser from E*Trade, provided an answer (quoted below) worth reading.

“So, when I think about customer experience, I think about and I talk about quite a bit what our vision is internally right, as E*TRADE. And when we talk and it’s plastered on all of our walls around our sites it’s on our employees’ desks and their computers, it’s to be the number one digital broker and advisor to traders and investors known for ease of use and completeness of offering, right.

So, the last two I think address your question in the biggest way which is ease of use and completeness of offering. From the first touch, as a customer, you need a mobile device, a mobile application, easy to download, easy to sign on to, ease of use on an online application, easy to find tools and services, a very simple chat pop that you can interact with if you don’t like to talk to a human being or a very nice customer service rep on the other side if you need help and you want some handholding, right. That’s the beginning of it all.

And then, what happens once you sign in and you log into that environment and now you’re in E*TRADE’s site, right. So, you’ve gone in, you’ve logged in, you are a customer. Does it look the same? Does it feel the same? Is it easy to move around? Can you get what you look for in one click, right? Can you drop down a menu, not a hamburger and one of the sites that you have that’s very hard to pull down, but can you sort of hover above it and see everything you want to see on that site and get right to it without getting confused? Is the education offering complete? Is it easy to use? Is it easy to understand, right?

So, I like your time horizon, but we need to get there a lot quicker. I think we are very good today. We need to be great tomorrow, right. That’s what E*TRADE has to be. We’ve always been the innovator and a disruptor in this space. To me, today, innovation has to start with what does your customer want, right. What kind of interaction does your customer want from you? What do they demand out of the device? What do they demand from your platform? You have to read that upfront, you have to have the right data and analytics and you need to drive it home all the way across your platform and site and every person in your organization from the first touch all the way through senior management, all the way up to our Board, needs to know that that customer is first and foremost in our existence and reason for being, right.

So, it’s a long-winded answer. But over a three-year period, that’s where we need to be. But, it doesn’t stop at three years. You’ve got to constantly innovate. You have to constantly listen to the feedback loop. What are your customers saying? What are the new market entrants, right? We talk about all the time as a management team. Yeah, there’s a lot of really cool technology out there, really easy apps to use, really nice things that people can do. What can we learn from that? What type of customer does that draw? What type of account does it open? How often do they interact? What types of balances do they bring? Do we want to offer that type of service? Does it cannibalize what we have? That’s what we think about every day.

So, the question you just asked is at the centerpiece of everything we strategically do as an executive committee here at the firm, all the way through our reason for being. So, it’s a great question and I think it has to start with customer first, completeness of offering, ease of use. It’s as simple as that.”

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Go Short

This forum user is changing the pace with short term investment options. See what these forum users suggest in tailoring plans to get the best options with what’s currently being offered.

Investing Playbook

Due diligence goes a long way as this forum user notes their investment process and takes to the Financial Wisdom Forum to see if there’s room for improvement. Fellow forum users jumped in to provide their feedback with their advice on managing investments. See what they had to say.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on the biggest online brokerage news for the past week. From political footballs to actual footballs, the news channels and social media channels alike will be scrambling to keep up with all of the action. Layer in earnings announcements and it’s bound to be a volatile week. Regardless of whether you’re bullish or bearish though, it’s best to remember that past performance doesn’t predict future results. Unless you’re Tom Brady.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 21, 2019

If there’s one way to beat the cold, it’s to keep moving. For Canada’s online brokerages, the sprint to the RSP contribution deadline is on and as a result they’re pulling out all the stops to keep the activity level high with new pricing, advertising and promotional offers.

In this edition of the roundup, we profile yet another cash back promotion that launched last week, this time from an online brokerage that has been popular on the awards podium. From there we’ll look at some smaller developments that crossed our radar, including new ads promoting a revised commission plan as well as a platform outage that serves as a good reminder of the hazards of trading online.  As always, we’ll take a look at what online investors were talking about online on social media and in the forums.

New Cash Back Promotion from Qtrade Investor

Groundhog Day isn’t until February 2nd but anyone reading the Weekly Roundup will have noted that yet again, there is another new cash back promotion launched by a Canadian online brokerage. This time around, it’s Qtrade Investor, whose latest cash back offer brings the tally of this category of promotions DIY investors can choose from to 6.

Qtrade’s is typically very calculated as to when it releases promotional offers, so it is particularly interesting to note how they’ve priced their offering, considering that they are one of the last online brokerages to do so ahead of the RSP contribution deadline next month.

One of the first things that leaps out about their cash back bonuses is that it lags competitor firms in all deposit categories – especially so for deposits under $250,000. That said, Qtrade Investor has a unique advantage in the online brokerage space, namely that they have a reputation for strong finishes in all of the most influential Canadian online brokerage rankings. And, with the Globe and Mail online brokerage rankings just around the corner, their timing couldn’t be better.

For that reason, Qtrade Investor has an advantage when it comes to reputation that can offset having to provide the “best” price for a cash back value – or at least that’s what they’re banking on.

For DIY investors with $50,000 to deposit, for example, Qtrade Investor will have to demonstrate significant value when compared to BMO InvestorLine, for example, whose offer is $400 – or 8x more – than Qtrade Investor’s offer of $50.

Another interesting observation about Qtrade’s promotional offer is that the deposit tiers are segmented the same way as other competitor firms, all the way up to the 1M+ category. So, although Qtrade’s offer lagged other cash back offers up to the $500,000 deposit level, they aggressively raised their offering at the $500,000 and $1M+ tiers. In fact, at the $1M+ deposit level, they are tied with Scotia iTRADE for the second highest cash back offer and have outbid HSBC InvestDirect – a strategic competitor in Western Canada – by a substantial margin at this deposit tier.

In what is the tactical equivalent of a ‘limit order’, it appears that Qtrade Investor has clearly marked out where they see the greatest value in competing aggressively with cash back offers and where they are content to let investors enjoy a modest bonus.

For DIY investors, the fact that one of the most popular and highly ranked online brokerages also now comes with a cash back promotion is a bonus. With the Globe and Mail online brokerage rankings just around the corner and a recent victory with the Surviscor rankings, online investors looking for a well-ranked online broker now have a little extra incentive to consider the brand.

With just over a month to go until the RSP contribution deadline and almost all of Canada’s major online brokerages now offering up incentives, it’s a sprint to the finish line for DIY investors. Happy hunting!

Virtual Brokers Rolls out New Ads

With the roll out of their new commission pricing and buzz starting to build around it, Virtual Brokers launched a new commercial featuring their latest offer.

Targeting the mobile & texting crowd (e.g. millennials), this new ad stays true to Virtual Broker’s historical use of animated characters to describe their service offerings. While it won’t likely generate the same kind of buzz that either the Wealthsimple, Questrade or Scotia iTRADE ads have, it will nonetheless be interesting so see how this new ad starts to spark interest and curiousity among DIY investors who can’t help but find the prospect of $1.99 per trade (well technically per ticket) tempting. See the ad below.

Scotia iTRADE Platform Spins Out

It seems like the beginning of a new year is a tough time for Canadian online brokerages. This year, it was Scotia iTRADE who suffered a trading platform outage during market hours. While crypto and weed stock mania can’t really be singled out as the issue, it is nonetheless an important reminder to DIY investors that online brokerages big and small can suffer from a wide range of connectivity issues. And, even though trading desks and call centres may exist, they’re not necessarily a great alternative if they get overloaded by large volumes of calls and emails.

From the Forums

Good Catch

For DIY investors interested in capitalizing on commission-free trading, there is an interesting way to access popular passive investing ETFs XBAL and XGRO from Qtrade Investor and Scotia iTRADE. This forum post highlights to fellow forum readers the option to take advantage of these popular ETFs.

Open & Shut case

For active traders, looking for opportunities to trade the markets sometimes stretches to pre or post market action. Unfortunately for one DIY investor posting in this forum on reddit, they learned that trading Canadian markets is limited compared to the US.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on this edition of the roundup. US markets will be closed on Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr Day. On our radar heading into the new week will be earnings for US online brokerages. After a healthy earnings surprise for Charles Schwab, eyes will be on Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade to see how recent volatility will translate into earnings as well as on what trends they’re seeing for DIY investing. Also, with the US Government shutdown still in the mix, the World Economic Forum (as well as a bunch of cannabis companies heading to Davos too) and lots of other earnings means traders will be looking for the markets win streak to continue.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 14, 2019

As any avid sports fan or seasoned trader knows, sometimes there are lucky bounces, sometimes not. Fortunately, for many DIY investors, it was the market bears who got the bad bounce off the uprights. For many online brokerages, it’s also good news as long as the bounce sticks.

In this edition of the roundup we’ve got a stacked line up of developments for DIY investors to stay on top of. First, another week in 2019 and another new cash back offer to announce – this one also from a bank-owned online brokerage. Next, we look at a slew of stories that crossed our radar last week, including the big news of the ETF alliance between RBC & iShares, leadership changes at Interactive Brokers, how Twitter is being used by DIY investors to connect with Canada’s online brokerages as well as couple of great stories of online brokerages supporting good causes. As is customary, we’ve also got chatter from the DIY investor forums to share and what folks were saying on Twitter about (or to) Canadian discount brokerages.

HSBC InvestDirect Launches New Cash Back Offer

After a long break from the deals & promotions section, HSBC InvestDirect is stepping back in with a new cash back offer for DIY investors and also offering up some serious competition for its fellow bank-owned online brokers. The new tiered promotion, which is open to both new and existing clients, offers between $188 and $1288 in cash back bonuses for deposits ranging from $25,000 to $1M+.

There are two important observations about this new offer from HSBC InvestDirect that are worth noting.

The first is that for the deposit range between $25,000 to $50,000, this happens to be the best cash back promotion by a substantial margin (88%). On the heels of the aggressive cash back reward on their banking side, this new offer by HSBC InvestDirect is one that might cause DIY Investors to at least kick the tires on this discount brokerage. And, even though this offer is not the best for investors with deposits between $100,000 and $250,000, it does come close to other bank-owned brokerage offers.

Another important observation for this offer is the duration of it.

This cash back promotion is set to expire at the end of April – which is much later than offers from BMO InvestorLine (expires Feb. 28th), CIBC Investor’s Edge (Mar. 24th) or Scotia iTRADE (Mar. 31). This sets up an interesting scenario heading into the spring where, in addition to folks thinking about their RSP contributions, there’s also going to be consideration given to what to do with any income tax refunds as well. As it stands, that would leave HSBC InvestDirect with very little competition in the cash back promo segment.

Of course, there are also important details for DIY investors to consider about this offer. Unlike other cash back offers currently in the market, in order to qualify for this offer, DIY investors have to execute a minimum of three trades before the end of April, which at HSBC InvestDirect’s standard commission rate (for North American equities) of $6.88 works out to be about $20.64 that DIY investors have to pay.

Even so, at certain tiers, it still works out to being a relatively small price to pay to qualify for a cash back reward and, bonus win for HSBC InvestDirect, DIY investors will know how low the trade commissions are per trade and might just be impressed enough to stick around.

As we had mentioned in last week’s roundup, the competition for DIY investors’ assets is heating up.

With another bank-owned brokerage jumping into the mix, it is going to be hard for those not in the deals pool to stay on the sidelines for much longer. The same could also be true for DIY investors considering opening an online trading account.

This is probably the ideal time of year to consider opening an online account if getting an extra incentive is at all important – especially for cash back promotions.

Based on this latest move by HSBC InvestDirect, we suspect it won’t be the last announcement of a new promotion for a Canadian discount brokerage before the RSP contribution deadline of March 1st, 2019. Stay tuned!

Lightning Roundup

Blackrock Canada’s iShares Teams Up with RBC

This past week there was a colossal shift in the wealth management space that surely sparked intense conversation (perhaps some panic) among some of the major ETF providers in Canada.

RBC Global Asset Management and Blackrock Asset management announced earlier this week that they would be forming a strategic “alliance” and combine forces to create RBC iShares. The new ETF powerhouse will have about $60 billion in assets under management and roughly 150 ETFs. Most notably, however, it gives RBC a leg up on BMO’s ETF selection and position in the Canadian ETF marketplace.

While things should largely stay the same for DIY investors, there will be a few changes made to the rosters of funds being offered which appear to be scheduled to take place around early April 2019.

Importantly, there will be no change to the names or ticker symbols of RBC ETFs or iShares ETFs as a result of the alliance, which means trading them should be seamless.

For more information on the new RBC iShares offering, the website: offers up more details.

Interactive Brokers’ Founder Hands Over the Reins

Some big news for Interactive Brokers this past week as founder, chairman and CEO of the online brokerage announced that he is “retiring” as CEO and appointing long time president of the company, Mr. Milan Galik, as his replacement. According to the press release, Galik has been with Interactive Brokers for 28 years and has served as its president since 2014.

DIY Investing on Twitter

This past week we noted an interesting development on social media – specifically about what DIY investors are talking about when it comes to Twitter.

Even though it was a small ‘blip’ on the radar it was nonetheless important to flag that DIY investors – many of whom are on Twitter and actively trading or watching developments in the markets via their Twitter accounts, have called out bank-owned online brokerages for a lack of presence on the social media channel.

To clarify, this tweet indicated one user’s frustration with being able to access RBC Direct Investing via Twitter when – according to this user – other bank-owned online brokerages offer a direct route to their self-directed investing units on this channel. For RBC, the Twitter handle @AskRBC is the single point of contact for all of the banks brands – so often answers about the specific arms are routed to those divisions.

What stood out about this encounter, however, was that an influential voice in personal finance and consumer advocacy, Ellen Roseman (at the Toronto Star), also weighed in on the presence of online brokerage-specific Twitter accounts.

Further, someone at the senior level of RBC wealth management also responded directly on Twitter to this DIY investor. And, while not unprecedented, it is rare to see executives at these institutions weigh in on individual issues. Of course, we’ve noted that an online brokerage doesn’t need its own Twitter handle for executives to get involved.

The president of BMO InvestorLine, for example, does have a Twitter handle and has personally responded to individuals even though BMO (like RBC) has a central Twitter handle. Conversely, we haven’t really seen Scotia iTRADE’s senior executives take to the Scotia iTRADE Twitter handle to respond directly to a user in the same fashion – that is typically handled by their social media team.

The conversation about the conversation on Twitter among DIY investors and online brokerages is an interesting one.

On the one hand there is typically a lot of sensitive information that neither party would want to disclose to the general public. On the other, part of the strength of a platform like Twitter is that it provides a very public and documented opportunity to call attention to the strengths and shortcomings of a particular brand – in this case an online brokerage – to a wider audience.

Moreover, it appears that at least at some bank-owned brokerages, comfort with engaging directly on Twitter is growing (albeit slowly). Most importantly, however, it shows that it is important for online brokerages (not just the parent brands) need to consider making themselves accessible to DIY investors on the online channels that they’re clearly spending time on.

Capitalize for Kids Student Competition Deadline Approaching

Also spotted on Twitter this past week was a notice from Capitalize for Kids, the non-profit organization dedicated to helping raise funds for research in children’s mental health.

Another trading competition for students across Canada is being launched with the top prize of $10,000 going to the winner of the contest. The lead sponsor of the competition is CIBC Investor’s Edge. Visit the Capitalize For Kids website here for more information & be sure to share.

Questrade Delivers on Massive Donation to Food Banks Canada

Another very inspiring bit of news to kick off the new year (also spotted on Twitter) was the tweet from Food Banks Canada announcing the support given by Questrade to donate the equivalent of 250,000 meals to the organization.

In many respects it is a win-win-win with. The benefit for Questrade is that they’re demonstrating their commitment to being a socially responsible organization. For a certain demographic (i.e. millennials) what a brand stands for (and what they actually impact) is an important component in deciding whether to work for or purchase from that brand.

Questrade’s recent tv/video commercials have also positioned them as a challenger to traditional fee-based advice, so this initiative amplifies some of the messages about their brand they’re trying to create. And, as a bonus, organizations such as the Food Bank of Canada stand to benefit and in turn, provide assistance those in need.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Don’t Be Fooled by Rocks We Got

The wealth management waters are getting choppy. This forum user notes RBC’s move to partner with Blackrock and takes to the forums to see what this means for investors and how it changes the landscape for other wealth management firms.

Lip Service

Despite digitization taking hold of the world, there are clearly pockets of the wealth management space still working on analog. This forum user was shopping for portfolio managers and tried to find tips on where and how to find the right fit.

Into the Close

If the pace of 2019 already being set is any indicator, this is going to be a very eventful year. Interest rates may not have made the same new year’s resolutions as a lot of others, and instead look to be taking a breather – which will be good news for equity investors – for now. Perhaps the best news is that we now know the official date that Winter is Coming – which will be later this spring. Go figure. Either way, investors will want to stay frosty for the volatility ahead.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 7, 2019

Welcome to 2019 and Happy New Year! The arrival of a new year brings with it the promise and opportunity for change and so, we’re happily announcing a change of our own to the Weekly Roundup, now moving to a new day and time, launching on Monday mornings. Of course, we’re not the only ones starting off the new year with some big changes – as Canadian online brokerages and financial services providers ring in 2019 with some interesting moves of their own.

In this edition of the roundup, we take a look at the latest new discount brokerage promo to cross our radar and what it means for DIY investors looking for a new online brokerage account. Next, we dive into another possible game changer from a wealth management firm that is doing its best to reshape the conversation about investing in 2019. Of course, some great traditions in the weekly roundup persist into the new year, including our lineup of DIY investor tweets as well as what investors were talking about in the forums.

BMO InvestorLine Launches New Promo Offer

There’s nothing quite like starting off the New Year with a win. And for DIY investors, despite the market volatility, the good news is that BMO InvestorLine has launched a new cash back promotion.

Launched on January 3rd (and through February 28th) the new cash back promo offers between $400 and $1600 cash back for deposits ranging from $50,000 to $1M+. The offer is open to new and existing clients so long as the qualifying deposit amounts are “net new assets” to BMO.

There are several interesting observations about this latest promotion from BMO InvestorLine that are worth noting for anyone watching the Canadian online brokerage deals activity.

First, this cash back offer, in absolute terms, the highest cash back offering currently available. With $1600 now being offered for deposits of $1M+, BMO’s offer outbids Scotia iTRADE’s offer of $1500 for the same deposit tier. Interestingly, when compared to last year, the cash back amount for this deposit level is 33% higher. Last year around this time, the highest cash back amount being offered for that tier of deposit was $1200 from Scotia iTRADE.

It got us curious, however, to see how other deposit tiers for cash back offers stacked up against last year’s analysis so naturally we compared them to see how things have changed – and that was super interesting.


Upon closer inspection, another important point about that jumps out about the latest cash back offer is that it reflects a change compared to last year in terms of who else is offering up these kinds of promos. Last year there were five online brokerages: BMO InvestorLine, CIBC Investor’s Edge, Questrade, Scotia iTRADE and TD Direct Investing. This year, however, TD Direct Investing elected to go with a commission-free trading offer instead of a cash back so in terms of cash back offers, it’s BMO InvestorLine, CIBC Investor’s Edge, Questrade and Scotia iTRADE. Questrade is being included in this set even though their offer is part of a referral campaign (see below for further explanation).

Another interesting observation of last year’s cash back offers compared to this year’s, is that there aren’t as many areas in which there are at least two brokerages tied for the best cash back offer. In fact, this year only at the $25,000 deposit level is there a tie between CIBC Investor’s Edge and Scotia iTRADE (both of whom are offering $100 cash back).

When it comes to online trading account deals at the outset of 2019, it appears BMO InvestorLine has come out swinging and has the best cash back offer at the $50,000 deposit level and from $250,000 and up.

What is particularly interesting about the cash back promo from BMO InvestorLine is that the amount being offered at $50,000 deposit level is double what the best offer was last year ($200 from CIBC Investor’s Edge). This year also, BMO InvestorLine’s cash back offer at deposits of $50,000 to $100,000 are double that of their bank-owned brokerage peers CIBC Investor’s Edge and Scotia iTRADE and more than four times that of Questrade’s offer of $100.

Another substantial increase (80%) compared to last year was noted at the $250,000 deposit tier. BMO InvestorLine’s offer of $900 cash back is much higher than last year’s offer of $500 cash back from TD Direct Investing. This year, however, Scotia iTRADE isn’t that far behind at this price tier with an offer of $800 on the table – a signal that competition for this level of assets has jumped dramatically.

It wasn’t all good news for DIY Investors hunting for a cash back offer this year. In the deposit tiers between $10,000 and $25,000 there was a decrease of 50% compared to 2018. Last year, TD Direct Investing’s offer of $100 gave it the best cash back offer in these deposit tiers however this year, Questrade is the lone standout in this segment via their referral offer of $50. It should be noted that BMO InvestorLine, Qtrade Investor and Scotia iTRADE also have similar cash back referral offers in place but theirs are not as accessible as are Questrade’s and for that reason they are not included in the table below.

Overall, the cash back promotions reveal that competition for investors with certain levels of assets is increasing in 2019. For DIY investors with at least $50,000 in assets, there’s clearly a battle going on between a couple of bank-owned online brokerages to win clients in this segment.

Interestingly, for cash back promotions, the segment of investors with less than $25,000 have been largely overlooked. This is a curious circumstance as it creates a perfect storm for any online brokerage that is targeting younger/millennial investors to get significant attention with that segment (see who might be interested in our next story below).

Given how competitive the online brokerage space is, there’s a strong likelihood that many online brokerages will not want to leave the sub $25,000 client on the sidelines or subject to just commission-free trade offers. And, we’re wagering that it won’t be left to the sidelines for very long as RSP season is now upon us. Stay tuned.

Wealthsimple Makes Online Investing Human

As the world of online investing gets more digital, there’s an interesting paradox playing out by those who are providing those service, namely they’re trying to shift the focus of the experience to being more human.

Ironically, last week the poster child for robo-advice, Wealthsimple, revealed that they are launching a mutual fund investment firm, with actual humans providing advice and managing clients. Even so, this story isn’t about their move into the human world of advising, but rather with Wealthsimple’s latest blog post which once again casts a light on how they’re changing the wealth management conversation in Canada.

This blog post, in which they’ve revealed their latest ad campaign, showcases nothing about finance yet capture exactly what “personal finance” is intended to support: living life.

Their blog post goes into more detail as to their intention behind this series of commercials, including who they chose to collaborate with when putting these spots together. It’s worthy of a read to see just how different it looks and feels when compared to almost anything else that’s being produced at Canada’s online brokerages.

The choice to talk about life instead of numbers or features is a gamble in such a fee-driven space, but it is precisely that which sets them apart their peers.

Even though the management of money ought to be rational and free from emotion, in the real world, money is an emotional subject. In these commercials, do you learn about Wealthsimple’s fees? No. Do you learn about robo-advisors? No. Investing? Zilch. Client experience? Nada. In fact, nobody is heard saying anything – the scenes speak for themselves and more importantly, and powerfully, these scenes speak to just about everyone.

These are commercials about hope and the future – which taps into what people invest for. Just like the name of Ellen DeGeneres’ new comedy special on Netflix, these commercials from Wealthsimple are relatable.

Another financial services brand, Questrade, has also been ramping up its use of “real life” situations to convey the broader point of the human side of their digital wealth solutions. Although not as artistic, they are impactful. Their series of “difficult conversations” about money have provoked many reactions on social media – Twitter in particular – a sign that they’ve successfully struck a chord with investors.

Why this is important is because when it comes to online investing and trading, yes commissions and pricing matters, but how consumers feel about what a brand stands for also matters. For online brokerages in Canada this is a glaring gap that Wealthsimple is clearly hitting into. And, even though Wealthsimple isn’t a discount brokerage just yet, their zero-commission Wealthsimple Trade product will, for all intents and purposes, compete with Canada’s online brokerages.

That also raises another important point: semantics. The notion of who is managing money is getting blurrier now that robo-advisors or digital advice is a thing. For DIY investors, it started with “discount brokers” however a “discount brokerage” is inherently associated with price. The base case: it’s cheaper to manage your own investments than to have someone do it for you.

The language shift over the past five years has been subtle, however, as “discount brokerage” has given way to “online brokerage” and recently “direct investing” or “self-directed investing.” Regardless of which label is used, in many respects the experience at the “discount brokerages” still feels transactional and commoditized whereas the new breed of wealth management service providers appear to be appealing to more human-centered themes.

There are lots of online brokerages in Canada competing on commission price, but very few online brokerages competing on values.

Yes, larger bank-owned brands do have very deep corporate social responsibility initiatives, but they also have all of the friction that being a large financial organization brings with it in terms of communicating authentic values. Challenger brands, like Wealthsimple or Robinhood and even Questrade in their earlier years, get attention precisely because they don’t represent the status quo.

What will be interesting to watch for 2019 is whether Canada’s online brokerages will be able bring a more human side to their business and whether they will be able to tap into the hearts (and wallets) of DIY investors.

Ultimately, choosing a discount brokerage (and any financial services provider really) shouldn’t be emotionally driven. That said, emotion is always going to be part of the financial services equation. For DIY investors, however, it is wise to use that emotion to help pose one fundamental question: “How well will my needs be looked after?”

Wealthsimple’s latest campaign is clearly demonstrating to consumers that “they get it” when it comes to the journey. To Wealthsimple’s credit, this new campaign is likely going to break through the noise of a lot of other advertisements and get people’s attention and curiousity. The next challenge will be following through on the promise to help investors through their ‘tomorrows’ which, given the state of today’s markets, will be a formidable challenge.

As for other Canadian online brokerages, they have been dealt one more hurdle to figure out for 2019, which is how to go beyond “price” and stand out by standing up for something. This year, if there’s one thing that shouldn’t be discounted, it’s that there are people on the other side of the screens.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Margin Caller ID

As consumer experiences in other parts of the digital world shape expectations for DIY investors, one forum user shares how one online brokerage’s notification of a “margin call” type event could end up leading to them switching. Find out more in this post from

Dipping into a New Pool

One DIY investor took to the forums to test the waters on switching brokerages for a no fee service from Questrade. See what these forum users had to say in this post from Canadian Money Forum.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on what was an eventful first week of 2019. Falling apples have typically been symbolic of gravity, and poetically describe markets out of the gate in the new year. Of course it might be precisely because things are more unpredictable than normal that the theme of 2019 will be volatility and everyone will trying to figure how best to capitalize on it. One thing you can bet on, it won’t be boring.

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Discount Brokerage Deals & Promotions – January 2019

*Updated Jan. 13* Welcome to 2019! The first day of the new year often brings with it a sense of optimism for the upcoming year and for Canadian DIY investors looking for an online investing or trading account, there’s a lot to look forward to, especially in the deals department. With offers from many of Canada’s largest and most popular online brokerages now available, it’s an ideal time to take advantage of a highly competitive marketplace.

The big story out of the gate in 2019 is that Canadian discount brokerages have extended their offers out either to the end of 2019 or until further notice, which is a bullish signal for DIY investors. On the one hand, while the lead up to the RSP contribution deadline will be the busiest time of the year for promotions, for some investors looking to take their time when jumping into the online investing space (especially with market volatility picking up the way it has recently), this reduced pressure of the ‘limited time offer’ means there will be promotions beyond March to be considered. Secondly, this is a bullish signal because it means those brokerages (Questrade and Desjardins Online Brokerage in this case) are committed to staying in the promotions space. Other online brokerages are also then more likely to follow suit.

The bottom line for DIY investors heading into 2019 is that this RSP season is stacked with offers. From commission-free trades to cash back promotions, investors can get a little something extra when opening an account or transferring in more assets. Also, we anticipate at least one or more offers still to come, so stay tuned as 2019’s discount brokerage deal section may continue to get even hotter.

Expired Deals

*Updated Jan. 4: BMO InvestorLine’s combined commission-free trade and cash back promotion from their Fall campaign has officially concluded. Good news for deal seekers, however, there’s a new cash back promotion that has replaced it. See below for more information.*

There are no expired deals to report at the start of the month.

Extended Deals

There were several important deals that were set to expire at the end of 2018 that have now been extended. Questrade has extended two of its current offers out until the end of 2019. The first is their ‘5 free trades’ promotion which offers five commission-free trades (that can be used with 60 days). The second Questrade promotion to receive an extension is the 30 days of commission-free trading plus one month free of their advanced US data package.

Desjardins Online Brokerage also updated their long running 1% commission-credit promotion. The terms and conditions for this offer were updated and removed the deadline date, previously set to end on December 31st 2018. The transfer fee coverage offer also associated with this promotion has been extended as well, so there is no longer a deadline date listed to take advantage of this offer.

New Deals

*Updated Jan. 22: Qtrade Investor has launched a new cash back offer. From now until March 15, 2019, Qtrade Investor is offering between $50 and $1500 cash back as part of a new tiered promotion with minimum deposit tier to qualify starting at $50,000. See the table below for more details.*

*Updated Jan. 13: HSBC InvestDirect has jumped into the promotional offers pool with a new cash back offer for DIY investors. This new tiered promo offers up cash back bonuses ranging between $188 and $1288 for deposits ranging between $25,000 and $1M+. The offer requires three commission-generating trades be placed in order to qualify for the cash back bonus. See table below for more details.*

*Updated Jan. 4: BMO InvestorLine has launched a new cash back offer to replace their previous combined cash back & commission-free trade deal. From now through the end of February, BMO InvestorLine is offering between $400 and $1600 cash back as part of a new tiered promotion with minimum deposit tier to qualify starting at $50,000. See the table below for more details.*

While there were technically no new deals to start off 2019, the arrival of TD Direct Investing’s commission rebate offer in December certainly qualifies as a new offer worth mentioning at the start of the new year. As Canada’s largest online brokerage and a popular choice with DIY investors, it is noteworthy that TD Direct Investing’s promotion is now live and available to all.

Other bank-owned online brokerages also have offers for DIY investors however one in particular to watch in early January is BMO InvestorLine. Their current offer is set to expire on January 2nd which means that very early into the new year, there is likely to be another possible cash back or commission-free trade deal coming to market.

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, 2019
Open and fund a new account with at least $5,000 at National Bank Direct Brokerage and you may be eligible to receive up to 50 commission free equity trades, which are good for up to one year. Use promo code: FREE50 when applying. Be sure to read offer terms and conditions for full details. $5,000 50 commission-free trades 12 months National Bank Direct Brokerage 50 Free Trade Offer April 30, 2019
Scotia iTrade Open a new account or fund an existing account with A) $10,000; B) $25,000; C) $50,000; D) $100,000 E) $250,000; F) $500,000 or G) $1M+ and you may be eligible to receive either A)20; B) 50; C) 100; D) 200; or E), F), G) 300 commission free trades; or B) $100; C) $200; D) $500; E) $800; F) $1100 or G) $1500. Use promo code 19CA for the cash back or 19FT for the free trades offers. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for full details. A) $10,000 B) $25,000 C) $50,000 D) $100,000 E) $250,000 F) $500,000 G) $1M+ For cash back: A) $0 B) $100 C) $200 D) $500 E) $800 F) $1100 G) $1500 For commission-free trades: A) 20 B) 50 C) 100 D) 200 E) 300 F) 300 G) 300 For cash back: Cash will be deposited by July, 2019. For commission free trades: 120 days to use trades from date of account funding. iTRADE commission-free trade + cash back offer March 31, 2019
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 none
Open a new qualifying TD Direct Investing account by March 1, 2019 with a minimum deposit of A) $15,000; B) $25,000; C) $50,000 or D) $100,000+ and you may be eligible to receive commission rebates for A) 25; B) 50; C) 100 or D) 200 trades. To qualify online, individuals must register here and open the account by March 1, 2019. See terms and conditions for full details. A) $15,000 B) $25,000 C) $50,000 D) $100,000+ A) 25 B) 50 C) 100 D) 200 Trades made prior to July 1, 2019 will be eligible for rebate. TD Direct Investing Winter Promotion March 1, 2019
Open and fund a new account with at least A) $25,000; B) $100,000; C) $250,000; D) $500,000 or E) $1M+ AND place at least three commission-generating trades and you may be eligible to receive a cash back promotion amount of at least A) $188; B) $388; C) $688; D) $988 or E) $1288. Be sure to read offer terms & conditions for full details. A) $25,000 B) $100,000 C) $250,000 D) $500,000 E) $1M+ A) $188 B) $388 C) $688 D) $988 E) $1288 Cash back will be deposited by November 29, 2019 HSBC InvestDirect 2019 Winter Offer April 30, 2019
Open and fund a new qualifying account with CIBC Investor’s Edge with a deposit of at least A) $25,000; B) $50,000 or C) $100,00+ and you may be eligible to receive a cash back bonus of A) $100; B) $200 or C) $400. This offer is open to both new and existing clients. Use offer code SPARX18 when opening the account to obtain this offer. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for complete details. A) $25,000 B) $50,000 C) $100,000 A) $100 B) $200 C) $400 Cash back will be deposited on the week of March 24, 2019 for transfers received by December 31, 2018; transfers received after December 31, 2018 but before May 1, 2019 will receive cash back on the week of July 1, 2019. CIBC Investor’s Edge Cash Back Promo March 24, 2019
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, 2019
BMO InvestorLine Open a new qualifying account or fund an existing qualifying account at BMO InvestorLine with new assets worth at least A) $50,000; B) $250,000; C) $500,000 or D) $1M+ and you may be eligible to a cash back reward of up to A) $400; B) $900; C) $1200 or D) $1600. Use promo code SPARXCASH when registering to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions. A) $50,000 B) $250,000 C) $500,000 D) $1M+ A) $400 B) $900 C) $1200 D) $1600 Cash back will be deposited the week of September 16, 2019. BMO InvestorLine Winter 2018 Campaign February 28, 2019
Open a new qualifying account or fund an existing qualifying account at Qtrade Investor with new assets worth at least A) $50,000; B) $100,000; C) $250,000 D) $500,000 or E) 1M+ and you may be eligible to a cash back reward of up to A) $50; B) $100; C) $250 or D) $750 or E) $1500. Use promo code CASH2019 when registering to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions. A) $50,000 B) $100,000 C) $250,000 D) $500,000 E) $1M+ A) $50 B) $100 C) $250 D) $750 E) $1500 Cash back will be deposited the week of September 25, 2019. Qtrade Investor Cashback Promo March 15, 2019

Expired Offers

BMO InvestorLine Open a new account or fund an existing account at BMO InvestorLine with new assets worth at least A) $50,000; B) $200,000; C) $400,000 or D) $600,000+ and you may be eligible to receive 30 commission-free equity trades AND a cash back reward of up to A) $100; B) $300; C) $600 or D) $1000. Use promo code SPARXCASH when registering to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions. A) $50,000 B) $200,000 C) $400,000 D) $600,000+ 30 commission-free equity trades plus: A) $100 B) $300 C) $600 D) $1000 commission-free equity trades can be used in February & March of 2019. Cash back will be deposited the week of July 15, 2019. BMO InvestorLine Fall 2018 Campaign January 2, 2019
Last Updated: Jan. 22, 2019 21:30 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
If you (an existing Qtrade Investor client) refer a new client to Qtrade Investor and they open an account with at least $1,000 the referrer and the referee may both be eligible to receive $25 cash. See terms and conditions for full details. $1,000 $25 cash back (for both referrer and referee) Cash deposited at the end of the month in which referee’s account funded Refer A Friend to Qtrade Investor 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 $5,000 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. $5,000 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 January 2, 2020

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Jan. 1, 2019 17:00 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 into a new HSBC InvestDirect account and you may be eligible to have up to $152.55 in transfer fees covered. $152.55 $15,000 Confirmed via email contact with HSBC InvestDirect Rep. Contact client service for more information. none
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
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 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 Desjardins Online Brokerage 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 Desjardins Online Brokerage 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 none
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: Jan. 1, 2019 17:00 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
Open and fund a new qualifying account with at least $5,000 at RBC Direct Investing and you may be eligible to receive up to 20 commission-free trades, which are good for up to one year. Use promo code MDFT8 to qualify. This promotion is being marketed towards healthcare workers, so be sure to review terms and conditions or speak to an RBC Direct Investing representative for full details. $5,000 RBC Direct Investing 20 Free Trade Offer Feb. 28, 2019

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Jan. 1, 2019 17:00PT

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 $1000. 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 $1000. PROMO1000 January 2, 2019 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
Discounted Management Open a new account with RBC InvestEase and the standard management fee will be waived until October 31, 2019. See offer terms and conditions for full details. $1,000 No management fees until October 31, 2019 None March 31, 2019 RBC InvestEase Pricing Details
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: Jan. 1, 2019 17:00 PT