Surviscor Canadian Online Brokerage Experience Reviews - Canada's BEST and WORST Online Brokerage Customer Service Experiences

The BEST and WORST Online Brokerage Customer Service Experiences for Canadian Investors

Questrade raises the bar when it comes to Online Brokerage Service Experience in Canada

It is hard to not run into customer service in most aspects of our daily lives. Service can be defined in many ways, some of which are not even transparent or involve an actual interaction but unfortunately, perceptions and documentation of poor experience tend to outweigh positive experiences because its human nature to complain rather than praise. There should seldom be a reason to be at either side of the spectrum but what tends to happen over time is the service providers take its customer for granted and forget that without the customers, there is no service experience to worry about. This review indicates that this could be happening in the Canadian Online Brokerage industry and affecting self-directed investors.

Let us face the reality that we simply want things to work and when they don't, which happens and is understood, we simply want the problem resolved in a timely manner. Timeliness can never be understated when it comes to self-directed investing, especially during market hours, and our research indicates that timeliness support for an investor is pretty well limited to those hours. Our recommendation is to make sure all investors grab their mobile phone and add a speed dial number to their online brokerage firm partner into your mobile, even for the simplest of questions. While the industry boasts chat services, virtual assistants, form-based requests, email support, and even social support, only a few of those firms offer all of them and even fewer respond to them in a timely manner.

At Surviscor, our belief is that good service is bred from an internal culture and it is clear from these results that not all self-directed online brokerage firms are culturing an acceptable environment, and many are taking self-directed investors for granted. The good news is QUESTRADE raises the bar when it comes to a complete service experience by offering its prospective and current investors more choices of contact, more hours of coverage and delivering industry leading responsiveness across the methods. And despite falling from the top spot this year, honourable mention is extended to QTRADE DIRECT INVESTING who has been a service experience leader for the past decade.

While some online brokers have kept pace with the newer customer interaction capabilities, they are not offered everywhere nor are they respectfully supported. The one common pattern is that DIY investors are offered less hours along with less days of support which indicates that most are not being adequately supported on their self-directed investing journey, something we hope will change.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group

Review Headlines

QUESTRADE leads the charge

QUESTRADE is the new leader in terms of overall service methods, availability, and responsiveness, providing self-directed investors with industry-leading service choices and responsiveness at each stage of their investing journey.

QTRADE DIRECT INVESTING drops to #3

Last year's winner QTRADE DIRECT INVESTING dropped to 3rd place mainly due to a slight increase in its service responsiveness and its limited contact methods across its digital platforms.

Two BIG BANK-owned firms step up

CIBC INVESTOR'S EDGE (#4) rose from the depths moving up 10 positions while TD DIRECT INVESTING (#2) moved up 5 positions, both due to a long-awaited wake-up call to improve prospective investor service responsiveness.

Two BIG BANK-owned firms remain disinterested

While two woke up, two of the other traditional big 5 bank-owned firms, SCOTIA iTRADE and BMO INVESTORLINE continue to offer poor service responsiveness to new prospective self-directed investors.

RBC DIRECT INVESTING (#7) may have sleep apnea

The other traditional big bank-owned firm RBC DIRECT INVESTING woke-up after many years of poor responsiveness, then went back to sleep again late in 2023 but appears to be waking up again. The roller-coaster ride, which is without explanation from them will only become more challenged when HSBC INVEST DIRECT investors make their way over in the upcoming months and first impressions do last the longest.

WEALTHSIMPLE TRADE (#14) has not figured out Service

While WEALTHSIMPLE TRADE appears to have perfected a marketing message stating its relevancy as a Canadian self-directed broker, its industry standing and lower than low service experience score indicates that maybe they should spend less time - and money - on marketing and more on service.

LBDB (#15) back to its old ways

Despite a small indication of life in 2022, LAURENTIAN BANK DISCOUNT BROKERAGE has reverted to its old ways claiming yet another Surviscor worst firm for everything they do title.


Go to Firm Highlights

Go to Review Highlights

Go to The BEST and WORST Firms by Category

Go to The Last Word


2024 Service Experience Rankings

Experience RankOnline Brokerage FirmPeer ScoreLink to Company Review
1Questrade88 %See Full Analysis
2TD Direct Investing83 %See Full Analysis
3Qtrade Direct Investing69 %See Full Analysis
4CIBC Investor's Edge62 %See Full Analysis
5Interactive Brokers58 %See Full Analysis
6Canaccord Genuity Direct47 %See Full Analysis
7RBC Direct Investing43 %See Full Analysis
8CI Direct Trading39 %See Full Analysis
9HSBC InvestDirect33 %See Full Analysis
10Desjardins Online Brokerage32 %See Full Analysis
T-11Scotia iTRADE25 %See Full Analysis
T-11BMO InvestorLine25 %See Full Analysis
13National Bank Direct Brokerage20 %See Full Analysis
14Wealthsimple Trade15 %See Full Analysis
15Laurentian Bank Discount Brokerage9 %See Full Analysis

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Firm Highlights

Here is a quick alpabetical breakdown at how each online brokerage firm is servicing an Canadian Investor's customer service needs:

BMO INVESTORLINE (#11)

BMO INVESTORLINE provides its self-directed investors with average customer service interaction methods across its digital platforms but fails to properly service prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.

CANACCORD GENUITY DIRECT (#6)

CG DIRECT does not provide its self-directed investors with adequate customer service interaction methods but does manage to respond to prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.

CIBC INVESTOR's EDGE (#4)

CIBC INVESTOR's EDGE provides its self-directed investors with average customer service interaction methods across its digital platforms and provides better than average service for prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.

CI DIRECT TRADING (#8)

CI DIRECT TRADING provides its self-directed investors with average customer service interaction methods across its digital platforms and provides respectable service for prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.

DESJARDINS ONLINE BROKERAGE (#10)

DESJARDINS ONLINE BROKERAGE provides its self-directed investors with better desktop-based customer service interaction methods than mobile-based methods and must improve its current service levels for prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.

HSBC INVESTDIRECT (#9)

The gig will soon be over for HSBC INVEST DIRECT which is not a bad thing for its self-directed investing community. Hopefully RBC ROYAL BANK can figure out how BOTH firms can better service these self-directed investors.

INTERACTIVE BROKERS (#5)

INTERACTIVE BROKERS provides its self-directed investors with better mobile-based customer service interaction methods than desktop-based methods but does manage to respond to prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.

LAURENTIAN BANK DISCOUNT BROKERAGE (#15-The WORST)

LAURENTIAN BANK DISCOUNT BROKERAGE provides POOR customer service interaction methods for its self-directed investors with and has for 25 years. Service levels for prospective self-directed investors came alive in 2022 which was promising but has since returned to its old ways of poor responsiveness levels.

NATIONAL BANK DIRECT BROKERAGE (#13)

NATIONAL BANK DIRECT BROKERAGE provides better service methods for prospective self-directed investors through its desktop-based platform and its current self-directed investors through its mobile-based platform and must improve its current service levels for prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.

QTRADE DIRECT INVESTING (#3)

QTRADE DIRECT INVESTING provides its self-directed investors with average customer service interaction methods across its digital platforms and provides above average service responsiveness for prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.

QUESTRADE (#1-The BEST)

QUESTRADE provides its self-directed investors with best practice customer service interaction methods across its digital platforms and sets the industry standards on how to respond to prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.

RBC DIRECT INVESTING (#7)

RBC DIRECT INVESTING provides its self-directed investors with better desktop-based customer service interaction methods than mobile-based methods but has taken too many steps back from the improved step it took in 2022 in term of servicing prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.

SCOTIA iTRADE (#11)

SCOTIA iTRADE provides its self-directed investors with with average customer service interaction methods across its digital platforms but must start to improve and pay attention to prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.

TD DIRECT INVESTING (#2)

TD DIRECT INVESTINGprovides its self-directed investors with average customer service interaction methods across its digital platforms and provides above average service responsiveness for prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.

WEALTHSIMPLE TRADE (#14)

WEALTHSIMPLE TRADE provides POOR customer service interaction methods for its self-directed investors, despite marketing efforts that claim otherwise, and must improve its current service levels for prospective self-directed investors who reach out for information or help.


Review Highlights

Secure Interaction Methods Remain Nothing to Brag About

Online brokerage firms make a big deal about the danger of non-secure interactions. The message to onlookers is that customers receive better treatment and more effective methods once inside the walls, but the research continues to indicate otherwise. In most cases, those areas of customer interaction within the walls are dated and poorly designed for near-instant messaging and the turn-around times are not as fast as one would hope once signed-in.

Don't Offer Methods You Can't Support

The list of excuses grows larger for online brokers who fail to properly service prospective self-direct investors. The issue is that the actions taken to improve these disrespectful service levels does not, which is backwards. All service-based firms must hold themselves accountable for each customer interaction method they offer and support them with respect. Online brokers are no different and enough is enough. The message to these online brokerage firms is it's time to stop the excuses and get better or simply remove the availability of service interaction methods that won't be respectfully supported.

$0 Firms Not Properly Servicing the Prospective Investor

When one narrows-in at the service level experiences amongst firms who offer $0 commissions, it becomes apparent that they fall towards the bottom of the rankings. The result begs a few questions. To start, is it a coincidence? Our answer would be that it most likley is. Next, should it be better? The clear and obvious answer is absolutely it should be as investor acquisition is of paramount importance and prospective self-directed investors are exactly who the firms are marketing to.

If NO Live Chat - Go Straight to the Phone

The timeliness of information in the world of investing cannot be overstated and issues that arise during market hours require swift action. While this review compares the various service interaction methods at each firm, it does not measure phone responsiveness times which is the service interaction method of choice during market hours. To combat potential higher wait times, a few firms offer live chat services during market hours while others try to get away with virtual assistants. The reality is that virtual assistants are chat-bots or even better, a sophisticated FAQ. They do not represent a real conversation with a real and live customer service representative and investors should understand that. The question still remains year after year, do humans really want to waste time with non-human interaction if the interaction, in most cases, ends up with a call being placed?

Don't Expect Support on Weekends and Evenings

Domestic investment markets traditional run 5 days a week from 9:30am-4pm ET with both pre-market and after-market capabilities at a few firms. Long gone are the days of weekend support which can be debated until the end of time due to the reduced commissions and the cost to provide weekend service. While its makes economic sense, what gets lost is the need for education and assisting the journey of becoming a confident self-directed investor. While is can be somewhat accomplished through robust digital information and education, the reality is that the firms who tend to not perform well, are the ones who do not offer the next-level digital support tools.


The BEST and WORST Firms - By Category

The Service Level Experience audits three main categories and 8 sub-categories to establish the best and worst online brokerage service firms in Canada. The general approach is to analyze all available customer service contact options and the availability at each online brokerage firm and focus in on both the pre-login and logged-in areas of each firm's digital platforms. The last component which measures service responsiveness throughout 2023 provides the necessary differentiation between firms. The following provides a quick look at the individual category results:

Category 1: NON-CUSTOMER INTERACTION RESOURCES

The Non-Customer Interaction Resources category audits the public-site customer service touch points and personal assistance methods a self-directed investor can use at any given online brokerage firm including phone support, messaging centres, live chat, and other non-secure touch points on both the desktop-based and mobile-based platforms.

BEST Service ExperiencesLink to Company ReviewWORST Service ExperiencesLink to Company Review
TD DIRECT INVESTINGSee Full AnalysisWEALTHSIMPLE TRADESee Full Analysis
QUESTRADESee Full AnalysisLAURENTIAN BANK DISCOUNT BROKERAGESee Full Analysis

Category 2: CUSTOMER INTERACTION RESOURCES

The Customer Interaction Resources category audits the secure platform self-directed contact methods available at online brokerage firms including phone support, messaging centres, live chat, aand other secure platform touch points on both the desktop-based and mobile-based platforms.

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Less personal interaction, reduced hours and reduced days of customer support are fast becoming the norm across all financial services industries. In terms of support for investors, the truth is that not all firms are built the same and the industry is lagging other financial services industries. Congratulations to the firms who perform well as they clear outperform and understand the importance of customer choice and responsiveness.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group


Category 3: SERVICE RESPONSIVENESS

The Service Responsiveness category is a summary of the 142 service interactions collected per firm initiated through the online brokerage firm's chosen public-facing interaction facility, including an average time to respond, a peer-based service level index, the success of any stated response promise guidelines and information on the optimal days of the week to interact. The results are collected through Surviscor's proprietary 19-year Service Level Monitoring and Benchmarking program.

FIRM RESPONSE TIMES and SURVISCOR STANDARDS

Surviscor has established 4 levels of response standards based on the average time to respond to a service interaction. The standards were first established in 2007 and were adjusted with lower response times in 2010 to reflect a good era for service, only to see the standards increased again in 2020 to, sadly speaking, reflect the new normal of customer service expectations. The current Surviscor Response Standards and non-Standards levels are as follows:

BEST Service ExperiencesLink to Company ReviewWORST Service ExperiencesLink to Company Review
INTERACTIVE BROKERSSee Full AnalysisLAURENTIAN BANK DIRECT BROKERAGESee Full Analysis
QUESTRADESee Full AnalysisCANACCORD GENUITY DIRECTSee Full Analysis
Response Standard Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
PLATINUM: < 6 hoursQuestrade2.68 hoursSee Full Analysis
GOLD: 6-12 hoursQtrade Direct Investing6.20 hoursSee Full Analysis
TD Direct Investing6.92 hoursSee Full Analysis
SILVER: 12-18 hoursCIBC Investor's Edge12.90 hoursSee Full Analysis
Canaccord Genuity Direct13.22 hoursSee Full Analysis
BRONZE: 18-24 hoursInteractive Brokers22.58 hoursSee Full Analysis

BELOW SURVISCOR STANDARD RESPONSE TIMES

The good news is that the Non-Standards club is getting smaller as 5 firms jumped into the Surviscor response standards window of 24 hours. The remaining 7 firms, who do not respond within 24 hours, are classified into 5 distinct, but nothing to write home about, response clubs. Hopefully your firm is not found here:


THE 1 - 2 DAYS TO RESPOND CLUB

Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
CI Direct Trading26.00 hoursSee Full Analysis
HSBC InvestDirect33.60 hoursSee Full Analysis
Desjardins Online Brokerage40.02 hoursSee Full Analysis

THE 2-3 DAYS TO RESPOND CLUB

Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
Wealthsimple Trade49.00 hoursSee Full Analysis
RBC Direct Investing49.30 hoursSee Full Analysis
BMO InvestorLine52.12 hoursSee Full Analysis
Laurentian Bank Discount Brokerage69.48 hoursSee Full Analysis

THE 3-4 DAYS TO RESPOND CLUB

Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
Scotia iTRADE72.30 hoursSee Full Analysis

THE 4-5 DAYS TO RESPOND CLUB

Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
National Bank Direct Brokerage107.22 hoursFull Analysis

THE NON e-CONTACT CLUB

The good news in the Canadian self-directed online brokerage industry is that all firms continue to offer prospective investors, or possibly current investors, the opportunity to fill in a form or send an email to interact with the firm. Unfortunately, two firms fell into the club at times in past 12 months, based upon not responding at all to the method they say can be used, and based on discretionary choices to ignore the methods. The two firms are National Bank Direct Brokerage who acknowledges the overlooking and RBC Direct Investing who went awol for two months late in the year with no explanation for the absence. The good news is that they appeared to be back in the game in December. Time will tell if that changes and hopefully for the sake of its new HSBC Invest

Our interaction method of choice for collecting our service responsiveness is constantly under fire but always by the firms who perform poorly. The troubling rebuttal and pushback is that the data does not reflect how they would treat an actual customer. Really? Defending the fact that they are ok leaving prospective customers hanging for many days while they focus on the current investors is unacceptable and investors should take note because they simply made a choice to use a method given to them.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group


Key Service Responsiveness Findings

The Service Responsiveness category provides a wealth of information through its collection of approximately 2,100 individual service interactions in 2023. Here are some of the more notable statistics and findings:

  • 6 out of 15 firms improved response times in 2023
  • Of the 9 firms who got worse, 2 rank in the top 5
  • WEDNESDAYS are the best day to send a question
  • CIBC INVESTOR's EDGE improved 86% to 12.30 hours
  • QUESTRADE improved 80% to 2.68 hours
  • TD DIRECT INVESTING improved 62% to 6.92 hours

  • Average industry response time was up 7% to 37.57 hours
  • 9 out of 15 firms took longer to respond in 2023
  • Of the 6 firms who improved, only 3 of them rank in the top 5
  • FRIDAYS are the worst day to send a question
  • RBC DIRECT INVESTING's response time increased 239% to 49.30 hours
  • LAURENTIAN BANK DISCOUNT BROKERAGE's response time increased 214% to 69.48 hours
  • SCOTIA iTRADE-The WORST firm that responds (72 hours)

  • Generally speaking, the industry held court in the past year in terms of its average response times and methods of interaction. It was great to see a few big bank-owned firms start to figure it out but more concerning is the fact that there remians big bank-owned firms who consistently provide poor and unacceptable overall service experiences and either accept them or blatently refuse to do anything about it. Take notice investors. They are easy to spot.

    Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group


    Go back to the Service Experience Rankings


    The Last Word

    Online Brokerage firms should be held accountable to both current and prospective investors, and more importantly, to themselves, when comparing customer service experiences amongst all industry firms. The importance of overall service experiences is driven by internal culture and both good and poor results are indications of a firm's accountability within its culture.

    Poor results can happen from time to time which is acceptable and can be forgiven. What can't be forgiven is ignorance and the lack of respect that comes from a pattern of poor service interaction methods and responsiveness, especially when there is little effort to change the narrative. Hold your partners accountable and if the current one isn't delivering, there are many more to choose from.


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