Scotia iTrade Review

securely through Scotia iTrade's website

1 Minute Review

Scotia iTRADE is the brokerage arm of Scotiabank, one of the Big 5 banks in Canada. Scotia iTRADE is the result of Scotiabank’s purchase of E*TRADE Canada in 2008 that doubled the bank’s online investment client base. Since then, Scotia iTRADE has won numerous awards and is ranked as one of the best Canadian brokerages owned by a bank. iTRADE offers discounted commissions and several high-powered trading platforms for active traders. iTRADE provides free educational resources for novice traders and more experienced traders can benefit from the extensive research facilities of Scotiabank. You can also pay bills, manage and transfer funds and set up and make future-dated transactions, all from your iTRADE/Scotiabank-linked accounts.

Best For

  • Active traders
  • New investors and traders
  • self-directed investors

Pros

  • Discounted commissions for active traders
  • Excellent trading platforms
  • High-quality research from Scotiabank
  • Practice account

Cons

  • High commissions for inactive traders
  • Annual fee for both registered and unregistered accounts
  • Premium FlightDesk platform not free of charge
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Who’s Scotia iTRADE For?

Scotia iTRADE is best for new traders who can take advantage of the broker’s extensive education resources. iTRADE is also perfect for traders interested in ETF trading since iTRADE offers an extensive variety of Canadian and international funds with no commissions. Another excellent advantage of trading through iTRADE is the ability to operate in both registered and non-registered accounts. 

Active traders benefit from discounted flat-rate commissions of CA$9.99 if they make a minimum of 30 to 149 trades per quarter. The rate drops to just CA$4.99 per equity trade, plus another CA$1.25 per contract for options trades if you execute more than 150 trades per quarter. iTRADE charges a steep CA$24.99 commission per trade if the trade volume qualifications aren’t met. 

Self-directed investors who trade through iTRADE have access to Scotiabank’s extensive research resources. The research section of its website allows you to track your portfolio’s performance and keep an eye on the news for various markets, including equities, options, ETFs, mutual funds, guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) and fixed-income securities.

If you plan on opening a registered account, Scotia iTRADE also offers the following:

  • Tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs)
  • Registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs)
  • Registered education savings plans (RESPs)
  • Registered retirement income funds (RRIFs)
  • Locked-in retirement accounts (LIRAs)
  • Locked-in retirement savings plans (LRSPs)  

Scotia iTRADE recently introduced U.S. dollar-registered accounts, and once you are approved for the program, you can trade U.S.-denominated securities in a registered account for free. All registered accounts except RESPs come with two sides, a Canadian dollar and U.S. dollar side. This means you can hold the U.S. dollars in the U.S. dollar side of your account without having to pay currency conversion charges. Canadian investors can hedge their currency risk by holding U.S. dollars in their account. 

Scotia iTRADE’s Platform and Tools (5 Stars) 

Scotia iTRADE provides a basic trading platform for its clients with a low or no balance since no minimum deposit or balance is required to open an account. An advantage not found on other bank-owned broker’s trading platforms consists of a free demo account so you can practice trading and try out the broker’s trading platform and services. 

Basic Platform

The basic platform offered by iTRADE features an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, real-time quotes, technical analysis and enhanced charting capabilities. You can also access research and news through the platform.

Screenshot of Scotia iTRADE basic platform with technical analysis summary. Source: Scotia iTRADE.

Tools include equity, ETF and mutual fund screeners as well as real-time stock alerts to monitor developments in markets where you hold positions. Another platform feature is portfolio charting software, which lets you compare your portfolio’s performance with up to 10 different benchmarks.

FlightDesk Platform

iTRADE also offers a high-end trading platform called FlightDesk, which comes in Standard and Premium versions. The platform features one-click stock order entry, real-time trade notifications, bid and ask-size trend indicator, options chain trading, market-if-touched orders and historical trades in the order book for the past 90 days. 

Screenshot of Scotia iTRADE’s FlightDesk trading platform using charts tutorial. Source: Scotia iTrade

The FlightDesk platform is sophisticated and fully customizable. It gives you real-time portfolio values, streaming real-time market data research and news and in-depth charting and options analytical data. 

The Standard version of FlightDesk costs as follows:

Trades or total assets per quarter

CA$50K – CA$250K assetsCA$29.95
0–8 trades or <CA$50K assetsCA$39.95
9–29 tradesFree
30–149 trades or >CA$250K assetsFree
150+ tradesFree

iTRADE FlightDesk Premium Service costs are:

Trades or total assets per quarter

CA$50K – CA$250K assetsCA$69.95
0–8 trades or <CA$50K assetsCA$79.95
9–29 tradesCA$39.95
30–149 trades or >CA$250K assetsFree
150+ tradesFree

Mobile Platform App  

A mobile option is also available from iTRADE via an app for Android available through the Google store. An iOS version of the app is available through the Apple store. 

Scotia iTrade mobile app for Android. Source: Scotia iTrade.

Scotia iTRADE’s Research Offerings (5 Stars)

Scotia iTRADE provides excellent research through its Analyst Research Center and features Scotiabank’s in-house offerings. Scotiabank research is the first choice for Canadian and global markets and it includes investment outlooks and financial analysis. The broker also offers excellent 3rd-party research for both Canadian and U.S. equities. 

Screenshot of iTrade Analyst Research Center. Source: Scotia iTrade.

U.S. and Canadian 3rd-party research resources include Reuters, Markit ResearchTeam Consensus Reports, ValueEngine and Sabrient, which provide comprehensive coverage of both U.S. and Canadian markets, industries and analyst ratings for individual equities. 

Scotia iTRADE’s Commission and Fees (3 Stars)

Scotia iTRADE’s commissions might look high at first glance, but if you make a fair amount of trades per quarter, you get a big break on stock commissions and a free platform upgrade. 

Trades and Assets Equities Options

150+trades per quarterCA$4.99CA$4.99 +CA$1.25 / contract
30+ trades/quarter or $50,000+ in combined Scotiabank-eligible assetsCA$9.99CA$9.99 + CA$1.25 / contract
Less than $50,000 in combined Scotiabank-eligible assetsCA$24.99CA$24.99 + CA$1.25 / contract

Commissions quoted above also apply for phoned-in orders with a representative with an additional CA$65 on top per trade.  

Orders for fixed-income securities and exchange-traded debentures placed online cost CA$1 per CA$1,000 face value with a minimum commission of CA$24.99 and a maximum commission of CA$250. If the order is placed over the phone, add another CA$65. Mutual fund orders placed online carry no charge, but they cost CA$65 if placed by phone. 

Commissions for gold, silver and platinum certificates under US$100,000 cost ¼ of 1% of trade value, while trades of over $100,000 cost ⅛ of 1% of the trade value. 

Safekeeping charges for metal certificates issued by Scotiabank in U.S. dollars are: 

Gold$0.03 per 100 ounces per day on the first 2,000 ounces$0.02 per 100 ounces per day on the next 8,000 ounces$0.01 per 100 ounces per day on any over 10,000 ounces  Minimum $5 annually
Silver$0.05 per 50 ounces per month
Minimum $5 annually 

Scotia iTRADE’s Security (5 Stars) 

As a bank-owned Canadian brokerage, Scotia iTRADE has oversight from the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). The CIPF protects Canadian assets up to CA$1,000,000 for all combined accounts, CA$1,000,000 for all registered accounts and up to CA$1,000,000 for all RESPs. 

Scotia iTRADE’s Customer Support (5 Stars)

Scotia iTRADE provides excellent customer support via email, phone and online chat. You can also visit the office in person if you’re in the greater Toronto area. Additional support can be accessed via postal mail and fax. 

Scotia iTRADE’s Tradable Asset Classes (5 Stars)

With respect to tradable assets, iTRADE gives you access to trade Canadian and U.S. stocks and options. You can also trade ETFs, which can be searched by a number of criteria including fund type, performance, industry and country. 

Mutual funds available at iTRADE include ScotiaFunds, Blackrock, Invesco Trimark, Fidelity Investments Canada, AGF, Mackenzie Financial, CI Investments and Dynamic funds. You can also trade bonds, new issues and initial public offerings, gold, silver and platinum certificates and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs). 

Scotia iTRADE’s Ease of Use (4 Stars)

iTRADE’s platforms have user-friendly intuitive interfaces that can be easily operated by novices and experienced traders alike. The broker’s website is also easy to navigate and offers a wealth of information, including a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section and pages that describe in detail the broker’s offerings and features. 

Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars

Scotia iTRADE is an excellent bank-owned brokerage that caters to novice and seasoned traders. If you’re looking to trade forex, you might consider checking out Canadian forex brokers or brokers based outside of Canada but regulated by the IIROC like FOREX.com

The broker’s trading platforms are intuitive and can be learned quickly by novice traders, although the premium and standard FlightDesk platforms carry a monthly charge for accounts with little or no activity. In addition, you can open an account without a minimum deposit and begin practice trading with CA$100,000 or $100,000 in virtual funds in an iTRADE practice account.

Scotia iTRADE has some of the best in-house and 3rd-party research and education resources available to Canadian investors and traders. The broker also offers a wide range of tradable assets that include precious metals certificates, GICs and a good selection of ETFs and mutual funds.

Commissions for inactive traders are on the high side at CA$24.99 per trade, although active traders can get stock and options commissions for as low as CA$4.99 per trade. iTRADE is an excellent choice for active traders and investors who need linked financial accounts since you can hook up your Scotiabank accounts to your iTrade brokerage account.

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