Desjardins Online Brokerage: A Guide

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Aja McClanahan is a personal finance writer who has a story of getting out of over $120,000 in debt. She's been featured in Yahoo! Finance, MarketWatch, U.S. News and World Report, Kiplinger and has written for publications like Business Insider, Credit Karma, Inc., and many others. Aja writes about investing and personal finance for Wealthsimple. In her spare time, she manages her own investment portfolios for herself, husband, and two kids. Aja double majored in Spanish and Economics and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

If you’re researching your options for investing, as a Canadian citizen or resident, you might have come across Desjardins Online Brokerage, or Disnat. It’s a discount broker whose parent company, Desjardins, is the largest cooperative financial group in Canada.

Depending on where you live, the type of investing you plan to do, and your propensity for DIY investing, Disnat is likely among the brokerages you’ll explore. Heres’s what you need to know about its offerings and related fees.

What is Desjardins Online Brokerage?

Desjardins Online Brokerage (Disnat) is an online discount brokerage that supports Canadian investors. Using Disnat’s platforms, Canadian citizens can access all major North American markets while trading in U.S. dollars or Canadian dollars.

Disnat is a full-service broker that has account options for both active traders and long-term, buy-and-hold investors. Its sophisticated trading interface and various instructional events are attractive to self-directed investors of varying skills as well.

Although Disnat is geared more towards more experienced investors, the platform has recently experienced an influx of newbie investors. New investors are supported through Disnat’s educational, research tools, and customer service representatives.

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For example, all Disnat customers get access to Desjardins Securities research service and Morningstar. It also offers access to Trading Central, another market research tool that helps investors pick investments based on technical or fundamental analysis methods. Access to these tools are free for all Disnat clients.

What products does Desjardins Online Brokerage offer?

Disnat trading platforms

Disnat markets itself as an online brokerage for the “savvy” investor. As such, there are two main trading platforms that they offer that are ideal for both novice and experienced investors. The interface is offered in both English and French.

Disnat Classic

Disnat Classic is ideal for new investors who may not be trading on a very frequent basis. It’s a simpler version of Disnat’s trading interface, with user-friendly buttons and simple navigation. Disnat Classic is accessible online via web browser or via the smartphone app. Trades can also be placed by phone.

Disnat Direct

Disnat Direct is designed for active traders who make at least 10 trades per month. Key features of this platform include streaming market data and charts. Disnat allows users to customize their Disnat Direct screen to view unlimited charts and watchlists. They can also trade directly from their charts view and see portfolio changes and streaming quotes in real time. Disnat Direct users can place trades via the Direct app.

What investment types are offered?

With Disnat Classic, users can trade the following securities:

  • Equities

  • Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

  • Options

  • Bonds

  • Mutual funds

  • New issues

Clients can also get access to IPOs and fixed-income assets like bonds, treasury bills and money market funds.

What are the Desjardins Online Brokerage fees?

Disnat is known as a discount broker, but the largest discounts are applied to more active trading accounts. Here’s the fees breakdown:

Classic

  • Equities and ETFs: $6.95 per trade

  • Options: $1.25 per contract; minimum $8.75

  • Mutual funds: No commission; some exceptions

  • Fixed income securities: $50 minimum per trade

  • Inactivity fees: $30 per quarter, but waived if the value of the portfolio is $15,000

Direct

  • Equities and ETFs: $4.95 to $6.95 per trade up to 29 trades per month; $.75 per trade over per 30 trades or more per month

  • Options: $1.25 per contract; minimum $8.75

  • Mutual funds: No commission, although there are some exceptions

  • Fixed income securities: $50 minimum per trade

There are plenty of other fees for using Disnat platforms you should be aware of, too, including:

  • Inactivity fee: $30 if minimum trading activity isn’t met

  • Opening accounts for trusts, guardianship, public curatorship: $200

  • Streaming quotes: $35 to $155; $0 if certain number of trades are completed each month

  • Telephone trade: Prices vary based on price per share; taxes are extra

  • Inactivity fees: $30 per quarter, but waived if the value of the portfolio is $15,000

What account types are available with Disnat?

Cash

Like most brokers, Disnat offers a cash account so clients can trade stocks, mutual funds, and fixed income securities. This is the simplest way to start investing with Disnat.

Margin

If investors want to use leverage to buy securities, Disnat offers margin accounts. Buying power for investors with margin accounts can change depending on the type and market value of the securities being traded.

Margin option

This account type gives traders access to margin function as well as various option strategies:

  • Buying call and put options

  • Selling covered call options

  • Selling uncovered calls and puts

  • Long or short straddles (covered or uncovered)

  • Spreads

Short selling

Short selling means that you are “borrowing” stock and selling it, with the hopes of “returning” it at a lower stock price to collect a profit. In this scenario, investors don’t own the stock in question. For this reason, it’s considered a highly speculative activity. As such, Disnat requires up to 150% of the market value of the stock that’s being shorted.

Registered accounts

Disnat supports several types of registered accounts. Typically, these accounts will tend to have less activity and be used for longer-term investing goals. Here are the different registered account types you can open with Disnat:

  • RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan)

  • TFSA (Tax-Free Savings Account)

  • LIRA (Locked-In Retirement Account)

  • RRIF (Registered Retirement Income Fund)

  • LIF (Life Income Fund)

  • RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan)

There are additional account types available for groups, such as investment clubs and corporations. Should you need help setting up the right account, a Disnat customer representative can guide you towards the best option.

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Even though Disnat is a discount broker, there are many fees to watch out for—and they could add up quickly.

Last Updated April 16, 2021

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