Look Back Look Ahead 2021-2022

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From the Editor


What is Sparx Trading? A Content Marketing Success Story


Sparx Trading Celebrates 10 Years


Online Brokerages on the Radar


The New Class: Commission-Free Online Brokerages Launching Soon(ish)

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Canadian Online Brokerage 12


Andrea Casciato Head of North American Digital Investing Sales & Service

Claude-Frédéric Robert President, National Bank Direct Brokerage

BMO InvestorLine


Desjardins Online Brokerage (EN VERSION) Marc Girard Director, Desjardins Online Brokerage


Desjardins Courtage en ligne (FR VERSION)

Marc Girard Directeur principal, Desjardins courtage en ligne

National Bank Direct Brokerage (EN VERSION)


Banque Nationale Courtage direct (FR VERSION)

Claude-Frédéric Robert President, Banque Nationale Courtage direct


Qtrade Direct Investing Christine Zalzal SVP, Head of Qtrade Direct Investing and VirtualWealth



Attilio Montanari Vice President, HSBC InvestDirect

Lori Darlington President & CEO, RBC Direct Investing

HSBC InvestDirect


Sparx Publishing Group Inc.


Hamish Khamisa ART DIRECTOR

Elisabeth Choi



Nikki Manthey Libby Shabada Copyright Sparx Publishing Group Inc. 2021 To advertise online, please contact (604) 488-1097 @SparxTrading

RBC Direct Investing

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR If there’s one thing that all self-directed investors have in common, it’s that they pay attention to trends. This year, we officially crossed the 10-year mark at Sparx Trading, and if there’s one thing that we can speak to after a decade’s worth of data and analysis, it’s being able to spot trends in the Canadian online brokerage industry. Taking stock (pun intended) of the past year and a half, it’s fair to say we’re living through events unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed before. And yet, one of the most striking features of the Canadian online brokerage industry, even in the face of such dramatic events, is the ability of the Canadian market to sustain firms that move at paradoxically different speeds when it comes to innovation. That world, however, is about to change. In this fifth iteration of the Look Back / Look Ahead magazine, it’s abundantly clear that the Canadian self-directed investing industry sits at the cusp of a major transformation. From the launch of commission-free trading by National Bank Direct Brokerage, to a structural shift in demographics of investors who entered the online trading world, 2021 was a year that online brokerage executives told us challenged them to establish a new normal when it comes to delivering outstanding experiences for Canadian self-directed investors. Drastic change was also prevalent at this year. Our choice to completely overhaul our website and lean into refining our brand identity appears to be in line with where leaders in the industry are as well. And we, too, have some incredibly ambitious projects slated for the next year that we can’t wait to share more about, especially the launch of Sparx Trading Pro. After 10 years of consistently producing content on the Canadian online brokerage landscape, it’s remarkable to reflect on the breadth of audience that we serve. Analysts, journalists, executives, enthusiasts and investors turn to Sparx Trading for in-depth insights and newsworthy developments, as well as puns, gifs and fun artwork. In today’s parlance, we’ve helped to democratize online investing by providing industry-grade content and insights to all. Today, investors have more technology, platforms, products, providers and pricing options than they have ever had before, which means our place in the DIY investor ecosystem is even more important today than it was a decade ago when we first launched. On behalf of the exceptionally talented Sparx team, I would like to thank our loyal readers, supporters and especially the online brokerage community for 10 years of wonderful memories, and for keeping things interesting. Where the next 10 years takes us all, we’re not sure. But we’re excited all the same, especially if where we’re going next won’t need roads. See you in the future! Hamish Khamisa Founder, For more Canadian online brokerage news, reviews and promotions, check out!

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Tools of the Trade Self-directed investing is made easier with, your one-stop source for navigating the world of online trading. Learn about the latest trends and compare features, pricing, and promotions at Canadian online brokerages with our easy to use resources. Let give you the tools to make better-informed choices and improve your financial well-being.

Invest in a better future.


Empowering Canadians to improve their financial wellbeing through accessible content by Libby Shabada


hink of your last (virtual) dinner party – maybe terms like “zero-commission trading” or “ETF” (exchange traded fund) came up in conversation. These days, it seems like everyone is interested in DIY investing. Perhaps you’ve also considered it, finding yourself Googling online brokerages. If you’ve ever tried to find information to compare online brokerages, you know it’s not always an easy feat. In fact, you may have spent more time going down reddit rabbit holes than actually putting your hard-earned money to work. Solving this problem was the spark that brought Sparx Trading into existence. Founded in 2011 in Vancouver, Canada, Sparx Trading was built to make it easy for self-directed investors with different levels of knowledge and experience to research and choose an online brokerage. The overwhelming number of products, services, and materials available in the online brokerage space resulted in a clear need for an educational platform that provided reliable, straightforward, and most importantly, accessible information.

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What Does Sparx Trading Do? Helps self-directed investors research and compare online brokerages. Investors come in three main types. The first type are those who use portfolio managers, which is a person or group who helps an investor make and implement investing decisions. The second type are those who use robo-advisors, platforms that provide financial planning services through automated algorithms. The last type is self-directed or DIY investors, those who build and manage their portfolios themselves. Sparx Trading’s main focus is on self-directed investors. While self-directed investors don’t pay for the services of a portfolio manager, they still have to invest via an online brokerage – which has its own set of potential fees and features – to be able to trade stocks on an exchange. Sparx Trading is a one-stop source of industry-grade information for DIY investors about online brokerages. Users are able to find deals, read brokerage reviews, and compare online brokerages with a comprehensive tool. The information is designed to improve financial literacy and increase transparency when it comes to online brokerages and the

Why is Sparx Trading a Great Example of Content Marketing? BMO INVESTORLINE













world of investing. In other words, to level the playing field for DIY investors. The material is usable, impartial, accurate, and all in one place, so users at varying levels of experience can make their own decisions on which online brokerage is best for them. By having access to this information, self-directed investors are empowered to build their wealth by choosing an online brokerage that can best help them achieve their specific financial goals.

Provides information and analysis for industry professionals. When it comes to news and trends in the online brokerage space, it can be challenging for those in the industry to stay up to date on everything that’s happening, too. Each week, Sparx Trading releases the Weekly Roundup, an informative and fun blog that curates important developments in the online brokerage space, and delivers an insightful and data-driven analysis of each development. The Weekly Roundup also helps professionals stay on top of overarching customer sentiment by highlighting topics that self-directed investors are discussing across a variety of online forums.

With its unique Weekly Roundup blog series, brokerage comparison tool, index of current deals and promotions, and comprehensive review pages for online brokerages, Sparx Trading produces some pretty valuable and successful content – and others think so too. In fact, after Sparx Trading was launched in 2011, it attracted the attention of DIY investors and major Canadian financial brands (including several big banks), as well as other businesses in the finance space. Not only did these audiences find value in our content, we also connected with companies who wanted content marketing help, similar to what they’d seen on Sparx Trading. And so, Sparx Publishing Group was born! Starting with Sparx Trading, a brand that is entirely content-driven, Sparx Publishing Group has worked with many brands on increasingly complex digital marketing challenges. Meanwhile, we continue to build content for Sparx Trading and find new ways to deliver even more value to audiences in the online brokerage space. By doing this, we exemplify what we’re able to achieve with content marketing: publishing consistent, timely, value-added content to an engaged audience. We know our content marketing methods work because we’re both the chef and the guest! Sparx Trading also aligns with Sparx Publishing Group’s mission to make the world better. Through the content produced by Sparx Trading, self-directed investors are given the tools to improve their financial well-being, a key indicator of overall lifestyle and happiness.

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SPARX TRADING CELEBRATES 10 YEARS A decade of levelling the playing field for self-directed investors by Libby Shabada

How it Started Let us set the scene. Three young people were at a cafe in Vancouver, BC one rainy day in 2011. Amid the chatter, they began talking about growing their personal wealth, and wondered why it’s so difficult and expensive to learn about investing online. Why couldn’t there be a one-stop shop for the impartial, informative, unbiased information about self-directed investing in Canada, accessible to everyone? It was time to level the financial playing field for individual investors and help empower Canadians to take control of their financial wellbeing. The “spark” for Sparx Trading was lit. Along the way, Sparx Trading has been through some interesting iterations. However, the mission was always the same: to educate Canadians about the online investing space, allowing self-directed investors to make the best financial decisions for themselves, and keeping industry professionals in the know. Flash forward 10 years, and we continue to be at the forefront of the Canadian online investing space, serving the online investing community in our own unique way.

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List of places in the world the Weekly Roundup has been written from * we couldn’t keep track in New Zealand, and one place was a boat!


Number of movies we’ve referenced with our bull and bear imagery


Approximate number of puns made


How it’s Going Over the last 10 years, Sparx Trading is proud to have become the leading resource for industry-grade information, including news, deals, and industry trends, designed to level the playing field for self-directed investors. It’s been a productive decade for us, and our work is more relevant than ever, especially as more Canadians turn to online investing to help achieve their financial goals. While some things have changed across the industry, such as the rise of fintech and the advent of zero-commission trading, we’re still bridging the gap between investors and brokerages by providing relevant, accessible, digestible, industry-grade content that helps people take control of their finances and industry professionals understand consumer sentiment and trends. WEEKLY ROUNDUP EXPLAINED

The Weekly Roundup is an informative and fun blog series that curates important developments in the online brokerage space, and delivers insightful and data-driven analysis. It also provides insight for online brokerages into customer sentiment by highlighting topics that self-directed investors are discussing across a variety of online forums. SPARX TRADING DEALS EXPLAINED

It’s kind of a big deal! This section of includes the Deals Index, a comprehensive list of all the online brokerage offers and promotions currently available to self-directed investors. It also features VIP promos available exclusively via Sparx Trading, and an easy-to-use deals wizard that quickly narrows down which offers investors may be eligible for.



website visitors since launching



(and counting!) Weekly Roundups produced since the launch in 2012

Canadian online brokerages currently covered (with more to come!)

JULY 30, 2012:

Sparx Trading officially moves into an office

OCTOBER 26, 2012:

Sparx Trading’s first mention in the Globe and Mail

Looking Ahead As the online brokerage industry continues to innovate, so do we. One new development we’re excited to announce is Sparx Trading Pro. Built for direct investing industry professionals and enthusiasts, Sparx Trading Pro is a platform that provides data-driven insights into the behaviours of online brokerage customers, and analysis of how effectively brokerages are connecting and communicating with their clients. This platform allows online brokerages to easily enhance their understanding of their customers’ needs, and provides the necessary information to enhance and improve the online investing experience. Online brokerages getting better at customer interactions and customers getting what they want from online brokerages? It’s a win/win! Stay tuned for more! We’re planning to launch by summer 2022.



the launch of the Deals section on

we launched the first Look Back / Look Ahead (originally called Year in Review)

JUNE 2020:

MARCH 1, 2021:

Sparx Trading goes fully remote

Sparx Trading 2.0 and the Deals Index went live

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Featured Online Brokerage

BMO InvestorLine LOOKING BACK: INVESTORLINE 2021 IN REVIEW Exciting and significant changes have been happening at BMO InvestorLine. A surge of demand in digital investing over the past year has led to an increase in both our active client base and the number of trades being placed on our platform. Of the new clients to InvestorLine, many are younger investors who are investing online for the first time. We also experienced record growth in clients signing up for adviceDirect, our investing platform that combines the power of the InvestorLine platform with personalized advice, advisor support, and real-time alerts.

Andrea Casciato Head of North American Digital Investing Sales & Service

INVESTORLINE HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE YEAR • Client acquisition for InvestorLine rose 20% year-over-year • Nearly 50% of new clients are younger investors (< 35 years old) • More clients are placing trades with InvestorLine (trade volume increased 30%) • New adviceDirect accounts increased by 70% year-over-year

ALWAYS-ON INNOVATION The surge in account growth and trading increased client call volumes exponentially. To better serve our clients, we tripled new hires at our contact centre and introduced our call-back-assist feature. We’re well positioned for the increased demand to our contact centres as the market and our client base continue to expand. We also introduced industry-leading changes to our web platform. InvestorLine 2.0, available for both self-directed and adviceDirect clients, now includes upgraded features that elevate the client experience and empower investors to make smarter investment decisions. As well, updated designs and user interface focus on improving user experience by providing: 12 /

• Greater access to meaningful investment data and third-party research • Planning and ideation tools, including a dividend calculator for equities, and a screener and compare tool for ETFs With the introduction of pricing changes across our products, we positioned ourselves to capture a whole new segment of clients: • Minimum investment required to become an adviceDirect client has been lowered from $50,000 to $10,000 • adviceDirect’s fee structure has been simplified to 0.75% of billable assets capped at $3,750 per year • Self-directed clients can now trade 80+ ETFs from Canada’s largest three ETF providers with absolutely no commission fees. Since launching in June, we’ve seen a 40% lift in clients investing in ETFs

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2022 With a year of expanding growth under our belt, we’re excited to offer Canadian investors even more of what they’re looking for in an online brokerage: personalized advice and support, an enhanced mobile experience, and expanded ETF offerings.

PERSONALIZED INVESTING WITH ADVICEDIRECT We believe the demand for digital investment advice will continue to rise. Investors want to control their investment decisions, but they want support and advice along the way. Our adviceDirect offering combines BMO InvestorLine’s easy-to-use platform with personalized advice, empowering investors with the confidence to make smarter investing decisions. With a lower minimum investment to open an adviceDirect account, we’re excited to welcome a whole new generation of investors, and we’ll keep expanding our platform to provide clients with the right advice at the right time.

UPGRADING INVESTORLINE MOBILE We’ve heard our clients loud and clear: they want to invest not only how they want, but

Q&A Q1 What can beginner investors expect from your firm? Beginner investors can expect a robust platform that’s intuitive to use. We have a diversified offering of online investing options, seamless digital onboarding, and easy ways to fund your account. We’ve also created a new series of educational content for first-time investors. These videos and articles are designed to help new investors learn the basics: where to start, what to watch out for, and how to build a healthy portfolio. InvestorLine offers a simple yet smart research and trading experience. We’re passionate about helping new investors find the right online investing tools to fit their needs. You can find our Course 1 Introduction on our YouTube channel.

where they want. To help Canadians realize their goals, we’ll be upgrading our mobile app. Building on the improvements we’ve made with InvestorLine 2.0, the new app will sport a modern look and feel, new biometric security features, and an enhanced trading experience. We are also working towards supporting advanced options trading and real-time cash and margin balances, further enabling clients to take better control of their investments.

INCREASING OUR VALUE With the popularity of our no commission-fee ETFs, we’ll soon be introducing the ETF Hub for InvestorLine. This will be a dedicated resource where investors can find ETF-focused screeners with more detailed criteria (including ESG scores and third-party ratings), research tools, and educational content. We expect continued momentum with ETF investing, and we believe investors will be looking for the tools and insights to help them trade in this category. Canadian investors will continue to value online brokerages that give them more value for their money. By expanding our support of ETFs and improving our mobile capabilities, we’re looking forward to giving Canadians the value, tools, and features they need to invest smarter and with more confidence. Disclaimers: BMO InvestorLine Inc. is a member of BMO Financial Group. ®Registered trade-mark of Bank of Montreal, used under licence. BMO InvestorLine Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of Montreal. Member - Canadian Investor Protection Fund and Member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. An adviceDirect account is a non-discretionary, fee-based account which offers investment recommendations. adviceDirect does not provide portfolio management by a portfolio manager. The client makes their own investment decisions and manages their own investment portfolio. adviceDirect does not offer discretionary, managed accounts.

Q2 What can active investors expect from your firm? Active investors will appreciate the overhauled design of InvestorLine 2.0 – it’s easier than ever to place a trade, see meaningful data to help you make decisions, and manage your accounts. InvestorLine self-directed 5 Star clients receive preferred pricing, dedicated 5 Star support, access to the MarketPro trading platform, and real-time Level II quotes, as well as access to BMO Capital Markets research and exclusive IPO allocation. Q3 What online investing trends do you expect to matter to DIY investors? Digital is going to be a big space for investors, both for its self-serve capabilities but also for advice. As more people enjoy the autonomy and freedom of choosing their own investments, we believe having the tools to support DIY investors will become more and more important, and that includes giving investors personalized advice and dynamic insights that will help them achieve their investment goals. Q4 What does user experience mean at your firm? We’re fanatic about client-centered design and always-on innovation. We regularly incorporate user testing and feedback in every step of the product development cycle, and we use client data and feedback to guide our ongoing updates. We make monthly updates based on user feedback, so we’re always looking to make a positive impact on how clients use the platform and how we can enhance their overall experience. Q5 What sets your firm apart from your peers? We believe our holistic investing platform is really what sets us apart. We have a full-featured platform that isn’t just for placing trades; it’s easy to use without sacrificing customizability, meaning you can truly make the platform your own. More specifically, adviceDirect empowers our clients by allowing them to make their own investment choices while getting advice that’s customized to their portfolio and goals. Look Back 2021 Look Ahead 2022 /  13

Featured Online Brokerage


Desjardins Online Brokerage LOOKING BACK ON 2021 Rising interest and robust platforms

Marc Girard Director, Desjardins Online Brokerage

The year 2021 was rich in learning, challenges, and successes for Desjardins Online Brokerage. With a 150% increase in clients since 2019 and a 265% increase in transactions in just one year, the question arises: how can we continue to improve our offerings while maintaining the excellent customer service and client experience that have made us market leaders for nearly 40 years? Growing interest in independent investing has, among other things, underscored the importance of robust platforms. When the industry was hit by several outages early in the year, our systems were able to accommodate not only the steady influx of new users, but also the increased volume of transactions made by our existing users. The stability of our ecosystems has long been identified as one of the keys to our success, and we have made major investments in this area. As more and more investors turn to online brokerages, trading platform reliability and robustness are more important than ever.

Markets accessible to all The year 2021 was also pivotal in terms of market accessibility, with Desjardins Online Brokerage eliminating fees for transactions conducted online. Doing so made sense, given

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the service offerings we have been developing and tailoring to our clients’ needs for nearly 40 years. Looking back, it’s easy to see how the advent of the web in 1998 led to a steady decline in transaction fees, both at Desjardins Online Brokerage and throughout the industry. Eliminating these fees allows us to make independent investing accessible to even more investors of all ages. At Desjardins Online Brokerage and across Desjardins, we have always made decisions with the best interests of our members and clients in mind.

LOOKING FORWARD TO 2022 Forty years of education and guidance Founded in 1982 and acquired by Desjardins Group in 1990, Disnat – now Desjardins Online Brokerage – is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. We’re proud to have been the first Canadian discount brokerage firm, but we’re certainly not resting on our laurels – the world of independent investing is constantly evolving, and our teams are working hard to enhance our service offerings. As we move into 2022, we want to ensure we’re not only preserving, but also enhancing the services that are the cornerstone of our success. The financial education and guidance we provide to our members and clients is one of our core values and part of what makes us a leading partner. That’s why we’ll be putting

Q&A Q1 What can a first-time investor expect at your firm?

considerable effort and resources into improving the educational experience of our users in order to support them in all aspects of investing. At Desjardins Online Brokerage, financial literacy is key to how we work.

Investments, check. Now what? Desjardins Online Brokerage is about more than just independent investing. Supported by Desjardins Group and powered by a high-calibre 360-degree wealth management offering, Desjardins Online Brokerage wants to focus on providing wealth management support to its members and clients in 2022. Investing is becoming increasingly important in the lives of our users, and we want to help them broaden their perspective. With the support of our partners, we have been developing content and solutions to ensure our members and clients are aware of all that our wealth management offering entails. From life insurance to home buying, retirement planning and wealth transfer, we want to remain an important partner in their financial success. Desjardins Securities Inc. uses the trade name “Desjardins Online Brokerage” for its discount brokerage activities. Discount brokerage products and services are consolidated under the trademark “Disnat”. Desjardins Securities is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). Desjardins®, Desjardins Online BrokerageTM and related trademarks are trademarks of the Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec, used under licence.

The 18-30 age group represents 30% of our users, so we know all about the challenges of taking those first steps toward independent investing! That’s why we focus on education and support. We offer investors a learning centre that covers the most important topics and guides them as they explore the world of investing. Q2 What can active investors expect? With Disnat Direct, active investors have access to a state-of-the-art ecosystem. This high-level platform has been designed to meet the needs of the most discerning users who want all the information they need to make sound investments in one place. Q3 Which online investing trends are likely to be important for independent investors? There’s no denying the trend of using mobile applications to make investments. That’s why Desjardins Online Brokerage is working hard to make its mobile platform more user-friendly and comprehensive, so our users can expect a great experience whether they’re at home on their desktop or on the road with their cell phone. Q4 What does “user experience” mean for Desjardins Online Brokerage? The user experience is the driving force behind change and innovation at Desjardins Online Brokerage. We believe that it is crucial to ensure that our platforms are easy to use and facilitate quick transactions. We want our users to feel that our ecosystem is perfect for their changing needs. Q5 What sets Desjardins Online Brokerage apart from its competitors? First and foremost, we are a cooperative. Listening to and understanding our members and clients is an integral part of our mission – it’s in our DNA. Desjardins was founded with the goal of empowering members and clients and their communities. Each year, Desjardins offers a dividend to caisse members and invests heavily in projects that aim to improve the world around us. Doing business with Desjardins Online Brokerage is about learning from the past, making the most of the present, and building a better future for everyone.

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Featured Online Brokerage


Desjardins Courtage en ligne RETOUR SUR 2021 Augmentation de l’intérêt et solidité des plateformes

Marc Girard Directeur principal, Desjardins courtage en ligne

Chez Desjardins Courtage en ligne, 2021 s’est avérée une année riche en apprentissages, en défis et en réussites. Avec une augmentation de 150% de la clientèle depuis 2019 et de 265% des transactions en une seule année, une question nous vient naturellement à l’esprit : comment continuer à bonifier notre offre tout en maintenant l’excellence du service à la clientèle et l’expérience client qui ont fait de nous des leaders du marché depuis près de 40 ans? Un intérêt accru pour l’investissement autonome a, entre autres, fait ressortir l’importance de la solidité de nos plateformes. Alors que plusieurs pannes ont affecté l’industrie en début d’année, nos systèmes ont su supporter non seulement l’afflux constant de nouveaux utilisateurs, mais aussi la hausse du volume des transactions effectuées par nos utilisateurs existants. Nous savons depuis longtemps que la stabilité de nos écosystèmes est l’un des éléments déterminants de notre réussite, et des investissements majeurs ont été effectués en ce sens. Alors que de plus en plus d’investisseurs se tournent vers le courtage en ligne, la fiabilité et la robustesse d’une plateforme transactionnelle sont plus que jamais primordiales.

Des marchés accessibles à tous L’année 2021 a également marqué un point tournant du point de vue de l’accessibilité des marchés. En effet, Desjardins Courtage en ligne ne facture maintenant plus de frais sur les transactions effectuées en ligne. Cette décision représente

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une suite logique de l’offre de service qui se dessine et s’adapte à la réalité de notre clientèle depuis maintenant près de 40 ans. En regardant le passé, il est facile de constater à quel point l’arrivée du Web en 1998 a entraîné une diminution constante des frais transactionnels, tant au sein de Desjardins Courtage en ligne que dans toute l’industrie. L’abolition de ces frais représente pour nous une chance de rendre accessible l’investissement autonome à un nombre encore plus grand d’investisseurs de tous âges. Tant dans le grand Desjardins qu’au sein de Desjardins Courtage en ligne, nos membres et clients ont toujours été au cœur de nos décisions.

REGARD VERS 2022 40 ans d’éducation et d’accompagnement Fondée en 1982 et acquise en 1990 par le Mouvement Desjardins, Disnat, maintenant Desjardins Courtage en ligne, fête cette année ses 40 ans. Être la première firme de courtage à escompte canadienne n’est certainement pas une raison de nous asseoir sur nos lauriers : le monde de l’investissement autonome est en constante évolution, et nos équipes travaillent d’arrache-pied afin de rehausser notre offre de service. À l’aube de 2022, il nous importe de nous assurer non seulement de préserver, mais aussi de bonifier ce qui est à la base de notre succès. Profondément ancrés dans notre ADN, l’éducation financière et l’accompagnement que nous offrons à nos membres et clients font de nous des partenaires de premier plan. Des efforts et des moyens considérables seront donc

Q&A Q1 À quoi peut s’attendre un investisseur débutant au sein de notre firme?

déployés pour bonifier le parcours éducatif de nos utilisateurs afin de les accompagner dans tous les aspects de l’investissement. Chez Desjardins Courtage en ligne, la littéracie financière est au centre de notre mode opératoire.

Investir, oui… mais ensuite? Desjardins Courtage en ligne, ce n’est pas que de l’investissement autonome. Soutenu par le grand Mouvement Desjardins et propulsé par une offre à 360 degrés en gestion de patrimoine de haut calibre, Desjardins Courtage en ligne veut, en 2022, mettre l’accent sur l’accompagnement en gestion de patrimoine de ses membres et clients. S’il est vrai que l’investissement prend de plus en plus de place dans la vie de nos utilisateurs, nous voulons les aider à voir plus loin. Grâce au soutien de nos partenaires, des contenus et des solutions sont développés afin d’exposer nos membres et clients à l’entièreté de notre offre en gestion de patrimoine. De l’assurance vie à l’achat d’une maison, en passant par la planification de la retraite et la transmission de la richesse, nous voulons demeurer un partenaire important de leur réussite financière. Valeurs mobilières Desjardins inc. (« VMD ») utilise la dénomination commerciale « Desjardins Courtage en ligne » pour ses activités de courtage à escompte. Les produits et services de courtage à escompte sont regroupés sous la marque de commerce « Disnat ». VMD est membre de l’Organisme canadien de réglementation du commerce des valeurs mobilières (OCRCVM) et du Fonds canadien de protection des épargnants (FCPE). DesjardinsMD, Desjardins Courtage en ligneMC ainsi que les marques de commerce associées sont des marques de commerce de la Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec employées sous licence.

Les 18-30 ans représentent 30% de nos utilisateurs. Nous sommes donc bien conscients des défis que peuvent représenter les premiers pas dans l’investissement autonome! C’est pourquoi nous mettons l’accent sur l’éducation et l’accompagnement. Nous offrons à tous les investisseurs un centre d’apprentissage qui couvre les sujets les plus importants afin de les guider dans l’apprentissage et la découverte du monde de l’investissement. Q2 À quoi peuvent s’attendre les investisseurs actifs? Grâce à Disnat Direct, les investisseurs les plus actifs profitent d’un écosystème à la fine pointe de la technologie. Cette plateforme de haut niveau a été pensée pour répondre aux besoins des utilisateurs les plus exigeants qui veulent retrouver, en un seul endroit, toute l’information nécessaire afin de faire des investissements éclairés. Q3 Quelles tendances d’investissement en ligne auront de l’importance pour les investisseurs autonomes? Il est impossible de nier la tendance de fond qu’est l’utilisation des applications mobiles pour investir. C’est pour cette raison que Desjardins Courtage en ligne déploie de grands efforts afin de rendre sa plateforme mobile plus conviviale et complète. Qu’ils soient devant leur ordinateur de bureau ou sur la route avec leur téléphone cellulaire, nos utilisateurs peuvent s’attendre à une expérience optimale. Q4 Que signifie « Expérience utilisateur » pour Desjardins Courtage en ligne? L’expérience utilisateur est à la base des changements et de l’innovation chez Desjardins Courtage en ligne. Pour nous, la facilité d’utilisation de nos plateformes et la rapidité d’exécution des transactions sont d’une importance capitale, et nos utilisateurs doivent sentir que notre écosystème répond parfaitement à leurs besoins en constante évolution. Q5 Qu’est-ce qui différencie Desjardins Courtage en ligne de ses concurrents? Nous sommes d’abord et avant tout au sein d’une coopérative : l’écoute et la compréhension de nos membres et clients font partie intégrante de notre ADN et de notre mission. Desjardins a été fondée dans le but de redonner le pouvoir aux membres et clients ainsi qu’à leurs communautés. Chaque année, Desjardins offre une ristourne aux membres des Caisses, et investit massivement dans des projets visant à améliorer le monde qui nous entoure. Faire affaire avec Desjardins Courtage en ligne, c’est apprendre du passé, profiter du présent, et bâtir un meilleur avenir pour tous.

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Featured Online Brokerage

HSBC InvestDirect

H Attilio Montanari Vice President, HSBC InvestDirect




HSBC InvestDirect is a division of HSBC Securities (Canada) Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of, but separate entity from, HSBC Bank Canada. HSBC Securities (Canada) Inc. is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Image is for illustrative purposes only and is not a recommendation, an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. Terms and conditions apply to qualify for Active Trader pricing.

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SBC InvestDirect, the self-directed brokerage arm of HSBC Securities (Canada) Inc., is an online brokerage suited for not only domestic, but also globally-minded investors, which provides access to 30 domestic and international markets. With HSBC InvestDirect, you can access an integrated suite of research tools and trading capabilities right at your fingertips. For HSBC InvestDirect, the surge in interest in the online investing space has been tremendous. A major component of our priorities in 2020-21 was to improve the stability and capacity of our website so that our customers can have a better trading experience. This proved timely as trade volumes continued to increase, particularly during the meme stock trading craze in early 2021. It is very important to us that our trading site remains reliable and is available to our customers. Some other recent improvements we’ve made: • Digital forms with e-signature feature – making it easier and more convenient for customers to sign and send in a form. • Call-back feature – busy customers can use our call-back feature and we’ll call back as soon as an agent is free. • Trading site improvements – we made some key features more visible and easier to find. • Enhanced Tools & Resources page with great tips and demos. HSBC InvestDirect has been motivated throughout the pandemic to maintain our high standards in customer experience. We are very proud of how all our teams came together with one goal in sight, despite the numerous challenges in a difficult time.

HSBC InvestDirect Equity Trading page 2

LOOKING FORWARD TO 2022 HSBC InvestDirect will be focused on the launch of our new mobile trading app. The new trading app will allow customers to quickly execute trades in North American and overseas markets. As a first phase to our digital strategy, in 2021 we added HSBC InvestDirect customer

Q&A account balances to the HSBC mobile banking app. This gives customers a view of their full wealth holdings across banking and investments, and the feedback received was very positive. In the second phase planned by mid-2022, we will be introducing mobile trading capabilities. We are also very excited about rolling out our “click to chat” feature on our trading site, which will allow our customers to communicate with us in real time. HSBC InvestDirect has a lot in store for 2022. We will continue to listen to feedback and focus on what is important to our customers. Offering more educational pieces has also been an important trend in the industry. HSBC InvestDirect has supported customer education goals by partnering with the TMX this year for two virtual options trainings. We look forward to providing our customers with access to more of these events, along with access to additional investor insights from our HSBC affiliates. We also realize that pricing and fees are very important to any investor, so we are constantly reviewing our fees to remain competitive and to be amongst the lowest in commission rates. We are also looking to introduce more educational pieces for our new younger investors to help them navigate the self-directed investing landscape.

Q1 What can beginner investors expect from your firm? HSBC InvestDirect is pleased to welcome beginner investors. When you become our new customer, the first thing you should expect is a warm welcome call from one of our highly trained Investment Representatives, with an offer to walk you through our trading platform and to answer any questions you may have. Beginner investors can expect a redesigned website to help them find what they are looking for with ease. They also have access to our demo videos that highlight trading site functionalities for different investment products. Q2 What can active investors expect from your firm? Active Trader investors are very important to HSBC InvestDirect. In addition to comprehensive market information, numerous analytical tools, and quick order execution features, we are also offering our Active Traders our best pricing of $4.88 per online North American equity trade and margin rates. To qualify 3, you have to trade 150+ times every three months. As well, we continue to offer price incentives through various free trading campaigns for HSBC InvestDirect customers. Q3 What online investing trends do you expect to matter to self-directed investors? We realize self-directed investors are constantly looking for good value, a high level of

customer service, high quality tools and resources, and a reliable platform with quick access to the markets. Given where the industry is going, we believe fees and commissions will be top of mind to investors and brokerages. Q4 What does user experience mean at your firm? User experience is extremely important to HSBC InvestDirect, and service is our top priority. We continually use customer feedback to optimize our customer journeys and accessibility to information, allowing our customers to manage their investments and trade effectively 24 hours/day, 6 days/week. Much of our focus and effort in the last 12-16 months has been around improving the overall customer experience, whether by phone or online. Q5 What sets your firm apart from your peers? HSBC is a leading international bank, and HSBC InvestDirect uses that international reach to set us apart from the pack. Our customers can expect: • Dedicated customer support in four languages (English, French, Cantonese, and Mandarin) • Global access to 30 domestic and international markets, with settlement in 10 different currencies • Low fees and commissions • Fast, reliable, and secure website • Integrated brokerage/banking combination

*terms and conditions apply

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Featured Online Brokerage


National Bank Direct Brokerage HOW WAS 2021? The year 2021 was another great year for us and our clients. To begin, as hinted in last year’s edition of this publication, National Bank Direct Brokerage (NBDB) wanted to continue being a disruptive force in our industry with our pricing and tools, and on August 23, we launched our $0 commission pricing on stocks and ETFs for all clients. This accomplishment was the culmination of years of preparation, and we are very proud of being the first bankowned direct brokerage to offer zero-commission pricing that benefits all investors. Following last year’s launch of our new platform and reviewing customer feedback, we’ve continued to invest in tools that clients will want, one of them being OptionsPlay. NBDB is the only Canadian direct brokerage that offers it free of charge, and we’ve integrated it into our platform. This financial education and analysis tool allows the investor to visualize and compare options trading strategies and their risks and rewards using technical

analysis. OptionsPlay can also help easily find and choose covered call strategies. We believe that options trading will continue to grow in importance, and NBDB will support its clients with educational content via webinars and our newsletter. We are also working on a new options education series for our YouTube channel. Another feature that was added is our enhanced ETF Centre, where you start by using our screener to quickly identify ETFs, then compare them side-by-side via our comparison tool, and finally, access ETF research reports to validate your choices, all within the same section. During the summer, NBDB was recognized by J.D. Power as #1 in investor satisfaction and by Surviscor for our pricing, even before we went to zero-commission. All these factors allow us to say with conviction that we are leaders in the direct brokerage industry. And more is planned for 2022!

WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2022 Building on our 2021 momentum, NBDB will continue to invest in improving our customers’ experience with new tools and services that will set us apart from the competition. One such service to be made available in the first months of 2022 will be our Fully Paid Securities Lending Program that allows the investor to lend their fully paid securities held in non-registered accounts and earn additional income while they are on loan. Previously only accessible to institutional investors, NBDB will once again be the first bank-owned brokerage firm to offer this service to its clients. Not only can clients trade for free, but under

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certain conditions, they will be paid for being NBDB clients. Another interesting addition will be a reverse lookup feature added to our ETF Centre: type in the stock symbol, and a list of ETFs with the highest percentage holdings of the stock will appear. We are also excited to announce a mobile app that will improve our overall trading experience and will become available in 2022. Having already adopted commission-free pricing, the feedback received from self-directed investors has been positive, but pricing is only one aspect of their decision. Clients place a lot of value on having access to real-time quotes, USD investment accounts, research on stocks and ETFs, and tools that can help them find investment ideas and manage their portfolios. This is why we continue to innovate to stay ahead of the curve. In addition, investors also want educational content on how to better use the tools made available to them, which is why NBDB has expanded the number of monthly webinars and topics covered to address that need.

Q&A Q1 What can beginner investors expect from your firm? At National Bank Direct Brokerage, young and new investors are cared for and guided from the very beginning of their experience. As with all our customers, they will pay zero commissions on stocks and ETFs, and if they are under 30 years old, there are no annual administration fees. We support beginner investors with an enhanced ETF Centre, an easy-to-use filter tool, and ETF research reports from Morningstar and National Bank Financial. NBDB offers the necessary tools to trade, but we also offer the educational component to get started. We have tailored webinars ideal for beginners, a YouTube channel where we publish instructional and educational videos, and several other tools that allow new investors to gain confidence and make informed decisions. Q2 What can active investors expect from your firm? Active investors benefit from the best pricing with zero-commission on stocks and ETFs, and they can trade options at $1.25 a contract (min $6.25) with access to our high-performance transactional Market-Q tool. We are also working on providing pre- and aftermarket trading online for 2022. Q3 What does user experience mean at your firm?

Claude-Frédéric Robert President, National Bank Direct Brokerage Claude-Frédéric started working at National Bank in 2011 and has been president of NBDB since 2018. Under his leadership, the management team of NBDB has generated many innovations that have significantly improved the client experience, ranging from the deployment of a new platform to the launch of the best pricing in Canada for bank-owned direct brokers. Claude-Frédéric plans on simplifying the client experience even further and increasing the pace of change by continuing to launch new services and tools. To learn more about National Bank Direct Brokerage, visit

At NBDB, we value customer experience. That is why we routinely send surveys to our customers to better understand their needs. This valuable information is then used to guide our decision-making, whether it be for tools, services, or any other aspect of our business. We are customer focused, and that is why our customers’ opinions are considered daily. Q4 What sets your firm apart from your peers? NBDB has become a disruptive force within our industry. We may not be the biggest direct brokerage in Canada, but we are always looking to distinguish ourselves from our peers by being the first to offer zero commissions that benefit every investor, and offering innovative tools like OptionsPlay and services like our Fully Paid Securities Lending, which are not offered by the competition.

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Featured Online Brokerage


Banque Nationale Courtage direct QUELLE EST VOTRE APPRÉCIATION DE 2021? 2021 a été une excellente année pour nos clients. Pour commencer, comme nous l’avons évoqué dans l’édition de l’an dernier, nous voulons que BNCD continue d’être une force disruptive au sein de l’industrie grâce à notre tarification et à nos outils. Le 23 août, nous avons lancé la tarification à 0 $ de commission sur les actions et les FNB pour tous nos clients. Cette réalisation représentait le point culminant de plusieurs années de préparation, et nous sommes très fiers d’être la première firme de courtage direct détenue par une banque à offrir la gratuité pour tous les investisseurs. Après le lancement de notre nouvelle plateforme l’an dernier, et grâce aux commentaires de nos clients, nous avons continué d’investir afin d’offrir des outils utiles pour les investisseurs autonomes. Par exemple, BNCD est la seule firme de courtage direct canadienne à offrir gratuitement OptionsPlay, que nous avons d’ailleurs intégré à notre plateforme. Cet outil d’analyse et d’éducation financière permet aux investisseurs de visualiser et de comparer des stratégies de négociation d’options ainsi que d’évaluer leurs risques et avantages en utilisant l’analyse technique. OptionsPlay peut aussi aider à trouver et à choisir des stratégies d’options d’achat couvertes.

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Nous croyons que la négociation d’options gagnera en importance. BNCD continuera à soutenir ses clients en offrant des contenus éducatifs tels des webinaires et un bulletin d’information mensuel. Nous travaillons aussi sur une nouvelle série éducative sur les options pour notre chaîne YouTube. Nous avons amélioré notre Centre de FNB où nos clients peuvent utiliser notre outil de sélection afin de trouver rapidement des FNB, puis les évaluer grâce à l’outil de comparaison. Également, il est possible d’accéder à des rapports de recherche sur les FNB pour valider ses choix, le tout dans la même section. Au cours de l’été, BNCD a été classée au premier rang par J.D. Power pour la satisfaction des investisseurs et par Surviscor pour la tarification, avant même que nous passions à la commission à 0 $. Tous ces facteurs nous permettent d’affirmer avec conviction que nous sommes les chefs de file dans le secteur du courtage direct. Et plus encore est à venir pour 2022!

À QUOI FAUT-IL S’ATTENDRE EN 2022? Tout comme en 2021, BNCD continuera d’investir dans l’amélioration de l’expérience client en intégrant de nouveaux outils et services qui nous démarqueront de nos concurrents. Un des services qui sera disponible au cours des premiers mois de 2022 est notre programme de prêt de titres entièrement payés. Ce programme permettra aux investisseurs de prêter des titres entièrement payés qu’ils détiennent dans des comptes non enregistrés et d’en tirer un revenu additionnel pendant la durée du prêt. Dans le passé, ce service était offert uniquement aux investisseurs institutionnels. BNCD sera, là encore, la première firme de courtage détenue par une banque à offrir ce service à ses clients. Non seulement les clients peuvent négocier des titres gratuitement, mais, dans certains cas, ils seront même payés pour être clients de BNCD. Quelques autres innovations à surveiller : nous ajouterons une fonction de recherche inversée à notre Centre de FNB. Il suffira d’inscrire le symbole d’une

action pour afficher la liste de FNB ayant le plus fort pourcentage de positions sur le titre en question. Nous sommes aussi heureux d’annoncer le lancement d’une application mobile en 2022, qui permettra d’améliorer l’expérience de négociation pour nos clients qui attendaient cette fonction. Nos investisseurs autonomes ont déjà adopté la tarification à 0 $ de commission et leurs commentaires sont positifs. Cependant, les frais perçus ne sont qu’un aspect de leur décision. Nos clients apprécient avoir accès à des cotations en temps réel, à des comptes de placement en dollar américain, à de la recherche sur les actions et FNB de même qu’à des outils pour les aider à trouver des idées de placement et à gérer leur portefeuille. Nous continuons donc d’innover pour garder une longueur d’avance. Les investisseurs recherchent aussi du contenu éducatif afin de les aider à utiliser les outils que nous mettons à leur disposition, c’est pourquoi BNCD a bonifié son offre de webinaires mensuels et de sujets couverts.

Q&A Q1 Que peut attendre un investisseur débutant de votre firme de courtage? Chez Banque Nationale Courtage direct, les jeunes et nouveaux investisseurs sont encadrés et guidés dès le premier jour. Comme pour tous nos clients, ils paieront 0 $ de commission sur les actions et les FNB et, s’ils ont moins de 30 ans, ils ne paieront pas de frais d’administration annuels. Nous les soutenons également grâce à notre Centre de FNB amélioré, à nos outils de sélection faciles à utiliser et en mettant à leur disposition des rapports de recherche sur les FNB de nos partenaires Morningstar et Financière Banque Nationale. En plus de leur offrir les outils essentiels pour négocier, nous misons sur notre volet éducatif afin qu’ils aient toutes les notions de base nécessaires pour se lancer en investissement autonome. Nous avons créé des webinaires spécialement pour les néophytes et une chaîne YouTube où nous publions des vidéos éducatives. Nous offrons aussi plusieurs autres outils qui permettent aux investisseurs de gagner en confiance et de prendre des décisions éclairées. Q2 Que peuvent attendre les investisseurs actifs de votre firme? Les investisseurs actifs profitent de la meilleure tarification grâce à notre commission à 0 $ sur les actions et les FNB et ils peuvent négocier des options à des coûts très bas, soit 1,25 $ par contrat (minimum de 6,25 $). Ils ont aussi accès à notre outil transactionnel haute performance Market-Q. En 2022, nous visons à offrir la négociation en ligne avant l’ouverture et après la fermeture des marchés. Q3 Que signifie l’expérience utilisateur au sein de votre firme?

Claude-Frédéric Robert Président, Banque Nationale Courtage direct Claude-Frédéric est président de BNCD depuis 2018 et travaille à la Banque Nationale depuis 2011. Sous sa direction, l’équipe BNCD a multiplié les innovations qui ont nettement amélioré l’expérience client, allant du déploiement d’une nouvelle plateforme au lancement de la meilleure tarification au Canada parmi les firmes de courtage direct détenues par une banque. Claude-Frédéric désire continuer de simplifier l’expérience client et accélérer le rythme d’innovation en continuant de lancer de nouveaux services et de nouveaux outils. Pour en savoir plus sur Banque Nationale Courtage direct, consultez le site

Chez BNCD, l’expérience client est capitale, c’est pourquoi nous envoyons régulièrement des sondages à nos clients pour mieux comprendre leurs besoins. Ces précieux renseignements sont ensuite utilisés pour orienter nos décisions, que ce soit pour des outils, des services ou pour tout autre aspect de notre organisation. Nous priorisons notre clientèle et c’est pour cette raison que nous prenons quotidiennement le pouls de nos clients. Q4 Qu’est-ce qui distingue votre firme de ses concurrents? BNCD est maintenant synonyme de disruption au sein de notre secteur d’activité. Nous ne sommes peut-être pas la plus grande firme de courtage direct au Canada, mais nous cherchons constamment à nous démarquer, notamment en étant les premiers à offrir les commissions à 0 $ pour tous les investisseurs, des outils innovateurs tels OptionsPlay, de même que des services comme le programme de prêt de titres entièrement payés, non offert par nos concurrents.

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Featured Online Brokerage

Qtrade Direct Investing HOW WAS 2021? This year opened with a bang! Interest in growth and “meme” stocks fueled an upsurge of market momentum and volatility. Across the Canadian online brokerage industry, trading volumes doubled, and it was a challenge for brokerages to keep up. We’re proud that Qtrade Direct Investing™ empowered clients with a secure and reliable platform, and a high standard of service from our award-winning client service team. More recently, activity has settled down. But investors remain engaged, and trading volumes are still much higher than pre-pandemic levels. We know clients want to get their new accounts up and running quickly. This year, Qtrade Direct Investing made big leaps forward in access and convenience. When you open an account, real-time identity verification allows you to confirm your identity by simply taking a selfie from your mobile device. And real-time account opening means you can access your new account without any wait times. Personalization was another key theme this year. You’ll notice some great enhancements to the dashboard, which is your personalized landing page. It displays analyst ratings for your top holdings, as well as a Portfolio Score for your accounts. (Portfolio Score is a popular tool that grades your portfolio on key dimensions including performance, diversification, and risk exposure.) The dashboard displays alerts including upcoming dividend payments. The total portfolio graph is bigger and includes timeframe options so you can easily gauge progress towards your goals. Canadian investors love exchange-traded funds (ETFs), so we’ve expanded our lineup of commission-free ETFs to over 100. You’ll find additional 24 /

responsible investing ETFs, along with other thematic ETF options. There is no minimum trade amount and, of course, no commissions to buy or sell any of the 100+ free ETFs. This year, Qtrade Direct Investing got a whole new look. Investors have said they love the new brand and we love it too. It tells the story of what Qtrade has always done exceptionally well: providing investors with the confidence of knowledge. Confidence in a click on a top-ranked platform and a simple, intuitive experience. And confidence in the relationship with expert client support when you need it. We will continue working to build investor confidence and humanize the digital experience for Qtraders, so you can Write Your Own Future™.

WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2022 We know self-directed investors prize fast, convenient, and reliable access to their online trading service. They want a simplified investing experience and knowledgeable, responsive support. Looking ahead to 2022, we’re excited about delivering an enhanced experience across multiples devices. This is a high priority, and we think Qtraders who manage their investments from different devices will love the new experience. The ability to seize market opportunities quickly will get a boost with the upcoming rollout of instant funding, meaning you can access deposited funds sooner in order to execute on your trading decisions. Qtraders have asked for and will soon have more flexibility to enter multiple orders at one time. For example, you will be able to place a stock order combining both a Sell Limit order and a Stop Loss order. If one order is filled, the other is automatically cancelled.

We’re also adding a new layer of protection to help keep your accounts and your information secure. With two-factor authentication, when you log in to your Qtrade account, you’ll be prompted to input a numeric code, which we’ll send to you via text message or phone call. Industry trends we’re monitoring closely include the emergence of new investment offerings, such as new asset types, most notably cryptocurrencies, which investors are interested in accessing and exploring. Qtrade’s pricing structure is competitive, and we add value through innovation, research, expert client service, and investor tools. This should all be taken into account when choosing an online brokerage. The Globe and Mail’s 2020 online brokerage review encouraged this approach: “If investing to you is a years-long journey of wealth-building for goals like retirement and your children’s postsecondary education, then you’ll get more value from Qtrade’s tools and informative website than you will by paying a few bucks less per trade: Grade: A+” —Rob Carrick, The Globe and Mail

Q&A Q1 What can beginner investors expect from your firm?

Christine Zalzal SVP, Head of Qtrade Direct Investing and VirtualWealth

Please note: Online brokerage services are offered through Qtrade Direct Investing, a division of Credential Qtrade Securities Inc. Qtrade and Qtrade Direct Investing are trade names and trademarks of Aviso Wealth.

As a new investor with Qtrade Direct Investing, you’ll quickly feel empowered to pursue your investing goals while you gain experience. Qtrade is an award-winning online investing service with robust mobile trading capabilities and unrivaled client service. Reviews from The Globe and Mail, MoneySense, and Surviscor have consistently ranked Qtrade among the best, including 23 first-place awards for Best Online Brokerage over the past 16 years, and eight first-place awards for customer service experience over the past six years. As a Qtrader, you have access to a wealth of resources and innovative tools to help you invest with confidence. For example, Portfolio Simulator™ lets you test investment scenarios in a simulator mode, so you can explore ideas and fine-tune your investment strategy. Portfolio Score™ provides a second opinion on your portfolio, grading it on five key dimensions, including performance, diversification, and risk exposure. If you’re looking to build an ETF portfolio, you’ll have access to over 100 commissionfree ETFs, which are free to buy and sell. You can also get help building your own ETF portfolio with Portfolio Creator™. After answering a short series of questions, it generates a sample portfolio, customized to your investing preferences, that will help you maximize risk-adjusted returns. And along your investor journey you can always get answers to your questions through our FAQs and self-help tools, including “Guide Me” tutorials, which help you quickly learn how to use different features of the platform. Q2 What can active investors expect from your firm? Qtrade Direct Investing offers the Investor Plus program, an enhanced service for active traders or investors with larger portfolios. Investor Plus features include discounted trading fees, no fees on US dollar registered accounts, and reduced margin borrowing rates. As an active trader, you’ll benefit from a reliable, stable trading platform, mobile

trading capabilities, and expert client support. In addition, Qtrade will soon roll out expanded trading capabilities, which include advanced order types, like contingent orders and multi-leg options. Q3 What online investing trends do you expect to matter to self-directed investors? Omni-channel experiences. Do-it-yourself investors want to be empowered with well-designed online brokerage experiences on all versions of the trading platform, and for the platform to be accessible on different devices. Q4 What does user experience mean at your firm? At Qtrade Direct Investing, we’re genuinely obsessed with enhancing Qtraders’ experience and building investor confidence – it’s at the heart of everything we do. We’re committed to continuous innovation to improve the investor experience. Q5 What sets your firm apart from your peers? It’s the relentless determination to empower you with the best investor experience, so you can build and manage your portfolio with confidence. Our mantra is: “We’re a confidence-building machine.” We strive to deliver more value in a comprehensive service than any other choice. In The Globe and Mail’s 2021 online brokerage review, personal finance columnist Rob Carrick said: “Any broker can fill an order to buy stocks, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, bonds and more. Qtrade helps you build a well-constructed portfolio and then monitor it to ensure it continues to work for you. Qtrade,” he continued, “may be the king of steady year-by-year improvement.” And in the 2021 ranking of online brokers by MoneySense, Glenn LaCoste of Surviscor said, “Qtrade Direct Investing is a UX leader given its breadth of data, which is both easy to locate and to use.” Reviews like these are gratifying because it means we’re succeeding in building a service that provides investors with value and the confidence to pursue their goals.

Personalized Dashboard

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Featured Online Brokerage

RBC Direct Investing HOW WAS 2021? How has the surge in interest in online investing impacted your firm? At RBC Direct Investing, a record number of new clients joined us in 2021, many under the age of 35. With this generational shift, we’re seeing greater adoption of our mobile platform, with over 25% of trades placed on mobile.

Lori Darlington President & CEO, RBC Direct Investing

Any changes in pricing, new features or key milestones in 2021? In the past year, we’ve optimized the experience across all of our digital platforms. Trading Dashboard: In June, we launched a new Trading Dashboard. This completely customizable, web-based dashboard is powered by FactSet, a global provider of integrated financial information, analytical applications, and industry-leading services. The dashboard offers personalized views of markets with widgets for news, research, advanced charting, and more, enabling investors to monitor investments and quickly spot and act on trading opportunities. Featuring real-time quotes 1, it is free for every client.

DI Mobile

Mobile: We brought many of the design, navigation, and functional enhancements made to the online site in 2020 into mobile this year, including free Level 2 quotes on TSX and TSX-V. By improving filtering on Order Status and Account History pages, and adding margin excess balance to the Account Holdings page, we reduced the need to scroll – all based on client feedback. Online Investing Site: On the Detailed Quote page, we introduced free real-time streaming quotes 2 and added Value Analyzer, Trading Central’s interactive forecast tool for fair value, putting powerful information right at clients’ fingertips. The Portfolio Analyzer tool was refreshed to allow account grouping, making it easier to get a holistic look at asset mix and compare a portfolio to RBC Global Asset Management investor profiles.

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What motivated these changes and what does it mean to clients and the firm? We want all of our clients to be comfortable and confident trading across our digital platforms. This means listening to feedback and responding to continually improve the experience.

What is your team most proud of accomplishing this past year? We are proud of the ways we are empowering self-directed investors to thrive, including working to ensure that all platforms are accessible for clients with visual, auditory, or mobility impairments. It also means providing important investor education content in our Investing Academy and Inspired Investor online magazine. Investing Academy articles like “8 Essential Direct Investing Self-Serve Tools, Tips and Resources” enable clients to grow their knowledge and become more comfortable and confident making investment decisions using the resources and tools we provide.

LOOKING FORWARD TO 2022 What will you be focusing on for 2022 and what are you most excited about? In 2022, we will continue to listen to our clients and introduce features to improve the trading experience. With the influx of younger investors, we are taking the time to understand their preferences. We’ve commissioned IPSOS to conduct a survey of younger self-directed investors to gain deeper insights on why they’ve chosen self-directed investing, and what they want to learn about. The findings will inform and shape the investor education we build out over 2022.

What features are coming soon or in progress? Self-directed investors want to be independent, and our “self-serve” options are valuable in saving time and effort. We’ll continue to provide helpful content in our Investing Academy, like the popular “8 Essential Direct Investing SelfServe Tools, Tips and Resources.”

Q&A experience through Watchlists with real-time streaming quotes, “alerts,” and the option to toggle between previous day or intraday view of holdings.

Q1 What can beginner investors expect from your firm? Beginner investors may be new to investing, or new to our platform. We’ll continue to deliver a great start for both groups through our digital onboarding journeys to get them up and running. Plus, we are increasingly using video to explain key financial literacy concepts in our Investing Academy.

Q5 What sets your firm apart from your peers? We believe RBC Direct Investing stands apart on the things that matter: a broad product shelf, third-party research, and a full range of account types, most with automatic Canadian & US dollar sides. With access to three digital platforms (online, mobile, and the new Trading Dashboard), free real-time streaming quotes 2 for all clients and live agents when they need us, we feel we deliver great value. As we have for over 30 years, we’ll continue to listen to clients to build a superior client experience.

Q2 What can active investors expect from your firm?

We have a digital onboarding journey for new TFSA account holders that provides timely and relevant information and will look to extend that type of personalized communication throughout 2022.

What trends or important features do you think self-directed investors will be interested in this year? With the influx of younger investors, we see there’s greater interest in our learning resources. For example, our “Getting Started” guide and “How To” videos are popular among new clients. Our Inspired Investor online magazine – free to all clients – includes a “Question of the Week” feature based on what our Contact Centre colleagues are hearing from clients. It’s a great way to respond to frequently asked questions as they surface. We also know that investors want to learn from each other. Our Investing Truths series features young adults sharing their investing journeys – a great way to connect with and learn from others.

What are your views on commission-free trading in Canada? We know that pricing is an important consideration when choosing an online brokerage. For that reason, we continually review our commissions and fees structure – as well as the services, resources, and tools we provide – and we believe it delivers high value to our clients. We are monitoring industry pricing to ensure we continue to deliver a competitive investing experience.

Our new Trading Dashboard was designed for active traders. Feedback has been positive, and we’ll be looking to better support clients in unlocking the full value of this powerful new dashboard. Q3 What online investing trends do you expect to matter to self-directed investors? Investors will continue to look to their online brokerage to access in-depth third party research and analysis to help ensure the investing decisions they make are right for them. We also see clients increasingly “crowd source” their investment ideas on social media and through their personal networks. Our Community, a secure online forum, fosters this exchange of ideas. Self-serve capabilities are important as well, and we want the endto-end experience to be best in class! Q4 What does user experience mean at your firm? We support every step of the client journey from account opening, to funding, trading, and monitoring a portfolio. Every client is unique, so we’re providing a more personalized


Real-time quotes are available automatically to all clients for exchange listed stocks, ETFs and most over-the-counter (OTC) securities without completion of exchange agreements. Real-time quotes for options and grey market OTC securities on detailed quote and order entry pages are also available upon accepting the terms and conditions of all exchange agreements on the RBC Direct Investing online investing site. Realtime quotes for options and grey market OTC securities are available to Active Traders and Royal Circle clients across the site upon accepting the terms and conditions of all exchange agreements on the RBC Direct Investing online investing site.


Real-time streaming quotes are available automatically to all clients for exchange listed equities, ETFs and most over-the-counter (OTC) securities. Real-time streaming quotes for options and grey market OTC securities are available to Active Traders and Royal Circle clients upon accepting the terms and conditions of all exchange agreements on the RBC Direct Investing online investing site.

Look Back 2021 Look Ahead 2022 /  27

More Online Brokerages

Online Brokerages on the Radar Our perspective on the rest of the field CIBC Investor’s Edge

CIBC Investor’s Edge spent a good portion of 2021 flying under the radar. As with their peers, the flood of interest in opening online trading accounts early in the year overwhelmed client service channels. Despite the radio silence for much of the year, there were some interesting enhancements that reaffirmed the Investor’s Edge strategy of measured improvements. They added new online order trade types, extended the duration of orders and improved the buying power experience. Further, CIBC Investor’s Edge leaned into promoting research tools such as TipRanks and TC Market Buzz resources.

CI Direct Trading

Formerly known as Virtual Brokers, 2021 was the year this online brokerage officially transitioned into an identifiably CI Financial brand. As the year draws to a close, however, reskinning of apps and the website point to the rebranding as a work in progress. Change looms large at CI Financial. Ambitious corporate growth objectives (such as rapid US expansion) have taken priority over large self-directed investing developments here in Canada. That said, despite the slow pace of change on the front end (to date) of their self-directed platform, CI Financial has shown its ability to move quickly and boldly, which means that improvements to key features could come sooner than we think in 2022.

CG Direct

After the acquisition of Jitneytrade by Canaccord Genuity (parent of CG Direct) in 2018, not much appears to have changed on the front end. Behind the scenes, however, is a different story. A pattern of hiring by their parent brand Canaccord Genuity reveals that they are in the midst of hiring a sizable marketing team and some support roles for the CG Direct business line. Canaccord Genuity’s relationship with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Canada could be worth keeping an eye on. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Canada recently launched a mobile app which revealed a zero-commission direct investing platform, Access Direct.


Despite some big feature rollouts and award wins in 2021, Questrade is keeping a low profile heading into the end of the year. The response to the new QuestMobile app launch in September might have something to do with it. Forum chatter and feedback dealt Questrade some tough lessons about technology expectations among online investors, despite having released a quality mobile app. The next big challenge facing this brand heading into 2022 is how it is going to maintain its perception as a “low cost” leader. Now that some large financial institutions have launched commission-free trading and with more zero-commission trading alternatives poised to arrive, Questrade needs a big new feature (and smooth launch) or better pricing to regain ground.

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While all Canadian online brokerage firms we regularly cover were invited to participate in this year’s issue of Look Back / Look Ahead magazine, not all chose to participate. Nonetheless, true to Sparx Trading form, we wanted to ensure we provided coverage of all brokerages to highlight our thoughts on important developments in 2021 and what we see coming in 2022.

Scotia iTRADE

Like several other online brokerages, rebranding was the driver for what we saw on the front end for Scotia iTRADE. After quietly upgrading their public-facing website, Scotia iTRADE appeared to pivot away from social media by decommissioning (no pun intended) their longstanding Twitter account. Though a pull back in marketing might be a reason, another seems to be a multi-year struggle with customer service response times. Although the better-looking website is a step in the right direction, getting people to listen to what’s coming next in 2022 will be directly related to how well Scotia iTRADE can restore confidence in its service experience.

TD Direct Investing

When you’re an online brokerage as big as TD Direct Investing, scale matters. The sheer number of DIY investor clients creates a business case for features like content and education at a scale that other online brokerages find hard to justify. However, scale is a double-edged sword, especially when there are gaps in service experience or platform outages, both of which they navigated this year. Customer service wait times and platform interruptions at TDDI made news headlines. The asymmetry of media coverage, however, meant that there wasn’t much of a spotlight on some of the positive developments. In 2021, TDDI invested heavily in the development of content infrastructure. Heading into the new year, momentum for their content machine is revving up, giving them a chance to tell their story their way.

Wealthsimple Trade

Early in 2021, Wealthsimple Trade was one of the only online brokerages in Canada to provide easy access to a trifecta of high-demand features including cryptocurrency trading, fractional shares and zero commission fees. After record success, however, came a serious downtick in investor sentiment. Outspoken active traders saw just how much conversion fees for US dollar trades ate up in costs and voiced their displeasure. Compounding Wealthsimple Trade’s challenges in 2021: hypercompetitive cryptocurrency trading alternatives, the launch of CDRs and the launch of commission-free trading by two large financial institutions. We expect 2022 to be like 2021, with regular new feature rollouts to bring them closer to other online brokerages, bonus offers and a continued push into crypto. Look Back 2021 Look Ahead 2022 /  29



Insights into the new kids on the Canadian online brokerage block by Hamish Khamisa


f the field of 15 Canadian online brokerages felt a little crowded before, things are going to get even cozier over the next two years since that number could grow to 19, or more. One of the biggest stories in the online brokerage industry in 2021 was the launch of commission-free trading by two large financial institutions in Canada: National Bank Direct Brokerage and Desjardins Online Brokerage. However, there hasn’t been much press about a record-breaking number of new no-commission online brokerages looking to launch in Canada. Neither the presence of existing competitors, Canada’s relatively small population, fragmented regulatory landscape, nor the price point for commissions have dissuaded an unprecedented number of online brokerages from proposing to launch in Canada over the next two years. We’ve spotted at least four online brokerages (and are eyeing a fifth) who’ve indicated publicly that they are working to launch DIY investor solutions in 2021 and 2022. Read on for more information on the firms and their plans to launch within Canada.

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Chalk this one up to global ambition. Freetrade, a commission-free online brokerage based out of the UK, has a bold vision of becoming a leading commission-free trading platform around the world. To that end, their expansion plans reveal Canada is on their roadmap. We first broke the news in early August, and since then we’ve seen the number of job postings increase for interesting positions related to setting up this online broker in Canada. The timeline to seeing Freetrade go live is a bit fuzzy, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they opened up a waiting list and took a run at launching later into 2022 or early 2023.

If tastyworks and tastytrade received a nickel for every time they stated they were coming to Canada, there would be a lot of Canadian beaver coins to go around. Tastyworks has been “coming to Canada” for several years now, however, the regulatory logjams have created hurdles. In the absence of more data on when exactly this busy beaver brokerage might go live in Canada, the latest update from the summer is that clearing and settlement firm, Apex, was working through regulatory approval to operate in Canada. Of course, one very big development is that tastytrade was acquired for one billion dollars in June by IG Group, something that deepens the pockets behind this online brokerage and sets the stage for the Tasty brand to go international.

MogoTrade In March of 2021, Canadian financial services firm Mogo Financial acquired a fintech company called Moka. While Moka’s core product is about helping individuals contribute what is essentially spare change into an investment account, Mogo rounded up to a whole other level by announcing they would be stepping into the world of zero-commission trading as well. Originally road mapped to launch by the end of 2021, the window for official rollout appears to be in motion. An important acquisition of an order-execution-only firm (Fortification Capital Inc.) as well a partnership with CI Investment Services and approval from regulators puts MogoTrade on the right path to go live in 2022. To close out 2021, individuals can sign up for the official waitlist.

TradeZero October 2021 brought more than just fall colours to online investors, as another online brokerage outside of North America announced that they were looking to establish a foothold in Canada. Unlike some of the other online brokerages catering to investors, in particular passive investors, TradeZero is all about active trading. As part of their roadmap to global ambition, TradeZero is looking to launch in Canada and support both crypto as well as options, which would land them in pretty exclusive company for a zero-commission brokerage. @SparxTrading

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