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Investors winning in the online brokerage price war

Clear winners are emerging in the online brokerage price war.

Investors, for one. They've been paying less to buy stocks and bonds since commissions began to decline this fall.

Some online brokers are winning, too. Take Qtrade Investor, for example. A few well-timed price cuts helped this independent Vancouver-based firm lock up its fifth straight victory in The Globe and Mail's annual ranking of online brokers.

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Qtrade is the great imitator - whatever smart moves the competition makes, it quickly follows. That's how it came to offer the best all-around package, including low fees.

Other top names this time around include the fast-improving RBC Direct Investing as well as BMO InvestorLine and TD Waterhouse.

TD got the price war rolling in mid-October by making flat $9.99 trades available to clients with as little as $50,000 in assets, down from $100,000. Scotia iTrade followed with the introduction of discount bond trading - believe it or not, it didn't exist before - and then Qtrade stepped into the fray by matching or beating both offers.

Next in line were:

  • CIBC Investor's Edge, which undercut its big-bank competitors with a limited $6.95 commission offer that takes effect Jan. 1.
  • BMO InvestorLine, which will match TD's offer on Dec. 1.
  • RBC Direct Investing, which will match TD on Dec. 22.

These commission cuts are aimed straight at mainstream investors, a group that is increasingly becoming a focus for online brokers. That's also the audience for this ranking.

See the rankings here: The 12th annual online broker rankings

For in-depth rankings, see:

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  • Detailed scores for Canada’s online brokerages
  • Who’s charging more? Comparing Canada’s online brokerages by commission
  • Going global: Comparing Canada’s online brokerages by foreign exchange charges
  • Results from The Globe’s online brokerage satisfaction survey

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About the Author
Personal Finance Columnist

Rob Carrick has been writing about personal finance, business and economics for close to 20 years. He joined The Globe and Mail in late 1996 as an investment reporter and has been personal finance columnist since November 1998. Rob's personal finance columns appear in The Globe on Tuesday and Thursday, and his Portfolio Strategy column for investors appears on Saturday. More

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