It has been nearly two months now since my accounts have been fully transfered away form ScotiaITrade (previously known as e*trade Canada) to RBC Direct Investing. The process was quite simple but it does take a bit of time for everything to be transfered. During the process, I happen to receive dividends 3 times with one of them repurchasing one share. I was a bit worried I would have to fill out the forms again but luckily, after notifying RBC Direct Investing through the secured message systems, they were able to easily transfer the shares and money every single time. It was quite a pleasure dealing with their service even through the secure messaging system on their website.
Here are my thoughts in the different sections along with a grade.
Trading Experience – Grade A
The experience is similar to the other brokers I have used which include ScotiaITrade, e*Trade US, and Scotia McLeod. I tend to trade with a limit for buy and sell orders anyways. The trade settlement timeline is pretty much the same as what I had with ScotiaITrade and e*Trade; it approximate 3 days.
I had a couple of comments from TD Waterhouse users about the trade execution in a previous post and I am curious what this is about … If anyone want to share, please do so.
Account Transfer – Grade A+
The transfer from ScotiaITrade was just simply easy. I got all the shares transfered in kind by filling the forms. I kept them up-to-date through the secure messaging system on their website of all the dividends I was receiving at the time and they responded quickly. Three times in fact. I had to pay fees to transfer a couple of accounts and RBC kindly refunded me back the fees simply by faxing them the monthly statement.
During the transfer, some of the ACB (Adjusted Cost Basis) weren’t transfered and I was able to let them know of my original ACB for performance tracking. It was really nice to be able to do that as I can rely on the data for my performance tracking.
It was an amazing and easy experience. The icing on the cake is that I also got to get my transfer fees back
Customer Service – Grade A+
I was very pleased with the customer service. I live in the computer age so I try to do everything on the web through email and only call as a last resort. They answered all my questions with detailed information for me to proceed. I happen to also open an RESP account as I am moving it away from the mutual funds where it currently is and they were helpful in filling out the forms as well. They even called me to walk me through some information I had missing. I am just in the process of transferring my mutual funds and them I will adjust the investments.
Research – Grade B
The research is mostly focused on economic data and that’s not really my cup of tea. ScotiaITrade had some nice reports with their ratings and recommendation that I liked. RBC happens to have something similar that I can access daily but the format is quite hard to read from an at a glance perspective. I have also seen the TD Waterhouse reports and they are in line with ScotiaITrade. I would love to have the equivalent of the competitors but I knew that going in. I’ll have to live with it.
The alert system works quite well but it takes a bit of fiddling to get it right. I only follow two stocks at the moment with the alerts; MSFT and CNR. I sort of get spammed by the MSFT notification and I need to adjust that a little. I can get up to 7 emails in one day. Imagine having 100 stocks in the list …
I was expecting RBC research and analysis but they are all S&P research. It’s very good for US companies with their 5-star ratings but it’s not as good with Canadian companies.
Accounts – Grade A
The US and CDN accounts are working just like I wanted. Finally! I have my currency as I want them. As a Canadian, my diversification is mostly towards the US with the large conglomerates providing me with my international exposure. I wanted to avoid currency exchange when trading as much as I could since it’s really painful to control and the cost can add up.
The holding tab provides me with a nice at a glance view of all my account summary with a different line per currency and a total in each currency including my cash holding in the currency. The latter was a pet peeve of me with ScotiaITrade as it was painful to really know how much cash I had in each currency. Every now and again I had to top up due to mis-calculation and it was frustrating.
I happen to have an account on the bank side as well – no fees by the way and it’s working quite well. The bank and investing accounts are well integrated together and it’s very easy to navigate. In fact, I am slowly moving my accounts over to RBC – they have a real high interest savings account as opposed to Scotia Bank with their Money Master
Tools – Grade B
I have many more tools than I had with ScotiaITrade but it’s still far from e*Trade US since I know what is possible although I can’t trade with it. The performance tab with a index comparative graph requires some time to evaluate as I need more data to build the report. It works at a month level so I won’t really be able to assess how my portfolio does against an index until a good number of months have gone by.
The asset allocation and model portfolio are nice touch but it’s mostly catered towards the mutual funds investor. I am still playing with it. There are good education section for new investors though to get started. I thought it was good to teach about the tools but it’s catered to lead you towards RBC mutual funds. Business is business I guess …
Readers: What’s your experience with your discount broker?