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I feel the pain of online investors these days because they’re so freely sharing it in e-mails that arrive hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month.

The tone is testy and getting more so. These do-it-yourself investors feel abandoned by their brokers, and they’re quite justifiably looking to share the experience. The same thing is happening on Twitter. If you’re angry at your online broker, I suggest you check these comments.

There is such excitement about investing in stocks right now that online brokers are slammed. Their websites bog down periodically and phone lines are jammed well beyond capacity. Brokers are trying to add capacity to service clients, but demand for service takes two steps forward for every single step brokers take in adding staff or beefing up their technology.

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Twitter can help address your broker problems in a practical way. Here and there, brokers will respond to client complaints made on Twitter. Brokers engage in these situations by asking clients to send a Twitter direct message – a DM – to the firm. Set up a tweet to catch a broker’s attention by using its Twitter name – @TD_DirectInvest or @Scotia_iTrade, for example. You can also use the parent bank’s Twitter name, if applicable, like @CIBC or @RBC.

Another reason to check out the complaints is related to your morale. DIY investing can be a lonely endeavour, but you’re not alone if you’re trying in vain to get a broker to take your call.

I use the TweetDeck app to organize my tweets, and I have feeds following all the big online brokerage firms. Here’s what I’ve learned in monitoring these feeds lately:

  • The bank-owned online brokers collectively have the bulk of the market, and they are receiving by far the most criticism.
  • Independent firms like Questrade and Virtual Brokers have far fewer complaints, but not zero.
  • Two-hour waits seem common, according to complaints on Twitter, and one investor recently reported waiting almost five hours; investors also report trying for days in a row and not being able to connect.
  • Some firms are still using the “high call volume” excuse, as if long waits on the phone haven’t been a chronic problem for months.

What will finally end this broker service breakdown? A sharp stock market reversal, or brokers getting ahead of demand with new hires and technical upgrades? For clues on how this turns out, I’m keeping an eye on Twitter.

-- Rob Carrick, personal finance columnist

This is the Globe Investor newsletter, published three times each week. If someone has forwarded this e-mail newsletter to you or you’re reading this on the web, you can sign up for the newsletter and others on our newsletter signup page.

Stocks to ponder

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Absolute Software Corp. (ABST-Q) Shares in this Vancouver-based cybersecurity company hit an all-time high on Thursday after reporting stronger-than-expected earnings and raising its outlook. Some analysts are raising price targets, looking for further gains. Brenda Bouw reports.

Tesla Inc. (TSLA-Q) Investors in high-flying electric car maker Tesla Inc. are questioning whether Elon Musk’s US$1.5-billion outlay into bitcoin will be as good for the company as it has been for the cryptocurrency. Shareholders are voicing concern that the investment by Tesla, which recently joined the benchmark S&P 500 stock index, could fuel more gyrations in the company’s shares. April Joyner and Kate Duguid of Reuters report.

The Rundown

Rob Carrick’s 2021 ETF Buyer’s Guide: Best Canadian equity funds

The ETF Buyer’s Guide is back for a new year. Designed to help long-term investors find core investments for their portfolios, this first instalment offers 11 different candidates for those seeking exchange-traded funds for Canadian stocks.

Canada approves world’s first bitcoin ETF for retail investors

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Purpose Investments Inc. has been cleared by regulators to launch the world’s first bitcoin exchange traded fund, opening the door for retail investors to more easily access a cryptocurrency that had been stalled by regulators for years. Clare O’Hara reports.

Forest-products stocks on a roll as lumber prices soar. Here’s why the rally may continue

Lumber prices are soaring, driving big gains in the share prices of Canadian lumber producers so far this year. The best reason to stick with the rally rather than trying to time the top of the cycle: Stock prices aren’t reflecting all of the underlying good news yet. David Berman reports.

Different stonks: Why Gang Weed is not the next GameStop

North American cannabis companies rocketed in value in recent days - before plunging on Thursday - as the Reddit forums behind a month of frenzied stock market trading stoked interest in a sector booming on the back of expectations of decriminalization. However, the investment case for the sector’s biggest players, nicknamed Gang Weed by Reddit’s WallStreetBets community, differs substantially from that of GameStop Corp - or “Gamestonk” as it was dubbed by many online - and from other retailers involved in the past month’s surges.

Also see: Once down in the weeds, cash-strapped pot producers raise billions in market rally

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Pawz and UFOs: Thematic ETFs boom, drawing punters and concern

From cat food to cannabis, it’s boom time for quirky ETFs offering the chance to punt on niche themes in fast-growth sectors, but their huge gains are unnerving some who see them as another price-inflated asset that may threaten market stability.

Others (for subscribers)

Short sales on the TSX: What bearish investors are betting against

The highest yielding stocks on the TSX, plus risk data

Number Cruncher: These 15 Nasdaq-100 stocks show upside price momentum and revenue growth

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Number Cruncher: Is your investment portfolio hurting from home-country bias? Check out these ETFs

Friday’s analyst upgrades and downgrades

Thursday’s analyst upgrades and downgrades

Ron Meisels’ chart watch: Why a minor market correction is on the horizon

Globe Advisor

The Financial Times: Is a new era of retail trading emerging after GameStop saga?

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Are you a financial advisor? Register for Globe Advisor ( for free daily and weekly newsletters, in-depth industry coverage and analysis, and access to ProStation - a powerful tool to help you manage your clients’’ portfolios.

What’s up in the days ahead

Is the market going to crash? With valuations at alarming levels, it’s a possibility. Also possible: a decade of sub-par returns as the economy and corporate earnings slowly catch up to elevated expectations. Ian McGugan will have an analysis this weekend.

Here comes the bull: World market themes for the week ahead

Click here to see the Globe Investor earnings and economic news calendar.

More Globe Investor coverage

For more Globe Investor stories, follow us on Twitter @globeinvestor

You may also be interested in our Market Update or Carrick on Money newsletters. Explore them on our newsletter signup page.

Compiled by Globe Investor Staff

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