Surviscor Canadian Online Brokerage Experience Reviews - Surviscor and MoneySense.ca Partnership

Dissecting the MoneySense Best Online Brokers in Canada Rankings

TD Direct Investing gets the nod for the Best Online Broker in Canada in the 2022 edition of the MoneySense Best Online Brokers in Canada, beating out last year's winner Questrade while Quebec-based National Bank Direct Brokerage remained in the top 3. The review, now in its 10th year, was written by Surviscor's President and CEO, Glenn LaCoste, and powered by Surviscor data and analysis which is altered for MoneySense to provide valuable advice to both seasoned and new, self-directed, do-it-yourself investors.

The 2022 edition followed a similar approach to past years in terms of methodology, awarding firms points based on industry rankings amongst peers. The difference from 2021 is in the categories which define the scoring. The approach in 2022 is to better identify investor profiles for the readers and establish a clearer picture based on usage patterns which are defined by what platforms (mobile-based or desktop-based). An investor can now look find a profile that makes sense and couple it with a platform choice that makes sense to better define the firms that may make more sense for them.

As usual, the review does not hold punches. Each firm is called out for both its good and bad qualities with the mission to educate investors on what is out there and that, not any different than life, there is a partner for everyone. In this case it is finding a dependable financial partner that can take a DIY investor through a growth journey of gaining knowledge and self-confidence.


The BEST and WORST Firms - By Category

Key Excerpts from 2022 Review

Lessons Learned Around Commission and Fees

The MoneySense and Surviscor Partnership


Read the 2022 MoneySense Review

Review the MoneySense BROKER COMPARISON chart


2022 MoneySense Firm Rankings and Commentary

#1-TD DIRECT INVESTING (30 Points)

  • Solutions for all types of investors
  • Investor education
  • Depth of market data
  • Participated in review findings
  • TD EasyTrade platform
  • Higher fees and commissions
  • Becoming a customer can be difficult at times

BETWEEN THE LINES

TD Direct Investing is the 2022 top firm and offers one of the most well-rounded offerings that is suitable for all levels of investors but has higher than average commissions and fees. In our opinion, the new TD EasyTrade mobile-based platform (which is required to get $0 commission) is not what its name suggests unless an investor equates the word 'easy' with 'bare bones functionality'. The bottom line is that Canada's largest self-directed brokerage firm is particularly good at what it does and is worth the higher fees for most investors due to the strength of its regular WebBroker digital platforms.

Read the full TD Direct Investing Review


#2-QUESTRADE (25 Points)

  • Service responsiveness
  • All digital investor experiences
  • Process of opening an account
  • Participated in review findings
  • ECN fees
  • Commissions on ETF sales
  • Data fees

BETWEEN THE LINES

Questrade is one of the most well-rounded self-directed brokerage firms in Canada as it can cater to both new and seasoned investors, as well as active traders. The key is to test your trading patterns to ensure Questrade's additional fees do not add to the advertised lowest cost and to understand the data costs which can be pricey for less-active investors. You will not be disappointed with this firm.

Read the full Questrade Review


#3-NATIONAL BANK DIRECT BROKERAGE (17 Points)

  • Competitive fees and $0 commissions
  • ETF investing experience
  • Various levels of market data
  • Participated in review findings
  • Becoming a customer can be difficult at times
  • Need to pay for in-depth data

BETWEEN THE LINES

National Bank Direct Brokerage took the industry by storm over the past year by introducing a $0 commission structure for stocks to compliment its already industry-leading free, no product restrictions, ETF investing. The next steps to improvement would be better designed platforms and increase non-customer service capabilities.

Read the full National Bank Direct Brokerage Review


#4-QTRADE DIRECT INVESTING (22 Points)

  • Service responsiveness
  • Desktop-based investor experience
  • Participated in review findings
  • Fees and commissions are on the higher side
  • Mobile Investor experience needs to improve

BETWEEN THE LINES

Qtrade Direct Investing was re-branded to attract the new investors, but the reality is, it continues to be a leading self-directed investing firm for the average and seasoned investors. Hopefully Qtrade Direct Investing does not sell out its future platforms for the new investor like most firms have because its older design, exceptional customer service responsiveness and current desktop-based investor experiences remains an attractive DIY investor partner.

Read the full Qtrade Direct Investing Review


#5-BMO INVESTORLINE (9 Points)

  • Mobile experience
  • Market data
  • Declined participation in review findings
  • Poor service responsiveness
  • Expensive commissions

BETWEEN THE LINES

BMO InvestorLine has shown signs of life in the past year with an improved desktop-based investor experience and continues to be a leader in mobile-based investor experience despite an almost-original design. It remains difficult to understand if the self-directed business is a priority.

Read the full BMO InvestorLine Review


#6-RBC DIRECT INVESTING (8 Points)

  • Availability of practice accounts
  • Good education content
  • Always participates in review findings
  • Higher fees and commissions
  • Mobile-based investor experience
  • ETF investing experience

BETWEEN THE LINES

RBC Direct Investing is no longer in the bottom tier of the bank-owned firms which is not surprising based on the success of its digital banking platforms. RBC Direct Investing demonstrates the ability to be agile and launch new features, but the overall digital features and functionality are average at best. It would be great if RBC Royal Bank would ensure the DIY investing platforms catered to investors rather than consumer banking customers.

Read the full RBC Direct Investing Review


#7-DESJARDINS ONLINE BROKERAGE (7 Points)

  • $0 equity/ETF commissions with no restrictions
  • Always participates in review findings
  • Service responsiveness
  • Becoming a customer can be difficult at times

BETWEEN THE LINES

Desjardins Online Brokerage entered the $0 commissions game in the past year which is good news for the $0 investors. The Disnat Classic platform could use an overhaul but do not underestimate this firm as it educates investors and allows them to grow into a season investor.

Read the full Desjardins Online Brokerage Review


#8-CIBC INVESTOR'S EDGE (5 Points)

  • Strength of CIBC's leading-edge digital banking platforms
  • ETF Investing experience
  • Poor service responsiveness
  • No significant changes to digital features and functionalities over the last decade

BETWEEN THE LINES

CIBC Investor's Edge has started to make a turn-around but there is still a long way to go to return to glory years of the early 2000's. Recent cosmetic changes indicate a renewed commitment to the investor platforms that hopefully will lead to investors truly having an edge.

Read the full CIBC Investor's Edge Review


#9-SCOTIA iTRADE (2 Points)

  • Availability of practice accounts
  • Market data
  • Higher fees and commissions
  • Poor customer responsiveness
  • Digital transactional experiences

BETWEEN THE LINES

How the mighty have fallen, a saying that represents the once industry-pioneer's fall from grace. While Scotia iTRADE's digital platforms remain a viable bank-owned investor alternative, the lack of corporate dedication and leadership has led to its below-average performance over the past 5-10 years as indicated by its industry ranking decline and failure to provide acceptable levels of service.

Read the full Scotia iTRADE Review


#9-WEALTHSIMPLE TRADE (2 Points)

  • $0 commissions on SELECT product
  • Small fee for real-time quotes
  • Limited amount of North American stocks and ETFs
  • Poor foreign exchange rates
  • Digital platforms provide weak DIY investor experiences

BETWEEN THE LINES

Wealthsimple Trade one of Surviscor's BUYER BEWARE firms due to its fancy and fun marketing efforts that could lead a DIY investor to believe that they are a better alternative amongst this group of firms. Both the desktop and mobile platform are basic at best and if you are looking for $0 commission fees, others have it and more securities to choose from and far better platforms to use and grow with.

Read the full Wealthsimple Trade Review


#11-LAURENTIAN BANK DISCOUNT BROKERAGE (1 Point)

  • Actual service responsiveness indicates the lights are on
  • Declined participation in review findings
  • No redeeming qualities
  • No Mobile platform
  • Digital platforms experience

BETWEEN THE LINES

Laurentian Bank Discount Brokerage falls into Surviscor's BUYER BEWARE category. Investors contemplating using the platform should think twice as parent the company Laurentian Bank has not invested in the platforms for over 20 years. There has been some small hope of late as Laurentian Bank Discount Brokerage has started to respond to service requests, but it is unknown as to if this is a new commitment or simply taking advantage of a hot industry.

Read the full Laurentian Bank Discount Brokerage Review


#12-HSBC INVESTDIRECT (0 Points)

  • Competitive fees and commissions
  • Foreign trading capabilities
  • Always participates in review findings
  • Poor service responsiveness
  • No Mobile platform
  • Overall digital investor experience is poor

BETWEEN THE LINES

HSBC InvestDirect is the only Canadian self-directed firm to offer pure foreign trading and foreign account balances. It would nice if HSBC InvestDirect would make some platform changes and service improvements to demonstrate that they are committed to Canadian investors.

Read the full HSBC InvestDirect Review


#12-CI DIRECT TRADING (0 Points)

  • Opening account process
  • Higher fees and commissions
  • Financial literacy
  • Desktop platform investor experience
  • Mobile platform investor experience

BETWEEN THE LINES

CI Direct Trading (formerly Virtual Brokers) is not to be mistaken with CI Direct Investing which is the robo-advisor arm. In our opinion, the names are wrong and misleading. Self-directed for the average investor means DIY investing. Direct trading refers to no evaluation or handholding, and better used for active traders. Regardless of the name and the real focus of CI, the self-directed platforms are no longer industry leaders and appear to lack focus and strategy.

Read the full CI Direct Trading Review


INTERACTIVE BROKERS (CANADA) - Not ranked

Interactive Brokers was left out of this review as it mainly caters to traders, or seasoned investors, and it is a very US-centric site which does not cater to Canadian content. The proof is its U.S. interest rates marketing and industry accolades that are for its U.S division compared to U.S. trading firms.

Read the full Interactive Brokers Canada Review


CANACCORD GENUITY DIRECT - Not Ranked

Canaccord Genuity Direct was left out of this review as it too mainly caters to traders, or seasoned investors. Despite being Canadian, it is difficult to see why a self-directed investor would look here to open an account. The results indicate a lack of commitment by parent firm Canaccord to be a true alternative for Canadian investors as every other firm in the study provides a considerably stronger investor experience.

Read the full Canaccord Genuity Direct Review


The BEST and WORST Firms - By Category

Key Excerpts from 2022 Review

Lessons Learned Around Commission and Fees

The MoneySense and Surviscor Partnership


Read the 2022 MoneySense Review

Review the MoneySense BROKER COMPARISON chart


Surviscor Personalized Validation and Selection Tool scorChoice for Consumer Bankers and Online Investors to find their own #1 firm


The BEST and WORST Firms - By Category


View the MoneySense Firm Comparison Grid


Surviscor Personalized Validation and Selection Tool scorChoice for Consumer Bankers and Online Investors to find their own #1 firm


Key Excerpts from the 2022 Review

Canadians are being marketed to at levels not seen since the early 2000s. You cannot miss the steadfast bank-owned firm high-profile TV ad, like during the Super Bowl and the NHL playoffs.

Fees advertised rarely tell the whole story of what your experience will be with the different platforms, as many low-cost firms charge the investor elsewhere in the investing process or limit the availability of a product or service in exchange for the lower fees.

The industry's focus on snagging young adult investors has led to firms offering multiple mobile platforms. The marketing message "less is more" can end up convoluted with confusing, multiple platform experiences in order to offer a no-frills product with no fees.

Self-directed investors tend to be forced to change platforms as their confidence around investing grows, opting for less commissions on scaled-backed platforms.

Customer service is usually the key differentiator between firms.

Many can say the overall ranking and the desktop experience category go hand in hand, but most self-directed investors use both digital platforms. And most online brokers attempt to satisfy the customer journey by offering both. The truth is, though, there are unfortunate discrepancies existing between desktop and mobile-based platforms, which can push users to one or the other.

We feel new investors should proceed with caution when starting out and slowly learn through trial and error, of course. But they should also demand educational tools with a strong user experience, coupled with more resources necessary to make informed decisions and learn and grow their money.

Glenn LaCoste - 2022 MoneySense Review


Lessons Learned Around Commission and Fees

Commissions (and Fees) is always the hot topic when it comes to assessing the merits, and pitfalls, of Canadian Online Brokerage firms. Although we 100% disagree that commissions and fees should be the focus when choosing an Online Broker, the reality is it does mean something to many investors. If you are one of them, take notice of these lessons so you better educate what you may be giving up to get that $0 trade. #BuyerBeware

Beware the Shiny Marketing Message

The marketing you see for online brokerage firms tends to focus on fees - and with good reason. Unfortunately, those advertised fees do not always tell the whole story. For example, firms may charge an ECN (Electronic Communication Network) fee that can double your commission costs. Others may exclude some popular stocks available to trade. Or how about firms who offer free ETF trading but either limit product availability or charge you on the sale of the ETF? We do not want to say there is always a catch but the realty is, there usually is.

Key and Crucial Resources are Not Free

Do you buy US stocks in a Canadian dollar account? Do you require an up-to-date stock or ETF price quote to make an informed investing decision? Both? Well, guess what? They both come with extra fees unless you are an ultra crazy active investor. Having to convert money each time you trade will run you an over-inflated foreign exchange rate, something the online forums complain about at Wealthsimple Trade, and limited and delayed market data could translate into poor executions that could lead to less stock or bang for your buck.

Do Your Homework - >$0 Commission Comes with a Cost

Novice investors tend to be attracted by $0 commission without fully understanding what is available at each firm and why paying a commission may be worth it. These investors give up tangible items like market quote timeliness (and depth), analyst research and most importantly, education. In the cases of TD EasyTrade, the requirement to get $0 trades is the mandated use of its scaled-back and extremely basic mobile platform. With Wealthsimple Trade, an investor is provided with basic mobile-based and desktop-based platforms which do not lead to knowledge growth. Do your homework. We believe that the cost savings of dollars per trade is not worth the lack of guidance, education and market depth required by a novice or average DIY investor. Always ask yourself "¦

Do I really believe that a firm is willing to pay for my fees and lose money doing so just so I can be a customer? And if so, why?

Any Canadian DIY Self-Directed Investor


Read the 2022 MoneySense Review

Review the MoneySense BROKER COMPARISON chart


A Proven Partnership for 10 Years and Counting

The History

The MoneySense and Surviscor partnership was established in 2013 to enhance the MoneySense editorial reach into the DIY self-directed online discount brokerage industry. The partnership has grown over the years with expanded categories as well as an expanded number of firm as MoneySense has been able to piggy-back off of the extensive expansion of Surviscor's proprietary analysis over the past decade.

The Common Goal

The initial goal remains the same today for the MoneySense Best Online Brokers in Canada yearly review, to provide Canadian DIY investors with another reputable non-editorial viewpoint and insight into Canada's ultra-competitive discount brokerage industry. Both new and seasoned veterans of self-directed investing are provided with the fact to help make informed choices between the merits of each discount brokerages and the message remains clear 9 years later. If you already use an online broker and have noticed a change in the relationship or longer wait times for service, challenge yourself to explore other firms' offerings.

The Methodology

The methodology continues to be altered and enhanced over the years and remains customized for MoneySense using Surviscor's proprietary scorCard data from four detailed yearly reviews; [Online Experience], [Mobile Experience], [Cost of Services Experience] and [Service Experiences]. Each firm was assigned a score based on its ranking within the seven sections of review (5 points for 1st, 4 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd, 2 for 4th and 1 for 5th), and the overall score was the sum of the awarded sections.

The MoneySense review includes hundreds of Surviscor data points, including commission and account fees, customer service results, breadth of product offerings, depth of account information and analysis, market intelligence and the digital capabilities of DIY investing at each firm. The Cost of Services Experience evaluated each firm over five trade-related investor profiles and approximately 13,000 individual trades while the Service Responsiveness Experience reviewed 153 service interactions over a 12-month period ending May 31, 2022.


Learn More about the Canadian Online Brokerage industry

Best Online Brokers Rankings: Canada's Best and Worst Online Brokerage Firms

Commissions and Fees Experience Rankings: Canada's Best and Worst Online Brokerage Commissions and Fees Experiences

Service Experience Rankings: Canada's Best and Worst Online Brokerage Service Experiences

Online Platform Experience Rankings: Canada's Best and Worst Online-based Brokerage Experiences

Mobile Platform Experience Rankings: Canada's Best and Worst Mobile Platform Brokerage Experiences


Surviscor Personalized Validation and Selection Tool scorChoice for Consumer Bankers and Online Investors to find their own #1 firm