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Discount Brokerage Deals & Promotions – December 2021

December is here – or should we say Deal-cember. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, the start of December is typically the time of year when people kick their holiday shopping into high gear. For Canadian self-directed investors, this is perhaps one of the best months to be shopping around for an added deal or promotion for opening a new account or bringing new funds into an existing one.

This month, there are no new deals officially launching at the beginning of the month. However, there was a flurry of promotional offers that arrived throughout November which means that out of the gate, December is an exceptionally strong month for offers from just about all online brokerages.

Before diving into the specific online brokerage deals that launched, it is worth pointing out that this year the online brokerage field in Canada is unlike any other time in recent memory.

There are not one, not two, but three Canadian online brokerages that offer commission-free trading. And, one of those, Wealthsimple Trade, is still running referral promotions including their most ambitious one yet that launched for Black Friday – a cash referral bonus equivalent to four (!!) stocks (instead of their normal one). The other two commission-free trading online brokers, National Bank Direct Brokerage and Desjardins Online Brokerage, offer the most compelling price point plus the big financial institution convenience and “peace of mind” factor. If that weren’t enough, there are reports of not one, not two, but three more new commission-free online brokerages looking to launch in Canada.

This brings us to the current state of affairs for deals and promotions.

It is worth pointing out that firms NOT offering an incentive or promotion this month are in the minority, which only increases the likelihood (due to competitive pressures) of more promotions coming to market between the start of this month and the start of the new year. It’s hard to envision larger bank-owned brokerages letting competitors with offers get too far ahead, and it’s also puzzling as to why smaller brokerages wouldn’t be aggressively competing with promotional offers if they still charge more than zero for trading commissions. At some point the physics (or economics) will have to kick in.

Throughout November we saw big cash back offers launch big names in the space. In a Weekly Roundup near the start of the month, we compared current cash back promotions from TD Direct Investing, CIBC Investor’s Edge, and BMO InvestorLine and found that there is an incredibly competitive effort to attract investors with lower starting balances, something that hasn’t really happened at this scale before. Later on in the month, Qtrade Direct Investing also launched their own cash back promotions (yes plural) with a traditional tiered cash back offer and additional bonus cash back for pre-authorized contributions.

Expired Online Brokerage Deals

The good news story heading into December is that there are no expired deals to report on just yet. Later on this month, there are several offers scheduled to expire so it is worth keeping an eye on these to see if they start landing in the “extended” category or get replaced outright with new offers.

Extended Online Brokerage Deals

No deal extensions to report on just yet to start the month.

New Online Brokerage Deals

Technically no new deals have launched at the beginning of December, but there are two noteworthy offers from some popular online brokerages to highlight.

The first is the “Black Friday” referral bonus offer from Wealthsimple Trade. It is, arguably, one of their biggest promotions to date using their referral structure, so it is likely that if you have friends who use Wealthsimple Trade, you’ll be hearing from them, as well as the long-lost friends you might not have heard from in a while.

Another important new set of offers are the Qtrade cash back promotions. There are so many (is there such a thing as too many?) promo codes associated with their latest cash back offer, which ranges from $50 for deposits of $15,000 to $2,000 for deposits of $2 million or more. For an extra boost of $50 cash back, clients can set up a pre-authorized contribution as well. Be sure to check back through the month for more deals and promotion updates or if you hear of any offers that other self-directed investors could benefit from, drop us a note and we’ll review it.