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’ve ever thought about investing your money in the stock market, one of the first decisions is choosing a trading platform. There are plenty to choose from. This proliferation of trading platforms makes investing in securities, bonds, and ETFs (exchange-traded funds) more accessible than any other time in the history of stock trading.
There are platforms that work from a web browser or even as apps on your smartphone. These trading apps can range from being relatively simple to being a user-friendly adaptation of a more complex, browser-based platform. For the experienced, direct-investor, a browser-based platform can offer live-streamed info, advanced dashboards, and complex reports for varied investing needs.
Many people choose to take advantage of full-service platforms because they want more control over how their money is invested. They may also need additional features to meet their more complex trading needs. As a result, some platforms tend to offer a variety of features such as educational resources, research tools, financial news, and even practice trading accounts.Wealthsimple Invest is an automated way to grow your money like the world's most sophisticated investors. Get started and we'll build you a personalized investment portfolio in a matter of minutes.
If you are a Canadian citizen looking for a more comprehensive, feature-rich trading experience, you may have considered using Scotiabank’s iTrade platform. If you’d like to learn more about the platform, its offerings, and the costs associated with using this online trading platform, here’s a breakdown of what you can expect.
An overview of Scotia iTrade
iTrade is a trading platform that offers many bells and whistles that both novice and experienced self-directed traders might find useful. iTrade, a subsidiary of Canadian-based Scotiabank, has an online interface that facilitates the purchase and sale of securities, ETFs, mutual funds, options contracts, bonds, new issues, and GICs.
Additionally, the platform offers an analyst research center, technical analysis center, and the option to engage in sustainable investing via its sustainable investing profile generator. Account management tools allow investors to toggle between views that display income reports and portfolio performance against well-known indices along with information on realized gains and losses.
In addition to the iTrade smartphone app, there’s a suite of what iTrade calls “high-powered platforms” to help you execute your trades:
Scotia iTrade Trading Desk
Scotia iTrade Flight Desk
Unless you are a frequent trader with needs for extremely robust trading tools and features, you should be able to simply use the basic online platform (Scotia OnLine) along with the iTrade app.
The platform offers a “Knowledge Navigator Center” that collects information on your level of trading experience, financial goals, and investment preferences. If you complete a quick survey about yourself, the Knowledge Navigator Center will offer suggestions on educational resources relevant to your preferred investment path. Depending on your investing profile, you could peruse videos that cover everything from investing decisions to order types and understanding securities like ETFs.
You can execute trades at $9.99 with Scotia iTrade. If you execute more than 150 trades per quarter, that price drops to $4.99. These prices apply to equities only. Options have a similar pricing structure but add $1.25 per contract for each trade. Mutual fund orders, as long as they’re considered commission-free funds, placed online, have no commission fee.
Like many similar, self-service trading platforms, Scotia iTrade offers a variety of commission-free ETFs that trade in various sectors including, bonds, energy, financial services, healthcare services, and more. Make sure you read the fine print when it comes to obtaining the commission-free rate for these orders.
Although these are the advertised fees and commissions as of January 2021, you should check back for changes frequently. There could be additional ETFs added (or removed) to the list of commission-free trades or rates for securities; and options could change based on industry trends or current promotions.
Wealthsimple versus iTrade Fees
If you became dizzy just trying to understand all of the different fees, commission structures, and potential promotions associated with self-directed trading platforms, like iTrade, you’re not alone. You might want to consider an online investment management service like Wealthsimple instead of a self-directed investing platform.
Wealthsimple’s fee structure was built for the average investor interested in automation. Wealthsimple fees are a percentage of the amount of money you’ve chosen to invest with Wealthsimple.
For example, if you invest $100,000 with Wealthsimple, you’ll be paying a half percent of that balance as a management fee each year. The management fee even decreases as you invest more money with Wealthsimple.
What kind of online trading platform should I use?
Although there are many robust trading platforms, the answer is enirely based on your needs. If you think you’ll become a high-powered day trader who will trade frequently and need to keep your fingers on the pulse of the markets and their portfolios often, a platform like iTrade could be useful.
However, if you are like most people with less time to spend trading, your best ally will be a service that simply helps you start and sustain your investing journey. For many people that might look like a “robo-advisor” service that blends technology and human expertise.
Yes, there are fees associated with this enhanced level of service. But these fees should also be weighed against the opportunity costs of making poor investment decisions or, worse yet, not investing at all.
You’re investing journey is your own. The path you take to get there will also be unique to your circumstances and needs. Weigh your options and choose the one that will help you reach your investing goals in the most practical, cost-efficient manner possible.
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