Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – March 24, 2017

Investor’s know that when it comes to investing, there’s generally no such thing as a sure thing. In a week where there was so much going on, it was curious to see those that were convinced of a done deal (aka repeal & replace) come undone at the seams and those that were convinced of the worst (i.e. a capital gains tax hike) not see it come through.

This week’s roundup is chalked full of goodies courtesy of the federal budget and a handful of Canadian discount brokerages who’ve supplied investors with some interesting analysis and overviews of important changes for DIY investors to take note of. While the budget dominated the headlines, the next big story covered in the roundup looks at an interesting ‘blip’ on the radar from one of Canada’s largest online brokerages and how this might change the toolbox for younger DIY investors. From there we’ll scan through the latest tweets and DIY investor forum posts to see what investors and brokerages were talking about.

Budgetpalooza

This week, the highly anticipated federal budget was announced and it was maybe more of a surprise because of what it didn’t contain than for what it did.

Canadian DIY investors and pundits breathed a collective sigh of relieve when it was clear that the capital gains exemption rate would be left untouched at the current 50% rate.

Even though many experts describe the budget as a ‘business as usual’ move, it nonetheless weighed in at over 200 pages and did contain a number of nuggets that investors will need to pay attention to. Of course, like just about everything related to DIY investing, getting a full view of what the budget changes may mean requires quite a bit of reading and researching different sources.

Fortunately for DIY investors, there are couple of resources from Canadian online brokerages that can help make sense of the budget from an investor’s point of view.

We’ve identified three discount brokerages who’ve put together some useful resources related to this most recent budget announcement that DIY investors may want to pay closer attention to: Desjardins Online Brokerage, BMO InvestorLine (via BMO Wealth Management) and CIBC Investor’s Edge.

Here’s a quick overview of each source and what information that DIY investors might find most useful.

Budget 2017 Review: Desjardins Online Brokerage

Starting first with Desjardins Online Brokerage, who managed to pull together very good summaries of the budget very quickly. Their budget coverage included an ultra quick read/summary of some highlights of the budget including:

  • Access to the Canada Learning Bond (CLB)
  • Anti-avoidance rules applicable to registered plans
  • Phasing out the Canada Savings Bond Program
  • Consolidation of caregiver credits
  • Tuition tax credit
  • Tax credit for transit
  • Capital gain inclusion rate in computing income

None of these topics was explored in detail in the summary, but to provide added depth – especially from an economic perspective, there was also a budget analysis audio cast (great for listening on the road or treadmill) and PDF report. This report would be of interest to DIY investors who want take a ‘macro’ look at the possible impact of the budget on the Canadian economy.

Budget 2017 Review: BMO InvestorLine (BMO Wealth Management)

The BMO Wealth Management budget overview provided by BMO InvestorLine offered clients a detailed explanation of key changes in the budget that was particularly strong in highlighting a few changes that can impact DIY investors. In addition to the detailed article, there was a video interview (shown below) that provided a recap.

On a side note, the content/digital marketing efforts of the Canadian financial institutions are starting to ramp up (this is probably another topic for another day, but feel free to drop us a note if you want to chat about it!)

Some points of interest from the BMO Wealth Management 2017 budget overview were:

  • the detailed explanations on Anti-avoidance rules which are of importance to investors with RESPs or those thinking about using a DIY investor account for an RESP
  • timing of recognition of gains & losses for derivatives which should be important for advanced DIY options traders/investors to review
  • tax incentives for investors of flow-through entities (related to mineral exploration).

Budget 2017 Review: CIBC Investor’s Edge

The budget overview from CIBC Investor’s Edge consists of two parts. The first, a document prepared by tax and estate planning experts Jamie Golombek and Debbie Pearl-Weinberg, was a somewhat detailed look at key components of the budget that could impact individuals and small business owners.

This document covered quite a bit of ground but was nonetheless very readable. The most salient points for DIY investors included had some good explanations of rules impacting RESPs/RDSPs and a very good example of the changes to timing of recognition of gains and losses for derivatives – a must read for options traders.

In addition to their overview document, there will be a webinar presented by Jamie Golombek, scheduled for Wednesday March 29th from 12pm – 1pm ET, which will cover:

  • tax filing tips
  • splitting investment income with family members
  • Investing in RRSPs or TFSAs vs paying off debt
  • Donation strategies for investors

As this is investor focused content, it will likely provide some additional depth and colour to the points DIY investors are likely to encounter when tax planning.

Other brokerages

Although not directly from TD Direct Investing, the Money Talks series produced by TD provided some investor-focused budget content in video format and TD Economics put together a brief analysis of the budget from a ‘macro’ perspective.

The five minute-ish Money Talks video touched very briefly on several topics related to the budget, including what didn’t happen this budget. The big takeaway from this video was to talk to a tax/investment advisor for more guidance.

You’ve got a fund in me

It’s not often these days that DIY investors get to hear about mutual funds. In fact, when looking back at the past few years of investor education events, there haven’t been many (daresay any) of educational events for DIY investors from Canadian discount brokerages that specifically dealt with mutual funds.

That changed this week as TD Direct Investing held a webinar on mutual funds that appeared to coincide with the release of TD Managed ETF Portfolios (which are available as D-series mutual funds).

On the surface, it appears that DIY investors (especially those with modest portfolio sizes) who are looking for a convenient, cheap(ish) option for getting diversified exposure for their investment could be in luck. For a very good overview of what’s under the hood on the new offer, especially the finer point of these funds having an actively managed component, check out the Canadian Couch Potato article here.

In addition to the new product angle, what was most interesting about the TD Direct Investing webinar we reviewed this week was that the webinar appeared to provide only a partial view of the full landscape of mutual fund choices available to DIY investors who are with TD Direct Investing.

Specifically, there was no mention of the TD e-Series funds during the presentation even during the discussion of funds that could be accessed by DIY investors. Given the popularity of the TD e-Series funds with DIY investors and those that presumably would also be interested in the new D-Series funds, it was a very curious choice to omit.

Nonetheless, the combination of a webinar topic on mutual funds, especially those marketed to DIY investors, as well as the launch of a new DIY-focused set of mutual funds that have earned cautious praise from an influential voice in the Canadian DIY investing, signal a potentially interesting development across the industry.

Challenged by robo-advisors on the one hand and the trend towards passive (and ETF investing) on the other, bringing back the mutual fund into the DIY investor tool box is something other larger players might also try to get behind.

While it may not be the ‘cheapest’ option for DIY investors, these new mutual funds may gain traction because of perceived value. Specifically, for younger or less experienced investors, that value lever is convenience, something bank-owned discount brokerages such as TD Direct Investing know just as good as any firm how to sell.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

March madness was in full effect – and it wasn’t just basketball either. Mentioned this week were CIBC Investor’s Edge, Questrade (a lot!), Scotia iTRADE, TD Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers.

From the Forums

The Waiting Game

Does transferring to or from a discount brokerage really have to be so painful? Transfers happen all the time, however the internet is littered with horror stories from DIY investors who’ve had things go off the rails when trying to get into or out of an online brokerage account. Find out from this post what one investor had to go through when trying to transfer into a popular discount brokerage.

Into the Close

Investors have had a lot to chew on this week. Fortunately, spring is officially here, so here’s to thinking about warmer weather. In the meantime, hockey fans enjoy the race to the playoffs (for those who are still in it) and best of luck ducking the political drama this weekend!

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