Desjardins Online Brokerage Review (2022 Update – Free ETFs)

Desjardins Brokerage Review
  • Online Fees and Pricing
  • Account Options
  • Customer Service
  • User Friendly Platform & App
  • Inactivity Fees and ETFs
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Desjardins Review Summary:

Desjardins Online Brokerage, which is also referred to as Disnat, was awarded a “C+ rating” by Rob Carrick in the latest breakdown of Canada’s best discount brokerages for the Globe & Mail. This is a small improvement from its previous rating of a “C rating”, mostly thanks to Desjardins finally adding free ETF trading. While this makes it a bit more competitive with similar brokers, its archaic platform does not.

As one of the first discount brokers in Canada, Desjardins Online Brokerage does have some die hard users, especially those from Ontario and Quebec, where the bank’s first locations opened. Those who do their regular banking with Desjardins may choose it as their online brokerage as well for convenience. However, they should be aware that there are, in our opinion, much better Canadian brokers to choose from.

Pros

  • All major account types available
  • <li<Free ETF trading

  • Better fees for young investors
  • No commission on most mutual funds
  • Plenty of perks such as events and training sessions

Cons

  • Quarterly inactivity fees
  • Expensive overall
  • Lack of educational tools and resources
  • Outdated platform

Desjardins isn’t our recommended broker, there are simply much better ones out there.

View Alternative, Better Rated Brokers

What is Desjardins Online Broker?

When it comes to Canadian online brokers, Desjardins Online Brokerage isn’t typically one of the first names that comes to mind. That being said, in the spirit of providing a 360 view of broker options, our MDJ editorial team looked under the hood of one of Canada’s original discount brokerages. We’re happy to share what we found with our readers in this in-depth Desjardins Discount Brokerage Review.

Desjardins is best-known among those living in Quebec and Ontario; however, it’s also active in western Canada as well. It often goes by the name “Disnat” and has been around since 1982.

While its recent decision to drop ETF fees does make it feel more competitive with other bank-owned discount brokerages doing the same, it still doesn’t quite make the cut when it comes to the best online Canadian brokers. 

Desjardins Online Brokerage Fees and Pricing

Desjardins’ pricing structure has become more competitive overall, but it has disappointingly maintained its inactivity fee, which is currently $30 per quarter. While there are ways to avoid this fee, such as by making sure to complete at least 6 trades a year, or by having at least $15,000 in your trading account, it’s still a factor to consider. 

Sure, a few other leading brokers charge some kind of inactivity fee (see our Qtrade review or Questrade review for comparison) – but those can easily be waived by buying even a single ETF, which is of course free. Qtrade’s advantage is even more distinct, since it even allows you to sell most ETFs without paying any commission.

Not only that, leading online brokers usually have some kind of a welcome bonus. These promotions do a lot to mitigate any unexpected costs you might incur while getting yourself familiar with a new platform and experimenting, trying to find the best long-term portfolio. Unfortunately, as of this moment Disnat does not offer any promotions to new users.

Desjardins Online Brokerage ETFs and Mutual Funds

No-fee ETFs is one of the things we can usually count on with online discount brokerages, and now Disnat is no exception.

The Desjardins Online Brokerage also offers no commission on most mutual funds. There are some exemptions to this though, so you will need to read the fine print. Personally, we’re not big fans of mutual funds even as a long term safe investment, so this doesn’t really add a lot of value in our opinion.

Desjardins Online Brokerage Trading Fees

Desjardins trading fees vary depending on a few different factors, the main difference being whether you are a Disnat Classic or Disnat Direct client. This also affects platform options which we will discuss after. 

Disnat Classic is for all traders, both new and experienced, but takes a more simplified approach. It’s meant for those who do a couple of trades per month. Disnat Direct, on the other hand, is for those who are a little more aggressive and trade 10+ times per month. 

Since the Disnat Direct customers are more active and trade more, they will see better trading fees as you can tell in the chart below. The range in fees depends on how many trades you make as well as the price and quantity of the shares traded.

The commissions for stocks and ETFs, options trading, mutual funds, fixed income securities) are the same for both Disnat Classic and Disnat Direct clients. 

Commissions on online security tradesDisnat ClassicDisnat Direct
Equities and ETFs$0$0
Options$1.25 per contract (minimum $8.75)$1.25 per contract (minimum $8.75)
Mutual Funds$0 (on most)$0 (on most)
Fixed Income securities$50/trade$50/trade 

Platform Fees – Disnat Classic and Disnat Direct

As mentioned above, Desjardins Online Brokerage has two different platforms. Disnat Classic and Disnat Direct.

Disnat Classic is free of charge. Clients will have access to real time quotes and market data on an easy to navigate platform. It’s meant for those who want simple but modern analysis tools.

Disnat Direct is a high performance platform for those looking for more customizable options. There are three pricing options of varying capacity for watch lists and market depth of quotes. Prices range at each level depending on how many trades you make per month. See the chart below for the different price points. 

Streaming Quotes Level 1$35-60/month if less than 10 trades. $0 per month if 10+ trades
Streaming Quotes Level 2$105-$155 per month if less than 41 trades. $0/month if 41+ trades

Admin and Account Fees

Disnat account holders should be aware that Desjardins Online Brokerage has inactivity fees of $30 per quarter. These will be waived on the following condition:

  • You have made 6 or more trades in the preceding 12 months
  • Your portfolio value is $15,000 or more on a registered account (RRSP, RRIF, RESP)

Please note that these admin and account fees are the same for both Disnat Classic and Disnat Direct clients alike.

Fees and Pricing Summary: How Does Desjardins Online Brokerage Stack Up?

We always encourage our readers to compare before they trade, and what we know about Desjardins has given us a lot to think about. Now that they have zero commission ETF trades, it does make them more competitive compared to other online brokers. But is it enough?

Let’s take a look at how Disnat compares to Questrade and Qtrade.

ETFsMutual FundsOptions Account Fees
Disnat $0/tradeMost commission-free$1.25 per contract/$8.75 minimum A number of fees including inactivity fee, and account registration fee
Questrade$0 ETF buy, sell at $0.01/share (min. $4.95 to max. $9.95)$9.95/trade$0.75 per contract/$4.95 minimum$0 monthly account fee
Qtrade100+ free ETFs$0/trade$8.75 + $1.25 per contract, or $6.95 + $1.25 per contract for investor plus$25 per quarter for non-registered accounts (waived if certain conditions are met), and $15 per quarter for registered accounts

As you can see, just focusing on fees alone, Desjardins is far from being the most competitive option out there. Paying the lowest possible amount in fees can make a huge difference to your bottom line, especially if you are actively day trading. If that is the case, then going for a broker like Questrade is clearly a better choice, as you’ll end up paying less in both fees and commissions.

If you are looking for a more balanced choice of very competitive trading fees, free ETFs and a world class platform to boot, then Qtrade is still the best online broker in our books, and definitely trumps Desjardins Online Brokerage any day.

Disnat Brokerage Platform and App

It’s most popular platform, Disnat Classic, offers clients a simple and easy to use platform to trade stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds and new issues. It’s accessible online via your desktop, laptop, or mobile device. It’s relatively straightforward and intuitive, but lacks some of the extras that other online platforms have.

desjardins screenshot
Images courtesy of Disnat.com

Built for active investors, Disnat Direct offers more advanced trading tools, customizable charts and watchlists, and streaming market data. It’s a web-based platform, making it easily accessible. Recently, Disnat Direct added Safari compatibility for Mac users.

disnat direct

Both platforms offer training and access to a representative for a fee. However, they do not offer the wealth of research options or tools that other brokers do.

Disnat Mobile App Review

Disnat Classic users may prefer to use the mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android. 

The app reviews are far from stellar, with plenty of 1 star reviews on the Apple App Store. Users report frequent crashing and not being able to access real time transactions. 

When the app is working, you should be able to see an overview of all of our accounts and assets in one place, easily place orders on stocks and options, get quotes and trade immediately, access a range of market indexes and graphics, and view your watch list.

Could be passable if you are only using 1-2 times per month for basic transactions, but probably no more than that.

desjardins mobile app
Source: Apple App Store

Disnat Brokerage Review: Young Investors

If you are a young investor between the ages of 18-30, you can take advantage of a special offer with Desjardins Online Brokerage. The Broker@age clients will receive:

  • 5 free transactions
  • No inactivity fees     
  • No asset minimum for registered accounts

Desjardins Online Brokerage Accounts 

Desjardins Online Brokerages offers both regular and registered accounts. Most of the accounts are available for both Disnat Direct and Disnat Classic clients. Account options include the following:

  • RRSP
  • TFSA
  • RESP (Disnat Classic only)
  • LIRA
  • RIF
  • LIF
  • Cash Accounts (Disnat Classic only)
  • Margin Accounts
  • Margin Options Accounts
  • Short-selling accounts

The Desjardins Online Brokerage Prestige Program

The Desjardins Prestige Program is a nice little perks program for those that hold “substantial assets” with the Quebec-based bank. The basic idea is that there are three different “prestige tiers”.  

  1. Bronze: $250,000 – $499,999
  2. Silver: $500,000 – $999,999
  3. Gold: $1 Million+

As you climb the prestige ladder you can get access to elite perks such as IPO access, preferred lending rates, personalized customer service help, preferred fixed income rates, and no-fee online education events.

Overall, it’s quite similar to most “high net worth” packages that the various brokers offer. While it doesn’t have a ton of value in our view, you could see it being another check mark in the, “I’ve always banked with Desjardins, and all things equal, I’d prefer to keep my online broker with my other financial services” column.

Desjardins Discount Brokerage and HardBacon Partnership

A match made in Quebec – Canada’s oldest securities trading platform found a willing partner in their own backyard when they recently partnered with the Hardbacon app.

Hardbacon has garnered some interesting headlines in 2021 as it looks to go public and supercharge their quest to help Canadians cut investing fees.  Their partnership with Disnat should help that quest, with all members of the Desjardins online broker platform getting a 3-months subscription to the app, as well as access to online education opportunities.

While the partnership doesn’t really “move the needle” as far choosing an online broker, it is a nice little value-add for the two companies.

Desjardins Review FAQ

Who is Desjardins Online Brokerage Best For?

In the end, our Desjardins Online Brokerage review reveals that it is really only a good fit for clients who already bank with Desjardins and prize keeping all of their financial activities “under one roof”. 

It’s not that Disnat is a dysfunctional online broker – it’s simply a matter of having better options available whether you’re a dedicated index investor or a high-frequency day trader.

There are plenty of mixed Desjardins brokerage reviews out there. Yes, the Globe and Mail review only gave it a C+ grade recently, however, it was the runner up for customer service back in 2017, according to the MoneySense rankings. It looks like its customer service standards have remained strong since then. 

Considering the inactivity fees, as well as some of the other fees like account opening fees, Desjardins Online Brokerage wouldn’t be a broker we would use. When you compare Disnat vs Qtrade or Questrade, the latter two clearly come out on top.

To read up on our comparison between the top two choices Canadian DIY investors have, take a look at our Questrade vs Qtrade comparison, and for more details on why we recommend Qtrade as our overall #1 online broker in Canada, please check out our Qtrade review.

Jordan

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michael
8 months ago

Desjardins is following in National Bank’s footsteps: it eliminated commissions on stocks and ETF’s.