BMO, or the Bank of Montreal, is one of Canada’s Big Five heavy-hitting banks. Its online investing platform BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed is designed for people who understand investing and want a customized user experience. They are a trusted platform thanks to their overall reputation offering over 200 years of financial expertise. Here we look at BMO InvestorLine with what they offer, the pros and cons of the services and for whom they are best suited.
What is BMO InvestorLine?
BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed is an online trading platform that lets you invest in the following:
- Mutual funds
They also offer research, tips and performance tracking tools allowing you to make informed decisions when investing. They have a flat trading fee, to simplify your spending, but it is high at $9.95. As well, it is not as easy as many other similar platforms as they have yet to offer any automated tools. They offer the following types of accounts:
- Registered: TFSA, RRSP, RESP, RRIF
- Locked-in registered: LIRA, LRSP, LRIF, LIF
- Non-registered: Cash account, Margin account
- Corporate and non-personal
Who is it for?
To open an account, you must be a Canadian resident, at least the age of majority and hold a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN). Although they advertise they are for anyone, you really shouldn’t be using this platform as a novice investor. It is better suited to someone with experience, money available to invest and a person comfortable with the idea of self-directed investing.
InvestorLine Pros and Cons
There are many pros for using BMO InvestorLine including:
- Advanced tools: As an active trader who makes over 75 trades per quarter you receive free access to advanced tools from what they call “BMO Market Pro”.
- 5 Star membership for the wealthy and very active: This is why this platform is better suited for the wealthier, more experienced trader. They offer three levels in their 5 Star program starting at an investment minimum of $250,000+ invested or making 15 – 74 trades per quarter up to $5,000,000+ invested or making 180+ trades per quarter.
- Straightforward pricing: As mentioned they offer a flat rate of $9.95 per trade, so costs are very transparent.
- Cashback bonuses: For account holders, they offer cashback bonuses starting at investments of $25,000.
- Live phone support: You can speak to a real person beyond business hours between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday.
They also have some cons to consider including:
- High fees: The $9.95 is higher than many similar services. Also, trading options add an additional $1.25 per contract, on top of the flat-fee.
- Fee for ETF purchases: The fee is also applied to ETFs which eats into your profits.
- Not for novices: As mentioned, this service really isn’t for the novice trader as they don’t offer enough support or educational tools to give you confidence in your trading.
- Higher than average for minimum investments: As noted in the pros, while there are some bonuses through their 5-star memberships, you really don’t get much if you don’t meet their higher minimum investment numbers. While minimums aren’t applied to TFSAs and RESPs you need at least $5,000 for an account in general.
- Quarterly fee: You’ll also be charged a $25 maintenance fee each quarter if you are not making more than two trades every six months or have less than $15,000 invested, so again, not the right choice for lower earners.
- No welcome bonuses: There is no incentive to open an account such as free trades or some form of bonus offer. That said, once you open your account, they do offer a cashback incentive, but again they start at a high investment level of $25,000.
- No automated tools: They don’t offer a set it and forget it kind of platform, so you have to keep worrying about your account.
- No socially responsible choices: Some investment platforms allow you to find socially responsible investment choices, whereas BMO does not. You can still do research to find such options on your own, but if it’s important to you you’re better off with a platform that does it for you such as Scotia iTrade or Questrade.
InvestorLine security: Is InvestorLine Safe?
Yes, BMO InvestorLine is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), so your account is covered up to $1,000,000. They also use encryption to scramble your information during transactions for a completely secure exchange of information.
InvestorLine Platform and App
The BMO InvestorLine Self-directed platform offers the following features:
- View all your accounts, holdings, quotes, and dividend information
- Research lists including US and CDN equities
- Analysis tools to help you make informed decisions if you have a good understanding of investing
- Over 2,000+ stocks to trade across the major North American exchanges
- Performance tracking so you can benchmark your portfolio against key indexes and see how you are performing.
- Create up to five custom Watch Lists on the Tablet App with up to 10 securities or indexes, for a total of 50 securities/indexes.
- Trade from anywhere
How does InvestorLine compare with the competition?
Overall, this is a platform designed for the experienced, wealthy investor. Because they don’t offer the practice accounts of other platforms like Scotia iTrade, you are mostly left on your own. Their advanced tools really are designed for more experienced traders, and all of their perks are directed at those with more money available to invest.
They also leave the research up to you, so if you are interested in finding socially responsible investment opportunities, you’re better off with a platform like Scotia iTrade or Questrade. Keep in mind their fees are high, yet when compared to other Big Five banks like Scotia they are actually slightly lower. But they also don’t have much in bonuses. Again, looking at Scotia for example they have bonuses for young investors as well as new arrivals to Canada.
BMO InvestorLine FAQs
Can I transfer individual accounts from another institution?
Yes, they provide a reasonably straightforward three-step process to transfer an individual account from another institution.
What types of orders can I place online with my BMO InvestorLine account?
You can place the following orders online:
- Fixed income
- Mutual fund
If you need to make an equity order, you can buy, sell, or sell short at either market or at limit price.