Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – October 31, 2014

When people think Halloween, they think of costumes and candy. But, when Halloween falls on a Friday, all the DIY investor ghouls and gals get an extra bonus – a discount brokerage weekly roundup chalked full of treats. In this week’s roundup, we tear a page from Dr. Frankenstein’s notebook to shout ‘it’s alive!’ as a new community platform rolls into service. Not to be outdone by capes and tights, a major Canadian bank-owned brokerage decided to dress up its platform with some very interesting account performance tools.  Getting in on the novelty game, an independent brokerage looks to be bobbing for Apples by rolling out a new iPhone/iPad mobile trading platform.  We also feature a good old-fashioned trick-wrapped-in-a-treat, with one brokerage dropping hints of a spooktacular feature release.   To end our Halloween roundup, we collected a monster mashup of investor conversations and reactions to the week that was.

A New Space for the Online Investing Community

After lots of caffeine, coding, and (a bit of) cursing the time has finally come for cheering! As mentioned in last week’s roundup, Sparxtrading.com officially rolled out our new online investor community platform (nicknamed AXIS) this week.

Axis-Beta

We’re really excited to have put together a community space that enables those seeking information about Canadian online brokerages and those who want to share their opinions and experiences all in the same space.  As an added benefit, we’ve tried to learn from the other great online resources and communities to do something a little differently and providing a structured approach to the online brokerage conversations. The community is going live in beta and we’ll be testing, learning and debugging. We encourage readers to check it out and give us your feedback (constructive of course). It is our hope that it becomes a vibrant space to help online investors get and give a better idea of what it means to be online investor and to deal with Canada’s online brokerages big and small.

Measured Progress

Although the phrase ‘past performance doesn’t predict future results’ is one that DIY investors encounter quite often. Ironically, one of the biggest selling features of many mutual funds or investment strategies is just that – the past performance. This past week, forums were abuzz that TD Direct Investing has launched a new feature that will help users track their past performance and much more.  Unfortunately for certain forum users, there were apparently technical glitches that kept them from getting to use the feature properly. Nonetheless, below is a screenshot from the feature explanation document that illustrates the new features.  WebBroker users will be able to see trends in balances as well as compare their holdings against benchmark indices of their choosing.

Qtrade Making Moves on Mobile

At the tail end of last week, Qtrade Financial officially released their new mobile trading platform apps from iPhone and iPad users.  Even though they do have a relatively functional mobile trading website (which we’ve taken a test drive of here), this latest release takes the look and feel up a notch.  Early downloads of the app have fetched some positive praise and, as one other online investor noted in a comment this past week, it appears that mobile trading is something that online brokerages are going to have to get right in a hurry.

Screenshot of Qtrade mobile app homepage

Questrade CEO Picks Up Award, Drops Hint on Wealth Management Features

This past week, Questrade announced that their CEO, Edward Kholodenko, had been awarded the EY Entrepreneur of the Year in the category of services for Ontario.  While the achievement adds to the list of awards that Questrade has received this year, it was a quote from Kholodenko at the end of the press release that stole the spotlight away from the award. According to Kholodenko: I am pleased to say that in a few short weeks, Questrade will be rolling out a major new initiative. This new service will restore fairness for Canadian investors and demonstrate that wealth management is not just for the wealthy anymore.” While it is just speculation at this point, there have been a wave of product releases that fall under the super-hot category of ‘robo-advisor’ style tools aimed at newer investors – one of Questrade’s key demographics. Whatever the service happens to be, ancillary services in addition to ‘direct brokerage’ is a model that US online brokerages have demonstrated can attract clients and can add additional fee revenues into the firm.  Of course, they prefer dealing with ‘wealthy clients’ to attract assets so wealth management for the not-so-wealthy should provide an interesting twist.

From the Forums

In addition to the SparxTrading.com community platform this week, there was also a launch of a new Canadian-focused investor subreddit: /r/CanadianInvestor.  Below is snapshot of the post explaining a bit more about it:

Screenshot of /r/CanadianInvestor introduction post

Finding their Footing

The beauty of forums such as the PersonalFinanceCanada subreddit is that readers get a sense of how other DIY investors, whether they are beginners or pro’s, approach the journey that is online investing.  In a thread from PFC, a reddit user poses the question of whether ‘now is the right time to invest’.  Check out what the users had to say here.

That’s a wrap for this week’s roundup. Be sure to check out some of the more interesting discussion threads out there during game time intermissions!

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