Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – January 10, 2014

This week it was bone-chillingly cold everywhere in Canada except for the discount broker deal space (and maybe Vancouver).  Several big promotions heated up the deals space this week in what is likely a sign of the fierce competition for self-directed investors’ assets to come this RSP deadline season.   Just in time for all that were a couple of big announcements too. One from a discount broker lowering their commission fees and another from a discount brokerage customer service evaluation. Closing out the roundup, we’ll take a look at the investor forums for some valuable lessons for those venturing into wild west of online trading.

Discount Brokerage Promotion Bonanza

As many readers may know, the discount brokerage deals section is one of the most popular places for investors looking for an online trading account to review.  This month however, there has been an unusual spike in activity, including from some usually dormant brokerages (such as Qtrade & Credential Direct for example).

On the whole, it looks like it’s a bench clearing deal brawl with BMO InvestorLine, Credential Direct, Qtrade and Scotia iTrade all launching some kind of contest, promotion or deal. Before the hockey tickets & cash settle, there are some insider sources that have mentioned some very big discount brokerage deals still to come.

The Gloves are Off

In a related vein, this past week  Questrade dropped the gloves (and their commission fees) in the competition to offer Canada’s lowest trading commissions.  Following Virtual Brokers’ lead a few months ago, Questrade too has now lowered their minimum commission on a trade down to a penny (on their active trader plan).

There is likely more to come from these two brokerages as RSP season heats up however the title of having the lowest commission in Canada is now one that Virtual Brokers will have to share.

Service with a Smile

Now that January is here, it is time for Dalbar’s online brokerage customer service award announcement.  This year things are a bit different with two brokerages being named as providing, in Dalbar’s assessment, leading customer service.

The two brokerages coming out on top of the field were HSBC InvestDirect (who earned the honor the previous year) and RBC Direct Investing.  Last year’s race was a close one so it is not a big surprise that these two brokerages find themselves atop the field for best customer service this year.

From the Forums:

With more people deciding to spend their time indoors, more than a few of them found their way into the investment forums.  As with the weather, winter can provide its own investing lesson: bundling up can save you a bundle.  Here are this week’s cautionary winter tales from the forums.

Limited Exposure

In this post, one user finds out the hard way about the difference between market orders and limit orders.  Of course, with many investors it’s learning by trial and error however here’s how the community stepped in to clarify when and how order types matter.

Getting out of the Driveway

Even with many of the advances in opening up discount brokerage accounts, there is still a natural drag of transfer time and reporting that seems misplaced in this world of instant everything. In this post from the RedFlagDeals investing forum, a user getting started with Interactive Brokers gets a little helpful informational nudge from fellow forum users.

That does it for this week’s roundup.  Be sure to check out the deals section regularly as this month is probably going to continue to see more deals announced.  Have a great weekend!

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