Scotia iTrade Discount Broker Review

by Mike Holman

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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