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

Canada's BEST and WORST Online Brokerage Customer Service Level Experiences

Qtrade Direct Investing provides the Best Online Brokerage Service Experience in Canada

In today's world, it is hard to turn on any media source and not find someone, or some group, complaining about poor customer service experiences. In most cases, the complaints are valid. The excuses typically focus in on staffing issues, highlighted within the hospitality industry since COVID reared its ugly head a few years back, but financial services also struggled and continue to struggle. The difference with online brokerage firms is they tend to place the blame on trading volume and less focus on staffing. Whatever the reason, the complaints are warranted and despite improved average response times from 2021 coupled with expanded service methods, improvements are necessary.

Service reputation is the main cornerstone of any business relationship and can be measured in several ways. The review highlighted that service statistics and concerning newer trends of customer interaction levels like social-media and virtual assistants, send a message to investors that service experiences are not going to improve any time soon. While online brokers have kept pace with the newer customer interaction capabilities like chat and social media, the sad reality is that they are not being serviced as they should be even when they are an option.

The art of customer service has always been an evolving discipline, but the concern is the evolution cycle can be described using the popular saying - Like a Cat Chasing Its Tail. When one method fails to be internally productive or becomes too expensive, firms introduce another so-called innovative method and when it fails to meet expectations, a new method is introduced rather than correcting internal issues.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group

Review Headlines


QTRADE DIRECT INVESTING is the new leader in terms of overall service methods, availability, and responsiveness.


The fact that NATIONAL BANK DIRECT BROKERAGE (15), CIBC INVESTOR's EDGE (14), BMO INVESTORLINE (13), and SCOTIA iTRADE (11) are ranked in the bottom five is very disappointing. These rankings can not be chalked up to ultra-performances by the other firms, but rather the lack of respect and first impressions provided by these firms. How things have changed over the past decade.

QUESTRADE (#3) outperforms in each Category

QUESTRADE, last year's overall winner, is the only firm that manages a top 3 ranking in each of the categories under review which indicates its overall commitment to both responsiveness and providing investors with service choices at each stage of the journey.


NATIONAL BANK DIRECT BROKERAGE had a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde year in terms of responding but even when they did respond, the response times were unacceptable.


Surviscor reviews service interactions for over 45 Canadian financial services firms and has been collecting and reviewing over 110,000 interactions over the past 15 years. All firms reviewed, in both the Online Brokerage and Consumer Banking monthly studies, are offered the opportunity to act, and react, to the records with the hopes of dedicating themselves to improving service levels. Some are interested. Some are not. In most cases, the numbers tell the story.

Go to Review Highlights

Go to The BEST and WORST Firms by Category

Go to The Last Word

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

2023 Service Experience Rankings

Service Experience RankOnline Brokerage FirmPeer ScoreLink to Company Review
1Qtrade Direct Investing91 %See Full Analysis
2Canaccord Genuity Direct89 %See Full Analysis
3Questrade76 %See Full Analysis
4Interactive Brokers73 %See Full Analysis
5RBC Direct Investing61 %See Full Analysis
6Wealthsimple Trade48 %See Full Analysis
7TD Direct Investing45 %See Full Analysis
8Laurentian Bank Discount Brokerage40 %See Full Analysis
9CI Direct Trading36 %See Full Analysis
10Desjardins Online Brokerage20 %See Full Analysis
11Scotia iTRADE14 %See Full Analysis
12HSBC InvestDirect13 %See Full Analysis
13BMO InvestorLine10 %See Full Analysis
14CIBC Investor's Edge7 %See Full Analysis
15National Bank Direct Brokerage5 %See Full Analysis

Review Highlights

The Big Bank-Owned Firms Continue to Disappoint

All six big banks have online brokerage firms but only RBC DIRECT INVESTING managed to crack the top 5, finishing 5th, while four of the firms ranked lower than 10th. A big reason for the overall poor results revolves around service responsiveness and the removal of pre-login service methods on mobile platforms.

Does Less mean Less or More mean Less?

Last year the thought was that the push for $0 commissions could be contributing to poor service responsiveness. Maybe that is an unfair correlation as there are many commission-based firms lagging some of the $0 firms in the rankings, but one would think that initial impression service responsiveness would be better at firms who are attracting cost-conscious, and digital-based investors.

Secure Interaction Methods 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.

Weekends and Evenings are for Rest - Not Questions

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. Firms have lost sight on what self-directing investing means and the role they play in educating and assisting the investor through the journey of becoming a confident self-directed investor. Weekends and evenings are when questions arise but most of the online brokerage firms eliminated support in these crucial times due to low volumes. Some of the bank-owned firms use bank-run call centre for questions but the depth of knowledge is lacking.

Do Investors Really Believe Virtual Assistants are Good?

The first try at non-phone customer interaction was Chat services which was a live human-based interaction with our fingers. Then came Chat-Bots which eliminated the human at the firm end and typically ended in the need for a phone call. Then came social media which acted more like the original Chat interaction. Now we have Virtual Assistants, which industry experts have associated the existence with marketing angles not operational efficiencies. The name may have changed again but it doesn't change the result. The bottom line is non-human is non-human, and FAQs may help where a non-human interaction is needed; however, do humans really want to waste the time of the non-human interaction if the result in most cases is a call?

The BEST and WORST Firms - By Category

The Service Level Experience audits three main categories, including 8 sub-categories, to establish the best and worst online brokerage 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, and most important as it provides the necessary differentiation between firms, is the actual service responsiveness of each firm over the latest calendar year. The following provides a quick look at the individual category results:


The Non-Customer Interaction Resources category audits the public-site customer service touchpoints and personal assistance 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


The Customer Interaction Resources category audits the self-directed contact methods available at online brokerage firms including phone support, messaging centres, live chat, and other touchpoints of the secure login desktop and mobile platforms.

BEST Service ExperiencesLink to Company ReviewWORST Service ExperiencesLink to Company Review

The days of customer service being the primary focus at most firms appear to be over. The reality is that investors, and general consumers, will find it more difficult to dictate how they would like to be serviced moving forward as firms convince consumers that the reduction in real person interaction methods along with reduced hours of coverage are for the best. The early indication is this couldn't be further from the truth.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group

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


The Service Responsiveness category is a summary of the 147 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 18-year Service Level Monitoring and Benchmarking program.


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, reflect the new normal of customer service expectations. The 2022 Surviscor Response Standards and non-Standards results were as follows:

Response Standard Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
PLATINUM: < 6 hoursQtrade Direct Investing4.85 hoursSee Full Analysis
Canaccord Genuity Direct5.48 hoursSee Full Analysis
GOLD: 6-12 hoursInteractive Brokers11.02 hoursSee Full Analysis
SILVER: 12-18 hoursQuestrade13.15 hoursSee Full Analysis
RBC Direct Investing14.53 hoursSee Full Analysis
BRONZE: 18-24 hoursTD Direct Investing18.18 hoursSee Full Analysis
Wealthsimple Trade18.45 hoursSee Full Analysis
Laurentian Bank Discount Brokerage22.13 hoursSee Full Analysis


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:


Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
CI Direct Trading26.87 hoursSee Full Analysis
Desjardins Online Brokerage38.23 hoursSee Full Analysis
BMO InvestorLine41.73 hoursSee Full Analysis


Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
HSBC InvestDirect53.67 hoursSee Full Analysis
Scotia iTRADE53.97 hoursSee Full Analysis


Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
CIBC Investor's Edge91.95 hoursSee Full Analysis


Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
National Bank Direct Brokerage114.92 hoursFull Analysis


The club can be described as firms who are no longer interested in communicating with potential consumers via email or public-site forms. Fortunately, we learned towards the end of 2022 that last year's sole member, National Bank Direct Brokerage, had not abandoned the popular method, they simply turned their attention elsewhere why volumes were up. The party appears short-lived though as they were back to no responses in December 2022. Hopefully 2023 brings a renewed focus.

Key Service Responsiveness Findings

The Service Responsiveness category provides a wealth of information through its collection of approximately 2,200 individual service interactions in 2022. Here is a quick look at some of the key findings:

  • Industry's average response time improved 23% to 35 hours
  • The Online Brokerage Industry's top 10 average response time of 17.29 hours is 12.72 hours better than the top 10 Consumer Banking average
  • TUESDAY is the BEST day of the week to send service inquiries
  • LAURENTIAN BANK DISCOUNT BROKERAGE continued to show life in 2022, improving its response time by 15% to 22 hours
  • TD DIRECT INVESTING improved the most in 2022, improving its response time by 68% to 18 hours
  • CIBC INVESTOR's EDGE continues to disappoint with an average response time of 91.95 hours
  • SCOTIA iTRADE improved in 2022 but still takes on average 53.97 hours to respond
  • FRIDAY is the WORST day of the week to send service requests
  • 4 of the 5 BIG 5 BANKS improved response times by 24-48% but still average a 29 to 54-hour response time
  • NATIONAL BANK DIRECT BROKERAGE and its responsiveness inconsistencies

Good news continued throughout 2022 as most firm response times improved for the second consecutive year after many years of neglect that was blamed on increased trading volumes. The glaring concern is the trend within the big bank owned firms as four of the six fall outside the top 10, a trend that is also mirrored in our digital banking reviews.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group

Go back to the Service Experience Rankings

The Last Word

Accountability is the key to customer service success but what has appeared to be lost is the fact that it is a two-way street. Firms need to be accountable to both themselves and customers and the firms who make it part of their operational culture thrive and investors who demand it, thrive with a great partnership experience.

Brokerage firms do very well by Canadian investors and should be held accountable to the highest standards of customer experience. Hold your current, or potential firm, to the highest standard while always remembering that the investor holds the cards, not the brokerage firm, and there are many firms, big and small, to choose from. #FindTheRightFirm

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.