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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – August 26, 2019

It seems like more and more discussion is taking place around the “R” word. Of course, with stranger things taking place around the world with respect to interest rates, trade wars, and conflicting accounts from economic indicators, it’s tough to make heads or tails of what’s going on. Despite the pervasive and heightened uncertainty, one thing is clear: there’s a lot of forecasting taking place about what may happen next in the stock markets.

In this edition of the roundup, we pile onto the prognostication bandwagon to forecast what online brokerages and DIY investors can expect heading into the last few months of the year. From what online brokerages have already telegraphed to signals of interesting developments, an intriguing picture is forming of the new landscape for online brokerages. As always, we’ve got a healthy serving of DIY investor chatter from Twitter and the investor forums to close things out.

Interactive Brokers Big Bet Gets Bigger

As far back as April of 2019, Interactive Brokers founder and outgoing CEO, Thomas Peterffy, signalled that Interactive Brokers would officially launch something “big” to catalyze growth to their business. That big bet, as it turned out, was the launch of a simulated sports betting platform (launched in July) designed to attract individuals who were a cut above the traditional gambler. Think Moneyball meets Wall Street.

With September now just a few weeks away, the kickoff to the new season of the NFL will also usher in a tsunami of football chatter around trading desks and water coolers across North America. As it happens, the NFL is slated to be added to the lineup of games that users of the Interactive Brokers sports betting simulator can bet on.

Fantasy football (indeed fantasy sports in general) is a wildly popular endeavour. So, it stands to reason that with the influx of interest in the new season of the NFL combined with a platform that offers up the stats and quant geeks of the football world a chance to flex their bulging bell curves, Interactive Brokers may find its pool of potential new clients after all.

Another big catalyst for online brokerages like Interactive Brokers is the market volatility itself.

When markets become uncertain, that’s typically when efficiency in pricing breaks down and when active traders step back into the mix to find compelling trades. So, despite volatility being generally bad news for many investors, for active traders, the volatility is a sign of opportunity.

Combined with lower interest rates, the ability to access margin means that firms like Interactive Brokers could stand to benefit from increased trading activity (and therefore commission revenue). That said, the last time the markets were signalling an increase in volatility, Interactive Brokers pre-emptively raised margin requirements to protect against the sudden swing in prices, a deft move that saved them from considerable margin loan losses while their peer firms unfortunately did not fare as well.

As September nears, we’ll be keeping a close eye on what Interactive Brokers (and other online brokers) will be doing with margin requirements as that may once again prove a definitive canary-in-the-coal-mine.

Stimulus in the Deals & Promotions Section

With the “R” word now making the rounds in major news and business media (as well as the content of several large online brokerages), sentiment among DIY investors towards entering into the markets is undoubtedly going to turn negative.

As it just so happens, September is historically when investing activity picks up again and for many financial services firms (especially online brokerages), this represents the second-last month of the fiscal year. Translation: it’s a great time to boost performance stats for the fiscal year by landing more client accounts.

Financial performance aside, savvy online brokerages understand that in today’s fiercely competitive market for DIY investor assets, it will be important to stand out, especially during the market storm.

One quick way to incentivize investors to pay attention is with a good deal. The seasoned investors will undoubtedly be out looking for compelling deals in the stock market and will also recognize a good offer from an online brokerage if one were to surface. Ironically, central banks won’t be the only ones contemplating how to boost market performance with rate cuts.

Pricing discounts are just one option, however. In the current market climate, one way to soothe the angst of investor uncertainty is with access to good information and market coverage. So, while cash back promotions or commission-free trades are always fan favourites, the ability to stay informed about what’s happening in markets in either real-time or with in-depth coverage would also be value added.

This past week, RBC Direct Investing tackled the thorny subject of trade protectionism in its “Inspired Investor” publication, and TD’s MoneyTalk tried to unpack the possibility of a recession in its most recent episode. Most Canadian online brokerages, however, have been mum on the subject. For those online brokerages who have invested in strong content production programs, now is the time when those investments pay off not only as news sources for their own clients, but also as a mechanism to stand apart from other brokerages (or other content providers) who can’t offer the same degree of insight into market direction.

More Price Disruption Coming

Of course while incentives and promotions are one quick way to get on investors’ radar, the so-called “nuclear option” of getting noticed is to drop commission fees down to zero.

So far, Wealthsimple Trade is the only Canadian online brokerage to offer zero commissions on all trades, with other providers such as Questrade, Virtual Brokers, and National Bank Direct Brokerage offering some kind of commission-free trading on ETFs.

One interesting dark horse that could still shake things up for online brokerages in Canada is Canaccord, whose 2018 acquisition of Jitneytrade could enable them to pursue a maneuver akin to Wealthsimple’s acquisition of the brokerage Canadian ShareOwner Investments Inc., which then enabled Wealthsimple Trade to offer online brokerage services to DIY investors.

In addition to price, there’s also going to have to be a step change in how incumbent Canadian online brokerages connect with clients (and potential clients).

What Wealthsimple’s latest advertising stunt of the tiny stadium in downtown Toronto shows, is that they’re also capable of pushing the envelope for innovation in messaging for wealth management services providers. At the heart of it though is the “perceived value” of what a commission charge gets you. Many large Canadian online brokerages have publicly been called out for struggles with technology stability or scalable customer service access, so the notion that “bigger is better” doesn’t necessarily match consumers comments and reviews online.

The takeaway is that as competition continues to grow for investor assets, so does the likelihood that there will be another major commission pricing announcement from an existing provider. For new entrants into the online brokerage space, unless there’s a quantum leap in trading platform experience, going to zero-commission or using ultra-low commission pricing is likely the path forward.

Regardless of the stock market’s immediate direction and sentiment, Canada’s online brokerages have had to navigate choppy waters before. What is different this time, however, is that there is a strong likelihood that there is a recession on the horizon and considerably more competition to boot. Heading into busier times in the weeks ahead, the advice for Canadian online brokerages is simple: prepare accordingly.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Pure and (Wealth)simple

An inexperienced investor collected opinions about Wealthsimple and found out what fellow Redditors like, what types of investments they recommend through this brokerage, and how they use their Wealthsimple accounts. Read the discussion here.

Asset Tripping

Freshly motivated to maximize his returns and concerned about missed opportunities, a Redditor who passively accumulated savings into a TFSA is looking for advice on a more assertive investment strategy.

Into the Close

Savvy investors know that there’s always a bull market somewhere. With headlines the world over fixated on the trade war and uncertainty, sentiment is clearly shifting negative, but with gold perking up and a range of vehicles available to capitalize on volatility, it seems that aside from capital to wade into this storm, it’s going to take the gumption to keep going.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – August 19, 2019

One of the marvels of modern physics is that you can experience “zero gravity” right here on Earth by hopping on a flight of what’s affectionately known as the vomit comet. After diving and rallying and causing many investors to toss their cookies, this past week was a reminder that in spite of fundamentals, predictability is what the current market is lacking. Ironically, it seems like some of that uncertainty is also spilling over into the online brokerage space this year too.

In this edition of the roundup, we profile one newsworthy development at a Canadian online brokerage that’s pushing to add more value to the trading experience for DIY investors. From there, we look at yet another announcement of a CEO resignation at a US online brokerage this year, a signal that the whole space is going through a major shakeup. On a more familiar note, we close out the roundup with chats and tweets from DIY investors in the forums and on Twitter.

Questrade Clients to get Benzinga-Powered News

For longtime observers of the Canadian online brokerage space, one of the curious changes to have taken place gradually over the past few years is that the entities that used to call themselves “discount brokers” no longer do. Instead, the term direct brokerage or online brokerage have come to describe the providers that enable DIY investors to trade the market.

The shift in name away from “discount” is one small but important indication that the industry wants to move away from competing against one another in terms of price. After waves of commission drops, and now the launch of a zero-commission provider, Canadian online brokerages are collectively exploring alternatives to dropping commission prices by delivering “better value” for their clients in the form of new features or enhanced technology.

One of the features that smaller online brokerages have a tough time competing against larger bank-owned brokerages on is research and news. Often, the wealth management branches within banks have armies of analysts and writers to draw from, and as such, can supply DIY investors with a “wealth” of in-depth coverage. Further, their size of client pool justifies them being able provide access to larger newswire services that can be tailored to individual stocks within a watchlist or portfolio.

This past week, however, an interesting announcement crossed our radar, stating that financial news provider Benzinga will be providing Questrade clients premium “access to earnings releases, trade ideas, breaking stories and interviews,” as well as “real-time calendars for earnings guidance, analyst ratings, IPOs, splits, dividends, and more.” Clients of Benzinga in the US online brokerage market include TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE, Interactive Brokers and Tradestation, to name a few.

Interestingly, neither Questrade nor Benzinga’s review of Questrade have yet mentioned this feature (as of the time of writing this roundup), however, for DIY investors at Questrade, getting convenient visibility on key developments that drive action in a stock means an improved trading experience. And, in looking at the firms that Benzinga services, this means that Questrade clients will be getting a competitive solution for research data on Canadian equities – a new venture for Benzinga.

Access to news about equities is certainly not a new feature, but in the race to provide additional value without having to lower trading commissions, it becomes a key differentiator between brokerages. DIY investors trying to decide which online brokerage provides the best value will certainly be looking at price first, however, Questrade has always historically competed well in that category. With this new feature of quick-to-market data being part of the investor experience, it’s clear that Questrade is fixed on giving their higher priced competitors a real run for their money.

CEO of E*TRADE Announces Departure

It looks like 2019 is the year of the turnover at US online brokerages. This past week, yet another head of an online brokerage has announced they’ve moved on.

CEO of E*TRADE Financial, Karl Roessner, surprised industry observers by announcing his abrupt departure from the head of this online brokerage after having stepped into the role in 2016. Last month, the head of TD Ameritrade, Tim Hockey, also announced that he would be stepping down as President and CEO and, earlier in 2019, Thomas Peterffy, CEO and founder of Interactive Brokers, announced he too would be stepping down from the popular online brokerage firm he founded over 40 years ago.

Unlike the situation at Interactive Brokers, however, the departure of Roessner was fairly abrupt, and because it fell between earnings announcements, did not have the same reassuring tone of Tim Hockey’s departure from TD Ameritrade.

With pressures to revenue generation mounting at US online brokerages, including at E*TRADE, this cascade of executive departures will bring with it fresh uncertainty against an already challenging backdrop. After all, the CEO has a crucial role to play in steering the organization and with so much change, it will be hard to know who is steering the ship and how the industry as a whole will respond.

For challenger brands like Robinhood and Tasty Trade, or even bigger players like JP Morgan, the momentary transition by incumbent online brokerages undergoing key leadership changes could be an ideal moment to step up their efforts to win over their competitors’ business. Both Robinhood and Tasty Trade are still founder-led organizations, and as such, are driving towards their vision of their respective businesses.

Within the Canadian online brokerage space, there has been (and perennially is) substantial turnover at the leadership level (e.g. President) at many of the bank-owned online brokerages. Interestingly (and potentially unsurprisingly), Questrade stands out as having the longest standing President of the organization among online brokers. Since it was launched in 1999, Questrade has had the same President & CEO, Edward Kholodenko. Within the Canadian market, even though Questrade has been around for almost two decades, only now is it starting to hit its stride with the online brokerage reviews in terms of overall DIY investors experience, perhaps a nod to the notion that founder-led firms typically outperform peers.

What this latest departure highlights is that it is difficult to do transformational work without a long runway. While progress can be achieved (as demonstrated by both Hockey and Roessner) in a relatively short amount of time, the nature of the ambitions and the ability to see big changes through invariably take time and leadership continuity. To add even more uncertainty into the mix, the next class of online brokerage CEOs are going to have to contend with choppy (and potentially falling) markets, as well as a possible recession. Certainly anyone stepping next into the role of an online brokerage CEO is going to have nerves of steel – oh – and be able to get along with their board of directors.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Simply De-fee-ted

Concerned over unexpected fees and itching for a change, this weary investor turns to fellow Redditors for advice. Read through for interesting opinions on other investment options in this Reddit thread.

Hello Downticks, My Old Friend

Fluctuations in the market leave a lot of us with sleepless nights and stressful days. A few confident investors weigh in on dealing with the recent volatility in the following Canadian Money Forum thread.

Into the Close

That’s another wild week in the books. One of the telltale signs of disagreement in the markets is volatility, aka uncertainty. While bonds are usually the smarter securities in the room, there seems to be a consistent theme from “experts” that fears of a recession are just overblown. Which simply goes to show, that nobody really knows where things go from here. Such is the dance. Have a great week!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – August 12, 2019

One of the highlights of any summer barbecue is the dip. Of course, for anyone who’s ever arrived at one a bit too late, often it’s just the dip that’s left. For DIY investors, it seems that the newsies are no longer talking about the market barbecue anymore and instead are focused on the dip.

In this edition of the Roundup, we take a look at a global trend towards commission-free trading that’s taking shape, and what that might mean for Canadian DIY investors (and online brokerages too). From there, we spotted another emerging trend from one online brokerage who knows how to get noticed this summer. As always, we’ve got a great medley of investor chatter and a few spicy tweets to close things out.

Commission-Free Trading Growing Globally

Now that the back to school sales are ramping up, it’s a sure sign that September is just around the corner. Of course, for DIY investors and online brokerages alike, the approach of September is also the time of year when activity starts to pick up again. The competing forces of volatile, tweet-driven behaviour on the one hand and solid economic fundamentals on the other mean that the stock market (and bond market) are becoming decidedly undecided on a direction. In spite of the surrounding uncertainty for the stock market itself, it seems that a clear trend is emerging for existing online brokerages to contend with: zero-commission trading.

This past week, the US online brokerage that has captured the imagination (and loyalty) of millennial investors, Robinhood, announced that they have officially been permitted to launch in the UK.

Robinhood’s intentions to expand globally are no secret. In 2015, for example, we reported their plans to expand to Australia, and there have been signals for a few years that the UK was also on the roadmap for the no-commission discount broker’s expansion plans. It is a clear indication that in the world of commission-free trading, scale matters.

Nonetheless, unlike in the US, Robinhood’s journey to UK won’t be a cake walk.  There are at least three other firms already offering some form of commission-free trading program in the UK: Revolut, Trading 212 and Freetrade, with Trading 212 having had the largest head start since 2018. Even at home in the US, Robinhood is starting to face new competitors, like JP Morgan, stepping up to offer commission-free trading. And, in Australia, there are also firms already offering commission-free stock trading.

In the wake of Robinhood’s latest announcement, it is becoming abundantly clear that zero-commission trading is no longer an anomaly. Rather, it is now a footrace for new entrants to get into the space, disrupt existing players, and potentially get in front of the global expansion plans of Robinhood.

For Canadian DIY investors, Wealthsimple Trade is the closest to zero-commission trading that we can get. And, in some interesting news that crossed our radars at the end of July, they too are bulking up their technology stack to take on the existing Canadian discount brokerage market. Specifically, a news release at the end of July that mentioned Wealthsimple Trade choosing market data technology provider Xignite could be an indicator that real-time trading quotes are actively under development and coming to Wealthsimple Trade soon. Incidentally, Xignite counts Robinhood as one of its customers, so not only is Wealthsimple Trade tearing a page out of the zero-commission provider’s pricing playbook, but also one from the technology side too.

Although there are no plans or mention of Robinhood expanding to Canada (yet), the lesson from across the globe appears to be that even in comparable markets, there can be multiple zero-commission trade providers. While in Canada there is currently just one, the odds favour there being more than one in the foreseeable future.

If existing Canadian online brokerages were not serious about getting in front of zero-commission trading before, there is now growing international evidence and developments here in Canada that suggest rethinking how to compete in a zero-commission world. New brokerages are figuring out how to provide an exceptional online trading experience at little to no commission cost, and the existing ones who already do are looking beyond their own borders for opportunities to grow.

BMO InvestorLine Staying in the Spotlight

If there’s one lesson to take away from the melee that is the US political system, it’s that being talked about is key to staying on the minds of audiences. This past week, we noted yet another interesting profile of BMO InvestorLine surface on a popular investing website, Benzinga. Earlier this summer, we noted that InvestorLine picked up major coverage from the Financial Post, which offered up an exclusive look at the launch BMO InvestorLine’s new trading platform.

With traditional advertising budgets under fire, BMO InvestorLine appears to be shifting tactics by using public relations (PR) as a tool to set the narrative straight on BMO InvestorLine. Going the PR route means that there are likely to be a lot more eyeballs reading the story than if it were just on the company blog. In fact, there were a few posts about BMO InvestorLine’s latest review/interview on social media, which highlights BMO’s strategy to spread the word about their online trading capabilities.

Ultimately, it is great to see people talking excitedly about one (or more) of the Canadian online brokerages. For the moment, BMO InvestorLine appears to be setting the pace of a new PR-driven strategy.  That said, PR is something that each bank-owned brokerage is generally well equipped to compete against, so BMO InvestorLine may not be uncontested for too long.

Even though we’ve noted an uptick in tweeting and advertising activity from TD Direct Investing as well as from Qtrade Investor recently, it will take more than Twitter to connect with investors. BMO’s latest moves on the PR front show that to boost a tweet’s range, it helps to have one of the big financial information provider names get the social media ball rolling (and having many of the employees help by sharing is great for momentum too).

With fall just around the corner, it’s only going to get trickier for online brokers to stand out with just news releases. To get investors’ attention at this point, and to BMO InvestorLine’s credit, Canadian online brokerages need to come out with features or promotions that get people talking, AND be much more active in reporting what’s happening inside of their own shops. Now, if only there were a channel for them to do that on 😉.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Mutually Beneficial?

One DIY investor has questions about the advantages of ETFs over mutual funds. See what fellow forum users had to say in this Canadian Money Forum thread.

Starting Small

A DIY investor wants to know if the learning experience of making small, but risky, investments will eventually result in a payoff, and fellow Redditors chimed in with their opinions. Read it all here.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on another wild week. There’s a lot of information flying around – from trade rumours to cryptocurrency rallies. With interest rates falling in the US (and around the world) and likely here in Canada too, it’s a particularly important moment for online brokerages to consider how investors will react to an ultra-low interest rate environment and pull their money out of savings and into the stock market.

The one story that happens to be gathering steam though is chatter about interest rate cuts and a recession. With just a few more weeks left to enjoy the summer, it might not be a bad time to unplug. Of course, for those strapped into the roller coaster adventure that is the stock market right now, just make sure to keep your arms in the ride and secure your personal belongings. Good luck & stay profitable!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – August 6, 2019

It’s definitely shorts weather outside as well as in the markets. And, what better way to celebrate a short week (at least for Canadian DIY investors) than with a brief update of what’s moving the needle for online brokerages here in Canada as well as in the US.

In this edition of the roundup, we take a quick look at the latest activity in the discount brokerage deals section that is bound to put a dent in some brokerages’ vacation plans. From there, we look at some important developments in the US online brokerage market that could help paint a picture of the future for Canadian online brokers and DIY investors. As always, we’ll be sure to toss in the latest investor chatter from Twitter and the investor forums.

Deals – Get ’em While They’re Hot

Heading into the long weekend at the beginning of August, we thought activity in the deals and promotions space would likely be on cruise control until closer to September, the month when activity typically picks back up. Instead, DIY investors were treated to a pleasant surprise, as there was one bank-owned brokerage that decided a dip into the deals pool for the month of August.

RBC Direct Investing just kicked off a month-long promotion that frequent watchers of the deals section will be familiar with. The offer is for 25 commission-free trades which are good to use for one full year, and requires a deposit of $5,000.

Like most things market-related, timing is key. It is interesting that the CIBC Investor’s Edge promotion was extended into early August from its original expiry date at the end of July. If Investor’s Edge decides not to extend their existing offer (or replace it), then RBC has the “lion’s share” of the spotlight for commission-free trading offers for the near term. Another brokerage that should be concerned with RBC DI’s latest maneuver is HSBC InvestDirect. Their promotion, which launched in July, offers 30 commission-free trades which are good for use for up to 60 days.

When an online brokerage the size of RBC Direct Investing jumps into the deals pool, they’re going to make a splash. Interestingly, the fact that the deal is set to expire at the end of August means this is a rare window for investors looking for a deal to actually get one from RBC Direct Investing, outside of the usual RSP rush in the late winter/early spring.

For DIY investors, a deal this early from a major online brokerage is a great signal of the level of competition between Canadian brokerages, which makes us believe there are more deals likely coming to market.

Quick Notes from the US Online Brokerages

Not all the news from across the border is acrimonious. In fact, for online brokerages, there are some bright spots in terms of performance updates, concept projects, and big business moves which show that the space is continuing to evolve around tricky macro conditions.

With the start of a new month, Interactive Brokers has published their latest set of performance metrics for July. As has been the case for a number of years now, metrics for the popular online brokerage continue to push higher with latest annual growth figures in client accounts clocking in at 17% and, on average, 276 (annualized) trades per client. Interactive Brokers is clearly managing to attract individuals with a tendency towards active trading. Even more interesting for the brand will be the next several weeks in which the VIX continues to flash volatility is at hand – something that can pull active traders into the mix to compete for big swings in price.

Another big growth story announced at the end of last month came from the largest online brokerage in the US – Charles Schwab – who (for the tidy sum of USD $1.8B) is acquiring about one million of USAA’s brokerage and managed accounts, and will become the exclusive wealth management service provider to USAA.

While these two firms differ substantially in size, they do help provide examples of what options confront the current Canadian online brokerage space in terms of pathways to growth. On the one hand, Schwab’s growth announcement illustrates that when a firm is in the wealth management space and wants to exit it, the bigger players are typically going to have an edge over the smaller firms. For Canadian online brokerages, there definitely seems to be a sentiment to deploy features to keep up with leading brands rather than to push the envelope on innovation. As a result, it is likely that upstarts, like Wealthsimple Trade, can hustle and out-compete existing providers, which in turn may prompt some existing players to exit the space the way USAA did in the US.

Another important takeaway is the power of building a best of breed trading experience and the impact on investors.

Interactive Brokers still has a lot of currency with active traders/investors and continues to grow as a result (see this recent forum post for example). The result of their investment in automation is clearly paying off, as they are able to offer much lower commission per trade pricing than many of their peers and still be a profitable enterprise. By comparison, the no-commission online brokerage, Robinhood, has managed to carve out their own niche with millennial investors, and has layered in paying for additional services as part of their way of balancing being accessible and sustainable. Incidentally, this past week, they also launched a new messaging feature that keeps their platform’s user base informed about important announcements in a way that looks and feels like it belongs within the Robinhood platform. Even more forward looking, TD Ameritrade flashed a sign of what’s to come with DIY investors potentially being able to place trades while driving.

For Canadian online brokerages, the fork in the road to growth is clear. Either win at creating an innovative product that customers rant and rave about, or start buying up other online brokerage providers who may be much slower to innovate. It’s already happening in the US and will almost inevitably happen here.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Man or Machine?

No one can deny the relentless level of automation that has taken over the financial world. This has people torn between human advice and robo-advice for managing their investments. See what individuals in this reddit thread have to say about the new age of robo-advisors.

Parent Trap

With the average amount spent raising a single child to adulthood being over $200,000, parents have to budget carefully. The individual in this reddit thread is going the extra mile, trying to set up an RESP for their newborn. Find out what advice fellow readers offered to help avoid the pitfalls of planning.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on another week’s action in the online brokerage space. Now that August is here, we’re keeping our ear to the ground for what’s likely going to be a very busy fall in the online brokerage space. Perhaps figuratively and literally, the actual ground seems to be a little more palatable to listen to than what’s happening on social media anyway.

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Discount Brokerage Deals & Promotions, August 2019

*Updated Aug. 28* As we round the corner into August, most DIY investors are patiently waiting for new discount brokerage promotions to drop. Unfortunately, it seems like most Canadian online brokerages are in summer vacation mode when it comes to offering new deals.

Even so, the summer so far hasn’t been totally silent. HSBC InvestDirect launched a new promotional offer in July and CIBC Investor’s Edge also extended one of their deals until the early portion of August. Perhaps the biggest extension though came from Questrade, which extended their transfer-fee offer yet again, this time pushing the deadline out to the end of September.

With the long weekend almost here, it seems likely that any new offers that want to get a jump on the September rush will be waiting until later this month. We’ve got our radar up and of course, if there are any offers that could benefit other deal hunters, let us know.

Expired Deals

No expired deals to report at this time.

Extended Deals

CIBC Investor’s Edge extended their commission-free trade promotion for just a few more days, extending the offer from July 31st to August 9th.

Questrade’s transfer fee promotion has found yet another life and is now extended until the end of September. See table below for more details.

New Deals

*Update August 28 – Scotia iTrade has a new hybrid offer for prospective account holders. Complete a brief form by October 15, 2019 to be eligible for $6.99 equity and ETF trades until March 1, 2020. You will also receive $50 cash back by January 31, 2020. Scroll down for more details.*

*Update August 28 – If you have an existing Scotia iTrade account, you may be eligible for free trades. Fill out this form by October 15, 2019 to receive 5 commission free trades. You account must be funded with a minimum of $10,000 by October 31, 2019 to qualify for this offer. You are also eligible for 3 free trades when you attend the Scotia iTrade “US Dollar Position” webinar on September 24, 2019.

*Update August 2 – Just when we thought things were going to be a tad quiet heading into a long weekend in August, RBC Direct Investing decided to roll out a tried and tested favourite offer for investors to consider while on vacation. As of the beginning of August, RBC Direct Investing has launched a commission-free trading offer which gives investors 25 commission-free trades which are good for up to one year. Best of all, there’s an easy offer code to remember to access the offer: SPARX. Scroll down for more details.*

Other than that, there were no new deals that launched at the outset of the month, midway through last month 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 and doesn’t require a minimum deposit.

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 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
Scotia iTrade Open a new qualifying account and fund it with a minimum of $2500 by October 31, 2019 to be eligible to receive $50 cash back by January 31, 2020. This offer also includes $6.99 per trade commissions until March 1, 2020. Terms and conditions can be found in the offer URL. $2,500 $50 cash back and $6.99 per Canadian and US equity/ETF trade. Cash back will be deposited by January 31, 2020. $6.99 per trade commission pricing active until March 1, 2020. Cash Back Offer Details October 15, 2019
Open a new account and get 25 commission-free equity and ETF trades when you apply the code “SPARX”. $5,000 25 commission-free Equity & ETF trades 1 Year Commission-Free Trade Details August 30, 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:August 28, 2019 11:49 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: August 1, 2019 17:11 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: August 1, 2019 17:08 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: August 1, 2019 17:09 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: August 1, 2019 17:10PT