TD Waterhouse Discount Brokerage Review

by Mike Holman

TD Waterhouse is owned by the TD bank (Toronto Dominion Canada Trust).

Overall impressions

Of all the bank-owned brokerages, this is the one where I’ve heard the most favourable comments from users. Like all the other bank-owned brokerages, this one also charges very high fees.  You only get a break on trading commissions if you are an active trader or have $50,000 in household assets.

Online trading commissions

  • $29.00 – If household assets are less than $50,000 and less than 30 trades per quarter.
  • $9.99 – If household assets are greater than $50,000 or 30-149 trades per quarter.  Online statements.
  • $7.00 – If 150 trades or more per quarter.

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

Phone trading commissions

  • $43 Cdn minimum or $35 Cdn + cost per share for stocks trading on Canadian index.
  • $43 US minimum or $39 US + cost per share for stocks trading on US indexes.

Annual account fees

  • Registered stock trading account – $100 if balance is less than $25,000
  • Registered GIC and mutual fund acct – $25 if balance is less than $25,000.
  • RESP – $50 if balance is less than $25,000
  • TFSA – $50 – waived if balance > $25,000 or sign up for eServices

Foreign exchange fees

  • Spot rate + 1.50%.

If you are exchanging a larger amount ($10,000 or more) or have a lot of assets, then phone and try to negotiate a better exchange fee.

Mutual funds

  • Full range of mutual funds available.

Allow US$ in RRSP accounts

  • No, but they allow “wash trades” where you place the trade, call same day, tell them to “do a wash” they will buy a US$ money market fund so there is no conversion.

Free real-time quotes

  • Yes

Minimum to open account

  • None

Dividend Reinvestment Plans

  • Yes

Phone number and automated voice shortcuts

  • 1-800-465-5463
  • To get through the automated phone tree, just press 2,2.

Some opinions on TD Waterhouse discount brokerage

I asked a few TDW clients their opinion of TD Waterhouse discount brokerage:

My Own Advisor had this to say:

I have been with TDW for over 5 years. I chose TD Waterhouse (TDW) since at the time, I already had many investment accounts with them and I felt it was a logical choice to keep most of my investments under one roof – keep things simple.  That however, was not my only reason.  Other primary reasons for selecting TDW were as follows:

  • Fee and commission structure is competitive.
  • User interface (EasyWeb for web-banking) is easy to understand and use; from what I understood about their discount brokerage site (WebBroker), it would be no different.
  • Customer service is excellent.  Whenever I had a question about my accounts, the setup process, I recall within a few prompts, I was talking to a live representative that answered my questions effectively and efficiently.

What I like about TDW:

  • Fee and commission structure remains fairly competitive – I consider them “in the middle”.  Although not trend-setters in this category, they are part of the sub-$10 online stock trading commission community.  Even though I don’t trade often, low-fees are important when I do trade.
  • User interface (WebBroker) remains excellent.  Their online views associated with investing and account balances are straightforward.
  • Website overall is easy to navigate and very user-friendly.  I find there is no guesswork involved to make your online transactions.  Their stock order-entry process is simple and efficient; within a few clicks, I’m done.
  • TDW representatives are professional and customer-focused, they remain so.  Within a few telephone prompts, I’m always talking to a “warm body”, I don’t have to wait long to speak to a representative.
  • I can DRIP all the securities I own (stocks, ETFs, REITs) in my registered and unregistered accounts.  As a dividend investor, the reinvestment process is very important to me.
  • The real-time quote feature (for stocks, ETFs) is nice.
  • The ability to create a portfolio of holdings to monitor/watch is nice.
  • Via their Global Trading menu, the ability to have online access to multiple European and Asian stock exchanges is nice.
  • eServices menu is excellent, the ability print pdf files of account statements, transactions and tax documents.
  • Happy that the account administration fee for a TDW TFSA is waived if your balance is > $25,000 or you sign up for eServices.

What I dislike about TDW:

  • Why can’t you have U.S.- dollar RRSPs?  What’s the big deal?   (For example, why not hold my Coca-Cola stock in my RRSP in U.S. funds?)
  • It would be nice to see TDW lower their “cheap trade” (sub-$10 commission fee) threshold to $25,000 or $50,000 per household.  This would help many DIY investors.   (I recall I was paying $29 per trade in the beginning, that’s steep – it’s a big deterrent to many DIY investors trying to build a passive, ETF portfolio in their RRSPs).
  • TDW charges $100 annually if your registered account such as an RRSP or LIRA balance isn’t > $25,000.  That’s very annoying, especially if you have more than that amount if you added up the balances of all other TDW accounts, such a nonregistered portfolio and a TFSA.  TDW should strongly consider waiving all account fees if the balances of all accounts owned exceeded $100,000 or better still $50,000; provide an incentive for investors to build then maintain portfolios.
  • I’d like to see better tools – introduce some features or functions to show yield on cost, long-term performance results of your holdings.
  • Include more investment calculators, such as dividend reinvestment calculators.
  • Upload some demos or online videos to show how features can be maximized – “taking a tour” is not very learner-centric.
  • Get creative going-forward – why not develop better relationships and partnerships with some notable Canadian bloggers as resources?  (Let’s breakdown some of the existing barriers between financial consumers, writers and institutions.)

Potato had this to say:

I’m a current TD Waterhouse customer, I love ‘em, and recommend them to all the newbie investors I talk to. The main reasons being e-series index funds and customer service.

  • From what I’ve seen of RBC and CIBC, the trading platform is just ok, but does the job for normal occasional traders. No L2 quotes available for normal accounts, and you have to manually hit refresh to see the real-time quotes. From what I know, they do have a separate advanced platform for day traders.
  • Customer service is excellent. Phone wait times are a bit longer than with RBC, especially the first week of January when people are phoning in to make in-kind TFSA contributions and clogging up the system, but the quality of the reps makes up for it, especially in helping out new customers. They’ve always gone the extra step for us to solve problems. Examples: one friend set up a Waterhouse account, but forgot to sign up for the electronic statements to get the annual fees waived. When the first fee hit, he called up, explained his stupidity, and they helped him sign up and reversed the charge without asking. They’re very patient with new investors.
  • Research is mixed: they do have a good selection of in-house and 3rd-party research available, some market commentary pieces, etc. Their in-house research team generally seems to have their heads on their shoulders. They don’t keep old research reports up though, so if they publish a nice 3-page report on a company, and you want to go back and look at it a month or two later, but in the meantime they’ve published a 1-paragraph note on a takeover or something, the older reports will be gone. They also put all their research from a given day into a single PDF which is kind of weird, but not necessarily bad (makes it easy to grab everything for the day that morning).
  • I am paradoxically both an active and passive investor. As an active investor I don’t trade much though. As a passive, I use the e-series funds, which are great for small amounts and regular contributions.
  • TD Waterhouse does have some weirdness with cash transfers: even coming from a TD Bank account, the cash won’t show up in your activity/account until the next day. For cash coming from PC Financial, I find it takes 2 or 3 days to show up, and when it does it’s back-dated to the day or day after the transfer was made, which is kind of strange. My friend said his very first transfer from PC to TDW took a full week, with others acting like mine usually do.
  • Forex fees are on the high side, I think about 1.5% each way. To help offset that, non-registered accounts can have a USD account to reduce conversions, and registered accounts can wash trades with a phone call.
  • I think other brokers have the same service, but you can set up email alerts with them, which will send you an email when a stock crosses a price target you set, and will also forward press releases and articles from the globe in which the company is mentioned.

Jungle had this to say:

  • Platform looks rather basic and plain, sometimes simple is better.
  • Customer service is amazing, I don’t cringe if I have to call them. I cringe when I have to call Scotiabank.
  • Just a few stocks and mutual funds (e-series).
  • I’m concerned about the costs from currency conversion and holding usd funds in RRSP.

Plugging Along had this to say:

  • I found the trading platform very simple, and easy to use. Not a lot of bells and whistles, but I just want to trade not be entertained.
  • Customer service – I LOVE IT. They are easy to get through to. The staff is relatively knowledgable. They were quick to set up my account. Also, when I was over charged on my trades (there was a valid reason), a quick phone call to their centre and it was resolved. They have never argued about charges. I compare them to Questrade, and BMO, and a couple of others where we have not enjoyed working with.
  • I don’t use a lot of tools other than the real time updates, and it’s pretty quick.
  • I totally recommend TDW, their service is really good.
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