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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – November 30, 2020

Hard to believe but the end of 2020 is almost here. Then again, a lot of what’s happening is surreal. With stock markets continuing to rise alongside COVID numbers, and increasingly tightening restrictions here in Canada to try to wrestle the virus into control, it’s hard to believe there is good news to be found. Fortunately, hope springs eternal, and while there are definitely some challenging times ahead, we’re glad to be able to share a slate of stories of things to look forward to from online brokers.

In this month-end edition of the Roundup, we take stock of the activities that stood out in November – including the influx of deals and promotions for DIY investors. Staying on theme, we also dive into some important developments and exciting publications set to launch at that will shine a spotlight on the challenging year that was and how online brokerages overcame multiple challenges to deliver a record-breaking year. Being the month end, there’s a special addition, which includes coverage of some interesting things that crossed our radar that we didn’t get a chance to dive into more deeply this month. As always, we’ve got chatter and banter from DIY investors in the forums and from Twitter.

Days of Our Deals: Online Brokerages Lean Into Deals in November

It’s fitting that on Cyber Monday we get to talk about deals and promotions for DIY investors.

November has been filled with a constant stream of deals updates, as almost all Canadian discount brokerages either stepped back into the deals pool or dove in for the first time.

With nine advertised deals now in the commission-free trade or cash-back category (10 if you include the latest deal from Wealthsimple Trade), online investors are able to pick and choose which deal best suits their needs.

For anyone keeping score at home, within the first week we saw offers from BMO InvestorLine, BMO SmartFolio, CIBC Investor’s Edge, and TD Direct Investing come to market. Not far behind them came offers from Scotia iTrade and RBC Direct Investing. Finally, at the end of the month, we saw Wealthsimple Trade jump into the deals and promotions pool with a clever cash-back promotion.

At the time of publication of this Roundup, it appears that there is one promotion set to expire – the commission-free trade offer from National Bank Direct Brokerage – however, that might change heading into a new week. Not to worry, though, as there are numerous offers that are scheduled to be around until well into RRSP season, which ends at the beginning of March 2021.

Even though we’ve said this before, it is worth stating again. This massive influx of deals activity was a far cry from the promotional landscape we saw midway through 2020 when almost all Canadian discount brokerages removed their “top-tier” promotional offers.

The pullback in offering deals was largely the result of a tsunami of investors trying to get into the markets to take advantage of the COVID-induced volatility, and though COVID is still around, it appears that substantial market swings are not. The pace of investors opening up new accounts has also slowed down compared to the spring of 2020, which, according to some industry insiders, is a welcome reprieve.

As for the Canadian discount brokerages currently on the deals and promotions sidelines, we suspect they won’t be there for too much longer. The space is far too competitive at this point not to be actively courting DIY investors with an offer. The question is more when than if the brokerages currently not offering either a commission-free trade or cash-back promotion will step forward.

One theme that is clear this year is that there appears to be a greater degree of targeting of specific investor segments going on than in years past. As is usually the case, big assets are what all online brokerages aspire to attract. However, outside of that group, there is a definite interest in the entry-point investor.

With the big deal days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the books, it appears that the stretch between here and Christmas could bring with it a few bonus gifts for DIY investors.

Lots to Still Look Forward To in 2020

It’s been a storied year for everyone. For DIY investors, there have been once-in-a-generation opportunities to get into stocks that were panic-sold as well as to jump into stocks that have surged as a result of the shift to working from home.

All Canadian online brokerages were tested in multiple ways during and because of COVID, from having to be able to process the flood of applications for new accounts, to shifting operations and personnel to a remote-work model, to dealing with the ongoing challenges of the marketplace that demanded more features at lower commission prices.

Though there were certainly hiccups along the way, in hindsight, the Canadian online brokerage industry managed to weather an exceptionally challenging storm.

For that reason (and the fact that it is 2020), we thought it would be fascinating to hear from the leaders of Canadian online brokerages themselves, so we invited them to participate in our soon-to-be-released Look Back/Look Ahead series.

In this upcoming edition, readers will learn a lot about what 2020 has meant for various Canadian online brokerages, including the challenges they have faced (and overcome) as well as the opportunities for innovation that presented themselves during the year.

In addition to talking about the past, one of the most interesting features of this year’s Look Back/Look Ahead series is what online brokerages have shared about what they’re working on and what online investors can expect from them in the coming year. Stay tuned for our official launch announcement on Sparx’s social media channels.

And, speaking of fun things to look forward to, we’re still working away at the launch of a new Sparx Trading digital experience.

Our new website will feature streamlined organization and powerful new tools to help online investors looking for online brokerages. Exclusive sneak peeks will be shared on the Sparx Trading Twitter feed as well as featured in the Weekly Roundup.  

Lightning Roundup: More Interesting Developments

With so much happening this past month, it’s tough to cover all of the interesting developments in as much detail as we’d like to. So, here’s a quick rundown of things that crossed our radar.

Lots of Outages, Lots of Outrage

Twitter is generally a place where discussions can get heated, and people don’t hold back on what they’re thinking or feeling. In fact, it’s arguably THE place online to vent/share just that. For businesses (like online brokerages), however, in addition to being a place where clients share their experiences, there’s also an expectation of channels like Twitter to serve as a customer service channel.

November has been an abysmal month for many DIY investors across multiple Canadian online brokerages because of platform outages and downtime that occurred during trading hours at big bank-owned online brokerages and smaller operations alike. Many active investors found themselves ranting about outages as well as scary wait times to speak to customer service representatives.

For all of the good, the bad, and the (much) ugly, check out the tweets of the week from November in each of our Roundups.

Financial Literacy Month

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada, and this past month marked the 10th anniversary of this initiative, which is aimed at helping Canadians be better informed about their personal finances.

There was a steady stream of content as well as activities online for individuals wanting to deepen their understanding of important financial topics. Interestingly, there were a lot of credit unions, independent personal financial bloggers, federal agencies or entities, and provincial securities regulators who were visible on social media.

When it came to investing – in particular DIY investing – there wasn’t much in the way of dedicated content from Canadian online brokerages, despite the wealth of information they have on hand or have historically provided about the way in which online investing works. It seems like an interesting opportunity to have more of a voice on an important issue that would enhance the general public’s understanding of what online brokerages are and how they function.

One telling gap in the current state of awareness and communication around financial services options for investors is highlighted in the introductory stock market video produced by the Nova Scotia Securities Commission.

This video series does a great job explaining the basics of stocks, but when it comes to describing the options that individual investors may encounter, the fact that “robo-advisors” don’t really get mentioned shows there are things consumers encounter in the world of investing online that don’t quite match up to what is being explained in this video. Granted, the video focuses on stocks (rather than ETFs), but given the popularity of these instruments and that they pull investors into trading online, it might be a great follow-up video to provide for investors.

Despite the wealth of information (pun intended) on personal finance that has been shared during Financial Literacy Month, there are still lots of opportunities for either online brokerages or other members of the online investing ecosystem to step forward with more investor-friendly content.

From the Forums

Time Is Not on His Side

What’s the safest and most practical way to start saving for retirement – at age 59? In this post, a Redditor asks for advice on behalf of their father, who is ready to start investing $2,000 per month.

Haters Gonna Hate

A Redditor asks in this post why the media seems to have a hate-on for TFSAs. A long and lively discussion ensues, debating whether TFSAs are good for everyone or just for the rich.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

Into the Close

If you’ve managed to survive the gauntlet of Black Friday and Cyber Monday advertisements and email promotions, congratulations! With the holidays now less than a month away, investors will have more than just visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads – tax-loss selling deadlines are now looming, and there are bound to be some stocks that investors would love to leave behind as much as they would 2020. Of course, for the bargain hunters, there are also opportunities to peruse the deep-discount bin. Maybe there are a few more deals to be had after all. Here’s hoping you have a profitable week ahead!

🌻Sunflower Timelapse from r/BeAmazed
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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – November 23, 2020

With Black Friday just around the corner and Christmas about a month out, bargain hunters and buying sprees abound. It seems like stock markets are in the buying spirit, too, as investors continue to push markets and certain stocks into record territory. Even online brokerages are getting into the spirit of the promotional season and being ever more creative with their offers for DIY investors.

In this week’s Roundup, we take a look at a new twist on a rockstar promotional offer that DIY investors love and examine how one Canadian online brokerage has once again flexed its creative prowess. From there we take a peek at the latest online investing experience from a popular bank-owned online brokerage that is making measured progress. As always, we’ll highlight comments (and complaints) from DIY investors on Twitter and the investor forums to wrap things up.

Wealthsimple Trade Offers Free Stock (Sort of) Promo

If there was any doubt about Wealthsimple Trade taking their cues from Robinhood, the popular online brokerage in the US, this latest manoeuvre is likely to chip away at that doubt significantly.

This past week, we noted that Wealthsimple Trade has started to offer “free stocks” (sort of) as part of a new promotion to attract users to its platform.

Incredibly popular in the US, this is not something we’ve seen launched here in Canada since we’ve been covering the deals and promotions space for the past decade, which makes this offering especially novel for Canadian DIY investors.

Considering that Wealthsimple Trade can’t offer commission-free trades as a new promotion (because they already offer commission-free trading), their approach to structuring promotions has to be more creative. And creative they did get.

While cash-back offers might be an option, it’s clear that they wanted to make a bigger splash than that. So, instead of a run-of-the-mill cash-back promotion, the marketing team cooked up giving a cash bonus equivalent to the price of one of 15 stocks selected from those widely held among Wealthsimple Trade accounts. These stocks range in price from $1 to $4,500.

How does the Wealthsimple Trade Free Stock Promotion work?

Ironically, while so much about the Wealthsimple brand is about simplicity, this particular promotion is actually a bit complicated and is more akin to a combination of a “lottery” or draw versus a cash-back bonus (more on that in a moment).

Starting first with the conditions.

This free-stock bonus offer is open to new clients of Wealthsimple Trade and applies only to non-registered accounts. It is also significant considering how popular this online broker is for registered accounts and considering the timing of the launch, as online brokers ramp up around RRSP (and registered account) promos.

The promotional period is from November 17th through to December 18th, 2020.

In terms of hurdles to qualify, the $100 deposit minimum to be eligible for this offer is about as low as it gets among peer offers – especially for cash-back deals and promotions. That said, it is also possible to be eligible for this bonus without meeting the minimum deposit and instead submit an essay on investing.

OK, and now for the complicated part. This offer is structured in such a way that individuals who open a new Wealthsimple Trade account and make the necessary deposit will receive a cash bonus equivalent to the price of one of 15 of Wealthsimple Trade’s most widely held stocks.

The exact amount of the bonus offer depends on the following formula:

Tier 1$1$1056%
Tier 2$10$5035%
Tier 3$50$5009%
Tier 4$500$5,0000.20%

Without knowing the prices of each of the 15 stocks or the distribution of the prices of those stocks, and noting the very wide range of the prices in the tiers we’ve established (based on the probability of “success”), we decided to compute the expected value (EV) for this promotion (see table below).

Tier 1$1$1056%$5.5$3.08
Tier 2$10$5035%$30.0$10.50
Tier 3$50$5009%$275.0$24.75
Tier 4$500$4,5000.20%$2,500.0$5.00

Using the probabilities for receiving a cash-back offer in the stated range as a guide, the expected value of the promotion is about $43. That said, not everyone who opens an account will be getting the same amount and the overwhelming majority of new clients will receive less than $50 as a bonus offer.

Given that level of uncertainty – or, put another way, chance – individuals who would like to potentially receive a promotional bonus (but who do not meet the minimum deposit threshold) can instead write an original 100-word (or more) essay on “My Investing Strategy” and email it to Wealthsimple Trade during the offer period.

There’s a lot to unpack with this promotion, so we’ll start with the obvious one: that it is an exceptionally clever way to marry a popular feature being offered by a popular online brokerage into something that is actually more like a contest. In other words, the repackaging of the “cash-back” bonus is worthy of its own slow clap.

Additionally, by using a contest structure for this offer, Wealthsimple Trade not only fixes how much they’re going to pay per client but also creates something that could generate a lot of buzz. The expected value for anyone hoping to gain something is $43 but most likely will be somewhere between $3 and $11. When screening for Canadian stocks with values between $500 and $4,500 using Yahoo Finance, three stocks pop up – with one of them being Shopify (last traded at just under $1,295). It is also the only one of the three with an average daily volume of greater than 50,000 shares, a requirement to be able to trade on Wealthsimple Trade. Alternatively, on US exchanges, there are 1,400 securities to conceivably pick from that meet the criteria to qualify for this promo.  

As far as acquisition costs go for new clients, those are incredibly low compared to what other online brokerages are currently putting out into the market. Also, from a marketing point of view, it’s unlikely that DIY investors would pay attention to a “traditional” cash-back or commission-free trade offer the way they would with this particular offer.

Finally, this new offer also shows that Wealthsimple Trade, in spite of its already low commission price and enthusiasm from among online investors to get into trading, has also entered the deals and promotions competition. Wealthsimple Trade, like other online brokerages in Canada, will need to get the attention of investors who are increasingly aware that promotions are available and who use deals as a way to decide between various providers.

The fact that there is such a short window on this offer indicates that there is some degree of testing to see what happens. That it also focuses on non-registered accounts at a time when registered accounts are what lots of DIY investors (or would-be investors) are thinking about is also of interest. As any online broker hopes, if this promotion works out, new clients who like the experience with Wealthsimple Trade may stick around (and potentially tell their friends). That’s about as smart a gamble as any online brokerage can make.

BMO InvestorLine 2.0 Rolls Out Slowly But Surely

2020 has thrust a lot of change on just about everyone. Unlike the rapid change that has come to characterize this year, BMO InvestorLine has been gradually rolling out their new online investing interface, aptly named BMO InvestorLine 2.0.

As first promised in early 2019, BMO InvestorLine 2.0 offers a dramatically different user interface from their longstanding web experience, which had become incredibly feature-rich and thus out of step with a lot of the minimalist design and approach that characterizes “modern” interfaces.

BMO InvestorLine 2.0 has taken a “less is more” approach, with a complete redesign of the landing page experience and, quite notably, the elimination of menu-based navigation along with most of the menu items that characterize the InvestorLine post-login page.

The essential features that have made it into a live version of the BMO InvestorLine 2.0 site are the post-login landing page that summarizes holdings and individual account status – all within one click – as well as account-related news. Interestingly, the right-hand side of the screen is where a persistent watchlist and market watch view panel follow a user through various points in the site.

Core functions currently available on the 2.0 version of the site include the ability to view account details, move money, and place trades. Features such as MyLink and e-Documents redirect users to the original version of the website. On that note, there are a lot of features that have yet to find a home on the new version of the website – including a lot of the research tools – and one of the nice things about the 2.0 website user experience is how easy it is to revert back to the previous version, which is sure to placate users who are more used to the previous navigation and organization.

One of the reasons it appears that BMO InvestorLine is moving through this transition gradually is both to ensure that the new configuration is stable and to get feedback from a much larger group of users as to what is or isn’t effective in the new web experience. Given how many features did not yet make it into the new site, we can anticipate further changes to come in 2021. That said, one of the important driving factors of the new site is not to overload it with so many features as to make it unwieldy. That will be a challenge given the extensive features that the 1.0 site offers.

On a strategic note, there are some challenging forces at play that will have to be resolved by all online brokerages when it comes to balancing client desire for “more features” with the ease of navigation and simplified experience that come from having less information to wade through.

With so many new investors coming into markets, investor education is going to be incredibly important to provide to this user group. Doing that inside the post-login experience will require users to learn how navigate and where to go for answers to basic questions about investing online. It will be interesting to see how InvestorLine 2.0 tackles this issue and transitions some of the many useful features from their 1.0 into a 2.0 framework.

For the moment, BMO InvestorLine can afford to take the time to get feature deployment right. With new online brokerages and even new refreshes coming from their peers in 2021, however, it is likely BMO InvestorLine will have lots to keep announcing as we head into the new year.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

The (New) Customer Is Always Right

In this post and this post, Redditors discuss a new Wealthsimple Trade promotion that aims to entice new customers with the promise of free stock (sort of) – and lament that existing loyal customers were not rewarded with a similar offer.

Worthwhile Words of Wisdom?

An investor contemplates ditching their financial advisor and venturing forth solo, but their advisor tries to dissuade them. In this post, Redditors (including one former financial advisor) debate whether or not advisors ever earn enough to justify their fees.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on another week. The big trend in the online investing space this month continues to be offers from online brokerages. Fortunately for investors, it’s a great opportunity to make their investment account value go that much further. No question that this week, bargain hunters will be “out” in full force. And with more lockdown measures coming, there’s a good chance folks will be turning to online trading again to pass the time.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – November 16, 2020

If there’s one place where the news isn’t all bad, it’s the stock market. True to their nature, stock markets are always focused on the future, and the record highs being notched and funds flowing back into highly beaten-down names signal a view of the world that says things are likely to improve. For DIY investors, especially Canadian ones, the news continues to improve – at least for most.

In this edition of the Roundup, we take a look at a recent trading outage that negatively impacted investors trying to cash in on another historic trading day and examine how online brokers can set the record straight on system stability. Next, we review the gift that keeps on giving – deals and promotions – as more Canadian online brokerages jump into the deals race to make for an exciting run-up to RRSP season. As always, we have interesting perspectives to share from DIY investors, including forum commentary and real-time reactions to trading highs and lows on Twitter.

Volume Challenges Online Brokerages’ Trading Systems Yet Again

There’s no denying money is an emotional subject. Layer in fast-moving markets, fleeting opportunities, significant expectations about reliability, relatively high commission pricing, and online trading screeching to a halt, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some serious online brokerage “haterade.”

This past week was déjà vu all over again when stock markets moved substantially higher on the news of the vaccine from Pfizer and the prospect of a clear winner to the US presidential election. The heightened enthusiasm, however, ended up translating into a surge of trading volume on stock exchanges across North America and, sadly, some online brokerage systems were unprepared for the volume.

In the US and in Canada, several noteworthy online brokerages suffered trading outages at the worst possible moment, leaving many investors angry and sidelined from making (or saving) considerable money. TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and Fidelity were among the big names in the US online brokerage space that were reporting issues with users being able to access their online trading accounts on Monday.

In Canada, some DIY investors were also greeted with a bad case of the Mondays. According to reports from users on Twitter, Questrade and Scotia iTrade suffered outages that impacted traders on Monday morning, sending users into a fury that made for some disconcerting reading on Twitter.  

Massive volatility in stock markets is not something new, and, in fact, it is something many online brokerages had already been bracing for in the lead-up to the US presidential election. For DIY investors, however, it is understandably frustrating, perhaps infuriating, when online brokerages go offline or have technical issues because of increased trading activity.

Interestingly, only one online brokerage in Canada, Wealthsimple Trade, has taken it upon themselves to proactively report and disclose issues regarding their trading systems on a separate, dedicated website. By automating this disclosure, it provides some measure of access to situations where trading systems are impacted – so users aren’t completely in the dark about what’s going on. More impactful, however, by making this disclosure public, DIY investors can also see for themselves just how “reliable” the trading system is.

For example, from September through November 15th, Wealthsimple Trade reports their trading system was up 99.89% of the time – something users can verify for themselves. It is worth noting that there were no outages reported on their systems status page on November 9th, the date that other online brokerage systems went down.

Going forward, investor patience for outages that take place at online brokerages will be very limited. The fact that “new kid on the block” Wealthsimple Trade can do so almost begs the question as to why other, larger, better-resourced firms that are competing with Wealthsimple Trade haven’t or won’t disclose this data. Seems fitting for a challenger brand.

That said, the majority of online brokerages are likely up and running without issue for most of the year. Having a site that objectively reports this uptime profile is much more likely to communicate what reality is versus what the subjective and emotional impressions are of the reliability of a platform. If an online investor is doing their homework into the stability and reliability of an online brokerage (and those burned by outages before likely will), then it seems like a bad idea to have the only record of system function be the trail of angry tweets that inevitably highlight when things go wrong instead of a site that communicates how often they got it right.

Big Deals Keep on Turning

If there’s one thing November can lock in its reputation for, it’s ushering in deals and promotions. From Singles’ Day to Black Friday, millions of shoppers around the world look forward to this month to get access to savings, and so too do Canadian DIY investors.

This past week saw three more offers come to market. Two of those promotions came from big bank-owned online brokerages, RBC Direct Investing and Scotia iTrade, which launched a commission-free trade and a combo, cash-back and commission-free trade deal, respectively. The third offer, courtesy of Virtual Brokers, was a discounted commission offer.

Compared to earlier this year, when Questrade was the sole online broker in Canada offering up promotions for new accounts, the sharp increase in promotions this month alone is cause for optimism for DIY investors who are interested in opening an online trading account.

Looking more closely at the new deals to cross the wire, the RBC Direct Investing commission-free trade offer is more of a “classic” than a new offer. They are bringing back a popular offer they have had for a few years that consists of 25 commission-free equity trades that are valid to use for up to a year from the time of account opening. The perks of this offer are the low threshold to qualify, a deposit of $5,000, and the long timeframe in which to use these commission-free trades. At a standard commission rate of $9.95, the equivalent value of the offer is just shy of $250.

By comparison, Scotia iTrade also leaned into a familiar strategy in offering up the choice to investors of accessing either a cash-back promotion or commission-free trades. The combined nature of this offer makes it one of the more interesting promotions currently in play among Canadian online brokerages. To further enhance the value, the discounted commission rate of $6.99 per trade equates to a 30% discount on the standard commission fee until June 30, 2021.

To see how the Scotia iTrade offer truly stacks up, however, it is worth comparing it to the other cash-back promotions currently in play.

Deposit TierBMO InvestorLineCIBC Investor’s EdgeScotia iTradeTD Direct Investing

The first thing that jumps out about the cash-back offer from Scotia iTrade is that the minimum deposit threshold is lower than that of any of their peers. At $5,000 to qualify for a $25 cash-back bonus, there are no other offers in this range that would compete.

As we reviewed last week, there are certain deposit tiers that it is clear online brokerages appear to be most interested in targeting. In the case of Scotia iTrade, the segment where they (and they alone) have the highest offer is between $250K and $500K, with an offer of $750 cash-back. Their cash-back offer is also tied for top spot at the $50K deposit level with CIBC Investor’s Edge, with both of these online brokers offering $200. Similarly, Scotia iTrade is in a three-way tie for top offer of $1,000 cash-back at the $500K to $1M deposit range.

When it comes to the commission-free trade comparison picture, however, Scotia iTrade’s promotion is unique in that it is the only online brokerage (at the moment) to use tiered deposits to qualify for higher quantities of commission-free trades. And, beyond deposits of $100K, it is the only online brokerage offering commission-free trades of greater than 100 trades. That said, currently National Bank Direct Brokerage has, hands down, the highest commission-free trade offer, with 100 trades and no deposit minimum required to qualify.

Of the offers that have come to market thus far, Scotia iTrade is the most versatile of the bank-owned brokerages. It spans the widest range of deposit tiers, from $5K through to $1M+. It has a combined discounted commission and cash-back or commission-free trade offering. And, the bonus offers can be combined with their existing referral program, which means that there is an opportunity for extra cash-back or free trades to be added onto either of the base-free-trade or cash-back promotion offers.

Finally, a different category of deal that was launched this month was from Virtual Brokers. This offer waives the minimum spend per trade of $1.99, which is a part of the standard commission price structure. Interestingly, this offer does not apply to odd-lot trades – defined specifically by Virtual Brokers according to the price of the security. Also, this offer is available only until the end of December 2020, and in order to maximize savings from this offer, investors would likely be trading securities priced at $1 or more (likely significantly higher than $1).

As predicted, November has been a watershed month for DIY investors looking for a deal to open a new online investing or trading account. With market volatility likely to stay elevated (if last week is any indication), there will undoubtedly be interest from investors who are still on the sidelines or who are contemplating other account types (or moving online brokerages) to kick the tires on these offers. There are still a handful of online brokerages that have yet to jump into the deals pool, but we anticipate there to be at least one or two more offers coming to market before November ends.  

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

A Chunk of Change

An investor who’s tired of high commission fees asks about switching partially or fully between two specific brokerages in this post. Fellow Redditors share their experiences with transfers – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

In Case of Emergency

In this post, a Redditor asks if anyone else has put investing on pause to focus instead on substantially increasing their emergency fund during this time of COVID-19 and an uncertain job market. The ensuing long and lively discussion touches on inflation, debt, how “safe” different types of investments really are, and how much of a rainy-day fund is enough right now.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on another historic week. There are definitely lots of scary historical records being broken as well as incredible achievements happening simultaneously. For the first time in quite some time, markets are pricing in a return to normal and some good news to follow. Here’s hoping there are more treats to come.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – November 9, 2020

It’s official, sort of. With the US presidential election now (just about) over and a clear winner declared in the contest, markets and the world can turn their attention to what comes next. Regardless of the direction things take from here, though, it’s safe to say that the vote was a very big deal.

Serendipitously, the focus on the one big story that is kind of a big deal for DIY investors in this week’s Roundup is, in fact, a story of big deals. In this edition of the Roundup, we take a deep dive into the flurry of deals activity that took place last week against the backdrop of the US elections. Find out which three Canadian discount brokerages got a jump on RSP season by launching their latest offers now. Also included in this week’s Roundup, a healthy dose of social media and investor forum commentary.

New Deals Spell Green for DIY Investors

While there was nothing quite as big this week as the outcome of the US presidential election, in the Canadian DIY investing space, November continues to make history when it comes to deals and promotions.

Though “normal” is a word that has taken on a different meaning in 2020, in relative terms, this is about the time of year when Canadian discount brokerages would begin their ramp-up in marketing and promotional activities in anticipation of RSP season.

Despite everything that has changed in 2020, however, we’re happy to report that as expected, discount brokerage deals activity has suddenly spiked. This past week we saw three big deals come from three of Canada’s big bank-owned brokerages and, wait for it, they were all cash-back offers.

Despite a significant pullback in promotional activity among Canadian discount brokerages over the spring and summer, this definitely counts as coming back with a bang. Among the offer types that these online brokerages could have come to market with, cash-back offerings are sure to get the attention of deal-savvy investors. Indeed, they already have.

News of these offers has already been posted to DIY investor forums – notably on – and investors have weighed in on the series of offers that have been launched by BMO InvestorLine, CIBC Investor’s Edge, and TD Direct Investing.

The details of these offers are interesting in and of themselves; however, so too is the picture that emerges when comparing each of these offers against one another. With cash-back offerings ranging from $50 to $2,000, there is an equally wide range of investors that these incentives could appeal to.

As you’ll see below, the amounts of the cash-back offers and the deposits required in order to qualify reveal which segments of the DIY investor market certain online brokerages are interested in targeting.

First, let’s dive into each of the offers to see what’s coming to market and then compare them all to see how they stack up against one another

BMO InvestorLine Deal

The latest cash-back offer from BMO InvestorLine ranges between $100 and $2,000 and was the first of these big bank-owned brokerage offers to launch in November. The minimum deposit required to qualify for any of the cash-back offers is $50,000 (which lands a cool $100 bonus), and for deposits of $1M or more, clients can be eligible to receive a cash-back bonus of $2,000.

The range of deposit requirements for BMO InvestorLine’s new deal appears to be geared to more established investors, higher-net-worth individuals, and likely those with more sophisticated investing needs. Interestingly, this offer is timed to expire in early January, which enables BMO InvestorLine the flexibility of changing its offer strategy in line with the realities of other offers planned at that time. Importantly, this offer was posted to the homepage of BMO InvestorLine’s website and prominently on their pricing page, too.

CIBC Investor’s Edge Deal

The next deal to cross our radar last week was from CIBC Investor’s Edge, which stepped into the deals competition with an interesting cash-back offer that spans from $50 to $2,000.

Of the new offers that were launched last week, this one has the widest dollar-figure range, likely a reflection of the desire to appeal to as many DIY investor types as possible. The minimum deposit to qualify for CIBC Investor’s Edge cash-back offer starts at $10,000, and even though the cash-back is a modest $50, it nonetheless sticks out in a field where there isn’t much at that deposit level in terms of cash-back offerings, especially among bank-owned brokerages. At the top end of the deposit range, CIBC offers up $2,000 for new clients bringing in at least $1M in assets. In the world of DIY investing deals, the $2,000 offer makes for a catchy headline, and it is exactly that which gets displayed on the CIBC Investor’s Edge homepage. The expiry date for the CIBC Investor’s Edge promotional offer is March 2nd, 2021, which is just after the contribution deadline for RSPs. As such, it looks like CIBC Investor’s Edge is locking in for a ride for the next few months regardless of what other brokerages bring to market.

TD Direct Investing Deal

TD Direct Investing, Canada’s largest online brokerage, is also not shying away from competitive cash-back offerings this year.

Their latest cash-back offer ranges between $100 (for deposits of at least $15,000) and $1,000 (for deposits of $500,000 or more). An interesting component of this offer is that users can receive another bonus of $100 for setting up automated deposits. So, it is conceivably possible without the use of extra referral bonus offerings to add $100 into each cash-back category, making TD Direct Investing offers (in total) some of the highest at various deposit tiers. Also interesting for this offer is that TD Direct Investing requires users either to set a goal or to execute at least one commission-generating trade in order to qualify for the cash-back bonus. Comparable to CIBC Investor’s Edge, this deal is set to expire at the beginning of March 2021, to coincide with the RSP-contribution deadline.

Unlike their peers, however, the offer for TD Direct Investing is not directly or prominently visible on the TDDI homepage. In fact, at the time of publication, it was also not visible on their current offer page tab on their pricing page. The lack of presence of their flagship promotion on the website homepage (yet) is an interesting decision, as it is clearly visible in different online advertising campaigns.

Comparing the Cash-Back Promotions

In comparing the three cash-back offers, some interesting trends and strategies become clear.

The first interesting observation is that there isn’t one Canadian online brokerage that is leading across all deposit tiers. Instead, it looks like there are specific ranges that online brokerages are putting their efforts into being most competitive at.

Deposit TierBMO InvestorLineCIBC Investor’s EdgeTD Direct Investing
$10,000 $50 
$15,000  $100
$25,000 $100$200
$250,000$450 $500

At the entry-level deposit tier, $10K, CIBC Investor’s Edge has the best offer, of $50. Moving up to $15K, however, TD Direct Investing has the most competitive offer, of $100. In fact, from deposit levels of $15K to $50K, TDDI either has the best offer or is tied for the best offer with CIBC Investor’s Edge.

At the $100K deposit tier, however, CIBC Investor’s Edge has the upper hand over both BMO InvestorLine and TD Direct Investing, offering up $500 cash-back compared to $250 and $300, respectively, at the other bank-owned brokers. From the $250K to just under $1M deposit tiers, both CIBC Investor’s Edge and TD Direct Investing are tied for having the highest offers, starting at $500 and going to $1,000.

Beyond deposits of $1M, however, TD Direct Investing drops out of the race and BMO InvestorLine steps in to compete with CIBC Investor’s Edge, with both brokerages offering $2,000 cash-back.

The strategies emerging reflect BMO InvestorLine’s priority on DIY investors with assets greater than $50K. In contrast, both TD Direct Investing and CIBC Investor’s Edge have cash-back offers under the $50K deposit threshold, which should make both of these online brokerages more appealing to younger or more-novice investors. Interestingly, TD Direct Investing elected not to put out a tier above deposits of $500K, while both BMO InvestorLine and CIBC Investor’s Edge did.

Of the three firms, CIBC Investor’s Edge has the widest range of deposit tiers – from $10K to $1M+ – a signal that they are looking to drive growth across all customer segments. Perhaps a bit of a step change from years past is that this year TD Direct Investing is being the most aggressive with its promotional offers at the lower deposit segments – something that may have to do with its new offering (TD GoalAssist) and a general push to grab market share away from competitors.

The race to RSP season is clearly heating up among Canadian discount brokerages. With the entry of three cash-back offers from big-name online brokerages in the span of a week, we anticipate other brokerages will follow suit very quickly.

This year, we believe, will create an added sense of urgency among Canadian online brokers to come to market with something bigger than what they would have in years past. The offer from TD Direct Investing is going to make waves because of TDDI’s size in the market; however, layer in the launch of their new commission-free trading option (TD GoalAssist) and the regular contribution bonus of $100, and this is a year in which TD Direct Investing is throwing down a challenge to other peer firms and non-bank-owned brokerages alike to get on the radar of DIY investors.

For DIY investors, the increased competition is good news – especially heading into what is likely to be a year filled with market volatility, opportunity, and a very active conversation about DIY investing, thanks to the tsunami of new investors who flooded the market in 2020. We’ll be monitoring the deals section for more activity through the month, so be sure to check back in for new developments as they occur.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Safe Mode

A Redditor asks in this post if one online brokerage is as secure as the others, sparking a lively debate that focuses a lot on two-factor authentication.

Gamble on the Gambit?

In this post, an investor asks if it makes sense to switch from one online broker to another solely for a single feature: to be able to do an easy Norbert’s Gambit – possibly saving thousands of dollars a year.

Into the Close


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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – November 2, 2020

Just because Halloween was seriously curtailed this year doesn’t mean there can’t still be a few treats dished out in a socially distant way. Besides, at this point, we’re all probably in need of some kind of boost to see us through what is going to be a wild week.

In this extended version of the Roundup, we kick things off with the launch of a new month and that means an update to see what’s been happening with online brokerage deals. From there, we continue coverage of the growing trend of DIY investor content that showed up in October, and how for one online brokerage, it was the lead-up to something big. And, for a bonus treat, we have included a handful of stories that we were watching but which didn’t make it into the full Roundup format – enjoy these bite-sized updates. As always, we close things out with updates from the investor forums and DIY investors on Twitter.

Cold November Rain, Warming Discount Brokerage Deals?

For Canadian deal-hunting DIY investors, the start of November is when the stars align. Not only is it the month in which Black Friday deals surface, but it also is the start of a new fiscal year for many online brokerages in Canada, and – the best part – it is the ramp-up to the busiest stretch for online brokerage deals.

Even though RSP season is still several months away, November is typically the month in which online brokerages start launching some of their best offers of the year.

Out of the gate, the activity in this month’s discount brokerage deals and promotions section is quiet. No new offers launched as of the first day of the month (or at least no offers were advertised), but the fact that the new month started on a Sunday might have had something to do with that.

Thus, the picture for the start of the month is that the official deal count dropped by one, as the HSBC InvestDirect commission-free trade offer officially expired at the end of October (30th).

The news for DIY investors looking for a deal wasn’t all gloomy this past month.

Questrade announced that they have removed their inactivity fees. In doing so, they are now one of two online brokerages that have no inactivity fees regardless of account size. That simplifies not only pricing but also the terms and conditions investors have to keep track of.

In the past, November has been a very big month for online brokerage promotions to come to market. We suspect that despite 2020 being a historic year for account openings and new investors flooding to online brokerages, the strategy going into 2021 and RSP season, in particular, will be to bring some splashier promotions online, since the deals activity for most brokers was relatively quiet in the spring and summer.  

This month, probably more than any other November, is going to be full of (hopefully pleasant) surprises. Stay tuned!

Online Learning in the Spotlight for DIY Investors

Anyone new to the markets in the past several months is getting an interesting lesson in the strange relationship between economic fundamentals and the stock market. Despite a wide range of negative news, there are certain stocks that have continued to rally, fueled in large part by the beliefs of investors who are putting their capital and hopes on some generational changes.

With so many new investors now participating in the market, it seems that investor education was especially relevant this year. For its part, TD Direct Investing has leaned heavily into their investor education programming, with a series of events including two webinars with notable personal finance voices.

Earlier this month, we reviewed a webinar held by TD Direct Investing with YouTube investing personality Brandon Beavis. This session, entitled “Become a More Resilient Investor,” covered the basic principles of investing and provided Beavis’s perspectives on taking a balanced approach to getting started in the markets.

Another interesting webinar held by TD Direct Investing for Investor Education Month featured personal finance author Sandy Yong. Her presentation, entitled “How to Start Investing on a Budget,” was aimed at beginner investors (very beginner investors) and mapped out several steps that individuals who think they do not have money available to invest could follow to help them on their journey. As with the Beavis presentation, the perspective on investing provided by Yong was to take a balanced and diversified approach.

While the presentation itself was informative to anyone looking for a very basic primer on how to go about getting started in planning for an investing journey, some of the Q&A topics dug into specifics like dollar-cost averaging and the differences between TFSAs and RRSPs.

These sessions seemed to set the stage for an important full release of the new TD GoalAssist feature that officially debuted last week. After being in development since 2019, the new app-based offering from TD Direct Investing tackles a number of items that investors (especially TD Direct Investing clients and DIY investors) have been clamouring for, such as commission-free ETF trading (on the app only) of TD ETFs. Other big benefits: There are no account minimums required, and TFSA, RRSP, and cash accounts are supported.

We’ll have more to say about this new service in the weeks to come. However, the investor education efforts at TD Direct Investing recently and the launch of the new GoalAssist seem strategically aligned at this point.

Now, to shift gears from focusing on the lead-up to a product launch to shining a spotlight on one very shiny new industry, this month also featured another big bank-owned online brokerage, BMO InvestorLine, sponsoring a fascinating webinar on an increasingly popular industry segment: eSports.

Presented by Evolve ETFs – a Canadian ETF provider that gives investment exposure to the eSports sector – this webinar helped to explain the opportunities available in the eSports and eGaming sectors and outlined how investors can look at participating in them. Because they offer an ETF aimed at the eSports sector (ticker HERO on the TSX), there is clearly an interest in bringing general awareness and understanding to the sector. However, there is also clearly an audience of investors – especially younger investors – who have witnessed firsthand the popularity of this growing industry.

Providing access to interesting investment themes via ETF providers is one way that online brokerages, like BMO InvestorLine, can easily relay information about market opportunities without having to create content themselves. With DIY investors looking to understand many of the new and emerging sectors, this kind of niche ETF provider presentation is something we anticipate seeing more of at other online brokers.

A Quick Tour Through Other Stories

Despite the already-long format of the Weekly Roundups, there are often several stories that don’t make it to being covered but that could be of interest to DIY investors and are definitely relevant to the world of DIY investing. Starting this month, we’ll be sharing these stories at the end of each month as a way to bring these topics to light, even if we don’t do our usual deep-dive format with them.

Raising Margin Requirements

Two points do not necessarily make a trend, but when it comes to a batting average for online brokerages, Interactive Brokers is batting 1,000 for volatility planning. And this time around, they aren’t the only ones.

Although it might have been a self-fulfilling prophecy heading into election day in the US, the reality that has played out over the past week has shown that raising margin rates ahead of the storm of uncertainty proved to be a smart move. Read more here.

Interactive Brokers Earnings Report

All things considered, it was a pretty good year for Interactive Brokers. What counts as good? A 47% year-over-year increase in the number of accounts and growth in “all client segments and all geographic regions” ought to do it. Also discussed was the launch of another new feature: the ESG-driven Impact Dashboard. Dive into the full transcript and more details here.

Class-Action Lawsuit

DIY investors who purchased or hold mutual funds through their discount brokerage are the focus of several class-action lawsuits, specifically on the issue of trailing commissions.

Read more about which online brokerages (several of the big bank-owned online brokerages are named in these actions) are impacted, and find out how to stay on top of developments in these cases, here.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

A Day Late & A Dollar Short

In this post, a Redditor gets frustrated by delays for fund transfers and asks which online brokerages “have same-day deposits?”

The Smart Money

A twentysomething in a new job asks in this post if it’s smarter to put their signing bonus money into a TFSA or RRSP. Fellow Redditors weigh in.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on the pre-election, once-in-a-blue-moon, I-can’t-even edition of the Roundup. There’s really only one big story that matters this week, so here’s hoping everyone finds a little reprieve by the end of it.

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Discount Brokerage Deals & Promotions – November 2020

*Update: November 27* Daylight isn’t the only thing being saved this as we enter the month of November. It seems like DIY investors are also in for some savings too.

Like adjusting the clocks back, it’s going to take some getting used to online investing in November. With the US presidential election likely to shape the rest of the month, online brokers and investors alike are uncertain as to what the fallout will be.

Heading into a new month there is a mixed picture for promotional offers. On a down note, the 60-day commission-free trade offer from HSBC InvestDirect concluded at the end of October. On the plus side, however, Questrade rolled back the clock on inactivity fees, taking them back to zero. While technically not a promotion, it is a piece of good news for DIY investors looking to park their money without penalty.

Another bit of good news for DIY investors is November is historically a big month for online brokerage offers coming to market. We expect that several big names will be launching new offers in anticipation of RRSP season and the heightened activity around TFSAs and markets heading into the end of the year.

So, don’t forget to check back throughout the month for any updates. The US election is expected to heavily impact investor behaviour and in turn, the discount brokerage space. As always, we’ll continue to monitor and provide new developments on discount brokerage promotions as they arise but if you hear about any offers that would be interesting to fellow DIY investors, feel free to drop a comment below.

Expired Deals

The 60-day free online equity and ETF trading promotion from HSBC InvestDirect concluded on October 30th. 

Extended Deals

No extended deals to report at this time. 

New Deals

*Update: Nov. 6 – Brokerage promotions for November are heating up, with four online discount brokerages unveiling new cash back deals at the start of this month. BMO InvestorLine, BMO SmartFolio, and TD Direct Investing are all offering cash back bonuses for clients who open a new qualifying account, while CIBC Investor’s Edge is offering cash back for clients who fund a new or existing account. See the table below for full details, including eligibility requirements, applicable promo codes, and deadlines.*

*Update: Nov. 13 – Despite it being Friday the 13th, luck is on the side of DIY investors, as two online brokerages have recently unveiled new promotions. Scotia iTRADE launched a deal that allows new clients to choose from bonus cash back or free trades, and RBC Direct Investing is offering 25 commission-free trades to clients who open new accounts.  For full promotion details and eligibility requirements, see the table below. *

*Update: Nov. 27 – Our radar has picked up on a new deal, just in time for Black Friday. Wealthsimple Trade is offering a free stock promotion for clients who open and fund a new Non-Registered trading account by December 18th. See the table below for full terms and conditions. *

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
  6. Offers for Young Investors

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
Scotia iTrade Scotia iTRADE is offering two choices for new investors who open accounts before March 1, 2021 and fund it with at least A) $5,000; B) $10,000; C) $25,000; D) $50,000; E) $100,000; F) $250,000; G) $500,000 or H) $1M+: Option 1: you can use promo code C21 to receive cash reward of A) $25; B) $50; C) $100; D) $200; E) $400; F) $750; G) $1,000 or H) $1,500; plus a discounted commission of $6.99 per trade until June 30, 2021. Option 2: Use promo code FT21 and you may be eligible for A) 10; B) 20; C) 50; D) 100; E) 200; F) 300; G) 400 or H) 500 free trades to use for 90 days after the account is funded. $5,000 Cash Back or Free Trades 90 days Scotia iTRADE’s Cash Back or Free Trade Offer March 1, 2021
Fund your new or existing CIBC Investor’s Edge account before Mar 2, 2021 with at least A) $10,000; B) 25,000; C) $50,000; D) $100,000; E) $500,000 or F) $1M+ and you may be eligible to receive a cash back reward of up to A) $50; B) $100; C) $200; D) $500; E) $1,000 or F) $2,000. To qualify, the fund must be from outside CIBC. No promo code required. $10,000 Cash Back Program Page March 2, 2021
Open a new TD Direct Investing account by Mar 1, 2021 with promo code INVESTNOW and fund it with new assets worth at least A) $15,000; B) $25,000; C) $100,000; D) $250,000 or E) $500,000, and you may be eligible to receive a cash back reward of up to A) $100; B) $200; C) $300; D) $500 or E) $1,000. The fund must be deposited to the account by April 30, 2021 and at least one trade is placed by June 30, 2021. In addition, you may also be eligible for another $100 cash reward by setting up a Monthly Contribution Plan (min. $100 per month) with the first contribution occur before April 30, 2021. The maximum reward one could receive is $1,100. $15,000 Cash Back TD Direct Investing Cash Back Promotion March 1, 2021
BMO InvestorLine Open a new qualifying account at BMO InvestorLine with new assets worth at least A) $50,000; B) $100,000; C) $250,000; D) $500,000 or E) $1M+, and you may be eligible to receive a cash back reward of up to A) $100; B) $250; C) $450; D) $950 or E) $2,000. Use promo code SPARXCASH when registering to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions. $50,000 Cash Back Fall 2020 Cashback Campaign Jan 5, 2021
New accounts opened between Jun 22 and Nov 30, 2020 will be awarded 100 free online trades in one year. This promotion applies to new and existing NBDB clients who uses the code “FREE2020” to open new accounts.There’s no minimum funding requirement, however some other restrictions may apply. $0 100 Free Trades 1 year Please refer to the full details of the deal. November 30, 2020
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, 2020
Open a new RBC Direct Investing account by December 31, 2020 and fund it with at least $5,000 by March 5, 2021 and you will receive commission rebates for 25 trades that occur within 1 year of account opening. Be sure to use promo code NTBW2 during account opening. You will be charged regular commissions on the trading date, and the rebate will be deposited back into your account after 3-5 business days. If you are an existing customer to RBC DI, the type of the new account being opened must be different from the account types that you current have. $5,000 25 commission-free trades for a year 1 year 25 commission-free trades December 31, 2020
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, 2020

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Nov. 12, 2020 17:35PT

Referral Promotions

Company Brief Description Minimum Deposit Amount Incentive Structure Time Limit to Use Commission/Cash Offer Deposit Details Link Deadline
Refer a friend to Questrade and when they open an account you receive $25 cash back and they receive either A) $25; B) $50; C) $75; D) $100; or E) $250 depending on the amount deposited amount. Enter code: 476104302388759 during account sign up to qualify. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for eligibility and additional bonus payment structure and minimum balance requirements. A) $1,000 B) $10,000 C) $25,000 D) $50,000 E) $100,000+ $25 cash back (for referrer per referral; $50 bonus cash back for every 3rd referral) For referred individuals: A) $25 cash back B) $50 cash back C) $75 cash back D) $100 cash back E) $250 cash back Cash deposited into Questrade billing account within 7 days after funding period ends (90 days) Refer a friend terms and conditions Code Number: 476104302388759 none
Scotia iTrade If you refer a friend/family member who is not already a Scotia iTRADE account holder to them, both you and your friend get a bonus of either cash or free trades. You have to use the referral form to pass along your info as well as your friend/family members’ contact info in order to qualify. There are lots of details/conditions to this deal so be sure to read the details link. A) $10,000 B) $50,000+ A) You(referrer): $50 or 10 free trades; Your “Friend”: $50 or 10 free trades (max total value:$99.90) B) You(referrer): $100 cash or 50 free trades; Your “Friend”: $100 cash or 50 free trades (max total value: $499.50) 60 days Refer A Friend to Scotia iTrade tbd
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
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 5, 2021

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Oct 30, 2020 14:40PT

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 none
Transfer $15,000 or more to RBC Direct Investing and they will pay up to $200 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 Transfer Fee Promo 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
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

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 $10,000 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 $10,000 Disnat 1% Commission Credit Promo January 8, 2020
Last Updated: Nov. 30, 2020 14:36PT

Other Promotions

Company Brief Description Minimum Deposit Amount Required Details Link Deadline
The minimum commission per equity trade ($1.99) is waived for new accounts from account opening till December 31, 2020. As a result, your commission is just 1¢/share (max $7.99). However, this offer does not apply to Odd Lot orders (i.e. orders with quantity less than 100 shares if price >= $1 or price < $0.10; or less than 500 shares if price in the $0.10 – $0.99 range). Please be reminded that at Virtual Brokers ETFs are always free to buy. $0 No Minimum 2020 – Terms & Conditions December 31, 2020
Submit your information via the Hardbacon website to be referred to National Bank Direct Brokerage. Open and fund a qualifying account and you may receive up to 200 commission-free trades and discounted trading commissions. Be sure to read full terms and conditions. n/a Hardbacon Free Trade Promo none
Open a new Non-Registered trading account and fund it with at least $100 by December 18, 2020 and you may receive a random cash bonus ranging from $1 to $4,500. The cash bonus amount will be equivalent to the value of one of the fifteen stocks that have been selected by Wealthsimple Trade for this program. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions for more details. $100 Wealthsimple Trade Free Stock Promotion December 18, 2020
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: Nov 24, 2020 16:16PT

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 a new SmartFolio account and fund it with at least $1,000 and you could receive 0.5% cash back up to $1,000. Use promo code SFNOV1000 when opening a new account. See terms and conditions for full details. This offer is limited to new SmartFolio clients only, and can be combined with the refer-a-friend promotion. $1,000 0.5% cash back to a maximum of $1,000. SFNOV1000 January 5, 2021 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: Oct. 30, 2020 14:38PT

Offers for Young Investors

Brokerage Offer Type Eligible Age Range / Client Segment Offer Description Min. Deposit Expiry Date Link
Student Pricing Clients with CIBC Smart™ Account for students $5.95 per trade and zero annual account fees not required None CIBC Student Pricing
Broker@ge 18-30 18-30 years old investors Benefits: * 5 free transactions (Minimum deposit of $1,000 required) * No inactivity fees * No asset minimum to maintain for free registered accounts * Exclusive events * Disnat Mobile App $1,000 None Broker@ge 18-30
Offers for professionals & Students Students in selected fields of study Professionals and students in the below fields can benefit from a reduced pricing structure: * Engineering students * Legal, accounting and business students * Healthcare students * Health sciences students * Nursing students Benefits: * $5.95 commission on equities * $0 commission on ETFs * $0 annual administration fee not required None NBDB Student Pricing
Young Investors Offer 18-30 years old investors Accounts holders who are 30 years old or younger are offered 10 free trades each year. After the free transactions, a commission rate of $4.95 per transaction will be applied (which is just half of the regular price). not required None Young Investor Offer
Young investor pricing 18-30 years old investors Benefits: * $7.75 commissions for stock and ETF trades * No account minimums * No quarterly admin fees min. $50 a month through pre-authorized contributions. None Young Investor Pricing
Waiver of account maintenance fee Clients who have RBC Student account, currently or in the past 5 years. The Maintenance Fee ($25 per quarter) is waived, regardless of the account balance. not required None Zero Account Management Fee
Young Investors Offer Clients below 26 years old Low activity account administration fee and the RSP account administration fee are waived. not required None Young Investors Offer
Zero Account Administration Fee Clients below 26 years old The account administration fee ($24.95 per quarter) is waived. not required None $0 Account Administration Fee
Last Updated: Oct. 30, 2020 14:41PT