PRICE: Free to sign up, Free ETF trading, all other $4.95-$30 per trade
MY RATING: 9.0 out of 10
Questrade, Product Overview
Questrade is a Canadian online brokerage firm that allows any individual to quickly sign up and manage their own investment portfolio or have their portfolio managed using online wealth management services.
Since starting in 1999 the discount brokerage firm has focused on keeping low transaction fees for its investors. Fees are the leech of any investment portfolio, especially over the long run.
I first became interested in managing my own portfolio when started to research options on places to invest some of my modest savings. After checking out a few of the big bank brokerages and talking with their reps it quickly became apparent to me they offered little value and charged hefty fees. Given my investment strategy is typically to buy and hold I felt confident I could manage my own portfolio and so far it’s worked out very well for me.
Questrade has some of the most competitive rates and fees around. For those that use ETF’s (exchange traded funds) strategy you’ll love this – they’re free to buy and about $5/trade to sell. Factor in the low MER’s on ETF’s and you’ve got the makings of a great portfolio.Some of the actively managed bank brokerages take 1-2% of the total portfolio as their annual fee, which really stunts the potential growth of a portfolio over the long run. While some advisors may be worth this fee, a good deal of them are not. Below is a summary of the Questrade fees:
New Account Sign-Up
Signing up for a new Questrade account can be very quick and easy.To sign up you’ll need:
- Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Bank account information
- Employer details
I would highly suggest the secure online process to register as it is remarkable quick and limits the number of written errors that may take place.You have the option of signing up for a “Self-Directed Account” or “Managed Investing”. For those looking to run their own portfolio you’ll want the Self-Directed Account, others that want a more guided approach should opt for the Managed Investing using Portfolio IQ. With Managed Investing Questrade employees will work with you to choose an investment strategy that is line with your risk tolerance and goals.After registering an account you’ll have the ability to set up various TFSA, RSP and margin (taxable) accounts.
Some of these accounts require that you mail in certain signed documents. From my own personal experience Questrade is on the ball when it comes to updating accounts with mailed in information and the process is extremely painless.I recall making an error or two on one of my own account registrations, however, a rep from Questrade called within a day to help me fix my mistake. It’s nice to know that despite all the crazy technology and online services, at the end of the day there’s actual people there to help.
Online Platforms and Services
I found the Questrade online platforms extremely intuitive and manage to figure it out on my own for the most part, however, there’s an in depth video that walks you through all the different trading platforms (where you execute your investment transactions). On the free trading platform “IQ” there’s a 15 minute delay between the actual exchange, however, given my long term buy and hold strategy this doesn’t really bother me.An important factor for any Canadian investor looking to invest in US investments – Questrade is one of the only platforms to allow multiple currencies in one account. This makes holding various international investments a lot simpler.All transactions and holdings are logged in My Questrade which provides all your statements. I love being able to access this at any time, whereas I recall other investors who had a difficult time getting statements or information from their broker. I typically like to look at my statements within two weeks of the month end, and Questrade typically meets this mark. One time I think it took three weeks, so I sent a note asking when they would be available and got a prompt reply (from a HUMAN BEING!) apologizing for the delay and letting me know the statements would soon be available
Bottom Line – I’m a Strong Buy on Questrade
For a low risk investor like myself looking to minimize fees Questrade is hard to beat. I find they provide a lot more value than the big bank brokerages because all the information is right at your fingertips without the high fees.Any person is capable of signing up for an account and implementing a well-diversified ETF portfolio that will serve them well in the long run. Check out my Top 5 ETF Funds post for some good ideas on where to start.I’ve been a Questrade user for approximately three years and I would highly recommend it to all experienced and newbie investors.