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Canadian Online Brokerage Review – TD Direct Investing (TD Waterhouse)

 

Canadian Discount Broker - TD Direct Investing

Mailing Address
77 Bloor Street West, Main Floor
Toronto, ON
M5S 1M2
Website: https://www.td.com/
Email Address: td.waterhouse@td.com
Phone: 1-800-465-5463
Customer Service Hours: 24hrs, seven days a week

TD Direct Investing Review

Updated on: Feb. 8, 2019
TD Direct Investing (formerly known as TD Waterhouse Discount Brokerage) is one of Canada’s largest discount brokerages. As a bank-owned online brokerage, it is able to offer clients the ability to manage multiple accounts (including personal banking) and products via the TD online platform. What makes TD Direct Investing stand out relative to most of its bank-owned peers is the amount of education it provides as well as the diverse set of trading platforms. Specifically, TD Direct Investing offers web-based and desktop platforms for active traders as well as longer term investors.

 

Quick Info

Standard Equity Commission $9.99
Best Commission Price $7
Minimum to Open Account Not Required
Maintenance/Inactivity Fees $25/quarter
Commission Free ETFs No
Young Investor Offer No

» Get Full Pricing Details

 

Pricing & Fees

As with several of its peers, earlier in 2014 TD Direct Investing lowered their standard commission pricing in this case to $9.99 per trade (flat). There are no deposit or trading minimums required in order to qualify for the standard pricing. For active traders, defined as clients who trade 150 or more times per quarter, the cost per trade is $7 flat. Options trading has also seen a reduction in price with the standard fee per options trade as $9.99 + $1.25 per contract and $7 + $1.25 per contract for active traders.

Although all clients are able to receive $9.99 per trade pricing, clients with balances underneath $15,000 are subject to a “custody fee” ($25) which is charged on a quarterly basis. Fortunately, there are certain conditions under which this fee can be waived, including:

1. Making at least 2 commission-generating trades within 6 months
2. Having a TD Direct Investing registered account
3. Being enrolled in a pre-authorized contribution plan of $100 per month or more

Account Types

Like many other online brokerages, TD Direct Investing offers registered and non-registered accounts. The registered account types include TFSAs, RDSPs, RRSPs and RESPs. TD Direct Investing has two kinds of RRSP accounts the ‘self-directed’ RSPs (and RIFs) and the ‘basic’ RSP. The important difference between the two is that the ‘basic’ RSP plan does not let users directly hold equities, options or mortgages whereas the ‘self-directed’ plan does.

In terms of non-registered account types, TD Direct Investing offers cash and margin accounts. In order to trade options and to short sell, a margin account and approval is required.

For several years, one of the biggest disadvantages concerning TD has been the lack of USD registered accounts. The ‘official line’ is that these accounts are forthcoming in 2014 and are currently undergoing testing, however the actual roll out date has not been announced. In the meantime, to address the currency conversions within registered accounts, TD Direct Investing has implemented a service called the U.S. Dollar Money Market Sweep & Redemption Service. Although the name is long, basically the service automatically routes the funds required to settle the transaction through a US dollar money market fund in such a way that a client doesn’t pay the foreign currency conversion fee. They have also extended this service to dividend payments so that clients receiving dividend payments (or making purchases) in US dollars won’t have to pay additional conversion fees. TD Direct Investing’s website details this process, so if it is of interest, be sure to review how it works.

Platform/Data

TD Direct Investing offers a broad selection of trading platforms that cater to investors of all activity levels. As a bank-owned discount brokerage, they are in the minority of providers that has web browser based as well as desktop based trading platforms. Although the platforms each have their strengths and limitations, choosing the right platform largely comes down to what kind of trading style you expect to have. TD’s online trading platforms include:

Platform Web/Desktop Based
Webbroker Web
Advanced Dashboard Web
Active Trader Desktop
US Trading Platform (ThinkOrSwim) Desktop

TD Direct Investing also offers mobile trading on the WebBroker and US Trading Platform. TD’s mobile/tablet apps are available for iOS, Android and Blackberry (smartphone) devices.

Reviews & Ratings

 Review What Review Measures Score Date of Ranking
Dalbar Canada Review Client Service Below Average
Below Average
January 2015
January 2014
Globe and Mail Review Overall Impression Letter Grade “A”
Letter Grade “B”
Letter Grade “B+”
3rd out of 12
Letter Grade “B+”
4th out of 12
Letter Grade “B”
6th out of 12
Letter Grade “C”
February 2019
February 2018
December 2016
December 2016
December 2015
December 2015
November 2014
November 2014
November 2013
JD Power Review Investor Satisfaction 7th out of 8
7th out of 8
7th out of 10
6th out of 10
3rd out of 10
4th out of 7
4th out of 11
June 2019
September 2018
September 2017
September 2016
September 2015
September 2014
September 2013
MoneySense   Top Pick – Market Data
Top Pick – Market Data
Runner Up – Getting Started
Top Pick – Market Data
June 2019
July 2018
July 2017
July 2017

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4 comments

  1. I have been a TD customer for decades and they have always held my mortgage and my LIRA from a previous job. I have moved my day to day banking to CIBC because the TD mobile app is horribly inadequate and hasn’t changed in years. I have recently started trading actively and the banking app is also the extent of their Canadian mobile offerings. After 2 weeks of fumbling with the desktop website on my iphone (the only way to place an options trade) I am ready to throw in the towel. I called them and asked if the superb ThinkOrSwim service from TD Ameritrade was available and was told no and they have no plans to change anything either. Overall a sad offering from Canada’s largest bank. If they had decent mobile access for options trading, and US$ trades I’d stick around. Virtual Brokers might be my next try, but it’s really difficult to find reviews of the apps outside the app store. Interactive offer a trial and the app looks great but they don’t do registered accounts. It would be great if you guys could do a hands on review of mobile platforms.

    • Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear about the frustrating experience with mobile trading. We’ve actually covered a small sample of mobile platforms (which can be seen here.) and we’d love to do more! Mobile trading and platforms in particular are tricky to get right because technology moves much more quickly than many of the financial firms can keep up with. Different screen sizes, resolutions and form factors all play into the physical layouts. Start layering in the complexity of user experience, security, aesthetics and interoperability with other services (like banking) and it’s no easy feat to pull off let alone do well. While that is not an excuse, it does help explain why certain firms can make changes faster than others.

      • Thanks for the response, and you do bring up a lot of other factors that are at play beyond my simple observation that it just doesn’t work for me. Unfortunately TD have not even made an effort to improve, despite having suitable offerings on the other side of the border. Technology and it’s rapid change is certainly an obstacle, but the bank/broker with arguably the greatest resources at their disposal should be able to field something at least beyond mediocre. I have gleaned a lot of useful information from your site lately and appreciate the effort given in to it’s presentation as it will ultimately lead my decision on who to try next. I will share my observations when I cross that bridge.

        • Thanks for the kind comments (to us!). I think you’ve touched on a really interesting paradox of being ‘responsive’ and innovative and the size of the firm’s resources. For bigger firms, especially bank-owned brokerages, innovation is trickier because there are so many layers of complexity and administration to go through. Smaller firms can probably get the changes done faster but don’t always have the resources to debug or provide traditional service to step up when the technology changes. Change is a six-letter word that is often followed by/feels like a four-letter word for many financial firms. Going back to your original issue, seeking out a mobile platform that can help execute possible equity and options trading, Qtrade just released an iphone/ipad version of their mobile trading site that you might want to request a test drive of (we mentioned it in the most recent weekly roundup). Good luck on your hunt and we look forward to hearing how it all panned out. Feel free to drop the comment in our new community section also.