Canadian brokerage firms often get a bad rap for excessive fees and trading limitations. The do-it-yourself investor is often inundated with fees and charges that severely cut into trading profits. Are you a Canadian investor who’s tired of being nickel-and-dimed? It might be time to consider Qtrade.
Qtrade is a financial services firm that specializes in wealth management and self-directed discount brokerage services. Qtrade doesn’t have the cheapest commissions in Canada, but it does offer unparalleled customer service, a long list of commission-free ETFs and mutual funds and a trading platform that both advanced and novice traders feel comfortable using. Qtrade consistently ranks as one of the best Canadian brokerages and we’ll show you why you might want to consider it.
Who’s Qtrade for?
Qtrade wants both active traders and buy-and-hold investors as clients and its platform does a great job supporting both. Buy-and-hold investors will appreciate the availability of registered retirement accounts, 100 commission-free ETFs and the wisdom of Qtrade’s robo advisor services.
Qtrade has some perks for aggressive traders, too. Commissions are reduced from $8.75 per trade to $6.95 per trade for active traders and the monthly maintenance fees are waived if you make multiple trades each quarter. Investors who make 150 trades per quarter are eligible for Qtrade Investor Plus, which comes with reduced commissions, no fees for using USD in registered accounts and a dedicated phone line you can use to quickly reach a Qtrade representative. The brokerage strives to offer an inclusive platform where traders of all skill levels feel included.
Qtrade’s Platform and Tools (4 Stars)
Qtrade Investor is a user-friendly trading platform that still packs plenty of technical punch. You can navigate between your investments, watchlists, market research, stock screeners and real-time quotes with a point and click (or a tap if you’re using the accommodating mobile app).
Stock screeners are fully customizable based on dozens of criteria, plus a few pre-built Qtrade suggestions like high-dividend yields or undervalued stocks.
Advanced traders have charting tools and technical indicators you can try and fundamental research like income statements and balance sheets. You can even search for stocks based on potential entry and exit points to better plot your trading strategy.
Simply click on the Trade button and select the type of security you want to invest. You can trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, bonds and GICs on U.S. and Canadian exchanges. Trade using simple market orders or time your entry points with limit orders. You can also set stop losses or trailing stops to protect your investments from deep drawdowns.
Real-time quotes show not only the current stock price, but also info like 52-week highs and lows, dividend yield, earnings per share and market cap. You can check the P/E ratio, 50- and 200-day moving averages and volume statistics all from the same screen when you use the mobile app, available for Android and iPhone.
Qtrade provides clients with both registered and non-registered accounts if you’re investing in a tax-free savings account (TFSA) or a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP). You might also be interested in Qtrade’s retirement planning section, which is complete with a set of calculators for mapping out your long-term goals.
Qtrade’s Research Offerings (3.5 Stars)
Qtrade clients can access analyst recommendations and company information like income statements and balance sheets. The Morning News Call, a daily delivery of reports from specific analysts, can help you search for new investments. But there’s a lack of brand association among Qtrade’s offerings. Some investors may prefer the comfort that a professional market research company like Morningstar provides.
Qtrade does have a vast library of education materials, including a few guides on certain trading styles. You’ll find articles about current events and market news, but also complete instructionals about trading on margin or using a registered retirement account. Click on the Education tab and you’ll be asked a specific question: new trader or experienced trader? Enter the option that applies to you to have education materials tailor-made to your style.
Qtrade’s Commission and Fees (4 Stars)
Qtrade’s trading commissions are on par with industry standards, although active traders can get these costs reduced by making a certain number of trades per quarter. Qtrade charges $8.75 per trade to basic account holders and $6.95 per trade to members of Investor Plus. CIBC and HSBC have cheaper trading commissions ($6.95 and $6.88 respectively), but neither broker has the tools or customer service commitment that Qtrade does. Active traders (150+ trades per quarter) and high net-worth clients ($500,000+ in assets) get the reduced $6.95 commission fee.
You can trade over 100 ETFs and all available mutual funds completely free of commission even if you aren’t an Investor Plus member. Options contracts cost $1.25 each. If you’re between the ages of 18–30, you’ll get reduced commissions, no minimums and no administration fees as long as you contribute $50 per month to your account.
Qtrade doesn’t have nickel-and-dime type fees. There’s a $25 quarterly maintenance fee that can be waived by making 8 commission-earning trades per year and maintain a $25,000 daily balance or by setting up a recurring automatic monthly contribution of at least $100.
It’s a Canadian brokerage, so there are a few fees to be concerned about. Opening a trust account costs $100 in the first year and $50 annually starting in the second year. You’ll be charged $15 per quarter per account if you hold U.S. dollars in your registered account.
Qtrade’s Security (5 Stars)
Qtrade takes information security seriously. Investors can rest easy knowing the company offers an internet security guarantee. Qtrade will reimburse you 100% if any of your funds are lost due to unauthorized account activity. Qtrade’s platform can only be reached via browsers that support 256-bit encryption as well. Qtrade protects its servers with a series of firewalls and digital certificates to ensure a secure website navigation experience.
Qtrade employees are thoroughly trained in security adherence. You’ll never receive a solicitation for your username, password or any other personal information from a Qtrade employee. Your personal information is restricted and can only be accessed by authorized personnel. Some additional security features include timed logouts, 24-hour system surveillance and customer service ID verification, which prevents anyone from calling customer service and pretending to be you.
Qtrade’s Customer Support (5 stars)
Customer service at Qtrade is second to none, especially for Investor Plus clients. Qtrade offers “the big 3” forms of customer service: live chat, phone and email contact. A chat option should be standard in 2019, but Qtrade remains one of the few that provides it. Live chat and the Qtrade social media team can be reached Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST. Phone service is available from 5:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Investor Plus clients can call a dedicated phone number.
You can visit Qtrade’s downtown Vancouver office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. According to MoneySense Canada, Qtrade returns client phone calls in 2 hours or less, which is the fastest response time of all brokers surveyed. You can also leave a message or comment for Qtrade.
Qtrade’s Tradable Asset Classes (4.5 Stars)
Qtrade clients can dabble in all sorts of investments and trading. Clients can trade stocks listed on Canadian and U.S. stock exchanges, including the TSX Venture Exchange. OTC stocks are available as well. Qtrade also offers a wide range of ETFs and many trade commission-free. Some of the commission-free ETFs are from notable fund providers like iShares, Vanguard, WisdomTree and Powershares.
Mutual funds also trade commission-free. Qtrade provides clients with over 1,000 mutual funds and you won’t pay a penny in commission (but short-term holding fees still apply). Qtrade also offers bonds, options, GICs and access to new IPOs, but there’s no futures or cryptocurrency trading, and only Canadian and U.S. exchanges can be accessed.
Qtrade’s Ease of Use (5 Stars)
Qtrade is one of the most user-friendly brokerage firms in all of Canada. Its trading platform is aesthetically appealing and has practically no learning curve. Qtrade’s commissions aren’t the lowest in the industry, but are fair and the company doesn’t bleed customers with tons of smaller fees.
Clients can open registered accounts like TFSAs and RRSPs or non-registered vehicles like cash or margin accounts. Traders can choose from lots of securities, but only from U.S. and Canadian markets. And of course, its customer service is exemplary. Qtrade isn’t the flashiest or cheapest Canadian broker, but its down-to-earth style and dedication to client happiness makes it an appealing choice for both savers and traders.
Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars
Qtrade is tough to beat. You might be able to find a broker with access to more markets or slightly cheaper commissions, but you’ll have difficulty finding a company that offers the total package like Qtrade.
Ready to switch brokers or simply want to get started with investing? Take a look at Qtrade first.