Canada's BEST Mobile Brokerage Experiences

Canada's BEST DIY Mobile Brokerage Experiences

Questrade provides the best DIY Mobile Brokerage Experience in Canada

Self-directed investing, for many, is like going on an adventure with no timelines, rules or even a map and just going where the wind takes you. Sounds awesome right? But is it? Now imagine that the adventure is a cross-Canada journey that you are hoping will shape the future YOU with experiences and knowledge that will last a lifetime. Next, you have a choice of taking a 2000 kms road trip with a large older reliable car with lots of history and trunk space but guzzles gas or taking a new electric compact car with little to no legroom, no trunk space for all the trinkets and memories you will collect along the way and you need to stop every 200 kms to plug-in. Which would you choose? Is it a generational-based decision, meaning would a 40-year-old chose different than a 20-year old? Perhaps. In a nutshell, that is how we think of mobile-based self-directed discount brokerage services. Do you choose a service that allows you to personally grow with the adventure, has a great map to follow but may cost you a little more? Or do you choose the fancy looking, trendy, low-cost service that makes you find your own electricity and provides no personal growth? #FoodForThought

We often refer to mobile brokerage as the poor cousin to online brokerage. Why? Because we had to wait until 2015 to find enough firms offering access via mobile devices despite launching online capabilities in the early 2000's. By access, it started with tablets and smartphones but has now morphed into predominately smartphones, or as some would call phablets as the new phones have grown in both size and design capabilities. Despite COVID-19, and the new working from home world, we were pleased to see that many firms introduced new designs or expanded features which now closes the mobile versus online features and functionality gap that has long existed. That is the key trait of our two top firms, Questrade and National Bank Direct Brokerage, as their clients are not punished by using a mobile device to transact, research or simply enquire about their accounts. #ItsYourMoney

For too long, firms have tried to convince us that they know what we need and that less is best, but the reality is that we are the consumers and we can decide what we want in self-directed brokerage service. In comes the newest firm, Wealthsimple Trade, with a big marketing splash of simplicity and no cost with sponsored endorsements all over the internet claiming to be a discount brokerage firm. Well, they sure did get part of the branding right, it is simple but not in the ease of use context. The service ranked last in our study, as it should, as it offers next to nothing to help a self-directed investor on their journey of knowledge and self-preservation, one that should be taken seriously. #FakeNews #BuyerBeware


Go to Top Insights


The BEST Canadian Self-Directed Mobile Brokerage Experiences

We have a long history, 15 years to be exact, of big statements at Surviscor and with big statements comes the responsibility, and necessity, to leave no stone un-turned. That means our results are based on numerous, not nominal, facts and intensive simulated-usage analysis of each firm. We pride ourselves on not being known for quick and dirty, advertisement-driven, rankings favouring the firms who pay that inevitably come with baseless claims, like the editorial bias or sponsored studies that are taking over the internet. When Surviscor declares a winner, it is a big statement based on hundreds of hours of simulated-usage reviews answering typically over 3,300 questions and 400 plus criteria points pegging each firm versus its peers under equal scrutiny. The bottom line is we act like you but we look at every firm not just your own so go through the results, find your firm, if you can, or even learn about other firms that may be better suited to your adventure. #KnowledgeIsKing

Here is what we like, and some areas we do not, about the best firms:

#1 - QUESTRADE

Questrade has grown into one of Canada's leading independent self-directed discount brokerage over the past 20 years and is well known as one of the few industry firms who actively markets its business on radio and TV. Questrade customers receive a seamless brokerage experience no matter what the device of choice may be as the mobile-based experience piggybacks off a well-designed responsive online platform. Not only does the mobile platform provide an industry-leading account information details and transactional processes, but customers also have access to customizing portions of the mobile experience which leads to the #1 ranking. #20YearsAndStrong

What We Like:

  • Ease of becoming a customer
  • Intuitive and all-encompassing design experience
  • Placing orders - The end-to-end process
  • Strong account information and supporting features
  • Educational videos

What We Do Not Like:

  • Depth of market information could improve
  • Educational videos not easy to find

#2 - NATIONAL BANK DIRECT BROKERAGE

National Bank, Canada's 6th bank, always falling just outside of the Big 5 but not when it comes to its mobile-based self-directed discount brokerage experience offered through National Bank Direct Brokerage. A new fresh and crisp design allows for a seamless transition from online to mobile coupled with in-depth market data and account information. Like it or love it, the customer experience is not disappointing and as the platform evolves over time, it should only further enhance the experience. #SittingAtTheAdultsTable

What We Like:

  • Newly designed platforms for customers
  • Industry-leading market information
  • Availability and depth of account information
  • Account management resources

What We Do Not Like:

  • Weak handoff from login page to brokerage-only platform
  • Lack of educational resources

#3 - BMO INVESTORLINE

BMO Investorline was one of two pioneers in the mobile brokerage platform space in the early 2000's. The fact that its original, a very out-dated, platform still ranks ahead of most firms speaks volumes about the industry. But despite the design flaws, the platform boasts a lot of crucial information that enhances the overall investing journey including pre-login market information and market notifications once inside. Let us hope the long-awaited new design does not give in to the newest bank-driven less is best logic. #CrossingOurFingers

What We Like:

  • Pre-login access to quotes and market data
  • Industry-leading market-based notifications
  • Availability and depth of account information
  • What We Do Not Like:

    • Incorrect intra-day profit and loss calculations
    • No access to rating changes via mobile devices
    • Lack of educational resources


    The WORST Canadian Self-Directed Mobile Brokerage Experiences:

    There is no reason to go into a song and dance for firms who ranked at the bottom. Or how about the firms who do not even offer a mobile-based platform of any kind in today's digital world which should speak volumes. What we can say is If any of these firms happen to be a firm that you trust with your hard-earned money; we recommend you reflect on why. #ToEachTheirOwn

    Mobile Experience RankSelf-Directed Brokerage FirmExperience Score
    9Scotia iTRADE52 %
    10Virtual Brokers51%
    11Wealthsimple Trade33 %
    Not RankedHSBC InvestDirectNo platform
    Not RankedLaurentian Bank Discount BrokerageNo platform

    Go to Full Results table to see all the firms



    TOP INSIGHTS

    Mobile investing should not mean less of an experience

    In terms of financial services, why have we come to expect less when using our mobile devices? Is it because we have been swayed to think that? Or is it because there has been a history of less and the firms have become complacent? Regardless of the answer, investors need to demand more and hold partners accountable to provide everything they have to offer. We invest thousands of dollars in our smartphones, which may not be smart lol, but the operative word in the description is smart so demand an experience that makes you even smarter. #iLoveMyPhone

    Responsive platforms, if done right, provide a better overall experience

    Responsive technology means that the content on a website automatically adjusts to adapt to the layout of the trusted device being used to maximize the display of information. Why is that important here? The optimal DIY investing journey requires a lot of information and resources and the firms who design platforms that allow for a seamless experience between all your desired devices tend to score better. It should be noted that responsiveness does not save a poorly built digital platform. #AppsNotAlwaysBest

    Placing trades take centre stage with mobile investors

    Our proprietary scorChoice tool provides investors with a DIY scorecard analysis and collects information regarding the key activities of a mobile brokerage investor. The sample size is very small since its release, but coupled with what we hear from the firms, we can state that the primary purpose investors use mobile brokerage platforms is to place trades followed by researching account activity and viewing account balances. Our guess is quotes were down the list due to the dozens of free quote services like Yahoo Finance and the likes. #GetMyTradeIn

    No rest for the wicked, or the weary

    Having digital platforms is an easy decision. Maintaining them and keeping them relevant is not as easy, especially in a world of constant change. The top firms, lovingly referred to as the wicked, know that there is always work to be done and that they must stay on course and adapt for the sake of their customers. The slowly fading firms, affectionally referred to as the weary, like a Scotia iTRADE who once ruled this space when it was E*TRADE Canada or a Virtual Brokers, must realize that despite being exhausted they must get up and get back in this game. #NoRestForSuccess

    Be careful of relentless advertising

    2020 will be long remembered as the year of COVID-19 but we will remember it, because we love the DIY investing industry, as the year of record industry profits and increased digital marketing through social media, the internet and TV. Active markets breed competition. Competition breeds the need for awareness. And the need for awareness breeds marketing and advertising which firms love when profits are at record levels. What does it mean for you? Simply put, be careful. There is that word simple again so let us pick on the new kid a little. Did you know that Wealthsimple Trade informs investors in the android app store description of its services that they have decided what you need and do not need? Really? That is nice of them. For example, apparently a DIY investor does not need confusing charting. Again, really? It is one example, but our take is build it better, so it is not confusing and teach me how to use the especially important trends and events that are available in a chart. #DontLetMarketersDefineYourNeeds


    The BEST and WORST firms by CATEGORY

    All Surviscor scorCard reviews are comprised of several hundred individual experience criteria that are then grouped into sub-categories and ultimately into the larger categories to round-out the analysis. Let's take look at how Canadian DIY, or self-directed, or discount brokerage firms performed in each category by not only focusing on the two best firms in each category but identifying the bottom 2 firms who are clearly missing the mark and should be held accountable by Canadian DIY mobile brokerage customers.


    The Best and Worst Firms for Mobile Initial Experience

    The Best and Worst Firms for Mobile User Experience

    The Best and Worst Firms for Mobile Account Experience

    The Best and Worst Firms for Mobile Market Analysis Experience

    The Best and Worst Firms for Mobile Transactional Experience

    The Best and Worst Firms for Mobile Resources


    The BEST and WORST Mobile-based INITIAL EXPERIENCES

    Does a first impression really last the longest? We hope not for the sake of the discount brokerage industry as firms market speed and simplicity when speaking of and designing mobile platforms. We see the platforms as alternatives to online platforms based on convenience and when you invest in the stock market, convenience of being able to react and act upon information is beyond crucial. Investors have been trained to not expect much prior to logging in but investors should take notice and demand more pre-login features and functionality and never have to rely on online platforms for quotes and education.

    The Initial Experience category audits the pre-login experience by benchmarking the features and functionalities offered to consumers prior to entering the platform as a customer. Leading firms allow visitors to establish a relationship through mobile-based account opening capabilities, ensure multiple service capabilities are present and educate prospective, and possibly existing, customers with 'free' mobile-based resources.

    The BEST Firms for Initial Experience:

    CIBC INVESTOR'S EDGE - #1

    CIBC Investor's Edge provides a comprehensive account opening process with good usability and access to various supporting resources.

    VIRTUAL BROKERS - #2

    Virtual Brokers may no longer be a leading firm in this industry, but they sure know how to onboard a new customer.

    The WORST Firms for Initial Experience

    DESJARDINS ONLINE BROKERAGE and QTRADE INVESTOR

    This is always a tough one for firms to hear as most of the firms are failing to provide an acceptable mobile-based pre-login experience. Simple login-only initial experiences do not cut it. We all have different needs and that is ok, but we commend the firms who put an effort into providing pre-login resources and information about the firm. #GiveMeMore


    The BEST and WORST Mobile-based USER EXPERIENCES

    User experience, also referred to as UX, covers a broad range of factors that influence how it feels to use a mobile brokerage platform. The challenge for all platforms is balancing customer-driven usage and product needs, maintaining a consistent look and feel between the mobile and online experiences while understanding that each customer shows up having used 1000's of different mobile-based applications.

    The overall user experience focuses in on four main buckets including the general design including navigation, the availability of user customization features, mobile-based product availability, and security protection features that are especially important to digital users. Sure, different users with identical experiences may see the experience through different coloured lenses but that does not excuse firms who clearly are missing the mark. Those firms are easy to point out and mobile brokerage customers should feel confident that there are many firms who do it right. #DemandExcellence

    The BEST Firms for User Experience

    QUESTRADE - #1

    Our overall winner Questrade can contribute a lot of its industry differentiation in this category demonstrating the ability to provide investors with customized usage capabilities, including default trading settings, as well as a comprehensive navigational design.

    QTRADE INVESTOR - #2

    Qtrade also provides mobile investors with a strong navigational design, along with good situational awareness around the platform, but differentiates in the user protection area with its ability to show investors information on platform, including device, usage.

    The WORST Firms for User Experience

    VIRTUAL BROKERS and WEALTHSIMPLE TRADE

    In addition to customization, the bottom line is that these firms are either missing industry product or have not realized that security and usage policies are of importance to mobile investors. #ItsYourMoney


    The BEST and WORST Mobile-based ACCOUNT EXPERIENCES

    Unfortunately, so many firms are missing the mark here. The prevailing excuse would be that its customers only want the nuts and bolts or perhaps the firm feels that building this area out does not sit well with its overall look and feel. Well, we would disagree and to bad on the latter excuse. Investors should demand excellence in the areas under review, including a fast and efficient additional account opening process, multiple methods of contacting and communicating with the firm, in-depth account information along with analytics, mobile documents and mobile-based account management tools as they do exist as some firms. #ExcellenceOrBust

    The BEST Firms for Account Experience:

    NATIONAL BANK DIRECT BROKERAGE - #1

    National Bank Direct Brokerage draws its account experience strengths through its new design which leads to better usability of an investor's account information while providing the ability to manage account details through mobile-based functionality.

    CIBC INVESTOR'S EDGE - #2

    In reviewing CIBC Investor's Edge newest platform, scheduled for release in mid-December 2020, we were pleased to see a strong level of account information with good usability. The other, call it an older staple, that is worth mentioning is the account notifications capabilities.

    The WORST Firms for Account Experience

    QTRADE INVESTOR And WEALTHSIMPLE TRADE

    Being last does not mean that a firm does not provide access to account information. It tends to equate to only providing basic information. #NoExcuses



    The BEST and WORST Mobile-based MARKET ANALYSIS EXPERIENCES

    Market data drives every aspect of DIY investing and there are varying degrees of access levels. Where would we be without access to quotes or key stock market data? Or how about access to fundamental data on companies or analyst consensus recommendation? The list goes on and the obvious answer is that we would be lost and driving blind. Today's reality is that many investors turn to non-partner sources for the simple information but must rely on the relationship to provide the rest.

    The category is generally well covered by the industry firms, but the differentiators are in the details. They always are and we love finding them for you. Sure at face value, we all just need a quote to know where our positions are at or how much it will cost to increase our positions but we need the depth to form strategies based on facts, not hunches. Those strategies are for another day but rest easy knowing we went deep into the details when in came to quotes, watchlists, charting, fundamental data, technical analysis, and research for you. Do not be fooled by the new kid on the block who tells you that most of these items are not important and they are doing you a favour by not offering them to you. The truth is they cannot afford to offer them to you and not charge you. #PayForKnowledge

    The BEST Firms for Market Analysis Experience:

    NATIONAL BANK DIRECT BROKERAGE - #1

    The bottom line is National Bank Direct Brokerage offers it all and mostly at better levels than the rest of the industry. Having access to actual research is a plus for sure.

    BMO INVESTORLINE - #2

    BMO InvestorLine's strengths lie in its ability to provide in-depth quotes and market information.

    The WORST Firms for Market Analysis Experience

    CIBC INVESTOR'S EDGE and WEALTHSIMPLE TRADE

    We are sure CIBC Investor's Edge will not be here for long as they roll out a new responsive platform but Wealthsimple will live here for an eternity with its current commission structure. #KnowledgeIsKey


    The BEST and WORST Mobile-based TRANSACTIONAL EXPERIENCES

    Transactional capabilities came to fruition early in the mobile brokerage lifecycle, but most firms only released the ability to buy stocks. Over the past few years, ETF order entry was launched/marketed but the reality was it was always available as they trade on exchanges as stocks do. Even mutual fund order entry took time and is now standard. Then came the introduction of option trading, another puzzling delay and still not available at some firms. The good news is Questrade and TD Direct Investing have even taken options trading to the next level by offering multi-leg strategies which is usually far-beyond the day-to-day investor knowledge but a valuable trading vehicle to get to know. Hopefully, bond trading will be next along with GIC's and precious metals. #iNeedToTrade

    The BEST Firms for Transactional Experience:

    QUESTRADE - #1

    Providing a mobile platform based on responsive features has allowed Questrade to provide an industry-leading order entry experience using associated and supporting information throughout the complete process. In addition, and already mentioned above, the ability to provide sophisticated options strategy indicates its commitment to excellence.

    BMO INVESTORLINE - #2

    BMO InvestorLine gets the runner-up nod due to the availability of Foreign Exchange inter-account transfers and a strong basic option order entry capability.

    The WORST Firms for Transactional Experience

    VIRTUAL BROKERS and WEALTHSIMPLE TRADE

    Simply put, offering less means ranking low. But in the case of Wealthsimple Trade who only offers stocks and ETF trading capabilities, we would have expected a stronger process, but it still ranks amongst the lowest stock order entry experiences in the industry. #ClunkyProcess

    The key takeaway from this category is that no two experiences are alike. Each firm creates its own and although some will argue that an order is an order, it simply is not true. Once again, we are here to tell you that those poorly ranked firms are providing fake news. There is a difference, and again its based-on experience and some clearly provide a better experience.


    The BEST and WORST Firms for MOBILE RESOURCES

    You may be wondering what mobile-based resources are. Do not feel bad if we caught you wondering as the best explanation of why you were wondering is easy. The reason is because there is an exceptionally good chance that your brokerage partner does not offer many, or any, which is very confusing and concerning to us. Why would firms feel that mobile users would not like the ability to be further breakdown the market with a stock screener? Or how about watching a video on how to invest or things to consider while investing or being able to receive market notifications of key stock-related information like news or earnings? They all sound like important capabilities to us and our smartphones can handle them.

    The good news is that Surviscor is doing your homework for you, sourcing out firms who feel that providing mobile-based screeners, market notifications, tools, calculators, and educational resources are essential parts of a DIY relationship. Once again, and it is becoming a far too easy recurring excuse, the poorly ranked firms would make you believe that you, the customer, do not want these things on your mobile device. Why would you? #ResourcesForSuccess

    The BEST Firms for Mobile Resources:

    TD DIRECT INVESTING - #1

    TD Direct Investing finally gets some mobile review love as our leader in mobile resources. In general, TD Direct Investing is full of digital resources, including educational series and portfolio tools, but it is one of the few bank-owned firms that has been able to offer them within its mobile platform.

    QUESTRADE - #2

    Questrade is our runner-up for mobile resources, mainly due to its video education series which you can find under its research section. Yes, we are telling you where because typically we would go to a research section for company-related reports. Are you listening Questrade?

    The WORST Firms for Mobile Resources

    SCOTIA iTRADE and CIBC INVESTOR'S EDGE

    As the review comes to an end, let us simply assume that these bottom firms do not understand the importance of resources because if they did, there is no logical reason why they wouldn't offer them on a smartphone as they both have the resources available through the online platform. #GiveMeMore


    The Surviscor DISCLAIMER

    Keep in mind that we are tough markers and have been for close to 15 years. Sure, we can be tough on many firms, but we also have no issues praising the ones who work hard to offer industry-leading products and services to deserving customers. Canadians work hard for their money and having a great banking partner should not be a privilege but rather a requirement. Brokerage firms do very well by us, and we should hold them accountable to the highest standards of customer experience. Do not forget that you hold the cards, not them and there are a lot of firms to choose from. #DemandTheBest


    FULL RESULTS - All Firms under Review

    Mobile Experience RankDiscount Brokerage FirmExperience ScoreFull Company Review
    1Questrade84 %Detailed Company Review
    2National Bank Direct Brokerage81 %Detailed Company Review
    3BMO InvestorLine75 %Detailed Company Review
    4TD Direct Investing73 %Detailed Company Review
    5CIBC Investor's Edge62 %Detailed Company Review
    6Qtrade Investor60 %Detailed Company Review
    7RBC Direct Investing58 %Detailed Company Review
    8Desjardins Online Brokerage56 %Detailed Company Review
    9Scotia iTRADE52 %Detailed Company Review
    10Virtual Brokers51 %Detailed Company Review
    11Wealthsimple Trade 33 %Detailed Company Review
    Not RankedHSBC InvestDirect No platformDetailed Company Review
    Not RankedLaurentian Bank Discount Brokerage No platformDetailed Company Review

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