Scotiabank is one of Canada’s “Big Five” offering a wide variety of financial services including an online investment platform. Scotiabank iTrade provides an interesting platform for those interested in pursuing self-directed investing with the option to “practice” a few investments before committing. Here we review what they offer, the pros and cons and who might consider using Scotiabank iTrade services.
What is Scotia iTrade?
Scotia iTrade is a trading app. It allows you to make your own investment decisions using their tools that include detailed research and analysis in hand with a fully customizable market data platform to choose your investments. Once you set up your account you have access to everything you need to participate in self-directed investing. They offer the following types of accounts:
- US Dollar Registered Accounts
- Cash Optimizer Investment Account (COIA)
- Incorporated Organization (Charity or Foundation)
- Trust or Estate
- Investment Club
And the following types of investments:
- Mutual Funds
- New Issues
What are Scotia iTrade’s Features and Benefits?
Scotia iTrade offers the following features and benefits to users:
- You can use their research tools to discover all you need to know about the investments available for informed decisions including Scotia University, online videos, and webinars
- You can pay bills from your account
- You can transfer funds between your Scotia iTRADE and Scotiabank bank accounts
- It offers a choice to set up and make future dated transactions
- Easy fund transfers (CAD and USD) between your Scotia iTrade account and any Canadian bank
- Sustainable investment tools allowing you to make socially conscious investments
- Practice Account to allow you to try your skills at investment
Who is it for?
To open an account, you must be a Canadian resident above the age of majority. Therefore when you apply, you’ll need your Social Insurance Number and a government-issued Canadian ID. You’ll also require a minimum of $100 available to deposit into the account as well as an existing bank account from a Canadian Financial Institution. Scotia iTrade offers some interesting incentives for young investors as well as newcomers to Canada.
Scotia iTrade Pros and Cons
There are many pros to using Scotia iTrade including:
- Practice accounts: This is an excellent way to test the waters and see how you feel about the idea of self-directed investing. You can learn how everything works without risking losses. It provides practice funds of up to $100,000.
- Special offers for various demographics: iTrade targets various demographics for their offers including up to $200 in annual savings for young investors and 10 free trades for Newcomers to Canada when they invest $1,000 in a new account.
- Referral program: Account holders get 50 free trades or as much as $100 by referring someone.
- Socially conscious investing: You can choose socially responsible investment options to suit your desire to support investing that will have a positive impact.
- No minimum investment: This is important as it allows you to get started with reduced risk.
- Tools: Their Analyst Research Centre in hand with many tools are ideal for newbies as it makes it easier to research and track investments. This is backed up by email or phone support.
There are of course some cons to Scotia iTrade as well including:
- High per transaction fees: You are looking at $9.99 per transaction which eats into your profits.
- High maximum trade for discounts: If you want their discounted active trader fee you need to make 150 trades per quarter which is extremely high.
- Inactive fees: If you don’t use your account often enough, they charge you $25 per quarter.
- No “live” chat: While you can phone or email for support, you don’t have the option of live chat. This is inconvenient if you tend to do your trading during off-hours as their support is only available 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET Monday to Friday.
- Lack of automated features: While platforms like Wealthsimple provide automated features like portfolio rebalancing or tax-loss harvesting, Scotia iTrade does not so it’s not a simplified setup where everything is done for you.
Scotia iTrade security: Is Scotia iTrade Safe?
Scotia iTrade is safe offering comprehensive protection for fraud, privacy, and transfers. You can feel your account is safeguarded and they never sell your information to third-party marketers. They also cover any amount of funds or securities removed through fraudulent activity from your accounts. Anything you transfer is also protected.
Scotia iTrade Platform and App
You have access to several apps within the Scotia iTrade platform with a single sign-on including:
- Scotia OnLine®: An intuitive reliable online trading platform with comprehensive research tools.
- Scotia iTRADE Trading DeskTM: Enter up to six stock and options orders on one screen.
- Scotia iTRADE FlightDesk®: Trading technology includes:
- Customizable interface for layouts and data fields
- Simple drag-and-drop design
- Compact trading panels
- Streaming portfolio values in real-time
How Do Scotia ITrade Compare With The Competition?
Some of the main complaints with Scotia iTrade circle around the exceptionally high fees in hand with the fact there isn’t access to live chat when you need it. However, where they shine is their offering of socially responsible investments and their practice account option to allow you to get a feel for whether self-directed investment is for you. Overall accounts with platforms designed for self-directed investing such as Wealthsimple or Questrade tend to offer more overall, but on the downside, you have to jump right into the investing as they don’t offer practice accounts so to speak.
Scotia iTrade FAQ
Can I get lower commissions?
Yes, however in order to qualify for the lower $4.99 fee you require a minimum of 150 transactions each quarter.
Can I link my iTrade account with other banks?
Yes, you can link your bank account(s) from another Canadian financial institution, but you’ll need to have all your banking details ready when you complete their account application form including a void personalized cheque or branch stamped bank letter.
What do I actually trade using iTrade?
You can trade the following types of investments:
- Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
- Mutual Funds
- New Issues
- Precious Metals
How soon can I start trading using my account?
Since you have to mail in the signed forms after completing the online application you might be granted permission to start trading the next business day. It depends on the type of account as many must have the documentation received before you can begin. Also, you only have two weeks to mail the documentation in order to complete the approval process for your account.