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

National Bank Direct Brokerage

By Claude-Frédéric Robert, President, National Bank Direct Brokerage

Claude-Frédéric Robert, President, National Bank Direct Brokerage

How was 2021?

The year 2021 was another great year for us and our clients. To begin, as hinted in last year’s edition of this publication, National Bank Direct Brokerage (NBDB) wanted to continue being a disruptive force in our industry with our pricing and tools, and on August 23, we launched our $0 commission pricing on stocks and ETFs for all clients. This accomplishment was the culmination of years of preparation, and we are very proud of being the first bank-owned direct brokerage to offer zero-commission pricing that benefits all investors.  

Following last year’s launch of our new platform and reviewing customer feedback, we’ve continued to invest in tools that clients will want, one of them being OptionsPlay. NBDB is the only Canadian direct brokerage that offers it free of charge, and we’ve integrated it into our platform. This financial education and analysis tool allows the investor to visualize and compare options trading strategies and their risks and rewards using technical analysis. OptionsPlay can also help easily find and choose covered call strategies.

We believe that options trading will continue to grow in importance, and NBDB will support its clients with educational content via webinars and our newsletter. We are also working on a new options education series for our YouTube channel.

Another feature that was added is our enhanced ETF Centre, where you start by using our screener to quickly identify ETFs, then compare them side-by-side via our comparison tool, and finally, access ETF research reports to validate your choices, all within the same section.  

During the summer, NBDB was recognized by J.D. Power as #1 in investor satisfaction and by Surviscor for our pricing, even before we went to zero-commission. All these factors allow us to say with conviction that we are leaders in the direct brokerage industry. And more is planned for 2022! 

What we are Looking Forward to in 2022

Building on our 2021 momentum, NBDB will continue to invest in improving our customers’ experience with new tools and services that will set us apart from the competition. One such service to be made available in the first months of 2022 will be our Fully Paid Securities Lending Program that allows the investor to lend their fully paid securities held in non-registered accounts and earn additional income while they are on loan. Previously only accessible to institutional investors, NBDB will once again be the first bank-owned brokerage firm to offer this service to its clients. Not only can clients trade for free, but under certain conditions, they will be paid for being NBDB clients.  

Another interesting addition will be a reverse lookup feature added to our ETF Centre: type in the stock symbol, and a list of ETFs with the highest percentage holdings of the stock will appear. We are also excited to announce a mobile app that will improve our overall trading experience and will become available in 2022.

Having already adopted commission-free pricing, the feedback received from self-directed investors has been positive, but pricing is only one aspect of their decision. Clients place a lot of value on having access to real-time quotes, USD investment accounts, research on stocks and ETFs, and tools that can help them find investment ideas and manage their portfolios. This is why we continue to innovate to stay ahead of the curve.

In addition, investors also want educational content on how to better use the tools made available to them, which is why NBDB has expanded the number of monthly webinars and topics covered to address that need.