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Broker Rankings

The 11th annual online broker survey Add to ...

#4: Scotia iTrade

Scotiaitrade.com Owner: Bank of Nova Scotia Comments: Kudos to Bank of Nova Scotia for keeping almost all the attributes of the old E*Trade Canada service intact, including cheap fees that are available to a wide swath of clients and not just large accounts. Scotia iTrade is light on stuff for newcomers to online investing and it could really use some decent portfolio planning tools and proper reporting of client investment returns. But overall it's a sharp service for savvier investors who know what they want. Note: Scotiabank plans to combine the moribund ScotiaMcLeod Direct Investing with Scotia iTrade and there's a degree of uncertainty about how the changes ahead will unfold.

#5: RBC Direct Investing

rbcdirectinvesting.com Owner: Royal Bank of Canada Comments: What's this? A bank-owned broker among the cost leaders in this ranking? Believe it. RBCDI is pretty standard on stocks - $28.95 if you have a small account, $9.95 flat if you have at least $100,000 or trade actively - but excels on mutual funds. Pretty much all funds can be bought commission free, and there's a low-fee D-series of RBC's own in-house funds for people with at least $10,000 to invest. RBC also has a strong collection of research tools, and it has video tutorials located in just the right spot on its trading screen. RBC's homework for next year: provide something top notch to show clients how their accounts are performing.

#6: TD Waterhouse

tdwaterhouse.ca Owner: Toronto-Dominion Bank Comments: All hail the online investing world's most serene majesty. TD is dominant in its market share, confident in its stature and seemingly untroubled by the innovations of its competitors. The firm's new Markets & Research centre suggests TD isn't oblivious, though. While other firms scatter their market and investment research around, TD focuses it like a laser in one well-organized location. Next order of business: improve website navigation. Useful features are too hard to find.

#7: Disnat (Classic)

disnat.com Owner: Groupe Desjardins Comments: A long time ago, Disnat was one of the first discount firms to challenge the high-commission hegemony of full-service brokers. It languished for a while under the ownership of Groupe Desjardins, but the people in charge now have made steady improvements to the point where Disnat now has all the basics covered and has even tried something innovative through its Disnat GPS (guided portfolio strategies) feature. Disnat GPS offers real-time tracking of a model portfolio maintained by a Desjardins Securities analyst, and it's a noteworthy example of how online brokers can help get rookie investors up and running.

#8: National Bank Direct Brokerage


Owner: National Bank of Canada

Comments: Look, if you've got a relationship with National Bank and you want to keep your investments with them as well, then NBDB should work out just fine. If you're looking for the best possible broker for your needs, there are others to consider first. Update from last year: having $100,000 in assets gets you $9.95 stock trades. NBDB also has personalized reporting of client rates of return. Why don't all brokers?

#9: CIBC Investor's Edge

investorsedge.cibc.com Owner: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Comments: Eleven years of producing this ranking have made it possible to identify firms that care about providing a great online investing experience and those that strive for adequacy. Investor's Edge is in the latter group. There are no gaping holes in its service, just an overall sense that the bases are being covered and nothing more. Best feature: access to CIBC World Markets reports. Quirky feature: pre-pay your trades at $395 per year for 50 trades, or $7.90 each.

#10: Questrade

questrade.com Owner: Privately held Comments: There's some investor buzz over Questrade because of a $4.95 minimum stock trading commission that applies regardless of your account size. What people want to know is, what's Questrade like aside from the low fees? For mainstream investors, research and planning tools are scarce to non-existent, and the web trading platform seems a little less comfortable than at some of the larger firms. Are the cheap trades still a value in this light? Yes, they are. Note: ECN fees may add to your cost.

#11: ScotiaMcLeod Direct Investing

scotiamcleoddirect.com Owner: Bank of Nova Scotia Comments: There are two reasons not to open an account at SMDI, the first being that it's totally lame. A hopeless website and expensive stock-trading commissions top the list of complaints. A second reason to steer clear is that SMDI is going to be combined with the much better Scotia iTrade in the year ahead. Hasta la vista, baby.

#12: HSBC InvestDirect

investdirect.hsbc.ca Owner: HSBC Group Comments: You're keen to trade stocks online on the Hong Kong, London, Paris and Frankfurt stock markets? Then InvestDirect is your broker. Nothing else at this firm stands out.

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