3-star brokerage rating

Scotia iTrade Review




Scotia iTrade Investment Account Overview


The bank of Nova Scotia has been around since the early 1800’s. Operating as Scotiabank, it is part of Canada’s big five and a dominant force in the country’s banking industry, boasting over 26 billion dollars in revenue and holding over 850 billion in assets.

In 2008, BNS purchased E-trade Canada to provide their active investors a discount brokerage solution that would ultimately make them a leader in the online investing market. This is how Scotia iTrade was born. Today, many Canadians use this platform for their self-directed investing needs.


New Account Setup


Scotia iTrade provides investors multiple options to open a new account; online, by phone, or in person. The process is very straightforward in each case.

Opening an account online takes about 30 minutes and involves completing a thorough application form in 5 parts that collects personal, financial, and investment account information. Most individuals will choose this option as it is the quickest way to get setup and begin trading.

Investors can also speak to a Scotia iTrade Senior Sales Associate who will provide assistance and answer any questions over the phone. This option is helpful for individuals with unique circumstances or looking for more information about any special offers, but also showcases the customer service iTrade is known for.

The final option involves visiting the investor centre located in downtown Toronto.

Once the application is submitted, iTrade may require special forms to complete approval. For example, when opening a registered account such as a TFSA, the federal government requires a unique form in paper format that needs to be mailed in. Finding these forms on the brokerage website is extremely easy and iTrade provides clear instructions to follow. In some cases, investors will receive a temporary approval to begin trading while the final approval process is taking place.


Scotia iTrade Mutual Funds


Scotia iTrade offers investors over 3,500 mutual funds that are commission and load free. There is no minimum deposit required, however, there is a standard non-registered account fee of $25 per quarter unless there is a minimum balance of $10,000 or 1 trade per quarter. If a mutual fund is placed over the phone, there is a $65 fee. When trading stocks and options, the cost is $24.99 per trade or $9.99 if the account has combined assets over $50,000 or 30-149 trades per quarter. When the trades exceed 150 per quarter, this amount drops to $6.99 per quarter. These costs are no longer the cheapest option in the industry as other low-fee brokerages like QuesTrade and CIBC’s Investor Edge now provide better rates for investors who don’t large assets.

The Mutual Fund screener is extremely easy to use, allowing filters by price, type, and yield. The ability to save a search gives the added flexibility of repeating common searches. For more advanced functionalities, investors can access 3rd party analysis and ratings. Predefined Screeners allow instant screening for bond funds and Canadian equity funds. The quick menu option offers watch list and trading functions direct from the screener.

The research section on the website allows users to track performance and monitor news for various markets, equities, options, ETFs, mutual funds, and fixed income/GICs. Alerts can be programmed or watch-lists made to monitor a pre-selected portfolio.


Registered Accounts


The brokerage offers TFSAs, RRSPs, RESPs, RRIFs, LIRAs, and LRSPs. When using registered accounts, investors have the option of trading U.S equities and options for a flat fee of $30 per quarter. This is a great way to avoid paying a retail foreign exchange spread in a Canadian dominated registered account which would normally amount to the spot rate + 1.65%. There are no activation fees and no minimum deposit required to open a registered account.

There is an annual fee of $100 if the balance of all accounts is less than $25,000. For an RESP account, it is $25 if the balance is less than $15,000 and for TFSAs there are no fees.


Scotia iTrade Website/Trading Platform/Tools Review


Website

The Scotia iTrade website functions are essentially built on top of the Scotiabank online banking architecture. It offers superior technology and more advanced features typically seen in investor oriented trading platforms. It is simple to perform functions such as view accounts, pay bills, transfer, trade, access educational resources or products and services. The user interface is organized and clutter free. A dashboard style home page provides intuitive menus, and quick access to the trading platforms Trading Desk and Flight Desk.

When accessing individual funds, investors can quickly find specific market information, Morningstar ratings, and the ability to trade, create alerts, or make changes to attributes.


Scotia iTrade Review: Website


Trading Desk

iTrade provides a free option to trade using their Trading Desk software. It is a 1 page trading console where investors can optimize their trades - entering multiple stock or options orders to create quick scenarios.


Scotia iTrade Review: Trading Desk


Flight Desk

For a more advanced trading functionality, investors can pay a subscription fee ranging from $30-$80 per quarter to access Flight Desk. There are many features offered by this platform such as: real-time market pulse, 1-click equity order trading, streaming portfolio values, and market watchlists with streaming real-time data.


Scotia iTrade Flight Desk


Mobile Trading

There is a Scotia iTrade app that provides limited features when compared to the desktop counterpart. The interface is simple and intuitive making is easy to access accounts, quotes, watchlists, orders, and transfers. It is also possible to read market news and view data analysis. Most complaints from users focus on instability and network problems encountered when updates are installed.


Scotia iTrade Mobile Trading


Scotia iTrade Pros


  • 50 eligible commission-free ETFs
  • Excellent customer service
  • No surprise maintenance fees
  • Well-designed trading tools and interface provide a good user experience
  • Free real-time quotes
  • A vast array of educational resources
  • No minimum balance required to open a registered or non-registered account


Scotia iTrade Cons


  • Commissions are not as cheap as Questrade's
  • Registered accounts require a minimum balance
  • Mobile app is not updated frequently enough
  • Advanced trading platform Flight Desk is not free


Recommendations


Scotia iTrade is the perfect choice for new investors looking start trading with index funds as it offers a large selection of domestic and international funds. The ability to trade using registered or non-registered accounts makes it great choice for individuals looking for tax sheltering accounts. 

Long term investors will find all their needs met with advanced systems and platforms tailored for traders. Flight Desk provides features that both inform and simplify the user experience but it is important to note that this option is not provided by iTrade free of charge. The easy-to-use website allows users of all experience levels to navigate and perform actions.


Scotia iTrade Review Summary


Scotia iTrade is one of the best-known and largest online discount brokers in Canada, and it has been in business since the 1800s. The firm offers $9.99 flat commissions to active traders and individuals with $50,000 or more in assets with the Bank of Nova Scotia and iTrade combined. Otherwise, it can be expensive charging a hefty minimum commission of $24.99 if qualifications are not met.

At the moment, iTrade is the only Canadian brokerage that offers commission free ETFs. Again, this may be Scotiabanks market research department staying ahead of the game by focusing their products and services around mainstream investors who manage their own funds and want to avoid management fees when trading.

For account holders, yearly fees come in at about $100 per year for both registered and non-registered accounts.  There is no minimum deposit required for any accounts but fees do apply if a minimum is not held. These account fees average about $25 per quarter. Trading fees range from $10 if assets exceed $50,000 but otherwise it is $24.99 per trade. This can waived if trades range from 30-149 per quarter. When the trades exceed 150 per quarter, this amount drops to $6.99 per quarter.

Scotia iTrade does provide a lot of educational resources for learning the premium Flight Desk software. Although it is not as sophisticated as some of the American counterparts, it does offer real-time simulations and basic data driven analytics that will serve most investor’s needs.  

In summary, iTrade is best for investors starting out on their path with few funds or savvy mainstream investors looking to build a portfolio of low MER indexes. Questrade or CIBC Investors Edge may provide greater flexibility or lower costs for seasoned active traders. With their ear to the ground, it would be no surprise if Scotia iTrade leads the pack with innovative product and service offerings that meet the needs of a new generation of investors. 



Scotia iTrade reviewed by Brokerage-Review.com on . Rating: 3


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