BMO InvestorLine is the Bank of Montreal’s (NYSE: BMO) (TSX: BMO) self-directed investment service. Offered to the bank’s clients in 1988, it went completely online in 2000 and is ranked among the best Canadian brokerages. The broker provides access to 3rd-party research, educational tools, a desktop and web trading platform plus a mobile and tablet app.
You can trade Canadian-listed stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), stock options, mutual funds and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) with BMO InvestorLine. It charges a flat brokerage rate and plans to introduce a revamped website in September 2019.
- Active traders
- Self-directed investors
- Investors who want a registered savings plan
- Variety of investment accounts
- 3rd-party research options
- 5-star program for active investors
- Flat brokerage fee
- Only available to Canadian residents
- CA$5,000 minimum to open an account
- Maintenance fees for accounts that don’t meet minimum balance requirements
Who’s BMO InvestorLine For?
Active traders: Do you regularly make 15 or more trades per quarter or maintain a minimum balance of CA$250,000? If so, you qualify for BMO Market Pro. Market Pro can give you access to current market news, data analysis, a fully customizable web-based dashboard and streaming real-time charts and quotes.
Self-directed investors: BMO also provides on-demand online tools and screeners, educational and 3rd-party research resources so you can trade and invest with confidence. BMO InvestorLine’s adviceDirect software also monitors your portfolio and provides personalized recommendations. You can sign up for the broker’s SmartFolio program for advisory fees from 0.4% to 0.7% if you prefer to have your funds professionally managed.
Investors who want a registered savings plan: BMO offers a variety of account types in addition to its regular cash and margin accounts, including a tax-free savings account (TFSA), a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) account and a registered education savings plan (RESP) account.
BMO InvestorLine's Platform and Tools - 4 Stars
BMO InvestorLine’s trading platform and website are in the process of getting a major update, which is scheduled to be unveiled in September 2019. Traders who maintain a minimum balance of CA$5,000 get the InvestorLine basic trading platform.
The basic platform is available in desktop, mobile, tablet and web-based versions, and it lets you enter trades and keep track of your portfolio. The platform also provides alerts, a watchlist and a news feed, although it has no real-time charting capabilities, which could hinder your investing.
BMO InvestorLine’s Market Pro trading platform is available to traders who make at least 75 trades per quarter. Unlike the basic version, the Market Pro platform features advanced analytics, charts and investment tools.
This platform also lets you create your own trading dashboard to make better investment and trading decisions. In addition, the Market Pro platform provides real-time and sales data, one-click trading and Level II Canadian and U.S. stock and stock options trading data.
BMO InvestorLine’s Research Offerings - 5 Stars
BMO InvestorLine provides excellent in-house and 3rd-party research resources, including top research lists for U.S. and Canadian equities. It also offers a daily Thompson Reuters newsletter with top picks, stocks to watch and overall market themes, daily ETF and equity newsletters and information on the latest initial public offerings (IPOs).
You can filter stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and fixed income securities with a screener function on BMO’s website so you can find and compare investments. You can also access an analyst ratings page to show how 3rd-party analysts rate securities, a value analyzer that helps you find undervalued stocks and an advanced technical analysis tool so you can do your own technical assessments on stocks.
In addition to the broker’s proprietary research, some excellent 3rd-party research for BMO InvestorLine customers is provided by Morningstar and S&P Global Ratings. You can express your interest and get details of deals on the term sheet for IPOs, Treasuries and secondary offerings of common and preferred shares.
BMO InvestorLine’s Commission and Fees - 3.5 Stars
BMO InvestorLine charges a flat CA$9.95 per online trade for all Canadian and U.S. stocks and ETFs regardless of your account balance or trading frequency. Options on U.S. and Canadian exchanges cost a flat CA$9.95 per online trade plus CA$1.25 per contract.
Orders placed by phone directly to a BMO InvestorLine agent or representative have a considerably higher fee schedule. You qualify for additional 5-star member discounts if you make 30 trades or more per quarter or maintain at least CA$250,000 in your account.
Orders placed by phone incur the following costs, shown in Canadian dollars:
|Stock Price||Canadian Exchanges||U.S. Exchanges|
|$0–$0.245||2.5% of principal value||3% of principal value|
|$0.25–$1||$35 + $0.005 per share||$39 + $0.02 per share|
|$1.01–$2||$35 + $0.02 per share||$39 + $0.03 per share|
|$2.01–$5||$35 + $0.03 per share||$39 + $0.04 per share|
|$5.01–$10||$35 + $0.04 per share||$39 + $0.05 per share|
|$10.01–$20||$35 + $0.05 per share||$39 + $0.06 per share|
|$20.01 and over||$35 + $0.06 per share||$39 + $0.07 per share|
|$30.01 and over||$35 + $0.06 per share||$39 + $0.08 per share|
A commission of CA$43 is charged if the principal value of the trade is CA$2,000 or lower. CA$43 is also the minimum charge for phone orders with a rep or agent.
For Canadian and American Exchanges
|$0 – $2||$35 + $1.50 per contract|
|$2.01 – $3||$35 + $2.00 per contract|
|$3.01 – $4||$35 + $2.50 per contract|
|$4.01 – $5||$35 + $3.00 per contract|
|$5.01 and over||$35 + $3.50 per contract|
Options trades have a minimum commission of CA$43, and regular stock commissions apply to exercises and assignments.
Keep in mind that a CA$25 fee is charged quarterly for non-registered accounts when you have a balance below CA$15,000, and taxes may apply. That fee is waived for registered accounts and for clients who have made two or more commission trades over a 6-month period.
BMO InvestorLine's Security - 4 Stars
BMO InvestorLine provides a 100% guaranteed reimbursement for any unauthorized transactions from your account that result in a direct loss. For added security, you make a trading password in addition to your login password. In addition, BMO InvestorLine uses a 2-step verification method to avoid unauthorized access to your account.
BMO InvestorLine is also a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIFP), which covers client funds up to an impressive amount of CA$1,000,000, although losses due to changing market circumstances are not covered by the CIFP.
BMO InvestorLine’s Customer Support - 3 Stars
BMO InvestorLine’s customer support is a toll-free telephone number that can be accessed from the U.S. and Canada. The number connects to an automatic answering machine that asks if you already have an account and prompts you to enter your account number.
Phone support is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. No live chat option could be found on their website, although you can enter your name, the province in Canada you’re located in, your email address and your phone number and the best time for a BMO InvestorLine representative to call you.
The broker has not received very good online reviews for its customer service, so you might want to test their responsiveness to clients before committing a large sum of money to an investment account with them.
BMO InvestorLine's Tradable Asset Classes - 3 Stars
With respect to tradable assets, BMO InvestorLine’s choices are limited to stocks and stock options on U.S. and Canadian exchanges, ETFs, fixed-income securities and mutual funds. You can access a screener for stocks, ETFs and mutual funds; a quick picks tool for fixed-income securities and options chains for stock options.
BMO InvestorLine has no forex trading, commodities or precious metals, although you may be able to access these markets via ETFs. If you plan on trading forex, you could check out these other Canadian forex brokers.
BMO InvestorLine’s Ease of Use - 3 Stars
Using BMO InvestorLine’s platforms is much like using other stock trading platforms. You can enter orders, keep track of your investments and use the technical analysis features for your own research.
In addition, the company provides access to top research resources, which lets you perform intricate fundamental analysis to choose your investments. The MarketPro platform is geared more toward professional investors and traders and provides Level II quotes.
Overall Rating: 4 Stars
BMO InvestorLine could be a good choice if you’re a self-directed Canadian investor and want to take advantage of their excellent research resources. This broker would also be a good choice if you need additional support with your investments, which you could get through the adviceDirect and SmartFolio software modules.
Another advantage of BMO InvestorLine is the ability to link your Bank of Montreal accounts to your brokerage account. The wide range of registered tax-free savings and retirement savings accounts and plans you can open with this broker is another plus.
Those who want to actively trade in assets other than stocks, such as commodities or forex, would probably be better off finding another broker, since BMO InvestorLine does not provide access to other markets besides U.S. and Canadian equities, ETFs, mutual funds and stock options. Other cons include no charts in the broker’s basic platform, no free demo account, narrow and possibly problematic customer service options, and the high cost of executing trades over the phone.