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

The BEST and WORST Online Brokerage Desktop Experiences for Canadian Investors

Qtrade Direct Investing leads the Desktop-based Online Investing Experience charge for Canadian Self-Directed Investors

Like it or not, the importance of hand-held devices on every day life is here to stay. But when it comes to Canadian DIY self-directed investing, investors better hope that its trading partner provides a robust desktop, non-phone-based platform, if they would like to better succeed at the journey. The latest The Best and Worst Canadian Online Brokerage Mobile Platform Experiences identified that online brokerage firms have taken different approaches when it comes to providing self-directed investors with mobile-based platforms, many settling on transactional-based mobile platforms with basic account and market information, which has heightened the necessity of the desktop-based platforms to provide traditional account management, educational material, and the deeper investment information to form investment strategies.

2023 was not a busy development year for desktop-based experiences at most firms which was not surprising after a busy 2022 and the level of development seen in mobile platforms in 2023. Two shinning lights appeared in 2023, each of which could be described as educational resources, and both welcomed additions and/or enhancements. One is the trend to enhance investor usage knowledge through how-to tutorial videos that are designed to show an investor how to better perform each task that is available through the digital platforms. Why is that important? Investors are regular people who need to feel comfortable with processes before they can take advantage of the features that surround the important functionality that exists. As comfort zones increase, so will confidence. The second is enhanced educational material offered through dedicated educational areas or centres that now offer live and on-demand events to learn at a comfortable pace. Financial literacy has long been a roadblock to self-directed DIY investing and these two trends should be able to help knockdown those barriers to entry.

The plain truth for new investors is that a robust desktop platform is essential for personal investing growth and to enhance each self-directed investing journey. DIY investing is not easy and relying only on handheld mobile platform experiences may force your journey to stop well before its necessary.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group

Review Headlines

The original Online Brokerage Review was introduced in 2006 when only desktop platforms existed. With the introduction of mobile-based platforms, and the inconsistencies that continue to exist between the two platforms, there was a need to narrow in on the pure desktop-based self-directed online brokerage experience. The review explores a typical laptop/desktop-based self-directed investor experience, including both the pre-login and login areas, that evaluates the desktop-based investing journey through each self-directed investor process and typical investor experience. The headlines are:

Busy at the Top

QTRADE DIRECT INVESTING managed to slip back into the top position, narrowly ahead of TD DIRECT INVESTING and SCOTIA iTRADE, who finished 3rd and 1st in 2022.

NATIONAL BANK DIRECT BROKERAGE's New Platform Didn't Move the Needle

NATIONAL BANK DIRECT BROKERAGE introduced a new desktop-based platform in 2023 but it failed to move the features and functionality. The design is crisp and clean, but we need to see more.


WEALTHSIMPLE TRADE can't compete with anyone when it comes to a desktop-based experience falling in last place of 26 of the 27 sub-category experiences.

COMPLETE RESULTS - All Firms under Review

Going beyond mere rankings, the analysis delves into the key aspects of a customer journey, evaluating investor user experiences of stock market and account information, the overall transactional experiences, and the resources available to help an investor along its important DIY customer journey. Here is the list of the Best and Worst firms:

Desktop Experience RankBrokerage FirmExperience ScoreView Company Review
1QTRADE DIRECT INVESTING86 %See Likes & Dislikes
2TD DIRECT INVESTING85 %See Likes & Dislikes
3SCOTIA iTRADE84 %See Likes & Dislikes
4QUESTRADE81 %See Likes & Dislikes
5RBC DIRECT INVESTING76 %See Likes & Dislikes
6BMO INVESTORLINE74 %See Likes & Dislikes
7CIBC INVESTOR's EDGE72 %See Likes & Dislikes
8CI DIRECT TRADING70 %See Likes & Dislikes
11WEALTHSIMPLE TRADE18 %See Likes & Dislikes
Refused*CG DIRECTn/aSee Other Reviews
Not RatedINTERACTIVE BROKERSn/aSee Other Reviews


The saying goes It's Been a Good Run, but in the case of HSBC INVESTDIRECT, the saying doesn't hold true. Current customers should welcome the RBC ROYAL BANK takeover as they will finally have access to respectable digital platforms, something that HSBC CANADA's executives and online brokerage brain trust couldn't figure out.

*Note: Both CG DIRECT INVESTING and LAURENTIAN BANK DISCOUNT BROKERAGE were approached to participate and either refused or did not respond. INTERACTIVE BROKERS CANADA is not reviewed due to its non-Canadian centric desktop platform and its inaccurate search engines' marketing claims under its Canadian brand where they claim to be rated a top firm which is not true of its Canadian operation versus other Canadian firms.

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Go to The Bottom Line

The BEST and WORST Firms - By Category

Surviscor prides itself on its tough marking and its depth of information analysis, meaning firms must earn every grade and ranking it receives, good and bad. The Surviscor Online Brokerage Desktop-based Platform Experience Review audits 11 of the mainstream Canadian digital online brokerage firms including bank-owned and independent firms.

The 2023 Surviscor Canadian Online Brokerage Desktop-based Experience Review audited 11 Canadian Online Brokers exploring a typical laptop/desktop-based online brokerage investing experience, including both the pre-login and secure login areas. The audit took place in November 2023 and evaluated each firm over 6 experience categories, including 27 sub-categories, evaluating 394 individual usage criteria based on 3600-plus objective user experience questions per firm.


The category audits the services available through the pre-login desktop platform, available to both existing and prospective desktop-based investors.

Industry RankBEST PlatformsIndustry RankWORST Platforms


The category audits the usability factors for the desktop-based investor once logged in, including measures that impact choice, convenience, and level of control.

Industry RankBEST PlatformsIndustry RankWORST Platforms


The category audits the non-transaction related desktop-based account information aimed at monitoring an investment account or assisting in the decision-making process.

Industry RankBEST PlatformsIndustry RankWORST Platforms


The category audits the informational aspect of all market intelligence available to desktop-based investors.

Industry RankBEST PlatformsIndustry RankWORST Platforms


The category audits the various desktop-based transactional screens along with the supporting process and features around the complete mobile transactional experience.

Industry RankBEST PlatformsIndustry RankWORST Platforms


The category audits the level of investment and planning tools available to the desktop-based investor along with the level of supporting education content and features.

Industry RankBEST PlatformsIndustry RankWORST Platforms

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

Why Surviscor Reviews Are Different

The Surviscor Experience Reviews are the largest and most unbiased evaluations in North America, known for uncompromised facts and truth, about true customer experiences and digital journeys. The differentiation between Surviscor reviews, other ranking firm reviews, and individuals who claim to cover the Canadian online brokerage and consumer banking industries are:

We have all heard of the saying 'No two things are created equal'. It's a strong and bold statement but a good one. It represents more than 'best or worst' scenarios. It represents a options to consider and some are 'better or worse' for a person's specific needs. Yes, that is different. Think about it. Our needs differ and the fact that even last place firms have customers proves the theory. Each Surviscor Experience Review validates the theory whether it's a self-directed online brokerage or a consumer banking review.

Review Insights

Here are some high-level insights from the 2023 Canadian Online Brokerage Desktop Platform Experience review:

The Meaning of the Scores

It makes sense to wonder what the difference is between an 86% and a 18% score. The basic explanation is it that the score represents a firm's ability to offer the features and functionality that exist in the global industry platform pool. Think of it as a pace car. Is the firm keeping up to all the features and functionality that exists amongst all the competing firms or is it losing ground. Translation, a firm score of 60% means that the firm is operating at a 60% pace to the available desktop-based features and functionalities amongst all the firms. The higher score the better the pace or improved experience.

DIY Investing is NOT Easy

Too many firms market that an investor should partner with them because they make investing easy. Really? Investors should force out partners who have robust digital platforms with more features and functionality than less because the only truth with the easy claims is that it is easy to use firms who offer limited product and even less features surrounding limited functionality.

Banks Are Not Always the Answer

History has shown that firms do not need to be bank-owned to succeed in the online brokerage self-directed investing arena and QTRADE DIRECT INVESTING, who mainly supports the credit union system and its members, and QUESTRADE prove the theory.

Investing Anonymous now a Thing

Ok we are having fun with the play on words, but it is now a thing. Each investor is allowed to designate a Trusted Contact who will be contacted by the firm if the investor is getting into trouble or appears to have lost control. Investing shouldn't be gambling but with the amount of false marketing messages and claims by basic firms that you will get rich from partnering with them, the concept seems to make sense.

Education is a Key to Financial Literacy

This is a subject we have been hammering home for many many years. Education, or interactive real help, not FAQs are the answer to next-step investor growth. The growth of has been seen particularly in interactive educational videos and article ranging from improving product knowledge to demonstrating individual transactions/tasks and the introduction Educational Hubs that now offer live and on-demand information. TD DIRECT INVESTING is knocking it out of the park.

No Shortage of Market Information

Market information is the start to every investing process. A basic quote is required to calculate an account's equity and is the yardstick to determining performance over time. It also starts the process of placing a trade and providing next level information on individual firms, industries and sectors. Each year it seems that this basic information gets expanded at progressive firms where now the information includes next-level information that can help guide investing strategies and narrow-in on bullish and bearish opportunities.

Digital Discrepancies are Narrowing

In 2022 we dedicated a whole section on the numerous inconsistencies between desktop and mobile-based platforms coming from the angle of each firm's ranking in each review. The interesting change is that there still exists some wide discrepancies versus Mobile platform rankings (QTRADE DIRECT INVESTING is 7th in mobile experience) but more of the discrepancies now are based on a better mobile-based experience at firms.

At first glance, placing a trade is a placing a trade and getting a quote is getting a quote. The truth is, there are many differences and investors should take notice. The best firms consider each investing task process from end to end and maximize the overall experience with supporting features to enhance the functionality and investment journey.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group

The Bottom Line

The reality today is that self-directed DIY investors are forced to use a combination of handheld devices and desktop platforms to maximize an optimal personal growth and investing strategy. The problem is the disjoint between what consumers like to use and how online brokerage firms approach the dual platforms. While consumers treat different devices as different ways to get things done, online brokerage firms treat the devices as products rather than different methods of delivery while trying to convince investors, and themselves, that it is in the investor's best interest.

The most important investor lesson is that no two online brokerage firms are alike despite some obvious transactional similarities. The keys to finding a reliable and appropriate investing partner are to QUESTION the status-quo, EXPLORE alternative relationships, and BEWARE the overblown marketing messages and false internet narratives.

Explore other Surviscor Rankings

This review is only one of many Surviscor yearly digital experience reviews for Online Self-Directed Brokerage and Consumer Banking firms. Take a look at your current firms, firms you always thought about using, and maybe you'll even find a new firm to consider.