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BMO InvestorLine – Review of Pricing – 2014
(updated February 11 2014)
BMO InvestorLine is the discount brokerage arm of Bank of Montreal (BMO) Financial Group and is one of Canada’s largest bank-owned discount brokerages. Like other bank-owned online brokerages, BMO InvestorLine is able to offer convenience of integration with other BMO bank services online, as well as in-branch accessibility with representatives.
Over the course of 2013, BMO InvestorLine has been working to improve their website accessibility and service offering to remain competitive with their peers. One of the features of BMO InvestorLine is that they often run promotions and deals to attract new clients and/or new assets from existing clients.
In terms of account offerings, pricing and fees, for 2014 (at the time of writing) these are in line with some of their bank-owned brokerage peers. BMO InvestorLine offers the ability to trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and options. The registered accounts offered by BMO InvestorLine include tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and registered education savings plans (RESPs). There are also US dollar versions of the registered accounts available so you can avoid mandatory foreign exchange conversions if you are buying and selling stocks in US dollars only. In terms of options trading in registered accounts, buying and selling of options are allowed as are writing of covered calls only. The non-registered accounts offered include cash and margin accounts.
From a pricing perspective, BMO Investorline has now lowered its standard commission pricing to $9.95 per trade (flat) for all clients, regardless of account balance or trading activity level. Clients with assets between $250,000 to $499,999 qualify for their Silver Star program and those clients with assets greater than $500,000 qualify for the Gold Star program. As part of their Active Trader program, BMO InvestorLine offers extra perks for active traders, who it defines as anyone making 30 or more trades per quarter however they do not offer lower prices on trading commissions.
At the time of this review (Feb 11/14), BMO InvestorLine has not posted an updated version of its official commission schedule so it is unclear as to whether or not they will be offering similar opportunities to waive inactivity fees or waive fees for balances under a certain amount. Currently, BMO InvestorLine charges a quarterly fee of $25 for accounts with balances under $10,000 however this charge can be waived if 2 or more commission-generating trades are placed within a quarter or if a client also has a registered account. Note that registered accounts (except for RESPs) with balances under $25,000 (calculated on Dec. 31st) are charged $100. For RESPs, the annual administration charge is $50 for balances under $25,000.
The Bottom Line
Although they are a bank-owned brokerage, the pricing of BMO InvestorLine reflects the current trend in the industry towards lower commission prices and simplified commission structure. Of course, because they are part of the BMO family, there is the appeal of convenience by enabling clients to access services at the branch level.
The BMO website (at the time of writing) does not show whether or not BMO will implement a similar program to some of its peers in terms of opportunities to waive inactivity fees, however if the commission/fee schedule currently posted on the site holds, there still are a couple of ways to avoid incurring administrative or inactivity fees. As such, it is important to know your trading/activity requirements as well as the balance you will be able to maintain in order to get an accurate picture of the fees you might incur.
BMO InvestorLine Website Links:
Here are some useful links to important information on BMO InvestorLine’s website.
Discount Broker Customer Survey Ratings by J.D. Power:
Link to 2013 online broker ratings by the Globe and Mail:
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