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RBC Direct Investing Review 2019

4.1 4 stars · Jul 2019
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RBC Direct Investing logo

RBC Direct Investing is a Canadian stockbroker regulated by the top-tier IIROC. Its parent company is Royal Bank of Canada which was founded in 1864 and listed on the TSX and NYSE.

RBC Direct Investing is considered safe because it is regulated by a top-tier regulator and its parent company has a long track record, is listed on the stock exchange, and discloses its financials.

Recommended for beginners, investors focusing on the Canadian and US markets.

Pros
  • Easy and fast account opening
  • High-quality educational tools
  • Great customer service
Cons
  • Outdated mobile trading platform
  • Only US and Canadian markets covered
  • Lack of credit/debit cards and electronic wallets

RBC Direct Investing pros and cons

RBC Direct Investing has an easy and fast account opening. The education resources are great and cover a lot of tools, including demo account and educational videos. The customer service gives fast and relevant answers.

RBC Direct Investing's most obvious weakness is its outdated mobile trading app. The product portfolio covers only the US and Canadian markets. Withdrawal and deposit options are also limited, credit/debit cards and electronic wallets are not provided.

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RBC Direct Investing review
Fees 3 stars

RBC Direct Investing has low mutual fund and average stock and ETF fees. There is no inactivity fee as well. On the negative side, the options fees are high and an account fee is charged if you have an account balance less than CAD 15,000.
Pros
  • No inactivity fee
  • No mutual fund trading fee
Cons
  • High options fees
  • Account fee is charged for balances less than CAD 15k
RBC Direct Investing fees snapshot
Assets Fee level Fee terms
US stock Average CAD 9.95 per trade, but if you trade 150+ per quarter, it's CAD 6.95
EURUSD - Not available
US tech fund Low CAD 0 per trade
Inactivity fee Low No inactivity fee

We ranked RBC Direct Investing's fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed brokers.

To get things rolling, let's go over some lingo relating to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees, financing rates, and non-trading fees.

We also compared RBC Direct Investing's fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Questrade and Interactive Brokers. This selection is based on factors like products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc.

Let's start with the trading fees.

Trading fees

RBC Direct Investing has average trading fees.

The fee structure is transparent. The stock, ETF, and options fee structures are volume-tiered, you get a discount if you trade more.

Stock fees and ETF fees

RBC Direct Investing has generally avergae stock trading fees. The fees are a bit higher than Questrade's and Interactive Brokers'.

Stock fees of a $2,000 trade
  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
USA $7.5 $5.0 $1.0

RBC Direct Investing charges a flat fee for stocks and ETF's of $9.95 per transaction if you have less than 150 transactions per quarter. If you trade 150 times or more in a quarter, you will be charged $6.95 flat per transaction.

Fund fees

RBC Direct Investing mutual fund transactions have no commission fees. It's better than at competitors.

Fees for a $2,000 fund purchase
  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
USA tech fund buy $0.0 $10.0 $15.0

Bond fees

RBC Direct Investing offers only Canada-based government, provincial, municipal, and corporate bonds. The commission is incorporated into the price which is not the most transparent. The minimum commission incorporated into the price is $25 per transaction, while the maximum is $250 per transaction.

Options fees

RBC Direct Investing has generally high options fees. It's a bit lower than Questrade's options fees, but more than twice compared to Interactive Brokers'.

Stock index options fees of 10 contracts
  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
USA $16.8 $20.0 $7.0

RBC Direct Investing charges an options trading commission of $9.95 flat + $1.25 per contract if you trade less than 150 transactions per quarter. If you trade 150 times or more in a quarter, you will be charged $6.95 flat + $1.25 per contract afterward.

Financing rates

RBC Direct Investing's financing rates are generally average.

Financing rates are charged when you hold your leveraged positions for more than a day. It can be a significant proportion of your trading costs.

RBC Direct Investing annual financing rates
  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
Apple financing rate 6.8% 9.0% 5.8%

Non-trading fees

RBC Direct Investing has average non-trading fees. It charges no inactivity fee and there is no withdrawal fee in some cases. However, there is a CAD 25 per quarter fee if you have less than CAD 15,000 account balance and withdrawal fee can be quite high.

RBC Direct Investing non-trading fees
  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
Account fee Yes No No
Inactivity fee No Yes Yes
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

The withdrawal fee varies based on whether you have an RBC bank account or not, which account type you choose, and which withdrawal method you use.

RBC Direct Investing withdrawal fees
  Clients with RBC bank account Clients without RBC bank account
Margin, cash, RESP, TFSA accounts Free

Cheque: CAD 10

Wire transfer: CAD 45

RRIF account Free up to 2 withdrawals, each withdrawal after costs CAD 25

Cheque: CAD 10

Wire transfer: CAD 45

RRSP account CAD 50 plus tax

Cheque: CAD 10

Wire transfer: CAD 95

RRSP account under Home Buyer's Plan or Lifelong Learning Plan CAD 25 plus tax

Cheque: CAD 10

Wire transfer: CAD 95

RBC Direct Investing review
Account opening 5 stars

RBC Direct Investing has an easy, fully digital, and fast account opening. There is no minimum deposit and you can choose from a lot of individual account types.
Pros
  • Fully digital account opening
  • No minimum deposit
  • User-friendly
Cons
None

Can you open an account?

RBC Direct Investing accepts only Canadian residents. 

What is the minimum deposit at RBC Direct Investing?

There is no minimum deposit for RBC Direct Investing, although there is a CAD 25 per quarter fee for clients with less than CAD 15,000 account balance.

Account types

RBC Direct Investing offers different account types based on ownership:

  • Individual or personal account: account is owned by an individual
  • Joint account: account is owned by two or more individuals
  • Non-personal accounts: account is owned by a legal entity

Within the individual account, RBC Direct Investing offers more account types:

RBC Direct Investing individual account types
Account type Who the account is targeted for?
Cash account Clients preferring a flexible and liquid account
Margin account Clients focusing on margin trading*
Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) Clients preferring easy access to money and tax-free investments
Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) Clients focusing on retirement and not preferring easy access to money
Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) Clients focusing on the further growth of their investments and preferring flexibility in payment and withdrawals
Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) Clients saving for education

*When you borrow money from the broker 

Account Opening Process

RBC Direct Investing has an easy, fully digital, and fast account opening. The account opening is different based on whether you have an RBC bank account and what account type you select:

  1. If you have an RBC bank account: the account opening process is fully digital and account opening times range between 1-2 business days.
  2. If you don't have RBC bank account and choose cash / margin /TFSA / RRSP /RRIF accounts: you may choose either a fully digital 24-hour application or a print-and-mail application. The fully digital option will be evaluated through credit scores from a third party company and if RBC needs further clarification, they will contact you for the additional documents.
  3. If you don't have RBC bank account and choose RESP / non-personal accounts: you have to download, print, and mail an application form.
RBC Direct Investing review - Account opening

RBC Direct Investing review
Deposit and withdrawal 2 stars

RBC Direct Investing's deposit and withdrawal can be improved. It doesn't accept credit/debit cards and electronic wallets. and the most withdrawal options are charged. As a plus, there is no deposit fee.
Pros
  • No deposit fee
Cons
  • Credit/Debit card not available
  • Most withdrawal options have a fee
  • Less withdrawal and deposit options if not a client of RBC bank.

Account base currencies

At RBC Direct Investing, you can choose CAD and USD account base currencies. This is the same offer as Questrade's, but fewer than Interactive Brokers'.

Base currencies at RBC Direct Investing vs similar brokers
  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
Number of base currencies 2 2 21

Why does this matter? Two reasons. First, if you fund your account in the same currency as your bank account, you won't be charged a currency conversion fee. Second, if you trade assets in the same currency as your account base currency, you will not have to pay a conversion fee.

A convenient way to save on the currency conversion fees can be to open a multi-currency bank account. Revolut or Transferwise both offer bank accounts in several currencies with great currency exchange rates as well as free or cheap international bank transfers. The account opening only takes a few minutes on your phone.

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Deposit fees and options

RBC Direct Investing charges no deposit fees.

If you are an RBC banking client you will have the option to use:

  • Electronic Transfer from RBC bank account
  • RBC Rewards Points
  • Certified Cheque

If you are not an RBC banking client you will have the option to use:

  • Transfer from another institution
  • Certified Cheque
RBC Direct Investing deposit options
  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No
Electronic wallets No Yes No

A bank transfer from an RBC bank account should take about 1-3 business days, but if transferring from a non-RBC account it can take several business days. A certified cheque may take even longer at 1-2 weeks to process.

Also, you can only deposit money from accounts that are in your name.

RBC Direct Investing review - Deposit and withdrawal - Deposit

Withdrawal fees and options

RBC Direct Investing charges a fee for most withdrawals.

Clients having an RBC bank account can easily withdraw the money, while clients without an RBC bank account can use only cheque and wire transfer.

RBC Direct Investing withdrawal fees and options
  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
Bank Transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No
Electronic wallets No Yes No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

The withdrawal fee varies based on whether you have an RBC bank account or not, which account type you choose, and which withdrawal method you use.

RBC Direct Investing withdrawal fees
  Clients with RBC bank account Clients without RBC bank account
Margin, cash, RESP, TFSA accounts Free

Cheque: CAD 10

Wire transfer: CAD 45

RRIF account Free up to 2 withdrawals, each withdrawal after costs CAD 25

Cheque: CAD 10

Wire transfer: CAD 45

RRSP account CAD 50 plus tax

Cheque: CAD 10

Wire transfer: CAD 95

RRSP account under Home Buyer's Plan or Lifelong Learning Plan CAD 25 plus tax

Cheque: CAD 10

Wire transfer: CAD 95

How long does it take to withdraw money from RBC Direct Investing? We tested the bank transfer withdrawal as an RBC client and it took 1 business day to process. 

If you were a non-RBC client you should expect a minimum of 3 days or more processing time.

How do you withdraw money from RBC Direct Investing? You can withdraw money from RBC Direct Investing by following these steps:

  1. Log into your account
  2. Move your cursor over My Portfolio to open the drop-down menu
  3. Click on Transfer Cash
  4. Choose the account to withdraw from, the amount, currency and method
  5. Choose which account to transfer to
  6. Initiate withdrawal

Compare to other brokers

RBC Direct Investing review
Web trading platform 3 stars

RBC Direct Investing does a great job of covering the basics. Their alert system sending you price alerts and order confirmations are necessities for some investors. Having clear fee and portfolio reports are also very useful. However, they do not offer two-step login yet and the design feels a bit outdated.
Pros
  • Clear fee report
  • Price alerts
  • Order confirmation
Cons
  • No two-step (safer) login
  • Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
  • Does not look appealing
RBC Direct Investing platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 3 / 5 stars Yes
Mobile 1 / 5 stars Yes
Desktop - No

RBC Direct Investing offers an in-house developed web trading platform. It is available only in English. 

Look and feel

The web trading platform's user-friendliness is OK but has a bare-bones look to the design. The platform has a functional feel but since it is not very customizable, it is still somewhat lacking.

RBC Direct Investing review - Web trading platform

Login and security

RBC Direct Investing provides only a one-step login process. A two-step login would be more secure.

When you log in to a device for the first time, you have to answer a security question. After the first time, the accounts can be accessed with the common login ID and password combination.

Search functions

The search functions are OK. You must have the company's specific ticker symbol and correct country of the index for any results to populate.

RBC Direct Investing review - Web trading platform - Search

Placing orders

You can use only the basic order types, the more advanced ones are missing:

  • Market
  • Limit
  • Stop limit
  • Stop

If you are not familiar with the basic order types, read this overview.

There are also order time limits you can use:

  • Day
  • Good 'till time
  • All or None
RBC Direct Investing review - Web trading platform - Order panel

Alerts and notifications

You can set alerts and notifications through the web trading platform. You specify a price and it will then alert you through email. 

Portfolio and fee reports

RBC Direct Investing has a clear portfolio and fee reports. The reports can be found by hovering over My Portfolio and clicking on View & Manage my Documents.

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RBC Direct Investing review
Mobile trading platform 1 stars

RBC Direct Investing's mobile app can be improved a lot. The overall look and feel of the app is much outdated and does not offer sufficient research or price alerts while also having numerous bugs and freezing issues.
Pros
None
Cons
  • Not user-friendly
  • No price alerts
  • Bugs

Similarly to the web trading platform, RBC Direct Investing has an in-house developed mobile trading platform. It is available both on iOS and Android. We tested it on iOS.

Most of the functionalities are the same as the web trading platform. It offers the same order types, has the same search functions, and offers only one-step login.

The biggest difference for the RBC Direct Investing mobile trading platform is that it is not user-friendly at all. The design is severely outdated and there are many glitches and bugs.

Unlike the web trading platform, you are unable to set alerts to be sent to our email. 

RBC Direct Investing review - Mobile trading platform

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RBC Direct Investing review
Desktop trading platform

RBC Direct Investing does not provide a desktop trading platform.

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RBC Direct Investing review
Markets and products 2 stars

RBC Direct Investing's product offering covers only the Canadian and US markets. You can trade with more asset classes, such as stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, etc. However, the forex, futures, CFD, and crypto asset classes are missing.
  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
Stock Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes
Forex No Yes Yes
Fund Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes
Futures No No Yes
CFD No Yes Yes
Crypto No No Yes

RBC Direct Investing offers the most asset classes, however, within these asset classes the product offer lags behind the competitors.

Stock and ETF

RBC Direct Investing gives access to a few North American stock exchanges. That pales in comparison to other brokers in their market, however, it could be perfect for clients who focus exclusively on the North American markets.

  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
Stock markets (#) 5 9 74
ETFs (#) 3,100 3,100 20,000

You can trade on the following stock exchanges: NASDAQ, S&P 500, TSX, TSXV, and DJIA.

Fund

RBC Direct Investing offers an average amount of mutual fund providers.

  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
Fund providers (#) 83 100 200

Bond

RBC Direct Investing offers bonds in various categories, such as municipal bonds, corporate bonds, and provincial bonds.

Compared to Interactive brokers, the number of bonds is not outstanding. However, it is an ideal selection for investors who prefer Canadian fixed income securities.

  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
Bonds (#) 1,000 1,500 110,000

Options

RBC Direct Investing's number of available options market is below average.

  RBC Direct Investing Questrade Interactive Brokers
Options markets (#) 2 6 45

You can trade options on the Montreal Exchange and the CBOE exchanges.

RBC Direct Investing review
Research 3 stars

Many useful research tools are available from RBC Direct Investing. From analyst recommendations to a detailed fundamental data, customers will have the ability to go in-depth doing their own research. However, the charts and the news are quite basic.
Pros
  • Analyst recommendations for any product
  • Data on asset fundamentals
Cons
  • Basic charting tools and news

With no desktop application and their underwhelming mobile app, the main source of research for RBC Direct Investing is through its web trading platform. It provides decent research capabilities allowing you to utilize many different technical and functional data tools 

Trading ideas

On RBC Direct Investing Trading, the web trading platform you will find a lot of analysis empowered by Morningstar.

RBC Direct Investing review - Research - Recommendations

Fundamental data

RBC Direct Investing offers fundamental data. Through the research tools, you will find company and sector analysis, annual and quarterly financial statements, and inside trading overview.

At the IPO Centre, RBC Direct Investing's clients can subscribe to the firm's IPO Bulletin for information on the latest IPOs and secondary offerings.

RBC Direct Investing review - Research - Fundamental data

Charting

RBC Direct Investing has OK charting tools. They are easy to use, but not very customizable. There are 55 technical indicators which might be enough but this amount is lower than what you'll find at other competitors.

RBC Direct Investing review - Research - Charting

News feed

The news feed is basic and not customizable. It is split into Breaking News, Top Stories, and More Headlines with a function to search for more specific topics. They are also updated in real-time. 

Compare research pros and cons

RBC Direct Investing review
Customer service 4 stars

RBC Direct Investing has great e-mail and live chat support. We got fast and relevant answers. However, it took approximately 5-10 minutes on hold to speak with support over the phone and 24/7 availability is missing.
Pros
  • Live chat
  • Fast response time
  • Relevant answers
Cons
  • Slow telephone support
  • No 24/7 availability

You can contact RBC Direct Investing via:

  • live chat
  • telephone
  • email

RBC Direct Investing provides a great live chat. An agent was connected within a minute and we got relevant answers. For example, the withdrawal fees are not easy to understand through their fee table, but the customer service team could help 

The telephone support is okay. We got accurate answers, but we had to wait ~5-10 minutes until someone was connected. 

RBC Direct Investing's email support works well. Through email, we got quick and relevant answers with their customer support sending us pre-written paragraphs to answer our questions within 1 day. 

We also missed the 24/7 availability. You must wait for business hours in North America to contact support.

RBC Direct Investing review - Customer Service

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RBC Direct Investing review
Education 4 stars

RBC Direct Investing offers a lot of educational resources, including tutorials, in-person seminars, and educational videos. They also offer a demo account which allows you to try their platform. On the negative side, there are no webinars.
Pros
  • Demo account
  • Trading platform tutorial
  • Educational videos
Cons
  • No Webinars

At RBC Direct Investing you can learn in the following ways:

  • Demo account
  • Platform tutorial videos
  • General educational videos
  • Quality educational articles

RBC has a strong education section to help teach and inform their clients. By far the most useful educational tool RBC Direct Investing offers is their practice accounts. Using the practice accounts, clients can do simulated investing and trading, even before depositing funds.

One of the primary sources of educational materials is the RBC Direct Investing website where clients can read blog posts on investing and search for information in the Getting Started section. Finding answers to generic questions using the search function is fairly simple. Information is available on various topics, such as order types, strategy types, and funding.

RBC Direct Investing's YouTube channel is another useful source of educational content. It mostly provides videos on the basics such as products and services.

RBC Direct Investing review - Education

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RBC Direct Investing review
Safety

With a long history of banking in Canada, RBC Direct Investing is a very safe and secure institution and also regulated by the top tier financial authority in Canada.
Pros
  • Regulated by top tier financial authority
  • High level of investor protection
  • Banking background
Cons
  • No negative balance protection

Is RBC Direct Investing regulated? Yes, it is regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).

Is RBC Direct Investing safe? To be certain, it is best to check two things: how you are protected if something goes wrong and what the background of the broker is.

How you are protected

This is important for you because the investor protection amount and the regulator differ from entity to entity. With RBC Direct Investing, this is not an issue because all customers are covered by RBC Direct Investing Inc.

RBC Direct Investing Inc. is a member of CIPF. Therefore, the clients of RBC are eligible for the CAD 1 million coverage offered by CIPF

It is also worth noting that RBC Direct Investing does not provide negative balance protection.

Background

RBC Direct Investing's parent company, Royal Bank of Canada was established in 1864. The longer the track record of a broker, the more proof we have that it has successfully survived previous financial crises.

As Royal Bank of Canada holds a banking license, it is subject to tougher regulation than brokers.

Royal Bank of Canada is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. It is a big plus for safety as financial statements are released regularly and transparently.

Having a banking license, being listed on a stock exchange, providing financial statements, and regulated by a top-tier regulator are all great signs for RBC Direct Investing's safety.

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RBC Direct Investing review
Bottom line

RBC Direct Investing is regulated by the top-tier IIROC. Its parent company, the Royal Bank of Canada has a banking license and listed on NYSE and TSX stock exchanges.

RBC Direct Investing offers an easy, fully digital, and fast account opening. The education resources are outstanding, they provide a lot of relevant and useful tools. Customer service gives fast and relevant answers.

RBC Direct Investing does, however, have its downfalls. The biggest downfall of the RBC Direct Investing is their mobile app which seems not to have been updated in a few years. The product portfolio covers only the US and Canadian markets. The credit/debit cards and electronic wallets are not provided for money transfer.

Since RBC Direct Investing has great account opening, advanced research and education tools, feel free to give them a try.

RBC Direct Investing main features and highlights

๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ Country of regulation Canada
๐Ÿ’ฐ Trading fees class Low
๐Ÿ’ฐ Inactivity fee charged No
๐Ÿ’ฐ Withdrawal fee amount $0
๐Ÿ’ฐ Minimum deposit $0
๐Ÿ•– Time to open an account 1 day
๐Ÿ’ณ Deposit with credit card Not available
๐Ÿ‘› Depositing with electronic wallet Not available
๐Ÿ’ฑ Number of base currencies supported 2
๐ŸŽฎ Demo account provided Yes
๐Ÿ›๏ธ Products offered Stock, ETF, Fund, Bond, Options

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RBC Direct Investing logo

RBC Direct Investing is a Canadian stockbroker regulated by the top-tier IIROC. Its parent company is Royal Bank of Canada which was founded in 1864 and listed on the TSX and NYSE.

RBC Direct Investing is considered safe because it is regulated by a top-tier regulator and its parent company has a long track record, is listed on the stock exchange, and discloses its financials.

Recommended for beginners, investors focusing on the Canadian and US markets.

Compare to other brokers

Overall 4 stars

Pros
  • Easy and fast account opening
  • High-quality educational tools
  • Great customer service
Cons
  • Outdated mobile trading platform
  • Only US and Canadian markets covered
  • Lack of credit/debit cards and electronic wallets

Fees 3 stars

Pros
  • No inactivity fee
  • No mutual fund trading fee
Cons
  • High options fees
  • Account fee is charged for balances less than CAD 15k

Account opening 5 stars

Pros
  • Fully digital account opening
  • No minimum deposit
  • User-friendly
Cons
None

Deposit and withdrawal 2 stars

Pros
  • No deposit fee
Cons
  • Credit/Debit card not available
  • Most withdrawal options have a fee
  • Less withdrawal and deposit options if not a client of RBC bank.

Web trading platform 3 stars

Pros
  • Clear fee report
  • Price alerts
  • Order confirmation
Cons
  • No two-step (safer) login
  • Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
  • Does not look appealing

Mobile trading platform 1 stars

Pros
None
Cons
  • Not user-friendly
  • No price alerts
  • Bugs

Markets and products 2 stars

The available asset classes to trade:

  • Stock
  • ETF
  • Fund
  • Bond
  • Options

Research 3 stars

Pros
  • Analyst recommendations for any product
  • Data on asset fundamentals
Cons
  • Basic charting tools and news

Customer service 4 stars

Pros
  • Live chat
  • Fast response time
  • Relevant answers
Cons
  • Slow telephone support
  • No 24/7 availability

Education 4 stars

Pros
  • Demo account
  • Trading platform tutorial
  • Educational videos
Cons
  • No Webinars

Safety

Pros
  • Regulated by top tier financial authority
  • High level of investor protection
  • Banking background
Cons
  • No negative balance protection

AUTHOR OF THIS REVIEW

Oskar Golebiowski
Oskar Golebiowski
Canadian broker expert
Oskar's goal is to bring transparency to investors in the Canadian stock brokerage market. With a bachelorโ€™s degree in finance and over 3 years of business experience, Oskar has tested many different investing platforms in the past. His aim is to provide unbiased and honest reviews of the best tools available to Canadian investors.

METHODOLOGY

Everything you find on Brokerchooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology

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