If you are a DIY investor who holds a brokerage account, the reality is that your portfolio is split between many accounts – his and hers RRSPs, his and hers TFSAs, joint or his and hers CAD and USD investment accounts and if you have kids, perhaps a few more RESP accounts. Typically, discount brokers will charge an annual administration fee if the market value of any of these accounts is below a certain value. TD Waterhouse, for example, charges an administration fee of $100 if the market value of a self-directed RRSP account is less than $25,000. In other words, even if you have a large balance in one of the accounts, you may be dinged (note that you should try and get any admin fees waived whenever possible) with a fee for the smaller accounts.

RBC Direct Investing (read review) deserves a pat in the back for taking the initiative to simplify the account maintenance fee structure. Starting this month, RBC Direct will waive all account administration or maintenance fees as long as clients have a balance of $15,000 across all accounts. If the client’s combined assets across all accounts are less than $15,000, a total fee of $25 per quarter split across all accounts with apply.

RBC Direct is also offering ways for clients to avoid administration fees altogether even if their account balances do not add up to $15,000 such as: signing up for pre-authorized contributions that total $100 per month or making three or more trades across all accounts.

The simplified administration fee structure instituted by RBC Direct Investing will help small investors avoid some annoying fees. One hopes that TD Waterhouse and BMO InvestorLine among others will follow RBC Direct Investing’s lead and simplify their respective fee structures as well.

This article has 11 comments

  1. Awesome step forward for the investor. A real celebration will ensue when the discount platforms start rebating trailing commissions on mutual find investments.

  2. Your statement about TD Waterhouse is not strictly true. The administrative fee is generally waived if your household assets are larger than $25,000 (at their discretion). I have many different accounts with TDW and have never paid an administration fee.

    The key is that you have to actually talk to a representative and have them link your accounts under an umbrella reference.

  3. I’m not too sure about the fee structure at BMO Investorline for small accounts, but they do allow investors to link accounts to get into 5 star silver/gold status.

  4. @James: I’m with TDW and I have had success waiving a variety of fees as well. The trouble is these waivers are completely discretionary. Of course, it is best to always request a waiver. The worst TDW can do is say no.

    @David: RBC to its credit sort of offers a trailer fee rebate for its own mutual funds under the D-class. I agree that it is ridiculous to pay trailer fees for guaranteed zero advice.

  5. TD Canada Trust offers a no-fee savings account.

    Combine that with a TD Waterhouse no-fee TFSA and cash brokerage account (no fee if you have the TFSA) and you don’t pay a dime with TD.

    The RRSP does have a charge below a certain threshold; I’ll max out the TFSA before I open the RRSP. (employer plan kills my RRSP contribution room anyway)

    Sadly, Scotia iTRADE cancelled their “no fee, no minimum balance” RRSP in April, taking a step backward for investors just starting out.

    • @CJOttawa: Yes, you can avoid some admin fees with TD (and looks like BMO as well) but like you say, you are going to be dinged with a RRSP or RESP. I just wish they’ll follow RBC’s lead and rationalize the patchwork of admin fees. Anything that gives a break to a small investor is very welcome.

  6. I’ve got the typical spilt you describe (his and hers RRSPs, his and hers TFSAs, joint or his and hers CAD and USD investment accounts and if you have kids, perhaps a few more RESP accounts) at TDW and after asking their rep during an in-person meeting to waive all admin fees, he did so without hesitation.

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  8. It’s about time the banks did this for small investors. It has been a long time coming. Small investors are the ones who can least afford to pay yet often are charged the highest fees.

  9. I have used the sites of most of the banks, RBC is by far my most favourite, easy to use,great to monitor, and BEST for Bonds.