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Investors who like the safety of guaranteed investment certificates have been largely ignored in the tech revolution that has transformed do-it-yourself investing in the past 20 years.

An online GIC broker called GIC Simple is trying to fill this gap. It offers access to GICs from 21 different issuers, none of them Big Five banks (the rates at these banks are just too low to bother adding them). There are also tools for building laddered-GIC portfolios while staying within deposit-insurance limits.

GIC Simple was launched in the spring of 2019, and an arm for advisers, CashiQ, made its debut in 2017. Concerned about investing through a broker you’ve never heard of? GIC Simple co-founder Gino Martone said transactions are carried out directly between clients and the financial institution offering the GIC. “We never touch the money,” he said in an interview.

It’s now possible to buy GICs from traditional online brokers through their fixed-income trading platform. But here’s the problem: The selection of GICs available rarely includes the issuers with top rates. GIC Simple itself doesn’t include some of the top issuers, and this is particularly noticeable for a one-year term. The GIC Simple homepage showed a top one-year rate of 1.1 per cent in late October, much more than your neighbourhood bank but less than a bunch of issuers at 1.5 or 1.4 per cent.

GIC Simple did well on a five-year term – a best rate of 1.9 per cent, just below the market-leading 2 per cent shown on HighInterestSavings.ca.

Offering GICs from multiple issuers helps customers maximize their returns while staying within deposit-insurance limits (all GICs sold by the company are part of Canada Deposit Insurance Corp. or provincial credit-union plans). GIC brokers also have access to the special offers that issuers sometimes use to attract money to specific niches. For example, an issuer might offer a better rate for deposits of $100,000 or more for a five-year term.

Minimum investments through GIC Simple are set by GIC issuers and can be in the $5,000-to-$10,000 range. There’s no cost to investing – GIC Simple is paid via percentage commissions from issuers based on how much clients invest.

Suggestion to yield-hungry GIC investors: Set up an account with GIC Simple, explore the tools available and compare rates to alternatives like a human GIC broker, your online brokerage’s GIC selection and buying directly from alternative GIC issuers. With rates as low as they are today, you want the best possible return as well as simplicity in placing your order.

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