Scotia iTrade Discount Broker Review

by Mike Holman

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This week, we are taking a look at Scotia i-Trade discount brokerage. This brokerage, is of course owned by Scotia Bank, one of the big five Canadian banks. Scotia started iTrade and then bought E-trade and amalgamated it into the iTrade brokerage. Trade Freedom brokerage has also been purchased and will be merged into iTrade as well.

If you would like to compare all the different Canadian discount brokerages, check out the Canadian discount brokerage comparison.

Overall impressions

Scotia iTrade is cheaper than any of the other discount brokerages owned by the big banks. The highest trading fee is $24.99 which is less than ~$29 for most bank-owned discount brokerage, but not by a whole lot. You only need $50,000 in assets to qualify for the cheaper $9.99 trades vs. $100,000 for the other bank-owned brokerages.

The fact that there are no annual account fees for registered accounts is a big plus for lower-asset investors who can’t normally get their fees waived at the other banks.

If you want to have a discount brokerage account at a big bank, then this is the cheapest one. You can still do a lot better on fees though, by choosing any number of the independent brokers.

Online trading commissions

  • $24.99 per trade
  • $9.99  – If you have $50,000 in combined assets or 30-149 trades per quarter
  • $6.99 – 150+ trade per quarter

Phone trading commissions

  • $45 plus online trading commission

Annual account fees

  • Non registered account - $25 per quarter unless minimum balance of $10,000 or one trade per quarter.
  • Registered account – $100 if balance of all accounts is less than $25,000.
  • RESP – $25 if balance of all account is less than $15,000.
  • TFSA – No fee.

Foreign exchange fees

  • Spot rate + 1.65%

Mutual funds

  • Full range of mutual funds available

Free real-time quotes

  • Yes

Minimum dollar amount to open account

  • None

Some user opinions on iTrade

I asked a few people over at the Canadian Money Forum what their opinion of iTrade was.

First person was Harold, who is a low-volume trader and owns individual stocks and ETFs.

Trading platform/interface:

I have been using the web platform only since I originally started with E*Trade a few years ago.  The transition to Scotia iTrade did not change much on the web platform, except replacing the purple E*Trade motif with the Scotia red look-and-feel.
So far, I have been relatively satisfied with the web platform. This is my only online brokerage account, so I can’t claim to have experienced any different.

Customer service:

So far, good.  When you call, usually they pick up the phone within a couple minutes.  On particularly volatile trading days (like May 6th), wait times are longer but I’d expect that to be the case with any other brokerage.  Their trading desk staff are courteous, understanding and knowledgeable.

Research reports and tools:

  • Yes, I use the Analyst reports and they are ok.  I believe TD have better quality analysis.
  • I think they can improve their data tracking and charting capabilities.  Generating price charts and other types of TA charts is not very powerful.
  • They really need to build a good stock scanner into their web platform, like, yesterday.

How many transactions would you do in a month/year?

A dozen transactions, I think. Even though I don’t trade much, but I use the web tools a lot.
My usage is about 1 hr. a day on average – mostly individual stock analysis and pricing history.
I think I’m pretty familiar with all the features they have on the web platform.
Since last 2 years, I have been gradually moving my other accounts over to iTrade so I’ve become familiar with how they handle various types of accounts.
I also lived through the migration of their registered accounts from Penson Financial over to Scotia Capital (after the Scotia transition).

Frugal Trader:

  • Their online interface is adequate and usable, and their prices are reasonable providing that you have a $50k balance ($9.99/trade).
  • Their telephone service has been relatively quick to answer and knowledgeable from my experience.
  • I do not use research reports. One thing they do lack are real-time charts for traders and candlesticks and other indicators.
  • Overall, I like my iTrade account and would recommend them for accounts greater than $50k.

Mario

  • I use I-trade and trade quite often.
  • The platform is quite good, especially compared to CIBC my other brokerage.
  • The service is average at best, and the research is like most others.

If you have any experience with Scotia iTrade and want to share your thoughts, then please leave a comment.

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

51 Plinker

I have been with Trade Freedom since 2007 and watched changes with the Scotia Bank takeover. My opinion at the moment is that TD Waterhouse or Questrade may be a better choice, that is they way I will go if the guys at Scotia Bank Brokerage dissapoint me.

My investment experience is also in the high net worth area and I find the little fee’s very annoying and quite counterproductive, they turn good customers against Scotia Bank, most don’t complain or say anything they just leave.

As an investor my goal is making money, this also compensates the brokerage firm or bank. So the more the brokerage firm or bank helps by reducing trivial fee’s increases the gain to me as a customer and ultimately to the brokerage firm or bank.

I came here today regarding information on the way Trade Freedom or ITrade handles ACB “Average Cost Base”. I have asked numerous people at Trade Freedom and still have no valid answer. With my full service broker all charges where added to the cost of the equities and divided by the number of shares. How is this addressed with Trade Freedom or ITrade buys and sells?

Those companies irrespective of what they manufacture or service they provide, will benefit more from happy customers than ones who don’t consider the they have been well served.

Scotia Bank otherwise is a most excellent bank with extremely caring personnel and they deserve commendation for that!

52 Troy

I was a Tradefreedom client for years and was satisfied then scotiabank bought Tradefreedom they changed the fees and came up with more fees.
I liked the platform but the customer service is horrible. For the past 18 days I have called them everyday and more than once a day with the same technical issue with my platform.
They called me back 2 times over that time. I was never able to resolve the issue even after I bought a new computer as they suggested.
I do about 50-100 trades a month and my account is around $500000.
They managed to get me off the phone everyday with a promise of a callback or telling me no manager was around for me to talk to.
They eventually let me talk to NEXA their platform provider then NEXA told me they couldnt talk to me its their policy. Therefore I was never able to receive a solution to my problem so I had to leave ScotiaiTrade(Tradefreedom). AND I finally decided to look over my statements and found fees that they charged me and when I questioned them about these fees they said they would reverse them but had to charge me to look into that matter. To this day they have never reversed the fees. I am so disgusted with scotiaitrades policies, its unbelievable how they could treat their clients this way especially considering how much money I made for them. Please contact me if you have any questions I would be happy to answer them troylee@ns.sympatico.ca

53 Alana

I closed my account with iTrade yesterday and I will be closing all of my accounts with Scotiabank based on my iTrade experience; I will provide no business to Scotiabank again.

Basically, iTrade liquidated my stock position to pay their service fees (low activity service charge of $25/quarter). I had left my account dormant over the past couple of years because I had no interest in doing any trades – I initially opened my account with eTrade and bought shares in 2 junior resource companies with the intention of holding my position until a good time came to sell. No where in the iTrade literature did I see it stated that iTrade had the right to sell my stock without my consent so that their service fees could be paid. I have no idea how it is they are allowed to do this. My contact information was out of date at the time iTrade sold my stock but I am still puzzled how they could move ahead with selling the stock considering they had no confirmation from me either way. I could understand my account being in negative from my racking up their (ludicrous) service fees or my not being allowed to make any trades until the fees were paid, but for iTrade to be allowed to sell my stock? Their service fees trump my right as the owner of a stock? It just makes no sense and strikes me entirely unethical. I am confirming with IIROC whether it was legal – I am sure it was, there is obviously some legal loophole that iTrade is allowed to jump through at their convenience. Frightening that iTrade has this kind of control over their client accounts.

So if you are considering opening an account with iTrade, make sure you are very well informed as to how little control you will have over your account if you are not planning on being a regualar user of their services.

Oh, and the customer service rep I spoke with on the phone about this might as well have been a robot, she just repeated the same thing over and over with no emotion “we sold your stock to pay our service fees”, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

That being said, I have a real broker with BMONB and his service fees are a bargain compared with iTrade’s (misleading) service fees.

54 R Walker

I’ve been a cliend 0f SMDI for over 10 yrs with 5 acounts and over 2 million on deposit. Since their remake:
1 My trades went from $8.95 to $9.99
2 SMDI will no longer debits my bank account on settlement date but requires funds up front before trade is accepted (extra 3 days on my credit line)
3 SMDI now takes an extra day to settle trades (1 add’l day on my credit line)

Changes all appear to be in the Bank’s favour.

55 Scotia_iTRADE

Thanks for your inquiry and for taking the time to share your experiences here. As always, your satisfaction is important to us and we value your comments. Please allow me to answer some of your questions.

@Plinker: TradeFreedom uses the First-In, First-Out (FIFO) method to calculate average cost base (ACB) for a security. Here’s an example to help clarify:

Monday: Buy 100 shares of XYZ at $10.00
Tuesday: Buy another 100 shares of XYZ at $20, ACB for the 200 shares of XYZ will be $15.00
Wednesday: Sell 100 shares of XYZ at $25.00, new ACB will be $20.00

Please note that TradeFreedom’s platform does not factor in the commission for average cost base, and ACB may be an estimate based on the data available to us. It is provided for your convenience and as a reference point only. I hope this information helps.

@Troy: I apologize for the trouble you’re having with our platform, and for the time it has taken us to resolve the issue. We’ve emailed you and we look forward to working with you to resolve it.

Feel free to email me if you’ve any questions, concerns or suggestions.

Thanks,

-Nabil | nabil@scotiaitrade.com

56 Troy

Placed a limit order today on my Tradefreedom(ScotiaiTrade) platform to purchase a stock, it dropped below my limit and no confirmation, so I cancelled, and placed a lower limit, it hit that limit and still I didnt get a confirmation, I place another limit order and it hits as well no confirmation. Few minutes later I found out the hard way that all orders did execute I just didnt get the notifications.
Now this rarely happened to me except once before but it should never happen.
Now I have 3 times the shares I wanted. I was told last time the platform failed to beware and its my fault as Im using the platform at my own risk.
Gotta love my online broker

57 Stefan

Careful when trading in your TSFA. If you purchase a US dollar stock they will hit you witha spread to convert you from Canadian to USD then back again when you sell. Plus they make trade commission on both sides. You could actually buy a stock, watch it rise, sell it then look at your settlements to see the whole thing lost you money. It happened to me with AAP on April 17th. I should have made $240 minus trade commissions. It ended up costing me $20! TD Waterhouse washed the spread out so check your rates before you sign up anywhere.

58 Tony

What happened to Stefan happened to me they do charge you on conversion two times when you buy and sell a stock,I think Scotia knows what its doing to the investors, but it does not care, I have phoned them only to get a” I will chat with my superiors”, guess what next day the exchange rate spread was bigger!! even though our Canadian dollar was more then the USA dollar i had to pay more for the exchange it back to the American when I wanted to sell
this is nothing but currency manipulation in my book, Im pulling my money out be warned they dont like to negotiate either

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