BMO Investorline Review (2021 Update – Free ETFs!)
BMO Investorline Review
- Trading Fees and Pricing
- Account Options
- Customer Service
- Platform Options
- Overall Banking Convenience
- Promotional Offer
BMO Investorline Review Summary:
With its new platform updates and list of free ETFs, BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed really shines when it comes to the ability to customize your user experience.
It’s worth noting right off the top that when we told the “Bee-Mo” crew that we were writing a BMO Investorline Review they explained that they were willing to grant MDJ an instant cash bonus (Up to $2,000!) as part of their recent customer acquisition drive. You can benefit simply by clicking here and using the promo code MDJCASH. This is currently the best promo offer code amongst Canadian online brokers.
Adding this unique level of customization to their long-established strengths in customer trust, safety, and consumer education, has enabled BMO to leap into the top echelon of the best Canadian discount brokerages.
If you want the convenience of having all of your financial products under one roof – and to have that roof supported by 200+ years of excellence – then the BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed account is an excellent choice.
Is BMO Investorline Safe and Trusted?
As one of Canada’s oldest and most trusted companies (founded in 1817) the Bank of Montreal – more commonly known by its BMO initials – or “Bee-Mo” to Canadians – it should be no surprise that the Investorline Self-Directed discount broker is at the forefront of Canadian brokerage options.
The BMO Investorline 2.0 online trading platform is amongst the most popular of Canada’s online discount brokers, and in our ultimate BMO Investorline Review we’ll dive deep to see if the platform deserves that spot.
BMO InvestorLine – A Peek Inside
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$2,000 Free Welcome Bonus With BMO InvestorLine
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BMO Investorline Free ETF Trading – $0 Commissions
In June 2021, BMO became the first of the big bank brokerages to offer a list of ETFs that are completely free to trade (providing that you hold on to them for at least one day).
This could be a real game-changer as far as offering value to discount brokerage customers and may force other big bank brokers into similar cost-cutting moves. As far as I can see, this is not a temporary move as Silvio Stroescu, Head of Investorline, BMO Financial Group stated yesterday, “These no-commission-fee ETFs have been carefully selected from the largest three Canadian ETF providers, enabling self-directed investors to build well-diversified portfolios, which aligns with our mission to empower and inspire Canadians to invest smart.”
There is no bait and switch when it comes to these ETFs either, as there are some excellent names on the list. My personal favourites include:
- VCN – Vanguard FTSE Canada All-Cap Index ETF
- VFV – Vanguard S&P 500 Index ETF US
- VIU – Vanguard FTSE Developed All -Cap ex-North America Index ETF
- VAB – CA Vanguard Canadian Aggregate Bond Index ETF
- All of the Vanguard and BMO all-in-one-ETFs are available
- Several ESG index ETFs are available
It is excellent to see that creating ultra-diversified, super-simple portfolios just keeps getting cheaper and cheaper for Canadians!
BMO Works Best for Large Portfolios
The BMO InvestorLine 5 Star Program is the bank’s lure for high net-worth individuals and/or active traders. Most of Canada’s discount brokerages have some version of this break for top-tier investors. Here’s a look at the perks that you’ll enjoy at all three levels:
($5M+ OR 180+ trades per quarter)
($250,000+ OR 15-74 trades per quarter)
(2M+ OR 75-179 trades per quarter)
Dedicated Exclusive Customer Support
BMO Market Pro Lite (real-time market quotes)
BMO Market Pro (real time Level 2 quotes)
Capital Markets TSX 60 Research
Exclusive IPO Allocation Options
Access to Private Banking Options
What the chart above boils down to is that if you generate substantial trading fees or have a large amount of money invested with BMO, you’ll get a small break on the $9.95 fee, and you’ll get access to some elite trading information streams, plus portfolio analysis, custom watchlist updating and so on.
With over 12 Million worldwide customers and nearly $900 Billion in assets managed, BMO certainly has the resources to compete with the features that any other Canadian brokerage account brings to the table.
BMO Investorline Trading Fees and Prices
When we look at BMO Investorline’s Self-Directed trading and account Fees, it’s important to keep in mind that major Canadian banks such as BMO and their competitors over at RBC, Scotia Bank, CIBC, and TD, have never had the reputation for having the cheapest products on the market. Instead, the general aim of their products is to be cost-competitive, but to prioritize the following:
- Ultra-safe products backed up by centuries of banking experience.
- A large customer service and technology team.
- Elite usability and design.
- Maximum user customization options.
Note: As of June 2021, BMO has clearly distinguished themselves from the rest of the Big Bank pack as they now offer commission-free ETF transactions!
BMO Investorline Self-Directed Account Fees
While there are no minimum deposits needed to open a BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed account and get started, there are quarterly account fees of $25 if your non-registered account balance is under $15,000 or if your registered accounts are under $25,000. Obviously if you open an account and deposit more than these thresholds you will not owe any account fees at all.
BMO Investorline Self-Directed Trading Fees
When it comes to Investorline’s trading fees, you will pay a flat $9.95 fee per trade. No matter how many shares you buy or sell, this transparent fee will be applied. The $9.95 price tag also applies to ETF Trades.
Average Example: If the average Canadian DIY investor makes 20 trades per year and keeps $25,000+ in their RRSP and TFSA account, then they would owe a total of $199 for the year. When the account fees are avoided (such as in this example) the $199 cost of accessing the smooth trading platform, and information resources that Investorline brings to the table is a very solid value proposition.
Note: There are no ECN fees when using BMO IntervorLine
BMO Investorline Self-Directed Options Trading Fees
Personally, options trading isn’t a part of my investment portfolio, but if you’re into the adrenaline rush of shorts, hedging, etc., then Investorline is going to charge $9.95 per trade + $1.25 per contract. This is the standard rate that see across all of Canada’s large banks.
BMO Investorline Account Types: TFSA, RRSP, Non-Registered
As one of Canada’s top online brokers, BMO Investorline gives you access to essentially every type of investable account in Canada, including:
- Non-registered accounts (both CAD and USD)
- Margin Accounts
- RRSP (both CAD and USD)
- Spousal RRSPs
- TFSA (both CAD and USD)
- Spousal RRIFs
- Corporate Accounts
- Non-Profit Organization Accounts
- Estates and Formal Trust Accounts
The bottom line is that while you might pay more in commissions to use BMO InvestorLine Self-Direct, you’re going to absolutely have access to all of the accounts that you could ask for as a Canadian Investor.
BMO Investorline Review: What Is adviceDirect?
We’ll take a deeper dive into the unique service known as AdviceDirect in a separate review, but we thought we’d mention it here briefly.
Essentially, what BMO has created is a nice little mid-point between a full-service financial advisor model, and a completely hands-off DIY product. If you want the flexibility and responsibility of using a discount brokerage to manage your own investments, but also feel that you could use some help in selecting specific investments, then you may want to look closely at the BMO adviceDirect account.
Automated monitoring of your portfolio combined with unique information flows, exclusive investor education options, and a dedicated team of licensed financial advisors on standby for detailed advice, makes adviceDirect quite valuable to a specific type of investor that may want the benefits of going self-directed, but doesn’t always have time to stay on top of their portfolio.
If you want to embark down the road of active investing, you’ll have to decide if a premium option such as adviceDirect is a good value proposition. It’s certainly a superior option to investing through traditional mutual fund channels which take far more than the .75% (with a maximum cap) that adviceDirect charges.
As we head into the latter half of 2021, BMO recently announced a cool new tool as part of their adviceDirect platform. It’s called the Portfolio Health Check, and it gives investors a quick and easy way to measure their portfolio across the four key indicators of risk, security rating, diversification, and asset allocation. BMO adviceDirect subscribers can generate an instant report that lets them know why they might want to consider certain changes to their portfolio in light of balancing those four key factors. There is no limit on the number of times that clients can generate this report.
Silvio Stroescu, President of BMO InvestorLine and Wealth Management Head of Digital Investing, stated in a press release that, “As the industry continues to experience a surge in adoption of digital investing and record trading volumes, we recognize the importance of supporting clients with digital solutions like our adviceDirect Portfolio Health Check tool more than ever. This new digital tool is another way we are empowering new and experienced investors to make smart investing decisions. We are committed to scaling our suite of digital tools and services to meet their evolving needs.”
The addition of this portfolio “health check” tool reminded me a lot of the tools that Qtrade has recently made available to their clients. Feel free to compare BMO Investorline to Qtrade Direct Investing by checking out our in-depth Qtrade Review.
So while you definitely do NOT need to subscribe to adviceDirect in order to use the BMO Investorline brokerage, there is some substantial added value there. They are two separate products that may complement one another, but are separate applications and services.
You can sign up to adviceDirect by clicking the button below. Make sure you use MDJ’s unique promo code ADMDJ to get between $500 and $2500 credited to your account.
BMO InvestorLine Review FAQ
BMO Investorline Review: September 2021 Update
In August of 2021 BMO Investorline released a new suite of improvements to their online platform after surveying their clients and finding out that 96% of users believe that it is important that their brokerage be easy to navigate, and a further 87% wanted their brokerage to offer the latest technology.
The updates to their Portfolio View allow BMO Investorline clients to see their entire portfolio (including multiple accounts) on one screen. They can also check out their holdings via an asset or sector allocation filter. Improvements have also been made to the distribution and research tabs in order to enhance the user experience.
The aforementioned Head of Investorline, Silvio Stroescu stated:
“The rapid growth of online investing is driving significant demand for advice and digital features which empower investors to make more informed decisions.
We are focused on delivering forward thinking tools and features to meet the evolving needs of both new and experienced investors. Our most recent enhancements elevate the digital trading experience, allowing our clients to personalize their online experience and invest with more confidence and ease.”
Finally, in a really cool addition to their investor education platform (already amongst the best in the business) BMO Investorline just added a collaboration with one of my favourite Canadian personal finance experts: Preet Banerjee. As a big fan of his Money School series, I’m eagerly awaiting what he puts together for BMO.
Who Is the BMO InvestorLine Discount Broker Best for?
There are many Canadians who simply feel more secure about investing at the same rock-solid financial institution that they have been banking at since they opened their first chequing account. If you want the ultimate in security, user experience, and customer service, then BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed is the perfect fit.
Remember that in all likelihood, when you open a DIY trading account you’re probably not going to go through the paperwork of shifting over any time soon – so you want a broker that has an established track record of dependability, excellence, and innovation.
The InvestorLine Self-Directed platform has won numerous “Best in Canada” awards over the years, and recently trounced big bank brokerage competitors RBC, Scotiabank, TD, and CIBC in the J.D. Power 2020 Canada Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction study. With its commitment to constant improvement, I feel secure in saying that BMO will continue to refine its top-end product year-in and year-out for the foreseeable future.
All that being said, it wouldn’t be a fair BMO InvestorLine review without reiterating the obvious tradeoff in recommending a top-end product: cost. You need to examine your investing strategy and decide if the difference in fees between a low-cost leader like Questrade and a premium product like InvestorLine are worth it. Although, the previous large fee gap did close to a large degree with the introduction free-to-trade ETFs.
At the end of the day, if you want the convenience and safety of having all of your banking + investing needs met under one roof, you simply can’t go wrong with BMO and their InvestorLine DIY discount broker platform.
Sign up to BMO Investorline by clicking the button below and use MDJ’s exclusive promo code : MDJCASH to get between $100 and $2,000 cash back depending on your deposit amount.