Posted on

Look Back / Look Ahead: A Review of Canadian Online Brokerages in 2021 & Preview of 2022

BMO InvestorLine

Looking Back: InvestorLine 2021 in Review

Andrea Casciato, Head of North American Digital Investing Sales & Service

By Andrea Casciato, Head of North American Digital Investing Sales & Service

Exciting and significant changes have been happening at BMO InvestorLine. A surge of demand in digital investing over the past year has led to an increase in both our active client base and the number of trades being placed on our platform. 

Of the new clients to InvestorLine, many are younger investors who are investing online for the first time. We also experienced record growth in clients signing up for adviceDirect, our investing platform that combines the power of the InvestorLine platform with personalized advice, advisor support, and real-time alerts.

InvestorLine highlights for the year

  • Client acquisition for InvestorLine rose 20% year-over-year
  • Nearly 50% of new clients are younger investors (under 35 years old)
  • More clients are placing trades with InvestorLine (trade volume increased 30%)
  • New adviceDirect accounts increased by 70% year-over-year

Always-On Innovation

The surge in account growth and trading increased client call volumes exponentially. To better serve our clients, we tripled new hires at our contact centre and introduced our call-back-assist feature. We’re well positioned for the increased demand to our contact centres as the market and our client base continues to expand.

We also introduced industry-leading changes to our web platform. InvestorLine 2.0, available for both self-directed and adviceDirect clients, now includes upgraded features that elevate the client experience and empower investors to make smarter investment decisions. 

As well, updated designs and user interface focus on improving user experience by providing:

  • Greater access to meaningful investment data and third-party research
  • Planning and ideation tools, including a dividend calculator for equities, and a screener and compare tool for ETFs

With the introduction of pricing changes across our products, we positioned ourselves to capture a whole new segment of clients:

  • Minimum investment required to become an adviceDirect client has been lowered from $50,000 to $10,000
  • adviceDirect’s fee structure has been simplified to 0.75% of billable assets capped at $3,750 per year
  • Self-directed clients can now trade 80+ ETFs from Canada’s largest three ETF providers with absolutely no commission fees. Since launching in June, we’ve seen a 40% lift in clients investing in ETFs

Looking Ahead to 2022

With a year of expanding growth under our belt, we’re excited to offer Canadian investors even more of what they’re looking for in an online brokerage: personalized advice and support, an enhanced mobile experience, and expanded ETF offerings.

Personalized investing with adviceDirect

We believe the demand for digital investment advice will continue to rise. Investors want to control their investment decisions, but they want support and advice along the way. 

Our adviceDirect offering combines BMO InvestorLine’s easy-to-use platform with personalized advice, empowering investors with the confidence to make smarter investing decisions. With a lower minimum investment to open an adviceDirect account, we’re excited to welcome a whole new generation of investors, and we’ll keep expanding our platform to provide clients with the right advice at the right time.

Upgrading InvestorLine mobile

We’ve heard our clients loud and clear: they want to invest not only how they want, but where they want. To help Canadians realize their goals, we’ll be upgrading our mobile app.

Building on the improvements we’ve made with InvestorLine 2.0, the new app will sport a modern look and feel, new biometric security features, and an enhanced trading experience. We are also working towards supporting advanced options trading and real-time cash and margin balances, further enabling clients to take better control of their investments.  

Increasing our value

With the popularity of our no commission-fee ETFs, we’ll soon be introducing the ETF Hub for InvestorLine. This will be a dedicated resource where investors can find ETF-focused screeners with more detailed criteria (including ESG scores and third-party ratings), research tools, and educational content. We expect continued momentum with ETF investing, and we believe investors will be looking for the tools and insights to help them trade in this category.

Canadian investors will continue to value online brokerages that give them more value for their money. By expanding our support of ETFs and improving our mobile capabilities, we’re looking forward to giving Canadians the value, tools, and features they need to invest smarter and with more confidence.