Posted on Leave a comment

Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – July 29, 2019

It’s not just temperatures that are rising anymore. Markets, tempers, and purses for eSports tournaments have all made headlines for reaching new highs. For online brokerages, even though trading might be growing, revenues may not be.

In this edition of the roundup, we continue our foray into US online brokerage earnings, with some big headline developments and a more ominous cloud forming on the horizon for the industry. From there, we’ve bundled in a couple of small but interesting stories from developments we spotted at Canadian discount brokerages. As always, we’ve got a healthy serving of chatter from investors in the forums and on Twitter to close things out.

Earnings Wake Up Call for Online Brokerages

Earnings season for the US online brokerages is now officially in the books for another quarter. Despite how competitive the online brokerage industry is in the US, one of the most interesting resources to gain insight into what’s happening behind the curtain is to tune into earnings calls for those publicly traded online brokerage firms. These calls typically feature senior executives – such as the CEO and CFO – sharing their highlights of the quarter as well as answering questions from analysts who are seeking to understand how best to price in the news being disclosed in the accompanying earnings reports.

The latest round of earnings calls provided a number of interesting insights about developments at specific brokerages, as well as about the industry as a whole that anyone who watches the space will certainly want to pay attention to.

Starting first with the biggest news announced by TD Ameritrade, their CEO Tim Hockey will be stepping down. While announcements of this nature are not uncommon, it did seem to catch the analysts off guard – perhaps a compliment to Hockey and the achievement of Ameritrade under his leadership. After all, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” or so the saying goes.

Ameritrade has experienced significant growth over the 3.5 years that Hockey has been at the helm, and he has seen them through a major acquisition and a number of digital transformation initiatives. So, naturally, the questions coming from most of the analysts on the call were mostly of the “what gives?” variety. They were trying to tease out whether or not the decision for Hockey to step down was driven by a difference in vision for the brand than what the Board had in mind. Fortunately, Hockey did a good job of helping to assuage speculation by clearly stating reasons that weren’t behind his stepping down, however, the shift in leadership at the top will undoubtedly cast some uncertainty onto the future of the franchise.

TD Ameritrade isn’t the only US online brokerage to telegraph a leadership change in 2019. Earlier this year, Interactive Brokers announced a change of leadership that will take place in the third quarter of this year as founder and CEO Thomas Peterffy steps aside on his 75th birthday, and current president of Interactive Brokers, Milan Galik, takes over.

For comparison, however, Peterffy has been at the reins of Interactive Brokers for 42 years, while Hockey has been at the head of TD Ameritrade for 3.5 years. The kind of continuity and long-term strategic execution that comes with such a long tenure is evident in many founder-led enterprises.

The replacement for Hockey is going to be chosen by an executive search firm while by comparison, Interactive Brokers is hiring from within. In fact, the successor to Peterffy has been with the organization for 28 years and has been groomed for the position for the past four years.

Leadership turnover is something that will make waves with analysts, and both they and the competition will undoubtedly take great interest in who will wear the captain’s jersey next at Ameritrade. There is a strong precedent of achieving big things quickly at Ameritrade, so whoever is cast to lead them through their next cycle will have some especially challenging waters to navigate, given what else was uncovered in reviewing the recent earnings calls.

Headline news aside, there was one potentially ominous theme about the online brokerage space as a whole that emerged from the various reports, namely that revenues from trading were decreasing even in spite of higher trading activity.

Here’s what the various brokerages had to say:

  • Schwab: “Trading revenue declined 3% [y/y] to $174M due to a decrease in average revenue per trade, which more than offset higher activity.” (CFO Peter Crawford)
  • Interactive Brokers: Lower commission revenue which decreased $7M, or 4%, from the year-ago quarter. (source)
  • TD Ameritrade: Commission revenue, excluding order routing, was down sequentially on modestly lower client trading volumes and a slight decline in commission rates. (source) Average client trades per day increased 5.2% y/y, however, commissions and transaction fee revenue fell 2.7% y/y. (source)
  • E*TRADE: “Commission revenue of 121 million was down 1 million compared to last quarter, driven by 11,000 lower DARTs and a $0.03 lower CPT.” (source)

As can be seen in the table below, other than Interactive Brokers, the average commission per trade at the major US online brokerages is hovering at about $7 whereas at Interactive Brokers, it’s almost half that amount, just shy of $3.70. Since these prices are in USD, that puts most of the major online brokerages at about $9.20 per trade CAD and Interactive Brokers at $4.85.

Another interesting nuance to the earnings is in the operating efficiency of each organization. Interactive Brokers boasts an incredible pretax margin of 64% which handily beats out any of their competitors (who are at a not-too-shabby >40% level). This is crucial because Interactive Brokers charges less per trade and yet they are capable of keeping much more of the revenues they generate as profits than their competitors do. Nonetheless, despite their low rates, they too are not immune to falling revenue from commissions.

While it is difficult to map what’s going on in the US online brokerage space directly onto the Canadian market, it’s worth noting that commissions per trade at Canadian online brokerages still have lots of room to fall – especially at the major bank-owned online brokerages who, for the most part, continue to charge almost $10 per trade. Further, it’s clear that unless Canadian online brokerages commit to becoming exceptionally efficient from a technology and automation standpoint, they will have to explore other mechanisms to boost revenues (like digital advice services or premium features) otherwise, their profitability is going to suffer.

Without the pressure of being publicly traded, Canadian online brokerages are free to operate outside of the same kind of quarterly scrutiny that their US brokerage peers have to navigate. This means that the pressure to innovate is going to be largely driven either at the consumer end or internally.

For bank-owned brokerages, there may be some pressure to innovate and capture market share owing to their publicly traded parents, however at most of these brokerages, that pace of change is clearly not the same rate that exists in the US.

One other piece of news that will also help put the latest US online brokerage earnings into perspective is that Robinhood, the US online brokerage that doesn’t charge any commission fees per trade, announced this past week that they have raised US $323M in Series E financing, which puts their valuation at US $7.6B.

When compared against the market cap values for the publicly traded US online brokerages shown above, Robinhood’s latest valuation shows that they are clearly being priced as a material competitor to the incumbent publicly traded brokerages. It is also worth noting that Robhinhood has telegraphed their intention to go public at some point.

There’s lots more to say about the US online brokerage story relative to the Canadian online brokerages based on these latest earnings (if you’re interested in hearing about it, let us know here), but if there’s one key takeaway to reflect on in terms of product “innovation” in the US online brokerage space which has yet to fully take shape here in the Canadian space, it’s the offer of high (any?) interest on cash balances in online brokerage accounts.

Interactive Brokers has certainly paved the way for this in the US, with E*TRADE also following suit. Although they fumbled the initial roll out, even Robinhood is gearing up to win new business by offering up high interest savings for uninvested cash balances. As both a mechanism to attract new clients and entice existing ones to stick around, the evidence from the US online brokerages points to the strength of this feature in hanging on to existing clients.

Screenshot of earnings transcript from E*TRADE Q3 19 earnings call

With the final half of calendar 2019 now underway, the online brokerages in the US (and likely here in Canada) have already started developing their plans for 2020. For Canadian online brokerages, we fully expect some bigger and bolder feature releases to come to market to counter what is a clear trend towards lower commissions. In fact, as the next stories in the roundup show, it’s already starting to happen.

Regardless of where markets head into the back half of the year, things are going to get very interesting for Canadian DIY investors as online brokerages here set about the task of staying relevant in this new operating reality.

CIBC Investor’s Edge Rolls Out Mobile Trading Charts

This past week, we spotted a new feature announcement on the CIBC Investor’s Edge website: the launch of charting capabilities on their mobile trading app “CIBC Mobile Wealth.”

Officially launched in the middle of July, this latest update will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to how online investors track and seek out investing opportunities.

According to the information released on their website, the new charting feature is available for individual securities as well as for indices, foreign exchange, and commodities. In addition, users are able to change time frames, use a limited number of technical indicators, as well as choose from four different chart styles.

While we haven’t yet seen a lot of chatter about this new feature online, scanning some of the pain points that users of the app have mentioned in their respective download reviews, charting does surface as one of the limitations of the CIBC mobile experience. Fortunately for investors and Investor’s Edge, it appears this new feature will enable them to chart a new course in online mobile trading experience.

Questrade Chats with Investors

This past week, we noted that Canadian online brokerage Questrade rolled out an interesting new blog series entitled “The Investor Next Door.” According to the blog post, the Investor Next Door series talks to “everyday Canadians about their investment journeys” in a Q&A format post.

The first post interviews “Brendan Y” about the type of investor they are, their investment goals and style, as well as what their experiences are like in the markets and lessons learned.

After having a bit of a quiet spell on the Questrade blog, it looks like things are potentially coming back to life. There was a notable reboot of activity in February and March and so seeing signs of life, it appears that the team at Questrade is continuing to experiment with something a little different.

Why that is of interest is because Canadian online brokerages are still finding their footing with regards to producing “interesting” content for their clients and other online investors to consume.  In many respects, Canadian online wealth providers have been struggling to catch up to Wealthsimple, who has certainly reshaped the landscape of financial content in Canada by featuring “celebrities” and their stories of money.

It is particularly interesting, therefore, that Questrade is launching their new series about “everyday Canadians” as a direct counterpoint to the celebrity stories. Whether the new content angle ultimately succeeds will largely depend on how compelling the stories of other investors’ performance/lessons are to readers.

With a crowded field for content, it’s going to be a challenge for this written series to stand out.

Questrade has done well with their marketing/advertising campaigns (“asking tough questions”) so it will be interesting to see where this content piece fits in, if at all, to their bigger picture strategy. Regular consumers of financial content online will be asking why they should spend even four minutes reading about Brendan Y or “everyday Canadians” – let’s hope that’s not a tough question for Questrade themselves to answer.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Investing in US Stocks with CAD

It seems like the recent boom in the US stock market has non-residents interested. This Canadian investor wants to invest their hard-earned Canadian dollars in the US stock market. Take a look at this Reddit thread to see what advice other individuals gave.

Stocks vs. Property

What’s the better bet to invest in? Whether or not stocks seem more risky than real estate these days is up for debate. See what people had to say about investing in property vs. stocks on this Canadian Money Forum thread.

Into the Close

That’s another trip around the online brokerage space wrapped up. The upcoming week will be full of shrug (and maybe even cringe) worthy moments online. Ironically, despite a rate cut forecast for this week, there’s going to be lots of interest in the US. Keep the popcorn handy for this one.

Posted on Leave a comment

Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – July 22, 2019

Seems like this summer, there will be more that one Maverick making waves on traders’ screens. The trailer for Top Gun 2 officially dropped this past week and even though we weren’t planning on a sequel, we just felt the need – the need for (a good) read.

In this maverick edition of the Roundup, we provide updates on the new shiny new TFSA account that’s ready to launch one hotshot Canadian online brokerage into the spotlight with a new generation of investors. And, if that wasn’t enough to take your breath away, there’s a look at the performance numbers of one US online brokerage who managed to get on analysts’ radar to figure out where they’re heading next.

Wealthsimple Trade TFSA Now Live for All

Well, that escalated quickly. The launch of Wealthsimple Trade’s TFSA account officially went live this past week, and with it, the timeline for the Canadian online brokerage industry to come up with something equally or more compelling than commission-free trades has also moved up.

In last week’s Roundup, we mentioned that there were rumblings around the DIY investor forums of the TFSA roll out, as well as press coverage of Wealthsimple Trade that happened to coincide with the soft launch of the popular registered account feature. At that time, however, the official word was that the launch would be coming at some point in the next month.

Fast forward a week, and the gloves are now off in a fight between brokerages to win over Canadian DIY investors as newcomer online brokerage, Wealthsimple Trade, opened up access to their TFSA trading account to the masses.

With the official roll out, there is now more information available about Wealthsimple Trade’s TFSA and, importantly, the benefits and current limitations of the account type. The clear benefit to all things Wealthsimple Trade is that trading accounts are commission-free, which now includes the TFSA.

For financially conscientious millennials trying to cut frills and costs, not having to pay trading commissions is not just a deal, it’s ideal. Of course, like most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is, and despite commission-free trading, there are some important caveats to the Wealthsimple Trade TFSA account. One of the big limitations right now is that Wealthsimple Trade’s TFSA does not support transfers into the account. Only deposits from an externally linked bank account will work as a funding source for the TFSA.

This means, for the time being, other Canadian online brokerages still have some time to figure out a game plan to appeal to investors already eyeballing the exits for a Wealthsimple Trade account. And as social media and forum chatter already are showing, the sentiment to move is real.

Of course, it’s not just what’s on the official page that offers some insight into the Wealthsimple Trade TFSA – the Wealthsimple Trade Twitter account is also filled with its share of useful nuggets. For example, while it was already stated that RSP accounts were on the list of features actively being worked on, the telegraphing of USD TFSA accounts was something we did not yet hear about in terms of development, especially considering Wealthsimple Trade makes part of its money from conversion fees.

While we wouldn’t have assumed Wealthsimple Trade to be standing still with their feature development, the mention of USD accounts being “in development” means that one of the major resistance points for joining Wealthsimple Trade is likely going to be removed in the not-too-distant future.

Another cause for concern for online brokerage providers is that DIY investors are clearly excited about the official launch of Wealthsimple Trade’s TFSA. This past week, there has been a significant amount of investor chatter taking place in the investor forums and on Twitter now that this feature is live. Suffice to say, there is nothing that other online brokerages in Canada have done yet this year that has captured the attention of the “digital crowd” the way that Wealthsimple Trade has.

In what is starting to feel like a volleyball game out of a Top Gun movie, it seems that team Maverick has made their move, in denim jeans no less, and now it’s up to Canadian online brokerages to serve something back over the net.

Interactive Brokers Makes a Gutsy Call

With summer in full swing, it seems like everyone is paying a bit more attention to the forecasts. No doubt the volatile weather has something to do with it. Similarly, with the latest earnings season results trickling out of the US online brokerage market, there’s a mixed bag of results highlighting some areas of potential volatility and opportunity in the DIY trading market as a whole.

While earnings reports are typically about “the numbers,” there are also lots of interesting nuggets that management shares about the current and future state of the company that adds considerable colour and context to the numerical performance.

In the case of the latest earnings call from US online brokerage Interactive Brokers, it wasn’t just the numbers from the earnings report that analysts were talking about, but rather, a bold new initiative launched earlier this month that had folks trying to digest exactly what Interactive Brokers is thinking.

Starting first with the numbers. Despite a year over year decrease in revenues of 7.2% and a rise in expenses of 8%, Interactive Brokers still managed to eke out another reasonably strong year. The electronic brokerage segment of the business managed to gain 7% year over year, which on the surface sounds like a win, however when peering under the hood, there are some important flags of weaker trading dynamics that are of particular interest to industry observers.

The primary area of concern is that Interactive Brokers reported a 4% decrease in commission revenue from the year ago quarter – a result explained by lower commissions per trade being executed by their clients. That is even more concerning in the face of the 4% increase in the total number of trades (year over year) and a 19% increase in the number of customer accounts.

The takeaway is that customers aren’t trading the way they used to. Were it not for the interest income, this would have been an even bumpier quarter for the online broker. What this points to (and is something other brokers have had to come to terms with) is that the online brokerage model cannot rely on just trading commissions alone to keep the business afloat. Assets and margin are key revenue drivers that will help buffer earnings at least until trading behaviour shifts. Which leads into the second really interesting thing about the Interactive Brokers earnings call this quarter.

Despite earnings missing expectations, the big topic of conversation by the analysts during the Q&A session with Thomas Peterffy, founder and outgoing CEO of Interactive Brokers, was the recently announced launch of their promotional sports betting platform. Most telling was that 8 out 15 questions from analysts were about the sports betting promotion.

Perhaps the most awkward moments came when Peterffy called out analysts who were questioning the platform as to whether or not they had signed up already (those asking the questions hadn’t yet). One research analyst Macrae Sykes from G. Research, LLC hadn’t yet tested the platform before asking about it to which Peterffy stated “You’re such a disappointment. I was so hoping that you would do that.”

Despite none of the analysts who asked about the platform having actually signed up for or tested the sports betting feature, Peterffy managed to share some very interesting insight into the strategy to tap into the sports betting market for potential new Interactive Brokers clients.

First, as we reported in last week’s Roundup, this initiative is clearly aimed to attract new online trading customers onto the Interactive Brokers platform. Peterffy confirmed this in the earnings call when he stated “driving new brokerage accounts is the primary purpose. I don’t want to speculate about what we may or may not do with this sometime down the road. So right now, our focus is to perfect the platform and drive new brokerage accounts.”

Second, analysts queried why Peterffy felt it would work as a strategy to onboard clients, and ultimately it came down to his experience in dealing with traders on the exchange floor. According to Peterffy, if traders talk about sports betting, it stands to reason that sports bettors might want to kick the tires on investing online.

Buried in that response, however, was probably the most interesting sound bite of the call.

As seen below, Peterffy expects that there could be in the order of millions of accounts that get created at Interactive Brokers as a result of this initiative. And, although he does not provide a timeline for those accounts to be created, it is nevertheless an incredibly lofty goal considering that they currently have just shy of 650 thousand client accounts.

It’s hard to dismiss Peterffy’s track record of success in building Interactive Brokers into the global powerhouse brokerage that it is, and yet there was clearly a lot of uncertainty on the part of analysts asking about the strategy to pursue sports bettors. Their challenge is how to value or model and predict the various scenarios that this kind of move could provide to the business as a whole. Of course, if they had a tough time getting the earnings estimate right this past quarter, they will have an even tougher time trying to track what impact the sports betting platform will have on new client acquisition.

Let’s hope they have better luck actually predicting outcomes of games using the platform, as they will undoubtedly be called to the mat about it on their next earnings call. You can almost bet on it.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Free Trade Agreement

It’s finally here. Wealthsimple Trade has now made TFSAs publicly available and in doing so, captured the attention of many investors who now have the option of opening up no-commission registered accounts. Click here to see why this new addition has the Reddit community buzzing.

Weight and See

There’s never one right answer when it comes to creating a long-term portfolio strategy. With a 25+ year investment horizon, there’s always time to take on risk, but does that warrant a 100% asset allocation in equities? Find out what others have to say in this RedFlagDeals thread.

Into the Close

While summer weather is a great time to get outdoors, this week investors will be glued to earnings reports. Of course the hot air this summer might not just be from the weather. Politics and even a dangerous situation bubbling over in the Strait of Hormuz mean that we could all be on the highway to the danger zone. Here’s hoping cooler heads prevail and that you’re able to cruise through this turbulence right.

Posted on Leave a comment

Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – July 15, 2019

When it comes to summer, some people like soft serve and others like their serves to be anything but soft. Ironically, the world of professional sports is just one of the places we’ve found online brokerages wandering into, and certainly not the only place where they’re trying to get into the winner’s circle.

In this edition of the Roundup, we look at one online brokerage’s clever gambit that bettors may want to try their luck at stock trading. From there, we review yet another Canadian discount brokerage that managed to find its way into the media spotlight this month, conveniently ahead of a major feature launch. As always, we’ve served up some sizzling sound bites from DIY investors on Twitter and in the investor forums.

Bettor Safe Than Sorry

Of the many metrics that makes Interactive Brokers stand out relative to its peer firms in the U.S. online brokerage space, one in particular emerges: account growth. Despite the bumps in the market over the past decade, Interactive Brokers has managed to consistently grow its number of net new clients month after month, quarter after quarter, and year after year. It’s a streak that could put a Jeopardy champ like Ken Jennings or James Holzhauer to shame. Like all good things, however, the streak may not last forever, something founder of Interactive Brokers, Thomas Peterffy, telegraphed in the most recent earnings call.

In a strange twist of irony, however, the latest move by Interactive Brokers seems to be inspired somewhat by the same source of success as Holzhauer. As it turns out, Holzhauer is a professional gambler and applied the principles of betting to fundamentally change how Jeopardy has been traditionally played since, well, forever.

Earlier this month, Interactive Brokers announced a rather novel approach to attracting the kind of client that would fit their traditional mold, the speculative investor, by launching a new promotion linked to sports betting. Yes, that’s not a misprint.

As part of a new campaign labelled “bet, learn, win” Interactive Brokers is putting up to $1,000 in commission credits on the line for individuals who sign up for, and place bets on, Interactive Brokers’ new virtual sports betting platform. Again, not a misprint.

The cap on the number of individuals eligible to participate: 2.2 million. Which means that Interactive Brokers is embarking on a massive lead capture program that could help uncover a material number of prospective clients for the online brokerage side of the firm.

Peterffy and Interactive Brokers have spent a lot of time and resources expanding out their financial services ecosystem. Even so, at the heart of their story, they understand active traders, and if there’s one thing that many professional active traders like to do in addition to speculating on markets, it is to bet. On anything. So, it is a calculated venture that individuals who maybe have not yet traded in markets would give it a go after mastering a profitable winning strategy on Interactive Brokers’ sports betting platform. Also, what’s the downside for clients of other online brokerages who might want to give the new virtual platform a go?

Whatever winners win, they get to apply to an Interactive Brokers account in the form of commission credits, up to a maximum of $1,000. The conditions on this promotion are equally interesting. First, while open to just about anyone anywhere (save for a few locations around the world), individuals who are clients of Interactive Brokers prior to June 30th aren’t eligible to apply those winnings for commission credits. This is clearly, then, a play to attract new clients into the Interactive Brokers ecosystem. Next, if you wipe out your virtual sports betting account, you can’t create a new one. So, unlike a lot of other trading simulators, there is no “insert more coins to continue” feature here.

Attracting new clients through the use of stock market simulators is nothing new – in fact just this past week, National Bank Direct Brokerage’s “Biggest Winner” competition in conjunction with Horizons ETFs just wrapped up.

What stands out as remarkable in this case is that Interactive Brokers is: 1. Offering up a promotional offer for commission credits and 2. Directly associating investing/trading with gambling/betting.

In terms of the former, seeing a firm like Interactive Brokers turn to commission credit incentive offers/promotions to attract new clients is a signal that the firm is going to now have to spend more in order to attract new clients to the firm.

Perhaps most interesting, however, is the unequivocal association of investing with gambling. If there has been any kind of taboo in the “marketing” world of investing, it’s to steer clear of any association of investing or trading with gambling. And, in this promotion, it is precisely the activity of gambling that serves as the gateway to trading. The implied message: if you’re really good at gambling, you’re probably good at trading too.

Canadians over the age of 21 who are not already Interactive Brokers clients are eligible to sign up and participate. We even spotted a 604 area code (Vancouver) on the help line numbers, to boot.

No stranger to taking calculated risks, it seems that Interactive Brokers has definitely stacked the odds for success (in the form of attracting new customers) in their favour. As Jeopardy champion Holzhauer would no doubt endorse, approaching the game from a different angle and being willing to make some big bets is one way to get to the winner’s circle.

Wealthsimple Trade in the Spotlight Ahead of TFSA Launch

Two points a trend does not make, but it’s certainly enough to get our curiosity piqued. As we reported on last week, BMO InvestorLine was in the spotlight in the Financial Post, a major financial publication, showcasing the upcoming launch of their new website. Also in the news that week was another online brokerage that is on the minds of many investors (and online brokerages) because of their rock-bottom online trading commissions.

Wealthsimple Trade, the newest online brokerage to step onto the Canadian DIY investing field, was featured in an article (for subscribers only) in the Globe and Mail by Canadian discount brokerage industry expert Rob Carrick.

Unlike the Financial Post coverage piece on BMO InvestorLine, Carrick’s article provided an overview of the newcomer brand, highlighting how it stacks up compared to other Canadian discount brokerages, and what features Wealthsimple Trade currently offers. Also interesting about Carrick’s feature is the reference to the latest J.D. Power & Associates Investor Satisfaction survey comments about vulnerability of the traditional online brokerages to losing millennial clients – especially because of mobile app experience, an area in which Wealthsimple excels relative to many existing brokerages.

One of the interesting things about Wealthsimple Trade is that as of the writing of the Globe and Mail article and this post in the Roundup, registered accounts (like RRSPs and TFSAs) are not fully available. That said, there was chatter on Reddit, as well as an interesting note on the Wealthsimple Trade help page, that indicates that TFSAs are already being rolled out to select clients and that TFSAs will be on track to be fully available at some point in August. RRSPs are still TBD.

For all the features that currently don’t exist at Wealthsimple Trade, the lack of registered accounts is something that has likely held many DIY investors from taking a serious look at the new online broker. That, and a lack of awareness/trust that usually accompanies the new kid on the block.

Nonetheless, they are on the scoreboard, so to speak, with 25,000 client accounts and have a tactical advantage with their user experience on mobile. Millennial investors may not care so much about “historical reputation” as they would about “engaging experiences.”

So, whether it is a coincidence or just great timing, talking about Wealthsimple Trade just ahead of a big feature roll-out is fortuitous. The fact that discussion about this feature showed up on Reddit, a digital channel where Canadian millennials interested in personal finance invariably end up, is a positive signal this feature will be a hit with the target demographic. Of course, with the Globe and Mail also on top of this new player, it seems like older investors will soon catch on to what the cool kids are up to as well.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Is Like, 30 Too Old?

These thirty-somethings are contemplating whether or not it’s too late to start an RRSP. Like most individuals, they want to know as much as possible before making such a crucial decision. Click here to see what others have to say.

Ruh- Ruh- Recession?

The yield curve has been inverted for over 30 days now, and this has many people contemplating what precautionary steps to take (if any). For more bearish thoughts, check out this Reddit thread filled with bruised bruins.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on another week’s worth of action. In spite of the vitriol and political turmoil in the U.S., stock markets powered higher, proving that a steady (invisible) hand continues to steer the ship. Of course, with summer heating up, it’s hard to tell if it’s just the heat or if investors on the sidelines are starting to feel the heat of a little FOMO set in. Regardless, if you’re looking for a bit of shade this summer, apparently that’s going to be easy to find. Stay hydrated & have a profitable week!

Posted on Leave a comment

Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – July 8, 2019

The deal that everyone has been talking about finally transpired. Of course, the Kawhi trade isn’t the only deal getting attention this past week, as a pair of Canadian discount brokers decided to also step back onto the court with some promotional efforts of their own. So much for a lazy, hazy July.

In this week’s roundup, we lead off with updates on the latest deals and promotions activity and why this is a bullish signal for DIY investors now and heading into the latter part of the year. From there, we take a look at how one bank-owned online brokerage is shifting digital gears and taking their online marketing game to the next level ahead of a big web refresh. As always, we’ll dish up a healthy serving of chatter from DIY investors on Twitter and in the forums.

Guess Who’s Back

After what seemed to be a lull in June, the lazy days of summer in the discount brokerage deals section are officially done. Just a few days into the new month and the summer season, and the deals section has seen activity level pick up with one new offer come to market, as well as the extension of a transfer offer that stirred excitement earlier this year.

The first deal to cross our radar came from an unlikely source – HSBC InvestDirect. As a bank-owned online brokerage that typically doesn’t get a lot of spotlight, the launch of a summer offer is both unexpected and excellent timing.

The offer itself is a commission-free trading offer which gives investors up to 30 commission-free trades to use over the span of 60 days. There are no required deposit minimums to qualify for this offer, so in that regard, it’s definitely appealing to individuals who might not otherwise qualify for the other offers currently available which have higher deposit requirements.

While the value of the offer is somewhat limited, the timing of the launch of this offer is very much on target. With a pull back in offers by other online brokerages, HSBC InvestDirect gets a bigger portion of the deals spotlight and does so at a big discount to other points in the year when they might have to go to market with a much pricier option (such as a cash back offer).

The other competitors in the commission-free trade space right now consist of Questrade, Desjardins Online Brokerage and CIBC Investor’s Edge. Only the latter firm has a comparable set of terms as HSBC InvestDirect with regards to deposit requirements, however, the CIBC offer is slated to expire at the end of July, which would leave HSBC InvestDirect as the only bank-owned brokerage with a commission-free trading offer.

Another interesting observation about this promotion is that it is being positioned cleverly as 60 days of commission-free trading, which in one interpretation, suggests 60 days of unlimited trading commissions (which is definitely not the case). Although subtle, it is a unique way of making the offer seem more appealing that it otherwise would if it simply stated the number of trades.

If nothing else, the extra attention that the current promotion will give to HSBC InvestDirect will help them become better known to DIY investors.

The other big deals development this month (so far) has been the extension of the Questrade transfer fee coverage offer.

As we have reported on earlier in the year, this offer is by far the best value offer for DIY investors with less than the usual minimum deposit requirement of $15K to $25K who are looking to transfer accounts.

Interestingly, over the past year and in particular over the past several months, the transfer fee promotion area has seen increasing competitive activity. Questrade’s offer aside, we’ve observed both the increase in the amount that brokerages are prepared to cover in terms of transfer fees (now with two brokerages offering up to $200 as opposed to the previous standard range of $125 to $150) and the decrease in the minimum deposit amounts required to qualify for this offer (3 brokerages have now lowered their minimum deposit requirement to $15K).

For DIY investors, the latest two moves are a good signal of the health of the competitive online brokerage market and are a positive indicator of things to come. With stock markets pushing new all-time highs, there’s a reasonable chance that more investors currently on the sidelines will be pulled into the markets, meaning it’s likely they’ll be looking to open a new account or start putting capital to work. Lucky for them, there’s at least one more brokerage ready willing to offer an incentive to sweeten the deal.

Banking on Buzz: BMO InvestorLine Previews New Web Platform

If there’s one thing that online brokerage rankings offer Canadian discount brokerages, it’s more time in the spotlight. Not everyone makes it into the winners circle, however, and what is interesting to take note of is how those who don’t make the top of the podium still manage to make headlines. In the case of Qtrade Investor, the reaction was fairly swift, as they published a news release shortly after the announcement of the latest MoneySense rankings in which they highlighted their strong position as a top online brokerage (even though they didn’t land the #1 spot per se).

Another online brokerage which is typically also very savvy at managing the marketing around the rankings is BMO InvestorLine. This go-around, however, instead of positioning themselves as a top bank-owned online brokerage as part of the rankings, they elected to get people talking about their services with a profile of their new platform in an interview with the Financial Post. 

Unlike a traditional news story, however, the latest profile of BMO InvestorLine had components that included the familiar format of a written story as well as promotion on social media and, a new twist, video of the interview with the president of BMO InvestorLine on YouTube.

Having covered numerous website redevelopments and relaunches from online brokerages over the past several years, it wasn’t so much that there is a new website coming – which in and of itself, is worth talking about, given the associated technical and user experience challenges. Instead, it was the way in which the roll-out of the new website is being telegraphed.

This new omnichannel approach to spreading the message about an upcoming feature release signals a shift in the way online brokerages are likely to develop and talk about innovative improvements.

First, for an online brokerage to telegraph the launch of a new website this far in advance is unusual, although not unheard of. With RBC Direct Investing’s launch of their new interface, for example, there were early test versions to ensure that things went smoothly, and news of the upcoming change was sent to clients well in advance to let them know. Unlike independent brokerages, for bank-owned brokerages, continuity between the banking brand and the online investing brand experience (including what it feels like to switch between the two) is important to consider (and to get right).

Another interesting facet of this story is that the Financial Post was given a “behind the curtain” view of the nerve centre of the InvestorLine development hub. In that way, readers of the story – some of whom might be InvestorLine clients (and probably a few competitors) are given a sense of how the team operates and what the brand is doing to keep up with trends – and in some cases even get ahead of them.

As we have identified in the annual look back and look ahead article, one of the most important indicators consumers are likely to gauge an online service by is how “innovative” they are – i.e. how prepared for change are they? And how quickly can they change?

In the conservative world of traditional finance, change has historically been a dirty word, but in the new world of fintech, change is not just a constant but an objective. At the crux of the interview with BMO InvestorLine’s president, Silvio Stroescu, is that BMO InvestorLine is changing and preparing themselves to change with the evolving needs of their clients. With the competition to entice clients to switch heating up, it makes a compelling argument to stay put if your online brokerage is constantly pushing out new features and if those features are delighting customers like you. Two very big “ifs” that a few other online brokerages have demonstrated time and again work when done right.

Taking a big picture perspective, BMO InvestorLine has invested considerable energy and capital into the development and launch of a new web platform. A website three years in the making is an eternity in the internet age, which changes at a timescale now measured in weeks – or as agile teams know – in two week sprints.

For BMO InvestorLine to telegraph this launch, and go through the motions of a lead up that included video, social media and an article, means that when things go live, they’re hoping it will make an impact with consumers. And to ensure it does, they’re committed to marketing it aggressively.

What this latest tease from BMO InvestorLine shows, however, is that something has fundamentally changed about how Canadian online brokerages – including highly competitive bank-owned brands – are prepared to compete.

BMO InvestorLine has demonstrated a fine balance between keeping the project under wraps for long enough that competitors might not catch on, but revealing it ahead of time to build curiosity and interest and demonstrate a level of transparency about the new feature that other brokerages haven’t really been able to do. While it’s not quite a “come at me bro” moment, it’s fairly close.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this new web platform release is that for the first time in a long time in the online brokerage space in Canada, there’s a genuine curiosity about what will happen next. In addition to launching a website refresh, BMO InvestorLine might have just touched off a new battle in multichannel marketing.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week


From the Forums

Million Dollar Baby

A new DIY investor seeks advice on how to invest a large inheritance. See what advice fellow forum users provided in this Canadian Money Forum thread.

Tax Free as a Bird

One DIY investor has questions about how to incorporate a TFSA into their current portfolio. Click here to see what answers the Reddit community provided.

Into the Close

It wasn’t just the ground in California that seemed a bit shaky heading into the end of the week. In spite of the good news on the jobs front, the stock markets in the U.S. were starting to look at the odds of an interest rate cut in much the same way Raptors fans were thinking about Kawhi sticking around the 6ix. Alas, we know how one of those ended. Regardless, with markets trading near all highs, the week ahead should be filled with even more drama than Kawhi-watch. Here’s hoping you don’t get hooped by the volatility this week!


Posted on Leave a comment

Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – July 1, 2019

Happy Canada Day! It’s great to be back in the saddle again and happily there’s great news to report since the last update a couple of weeks ago. With U.S. markets touching new highs, summer is off to a strong start. Interestingly, so too are a couple of Canadian online brokerages, to the point where other online brokers may not be getting time off to just kick back and relax because they’re going to be playing catch up.

In this edition of the roundup, we wade back into a much shallower deals pool for July and profile the latest turnover in offers for DIY investors. From there, we take a look at a popular online brokerage ranking that was recently released and highlight a dark horse contender that is showing signs of becoming a mainstream brokerage of choice for more Canadian investors. In keeping with roundup tradition, we cap things off with a dollop of chatter from the investor forums as well as from DIY investors on Twitter.

Deals & Promotions on Cruise Control

With the new month comes the usual check-in on the deals and promotions front. This month, it seems like Canadian discount brokerages are gearing down and preparing for what will likely be a very competitive fall and winter. For DIY investors, it means that the deals and promotions in July are more of a lazy river rather than wild water adventure of savings.

There were no big deals to announce at the outset of the month (although technically it was Canada Day so often times promotional news gets delayed because of holidays), however, it is noteworthy to see who is left on the field with promotions during July.

Unlike RRSP season where practically all Canadian discount brokerages were offering some kind of incentive offer, this month there are just two major bank-owned brokerages with cash back or commission-free trade offers: CIBC Investor’s Edge and BMO InvestorLine. In the case of Investor’s Edge, their commission-free trade offer is set to expire at the end of July, whereas for BMO InvestorLine, their promotion extends through to the very beginning of September. Aside from these two firms, the other two noteworthy firms with offers of commission-free trades are Desjardins Online Brokerage and Questrade.

In terms of cash back offerings, what is particularly interesting is something we had mentioned in a previous roundup regarding BMO InvestorLine, namely that their latest tiered cash back promotion has a much higher minimum deposit requirement than previous offers or peer offers. A minimum deposit threshold of $250,000 prices quite a few investors out of that offer, but does signal that BMO InvestorLine is interested and willing to create incentives for individuals with sizable portfolios to give BMO InvestorLine a try. What is also interesting about the upper level of this offer, namely the $2M+ deposit range, is that there aren’t any competitor offers at this level and it is likely the first time that there is a cash back offer for a deposit of this size. Previously the high-water mark was deposits of $1M+ so anyone bringing over more than that would simply have to make do with the bonus offered at the top end of the tiered range.

For those intent on opening an account with less than $250,000 there are still a couple of strong offers from either Questrade or CIBC Investor’s Edge that offer up free trades or cash back.

That said, even though we are not anticipating a watershed of deals to hit the market this summer, it is hard to imagine the field of Canadian online brokerages allowing only four main players to remain unchallenged until September. The resurgence of interest in Bitcoin, a healthy IPO market, and signs of a “melt up” in the stock markets mean that investors may find another reason to step off the sidelines and into the markets this summer. Further, based on the performance of several online brokerages in the latest MoneySense rankings (see next story), there is now  greater impetus for follow up promotion activity.

For now, however, we’re on the lazy river ride – so best to kick back and relax for as long as possible until the competition picks up again.

Best Canadian Online Brokerages for 2019 Announced

With the return of summer, it’s also time again for the annual MoneySense magazine Canadian online brokerage rankings for 2019. As with previous years, financial services research firm Surviscor provided the analysis for these rankings, and provided seven different categories in which different online brokerages were considered to be “the best online brokerage” for something.

This year, the best online brokerage overall according to these rankings was Questrade, which was a close second in last year’s rankings. While the numerical scores weren’t released this year, it was interesting to note how close the two firms were last year. Interestingly, it wasn’t necessarily who came out on top this year, but rather who entered and exited the top five.

MoneySense Best Online Brokerage Rankings: 2018 vs 2019
Rank 2018 2019
1 Qtrade Investor Questrade
2 Questrade Qtrade
3 Scotia iTRADE TD Direct Investing
4 BMO InvestorLine Interactive Brokers
5 BMO InvestorLine


The table above shows the best online brokerages for 2018 compared to the best online brokerages for 2019 and while the selection is largely the same (albeit in a different order), this year saw Scotia iTRADE exit the top group and Interactive Brokers enter. In fact, for the 2019 rankings, Interactive Brokers managed to come in at fourth place, ahead of BMO InvestorLine.

There are two important takeaways from the shift observed in this year’s rankings. First, despite Scotia iTRADE lowering their standard commission rates to the widely adopted ~$9.99 level, they nonetheless were displaced from the rankings by a lower-cost competitor. Second, and perhaps most importantly, Interactive Brokers has now started to become a part of the mainstream investor rankings.

After years of having to sit on the sidelines because it was perceived to be an online brokerage for sophisticated or active investors only, Interactive Brokers Canada is starting to be considered a “mainstream” choice. Although not a whole lot about the Interactive Brokers interface has become any simpler per se, the addition of registered accounts like a TFSA and RSP have made them a viable option for many Canadian DIY investors willing to roll up their sleeves and learn how to navigate the Trader Workstation.

One very interesting observation from this year’s online brokerage rankings is that when it came to designating the best online brokerage for customer service, while Questrade scored first, there was a three-way tie for second between Qtrade Investor, RBC Direct Investing and Interactive Brokers.

Based on historical performance and assessment of customer service, it is nothing short of stunning to see Qtrade Investor in a tie with Interactive Brokers, as the two firms could not have more opposite reputations in terms of client service. In terms of Qtrade Investor, there is a well documented trail of accolades of its commitment to service, and almost the same is true for the absence of “hand holding” service from Interactive Brokers. So, to see both of these firms tie for second best in terms of service will definitely raise eyebrows across the industry.

With the inclusion of Interactive Brokers in the Globe and Mail online brokerage rankings, and now cracking the top five in the MoneySense magazine rankings, it’s becoming clear that the online brokerage field in Canada will have to contend with Interactive Brokers’ feature set and pricing more so than at any time in the past.

For DIY investors looking for assistance in making a decision on which online brokerage is best, these rankings are of mixed value.

On the one hand, there is a short list of five firms that have been considered to be “the best overall,” implying that all things being equal, these firms are not necessarily a bad choice. Conversely, with seven categories of best online brokerage, it highlights how certain brokerages do certain things better than others.

Looking at firms who appeared in multiple categories, to Questrade’s credit, they were either the top or in the top two spots in five of the seven categories. Qtrade Investor also appeared in a top two finish in four categories. Curiously, Interactive Brokers earned a top two finish in three categories compared to TD Direct Investing which earned a top two finish in two categories. Nonetheless, TD Direct Investing outranked Interactive Brokers. This last point is especially relevant when considering the progress Interactive Brokers has made in becoming more of a “mainstream” contender, because it suggests that Interactive Brokers may be very close to a top three (or higher) finish overall unless something very innovative is launched by a competing online brokerage.

For the rest of the online brokerage field that did not achieve a top ranking in one of the seven categories, it appears that there is going to be a challenge to overcome the value propositions already on the table. Change in the online brokerage space is largely evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and even with a zero-commission player on the field in Wealthsimple Trade, there are still other brokerages being considered to be better for fees.

The big picture emerging for DIY investors is that services, features, and value will have to improve at firms not ranked in the top five. Those firms will have to move decisively to win over customers who are starting to hear more and more positive rankings and ratings from firms who previously were “outsiders” like Questrade and Interactive Brokers. We’re very much looking forward to seeing which online brokerages start to step up their game in response to a shifting power structure in the Canadian online brokerage market.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Golden Years

A poster on RedFlagDeals seeks advice on ways to help their parents save for retirement in a few years’ time. Click here to see what strategies fellow forum users recommended.

Striking a Rebalance

A newcomer to the DIY investing world has questions about the best way to rebalance a portfolio. See what advice other investors provided in this Reddit thread.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on the Canada Day edition of the roundup. This will be an interesting week for traders given the holiday for Canadians to kick things off, and the holiday for U.S. Independence Day later on the week. One thing is for sure, there will undoubtedly be fireworks – whether it’s because of what’s going to happen now that the tariff standoff is starting to thaw or because of where Kawhi Leonard decides to go next. Have a great week!


Posted on Leave a comment

Discount Brokerage Deals & Promotions – July 2019

*Updated: July 8* Despite all the fanfare and celebration that typically accompanies the beginning of July, it seems like many Canadian online brokerages are taking a bit of a break from the promotional game. Heading into the first official month of the summer, the discount brokerage deals section appears to be keeping its cool with two big offers expiring in June and no new offers coming to market just yet.

Of course, it being Canada Day, online brokerages are closed at the time of posting this update so there may be something interesting to emerge in the early part of July. Even so, this is one deals pool that we’re not holding our breath in at this point.

Despite rallying markets, a rebound in cryptocurrency and hot IPOs, there’s been muted participation in the deals section – which is not to say that there aren’t promotions in the works – but for the time being, it’s more of a lazy river than a wild water park of savings for DIY investors.

It’s not all bad news for investors or the online brokerages who are still hanging in there with promotional offers, however. There are still a handful of offers – ranging from commission free trades to cash-back offers – for DIY investors to choose from.

As always, we’ll be keeping an eye out on the deals activity during the summer months but if there are any you think would be great to share with readers that we’ve not posted yet, please mention them in the comments or let us know.

Expired Deals

There were two noteworthy offers that expired in June. The first was the RBC Direct Investing cash back offer. This promotion was fairly short-lived and offered up between $100 and $1,000 depending on the amount deposited (ranging between $25,000 and $500,000+).

The second big offer to finally expire was Questrade’s transfer fee coverage promotion. It was a definite game changer in that there was no stated minimum deposit required to have transfer fees covered. Now that the offer has expired though, Questrade is reverting back to the standard minimum deposit requirement of $25,000 to have transfer fees waived.

Extended Deals

*Update July 22 – CIBC Investor’s Edge have extended their commission-free trades promotion for an extra 9 days.  See table below for more details.*

*Update July 8 – Much like a cat, the Questrade transfer fee promotion has found yet another life and is now extended until the end of September. See table below for more details.*

No deals were extended at the outset of July.

New Deals

*Update July 8 – HSBC InvestDirect jumped back into the deals pool with a new commission-free trading offer. This promotion offers up 30 commission-free trades to new and existing clients who open an eligible account. There is no minimum deposit required for this offer. See table below for more details*

No new deals crossed the wire at the beginning of July, however there was a new deal from BMO InvestorLine which did launch in June and which is a unique offer in that it targets a very high minimum deposit tier for investors to qualify. This offer is a cash back promotion that offers between $500 and $2,500 cash back for deposits ranging from $250,000 to $2M+. It is the first time in recent memory that an online brokerage has created a cash back tier for a deposit level so high. Also, it is one of the highest starting points for an offer – perhaps a signal that BMO InvestorLine is targeting higher deposit amounts across the summer (given that this offer is live until the beginning of September).

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 a new qualifying account with CIBC Investor’s Edge and you may be eligible to receive 100 commission-free trades. Eligible trades include equity, ETF and options trades (per contract charges still apply). Commission-free trades are good for up to 90 days after account opening date. Use promo code EDGE28 when signing up. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. n/a 100 commission-free trades 90 days CIBC Investor’s Edge Free Trade Promotion August 9, 2019
Open a qualifying account at HSBC InvestDirect and you may be eligible to receive up to 30 commission-free North American equity or ETF trades. No minimum deposit is required for this offer and it is open to new and existing clients. Trades are eligible to be used for up to 60 days. See terms and conditions for full details. n/a 30 commission-free trades 60 days HSBC InvestDirect Summer Offer September 30, 2019
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
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 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) $250,000; B) $500,000 or C) $2M+ and you may be eligible to a cash back reward of up to A) $500; B) $1,000 or C) $2,500. Use promo code SPARXCASH when registering to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions. A) $250,000 B) $500,000 C) $2M+ A) $500 B) $1,000 C) $2,500 Cash back will be deposited the week of March 16, 2020. BMO InvestorLine Summer 2019 Campaign September 3, 2019

Expired Offers

Last Updated: July 22, 2019 11:30 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: July. 1, 2019 17:45 PT

Transfer Fee Promotions

Company Brief Description Maximum Transfer Fee Coverage Amount Minimum Deposit Amount for Transfer Fee Eligibility Details Link Deadline
Move your brokerage account to Questrade and they’ll cover the transfer-out fee up to $150. $150 n/a Transfer Fee Promo September 30, 2019
Transfer $15,000 or more to RBC Direct Investing and they will pay up to $135 in transfer fees. $200 $15,000 Transfer Fee Rebate Details none
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 $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 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 and you may be eligible to have transfer fees covered up to $200. Contact client service for more details. $200 Contact client service for more information Contact client service for more information (1-888-776-6886) none

Expired Offers

Last Updated: July 8, 2019 16:30 PT

Other Promotions

Company Brief Description Minimum Deposit Amount Required Details Link Deadline
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, 2019 17:30 PT

Digital Advice + Roboadvisor Promotions

Robo-advisor / Digital advisor Offer Type Offer Description Min. Deposit Reward / Promotion Promo Code Expiry Date Link
Discounted Management Open and fund a new Questrade Portfolio IQ account with a deposit of at least $1,000 and the first month of management will be free. For more information on Portfolio IQ, click the product link. $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, 2020 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, 2019 17:30PT