3-star brokerage rating

Scotia iTrade Review


Scotia iTrade review, brokerage rating for 2018. Is it good firm? Stock trading fees. Scotia iTrade RRSP, RRIF, TFSA account investment cost, minimums, and ETFs.



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


Scotia iTrade 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 Review: 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 Review: 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 surcharges for penny stocks or large orders
  • 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. 

Unfortunately, Scotia iTrade does not provide a popular robo-investing service similar to one offered by WealthSimple.

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. Rating: 3






Is Scotia iTrade a Legitimate Firm?


Scotia iTrade was started in 2008 by Scotia Bank - one of the big five banks in Canada when it purchased E-trade Canada. Investors who started with E-trade will recall that very little changed with the platform during this transition, essentially Scotia just re-branded the E-trade platform, keeping all functionalities and original user interface. iTrade offers registered and non-registered accounts, fund investing, stocks and options, fixed income security trading, and exchange traded debentures. They also provide gold, silver, and platinum securities.  

When compared to other Canadian discount brokerages, the fees and commissions are competitive compared to other big banks but are still higher than independent brokerages like Questrade. They go as low as $6.99 per transaction if you make at least 150 trades per quarter, $9.99 if you can make 30 trades or have at least $50,000 in assets, and $24.99 per trade otherwise. The biggest complaints heard from users is typical of a big bank in that misc. fees and charges can creep up for certain transactions like transfer fees or fixed charges for placing orders over the phone.

The brokerage features a starter trading platform included with every account, and a more advanced trading and research platform for an extra subscription fee. They also offer practice accounts with a fictional portfolio of $100,000 in both Canadian and US currency intended to allow investors to try their trading tools risk-free. iTrade provides valuable market research and news through their website, dual currency TFSAs and RRSPs, and exceptional customer service.


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Is Scotia iTrade Safe?


iTrade uses the same safety protocols as any other major bank in the country, incorporating 128-bit encryption browsers, firewall security, and tech security features like express-sign-on, access code, session timeouts, and even McAfee security software. They monitor internal systems and maintain the safety of user information on a regular basis and their customer support will assist customers with any technical issues.

Since 2008, iTrade has won numerous awards and most recently the “Best Overall Top Bank-Owned Brokerage” which was awarded by MoneySense, a well-respected national print magazine run by Rogers Communications. It also won the “SQM Call Center Best Practice Award”for the third year in a row.


Is Scotia iTrade Insured?


Operating under Scotia Bank, investors have the added security that their deposits are protected by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) - a federal Crown corporation created by Parliament in 1967 to insure individuals from loss due to failure by a financial institution. This is similar to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in the United States. 

iTrade is also a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) - an institution similar to the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) in the United States which is sponsored by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).


Is Scotia iTrade a Scam?


Scotia iTrade is owned and operated by a national bank that has been in business for over 185 years. It does not appear to be a scam but rather one of the biggest and longest running discount brokerages in Canada and widely used by many investors. While Canadian brokerages typically offer fewer products to investors and may not provide as advanced platforms as their US counterparts, it is still a legitimate business with professional memberships in CIPF and IIROC. The company strives to be at the forefront of consumer needs and offers one of the best customer service experiences available on the market. By all accounts, there is nothing to fear when conducting business with iTrade as it appears to be ethical and responsible backed by the federal government of Canada.


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Scotia iTrade BBB (Better Business Bureau) Rating


iTrade is listed as an alternative business name to the Scotia bank – Head Office by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The standing is average, with a C- rating. The company is not accredited by the BBB, which is not unusual for online brokerage firms and should not be cause for concern. Since 2003 when Scotia Bank was added to BBB, there have been 50 complaints against the bank, 4 of which were filed against business and 8 filed against business that were not resolved. This number is better than average compared to other brokerages and excellent compared to other major banks in Canada. 

The company has received two customer reviews from the BBB that were negative giving it an average of 1.89 out of 5 stars. 1 complaint was with regard to a mortgage product, and another was by an individual who was locked out of their visa card. Overall, there have been no complaints or cause for concern regarding the Scotia iTrade brokerage.