I’ve held all our investment accounts at TD Direct Investing (TDDI) for a number of years. When I moved to TDDI, they were one of the few ones around that offered wash trading in registered accounts, which helped save a pile on currency conversions when switching from foreign stocks to broad market ETFs. Since then, a few discount brokers — RBC Direct Investing and BMO InvestorLine prominent among them — have started offering US Dollar RRSPs. Clients in other brokers like Scotia iTrade and CIBC Investor’s Edge are now reporting that US dollar dividends in registered accounts are converted into Canadian dollars at favourable rates. TD Direct Investing, unfortunately, is not only dragging its feet on offering a US Dollar RRSP but also refusing to do anything about currency conversion charges in registered accounts. At the very least, to remain competitive, TD Direct Investing should convert US Dollar dividends in registered accounts at favorable rates but in recent communications, TDDI indicated the best they can do is wash US dividends into the TD US Dollar Money Market Fund but only for selected clients and only if the client calls before the dividends are due and requests a wash trade. To be fair, TDDI is reported to have stopped double dipping on US dollar dividend reinvestments as it did in the past but that is of little use to non-DRIPers.

After sitting down and calculating the fees incurred in keeping our registered accounts at TDDI, I started looking into other brokers. My requirements were:

  1. Must be a broker affiliated with a large financial institution.
  2. Must have easy transfer of funds between TD Canada Trust bank accounts and brokerage accounts.
  3. Must have segregation of US Dollar securities in registered accounts.
  4. Must have easy, automatic Norbert Gambitting across all accounts.
  5. Must refund transfer out fees that will be charged by TD Direct Investing.
  6. Nice to have HISAs to park cash.
  7. Nice to have DRIPs for REITs.

My choices narrowed down to RBC Direct Investing and BMO InvestorLine but I decided to go with the latter because, frankly speaking, they offered a bribe.

The BMO Bribe

Until March 10, 2014, BMO InvestorLine is offering clients who are funding their qualifying account (Cash, Margin, RSP, Spousal RSP or Corporate account) with at least $100,000 in net new assets and maintaining the account for a six-month period a cash back of $250 and 250 free trades for a 90-day period. Clients opening an additional qualifying account and funding it with at least $5,000 will receive an additional cash back of $50.

But wait, it gets better…

The cash back offer can be combined with BMO InvestorLine’s Refer a Friend program. If you have a friend with a BMO InvestorLine ask for a referral (if you don’t have a referral, contact me). If the new account is funded with $50,000 or more in assets, the new client will add a bonus of $50 ($100 for accounts opened with $250,000 in assets). The referring account also receives a bonus of $200 or $300.

Also, the BMO cash back offer is per client, so if your spouse opens an account and funds it with at least $100,000, he or she will also receive $250. Better yet, open your account first, then open your spouse’s account with your Refer a friend code (which is simply the e-mail id associated with your InvestorLine account) and together you can end up with a total of up to $1,000 in total cash back plus free trades. Now, BMO InvestorLine’s Cash Back offer is not nearly as attractive as the 1 percent of account value in cash that RBC Direct Investing offered a few years back, but it is a decent incentive for a couple of hours of paper work.

The Catch

As with any offer, you have to pay attention to the fine print. A client should maintain $100,000 in net new assets in the account for a six-month period to receive the cash back. For example, let’s say John opens an account and funds it with $150,000 in total value of stock and cash on the day of the transfer. The next month, John’s investments have grown and the account balance is $200,000. He withdraws $60,000 from the account. Since, the net new assets ($150,000 – $60,000) is below the $100,000 threshold, John will not be eligible to receive a cash back. Note that any dividends paid into the account do not count as new assets. Also, if the account value drops below the threshold after the account is funded due to market fluctuations, the cash reward(s) will still be paid out. These terms and conditions are consistent with other cash back offers I have participated in the past.

If you do decide to take advantage of BMO’s Cash back offer, I would recommend setting up an appointment with an InvestorLine Representative at your nearest branch. Ask the Rep to confirm that all transfer out fees will be refunded by BMO InvestorLine. You will need your Driver’s License, Social Insurance Number card, a void cheque and your TD Direct Investing account statements and be prepared to spend at least a couple of hours in preparing the paperwork.

This article has 64 comments

  1. I’ve met with challenges helping family set up BMO InvestorLine accounts. I’ve always filled out all the paperwork online and then taken it to a branch for them to check IDs and forward it.

    I’ve learned that health cards are no good for ID in Ontario, and they really want postal codes on all the obscure address they ask for. I’ve also had trouble with one branch that would fax in the ID photocopies and then Investorline says they’re not clear enough.

    Once when sending in paperwork on two accounts, the ID photocopies got switched between the two accounts. That took a while to straighten out.

    Overall I’m happy with InvestorLine, but you have to be patient with account opening. It can easily take an extra week or two after you think you’re done. And you might have to explicitly ask for 5-star status on any account that you attach to your unbrella ID.

    • Canadian Capitalist

      Michael, thanks for your comments. The InvestorLine rep I worked did say that it is best to open the account at a local branch. The paperwork is mountainous and I spent about 1-1/2 hours opening my accounts and still found a couple of mistakes. And yes, you need postal codes for your current address, your old address (if you lived at the current address for less than 2 years), your work address, your spouse’s work address etc. But this is pretty much standard at other brokers as well, so I can’t complain.

      • It’s true that all brokers want postal codes. My complaint about InvestorLine is that their online form allowed me to leave out some postal codes and then they just waited for me to call them to find out why my account remained frozen.

      • Canadian Capitalist

        Yes, it would indeed by annoying to have new accounts frozen. It looks like the rep set mine up correctly but I will know for sure when the holdings get transferred over from TDDI and I actually make a trade.

  2. Oops, 2 typos. Should be “addresses” and “umbrella”.

  3. The BMO Bribe

    Until March 10, 2013, BMO InvestorLine is offering clients

    ….well thanks for the heads up…9 months late.

  4. Does this mean I will receive $250 and BMO will in addition cover my transfer out fees?

    • Canadian Capitalist

      @Michael: The transfer fee reimbursement is in addition to the cash back. According to BMO website, if you transfer $250K or more, transfer fees will be reimbursed up to $200 automatically. However, check with a BMO InvestorLine rep. In my past experience, I’ve always managed to get transfer fees reimbursed even if the transfer amounts were below the threshold. But, as always check first because you don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised.

  5. Scotia iTrade has US friendly RRSP but charges $30 per quarter for each account.

    • Canadian Capitalist

      @Phil: I did not even consider Scotia iTrade because for our two family accounts the US-friendly RRSP will cost us $240 per year. For a low activity investor like me, most years that kind of cash will pay for all the trades and have change left over for a couple of beers.

  6. Pingback: Weekend Reading - Book reviews, fewer RRSP contributions, goals and more | My Own Advisor

  7. Another negative about TDDI is that the only way to open a new account, even when you already have another account there, is to go to a bank banch. I prefer and need to do stuff online; BMOIL can do that, at least for people like me who already have an existing account, so BMOIL has ended up with a new TFSA.

  8. Hello! Great article. I am seriously considering opening an account with BMO. So, if I do, I will contact you for the referral.
    My question is: How is the performance reporting feature with BMO? Do you like it??
    Also, has anyone done a Norbert’s Gambit with BMO?

  9. I have been with Investorline for a few years and while it is great that I have a significant amount of my RSP in US funds, there are some drawbacks with Investorline generally, particularly around the minimums.

    To use the HISA, you must park at least $5000 in it. Once $5000 is in the account subsequent purchases are min $500. For me this is not very useful and defeats the purpose of having access to a HISA since I rarely accumulate over 5k in cash. If I am going to have over 5k in cash (either as new funds or by selling an investment or having fixed income come due), I typically invest it pretty quickly rather than let it sit.

    While my RSP is entirely in ETFs, my wife’s is in indexed mutual funds (as are my kids’ RESP). There is a $5000 min per fund and each additional purchase needs to be at least $500. This is very restrictive for those starting with a smallish portfolio.

    Other than special promotions liek the one you mention (there was one in place when I joined a few years ago), there are no “free” trades for ETFs. I would have thought that they would have at least made purchasing BMO ETFs commission free.

    When I need to call, the hold times are longer than they should be. Transferring US funds from my BMO USD account to my Investorline RSP can’t be done online and must be by phone.

  10. CC, I did the exact same thing as you…got the idea off CMF site. Transferred RSP, TFSA, cash acount from TDDI to BMO, for the same reasons as you. All accounts finally showed up on BMO site yesterday (after 8 days). Transfer paperwork at branch no big deal, 45 min., I had to call and send copy of license on follow up as accounts suspended due to non-clarity of license photocopy taken by rep at branch.

    BMO told me that they will pay all transfer fees and I will get $300 into cash account in 6 months. I noticed yesterday that TDDI dinged ALL THREE accounts over $150 in transfer fees – BMO rep on phone said they will reimburse all.

    This seems pretty low – $152 transfer for each account! Is that your experience also?

    • Canadian Capitalist

      Yes, the transfer out fees are pretty standard across brokers. Around $150 per account. But, as long as you negotiate with the receiving broker before you open an account and do the transfer, my experience is transfer fees are almost always refunded. TDDI, for instance, was willing to refund the transfer fee, when we moved TFSA accounts from Ally, when we had only a couple of years’ contribution in it — around $10K or so.

    • I mean “low” in a bad way, as in “low down dirty rotten.” But I guess that’s the game.

  11. Canadian Capitalist

    @CanadianInvestor: Good to know. When I opened a TFSA account, I don’t remember the process I went through at TDDI. I must have done it at the branch. We have a branch a few blocks down the street, so it was not a problem. For clients, who have to do it by mail, it would be a problem.

    @Helen: I looked up performance reporting in BMOIL after seeing your comment. They report an account’s annual, quarterly and comparison with a benchmark. It’s slick but I’m not sure how useful this will be (unless one’s entire portfolio is in one account) because all one care’s about is the entire portfolio’s return, the components of which will be spread across different accounts. I still think, I’ll stick to my Google spreadsheets for tracking returns but especially rebalancing and ACB.

    I’ll dig up references but gambitting is super simple at both BMOIL and RBCDI (among big bank brokers). Buy TD on TSX, sell TD on NYSE and when the trades settle, you’ll have converted CAD into USD.

    @Greg: Thanks for your input into the niggles you face at BMOIL. You are correct that TDDI is better for parking cash and index mutual funds. TDDI has three HISAs all with $100 minimum. Also, their e-Series funds are legendarily cheap for investors.

    For me, I did not worry about parking cash because in registered accounts, my cash balances tend to be low because all dividend payments come in around the same time at the end of the quarter. Also, my kids’ RESP accounts are in index funds and they are staying with TD Mutual Funds. If I had different requirements, BMOIL would not have worked out.

  12. I’m curious about your first requirement, “Must be a broker affiliated with a large financial institution.”

    I’m personally a fan of Questrade. I’ve searched your site and it seem’s you’ve had not so great experience in the past. I’ve only used them for the last year or so, so I think there has been some improvement. Although their journalling process for norbert’s gambit is a little tedious — requiring a phonecall or a live-chat request.

    In anycase is there something the large financial institutions have that a discount broker such as questrade doesn’t, or is it just the ease of brining all your banking/investing under one bank that made you specify that initial requirement?

    Thanks,
    SK

    • Canadian Capitalist

      @SK: Technically, brokerages are required to keep fully paid-up securities in cash and margin accounts segregated. i.e. they may not be used for the firm’s business. As we learnt in the bankruptcy of MF Global, more than $1 billion worth of clients assets were illegally accessed and it is only now — more than 2 years later — that customers will be fully paid back.

      IMO, it is better to keep your assets with a broker affiliated with a bank or another well capitalized company. No guarantees still but at least you have some additional protection offered by the bank’s shareholder equity.

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  14. What rate does the BMO HISA pay?

    I’m getting 1.25% at TDDI with TDB8150 & TDB8155.

  15. You indicated that one of your requirements in selecting a discount broker was that it would have to provide for easy movement of funds between your TD Trust accounts and your discount brokerage accounts – how does BMO Investorline accomplish this ? – and does it allow for funds to be moved in both directions ?
    You also indicated that Norbert’s Gambit was easy to do at BMO Investorline – is it really as slick as buying TD on the Toronto Exchange and immediately selling TD on the New York Exchange ? – does one have to pre-arrange it or notify BMO Investorline beforehand what you’re up to – or is it OK to just go ahead and do it ?
    Thanks for the great info

    • Canadian Capitalist

      @Warren B: When you open an InvestorLine account, you get a bank account to go with it. The bank account allows 2 free withdrawals per month and unlimited deposits at a branch or ABM network. Deposits can also be made online by setting up BMO InvestorLine as a Payee in your chequing account.

      I haven’t done a Gambit at BMO just yet but my understanding is that at both BMO and RY it is as simple as buying on the TSX and selling on the NYSE (for converting CAD to USD).

      Hope this helps.

  16. “I’ll stick to my Google spreadsheets for tracking returns but especially rebalancing and ACB.”

    Would you kindly share a sample of your spreadsheets with us? I never heard of Google spreadsheets before.

    Thank you.

  17. “Must have segregation of US Dollar securities in registered accounts.”

    I suppose this means TFSA as well, doesn’t it, and BMO offers it?

    I cannot believe TD is behind. It’s not that they are lacking money to modify the system. And they are segregating US Dollar securities in non-registered accounts, so they must have the “know-how”.

    I have been waiting and waiting and finally I think I will make the switch.

    “Must be a broker affiliated with a large financial institution.”

    Very good point, Questrade offers free commission purchase of ETFs but why take any chances, even if the risk is very small.

    • Canadian Capitalist

      @skeptical investor: I think BMO offers USD TFSA. Not sure though. It wasn’t important for me because our TFSAs hold CDN securities.

  18. @CC
    In the switch from TDDI, did you have leftover dividends at TDDI and did you have to call them to get them back? Also, did you have to bug BMO to get your transfer fees reimbursed? I am faced with both of these situations.
    One complaint about BMO IL. Threre doesn’t seem to be the “Activiy” page like TD has, which lists recent transactions and conversion rates, in a one page format. I found it very convenient at TD.

    • Canadian Capitalist

      @madMike: For me, there are no dividends due until the first week of Feb and the transfers should hopefully be done by then. Dividends paid into the TDDI account after the transfer, will be sent over the BMOIL account. It’s part of the transfer process.

      My transfers are in process but I’m not expecting any problems in getting them refunded. Did you talk to anyone prior to transferring about refunds?

  19. Yes I talked to a rep before transferring, I made sure that the fees were covered. I’m told I have to show them my new statements with the fees deducted, so now I guess I have to wait until early next month for the first statements.
    A bit of a pain but should work out in the long run.

    • Canadian Capitalist

      @madMike: When transferring accounts in the past, I had to show that transfer out fees were paid by attaching statements as well. It seems standard, so no worries there.

  20. The BMO IL rep on phone told me about the fine print on the transfer – have you read it? You must open one account with at least $100,00, to qualify for the $250 bribe, then add another $5000 to another account to get the extra $50 “Promotion”.
    This contradicts what I was told in person at branch, that I qualified with $100,000 total assets.

    I guess I’ll have to wait the 6 months to see if my move was worthwhile, or if I got “taken” by the big banks again.
    I had to add my TFSA together with RSP to hit the $100,000 magic threshold. Seems pretty sneaky.
    Did you have this issue?
    Also, I was told by IL rep that the federal govt. regs prevent DRIPS of $US securities.
    I’m anxious to see my first

  21. Anxious to see first statement to see if DRIPPED $US goes staright into $US side or gets “converted”, thought I was assured they would not.

    • @madMike: I was aware that a second “qualified” account should be opened for the extra $50 bribe. The rep at the branch also said the same thing. Note that TFSA is not a qualifying account. Shame that you were told otherwise at the branch. I don’t know of any regulations that prevent USD DRiPs. TDDI, for example, offers USD DRiPs on many securities.

    • I have some stocks in the USD side of my RRSP at InvestorLine. The dividends are paid and stay in the USD side.

      I don’t DRIP.

  22. I just signed up for an InvestorLine account. I saw one of your criteria was that you should have easy transfer of funds between your TD bank account and the brokerage account. It looks like a drawback of InvestorLine is that it’s easy to do a bill payment to get funds in, but seems like the best way to get funds back is to write a cheque to yourself. Have you found anything better? Coming from Questrade I miss the EFT.

  23. There is one major problem with BMO IL statements. They do not publish the BOOK VALUE of your investments.
    This information is essential at tax time when you are figuring out what capital gains or losses to report. One just goes back to the statements and NO BOOK VALUE FIELD
    Book Values keep changing if you are enrolled in DRIPs
    When I asked about this the rep told me they are displayed on the website.
    However the website displays the average cost per share only for that day. If you wanted that information for 31st December on 28 March when you are doing your taxes good Luck – you wont find it.
    TDW statements clearly show book values on the website and on the printed statements making tax time that much easier
    Major reason why I left BMO IL

  24. rajeev with all due respect i strongly believe each individual investor has to learn to keep meticulous constantly-updated ACB records for himself.

    the reason is that brokers make far too many mistakes. They are not paid for this ACB service in cash or margin accounts, it is being offered purely as a courtesy.

    my principal broker – who shall be nameless – makes horrendous, eye-blinding, ghastly mistakes. Apparently representatives can phone the back office to get ACBs adjusted. Apparently it’s not uncommon that either rep or back office clerk or both get the ACB number wrong.

    this is what happened to my BMO stock. It has a cost base in the high $60s. All of a sudden the broker dropped the ACB to less than $10 per share.

    the reason? a licensed rep had phoned in with another clients’ data.

    of course i have my own records so what the broker thinks about ACB in non-registered accounts at the end of the day is not worth a bunch of parsley.

    still, an investor should not develop a dependence on unstable data.

  25. td waterhouse client

    http://www.tdwaterhouse.ca did not fill my 94.64 limit sell order which was .02 lower than the high.
    Google Finance showed MPC as having hit 94.66 on March 18th (Tuesday).
    TDwaterhouse.ca explanation is that 94.66 was a fill from the ARCAEX and the NYSE, where TD put limit orders, did not have any fills in the 94.60’s.
    TD claims market order fills on the ARCAEX got priority, were filled “quicker” on the ARCAEX instead of mine .02 cents lower on the NYSE.
    Are prices from Google Finance from the NYSE or do they include the ARCAEX as well?
    Is this BS or does this explanation hold water?
    I’m thinking of sell out and moving to BMO with the free trades offer.

  26. I have been with BMO InvestorLine for almost 10 years and I am ready to bail. The list of problems encountered is way too long, but they have recurring intermittent problems when it comes to prices, streaming, volume and functionality of the website. If you want to go to them, just because of their “bribe”, you may want to think again, especially if you plan to be active.

    To TD Waterhouse Client, all brokerages are on a “best efforts” basis when it comes to filling your order. So if TDW routed your order to one exchange and another exchange had a trade going 0.02 higher, it is possible that your order was not filled.

  27. Think again.

  28. My personal opinion is that if you have an account as a TFSA, RRSP or indeed just a brokerage account depending on your financial situation, that buys and sells using good till cancelled is very effective. I say this as I see many people searching for buys or worse looking at interest on accounts that is just losing money. Essentially find equities that have a good differential or change through the year and put in a buy at a low point, might even seem ridiculous low point! The same when you get that equity put a sell good till cancelled at a higher price. From long experience I have found this works and you can sleep at night, returns are normally excellent. I would appreciate any thoughts on this approach….

  29. I suggest avoiding BMO Investorline. I have been with Investorline for over 15 years and lately it has been nothing but problems. In the past year their service deteriorated to the level on totally unacceptable. Most problems are with online access and underlying trading system. Here is the list of problems, some of them are extremely critical:

    1. Poor security. Online login to your account taxes maximum of 6 characters in password and these passwords are not even case sensitive. Any teenage hacker can break-in to your account in less than 10 minutes. Trading passwords are more secure, but I am still uncomfortable that it is so easy to access client’s holdings – to me it’s a big privacy issue. I raise this issue with IL over 3 years ago and they told me that this will be fixed soon – nothing is done as of Jan 2015.

    2. Overloaded servers. Try logging in to your account around 9:30am or 4pm. It takes 2-3 failed attempts (with very “informative” errors like “The proxy server did not receive a timely response from the upstream server. Reference #1.ec2bf648.1422285118.ef29fd99″ or “We’re sorry. The page you are looking for is currently unavailable. Please try again.”). This morning I couldn’t login to my account for 25 minutes. Even when you are successful with login it takes up to 3 minutes delay until you get to your portfolio page. Often, you get disconnected for no reason just because their servers cannot handle that many simultaneous connections. Typical response from IL support: “our investigation shows that there was no issue related to slower than normal website responsiveness”)

    3. Poor customer service. I reported a number of problems using their support system – the answers I received were either inappropriate (e.g. “we cannot confirm your complaint looking at our server logs) or plain stupid (“May be you should try another browser?”, “Close the session and login again, it may help”)

    4. What scares me most about being with IL is how buggy is their software. Even with such simple things like calculations of totals for market value and unrealized gains/losses. The numbers I see on my portfolio page often don’t correspond to reality – I have to manually export my portfolio page to Excel to get correct numbers. This problem is intermittent, but it occurred to me at least 4 times in the past month.

    5. In one of my accounts I actively trade in options and in the past 3 months I encountered at least 5 days when I would not be able to see bid and ask for all my options for hours. Suddenly, all bid and ask values go to zero and even when you click on the option to trade you get zero values in trading screen. As you can imagine, this is totally unacceptable for options trader as you are unable to trade without knowing what the bids and asks are. I just love the answer I got from IL support (the screenshot was taken at the middle of the trading day and showed zeros for 15+ options, including GOOG, BX, CNQ, ENB, etc.): “With reference to the screenshot you had provided, the prices were reported accordingly as the option holdings had $0.00 bid”.

    At this point I had enough and will be moving to another discount brokerage. It is too bad as IL used to be the best in Canada. I don’t know who re-designed their interfaces a couple of years ago), but apparently it was designed and maintained so badly that they can no longer provide service to clients and they are obviously unable to fix these problems.

    • Mike,

      Any teenage hacker will NOT be able to break into your account in 10 minutes. Password lock outs is what prevents this. If this was the case, would they really still have customers?

      The 6 characters password is not ideal. Where a stronger password is useful is if someone got hold of their encrypted (hopefully this is the case) password database in the backend, it will be much harder to reverse engineer the stronger passwords.

  30. Hi Ram, i m looking to move to the BMO InvestorLine platform. Have you had a smooth sailing so far with them? I m just starting off and will be doing passive investing to start with. i spoke with them otp and their $300 cash back surely helps. For the transfer charges, i m getting my funds from multiple providers so they are willing to reimburse for 1 of the providers. I would love to hear your experience. From what i have read so far… there are mixed reviews so still in the undecided camp :-)

    • Hi Intel: I’m extremely happy with InvestorLine. Here is my opinion on what’s good and what’s not so good:

      The Good:
      1. No mess, no fuss, Norbert Gambits.
      2. I love e-mail support. If you want something like journal shares or sign up for a DRiP just send them email.
      3. Bank accounts are still with TD Direct. So, moving money to and fro is a piece of cake.

      Not so good:
      1. Extremely thin market research. Though as an index investor, I don’t care about this.
      2. Clunky website. Initially, it was a bit confusing navigating their website but now, after a year, all’s good.
      3. Bond selection appears to be much less than TD Direct.

      If there is anything specific you are looking for, I’d be happy to comment.

  31. I have been debating on trying out BMO because I am not too impressed with TD’s service lately. Any regrets moving from TD? Should I keep most of my stuff at TD and just open something new at BMO? I don’t like the fact that they don’t have e-series funds. Their equivalent is d-series but MER seems a lot higher

    • @Matt: I don’t have any regrets moving out of TD Waterhouse. Pretty much all our holdings were ETFs, so if you invest in e-Series funds it might tip the scales in favour of TD Direct.

  32. In discussions with TDI (Feb 07, 2015) on USD SDRRSP set ups: Norbert’s Gambit is not necessary. Transfer cash to US side, buy stock, keep dividends (including DRIPS) paid out to US side. Interlisted stocks – same deal: journal to US side, receive divs in USD, DRIP them in USD. FX fees on transfer cash either direction, should you do so. As expected. No cost to journal, as there is no FX cost to a simple accounting function. Even checked the book value difference to see what the FX rate was vs the CDN book value….within limits that one could not say you got a bad deal on FX.

    Regards

    Simple and about time. They will keep a client on this, as I was looking to leave. BMO was an option, but from some of the input here, maybe not.

    TD goes through periods where, as a client, you wonder what they are up to on some of the stuff they do and don’t do. I think the # of clients barking about forced FX and then moving out to say BMO, they knew that they were going to have to do something to keep clients and retail market share.

  33. I have been with BMO IL’s 5 star service for over a year now. I was originally with TD but was annoyed with their lack of motivation to put forth a true US Dollar RRSP and TFSA option like BMO and Royal. TD’s DI customer service was also awful. The long waits on the phone were unbearable. With BMO IL I haven’t had to wait more than 5 minutes.

    On the negative side, BMO IL stock filtering is poor. It’s no better than the Globe and Mail’s tool. Also, I was surprised to see that after orders were placed the cash total in your account did not include the deduction of commissions until the settlement date. This caused me to have a brief negative balance on one occasion. The website is also slower than others I have used but it is way better looking than other banks’ websites. Their IPad app is very nice. It’s by far the best of all the banks.

    I’m most likely going to stick with BMO IL for another year until Scotia Itrade finally get their true US dollar RRSP and TFSAs. Scotia has the cheapest commissions on bonds as well as the best variety. Also, they have commission free ETFs available which is great.

    • If you have a President’s account at TD (similar to BMO 5 stars), there is a special number to call. I have never waited more than 2 minutes.
      An agent pointed that out to me after waiting for over 15 minutes on the regular number.

  34. I realize that this is an old thread but still very relevant. Norbert’s Gambit at BMO Investorline – is it really as slick as buying whatever on Toronto Exchange and immediately selling it on the New York Exchange ? No charges for the exchange? But there would be withholding tax implications I would assume.

  35. Pat, yes you can buy an interlisted stock on the TSX and sell it on the US markets immediately. When selling just select US dollars for the settlement currency.

  36. I have been with Investorline for more than a decade with RRSP, TFSA, RESP and cash accounts but I am started to look elsewhere now. First they are a buy and hold type of banking institute, not for quick trade. Second, their low IQ agents are unbelivably dumb and i gets different answers every time I called, but they are anxiously selling service though. Took me over 3 months to transfer RESP account from local BMO branch to Investorline with multiple complains and help from local branch. Not sure calls are route from India but lots of India accent agents that’s hard to understand. Took more than two months and multiple calls with agents and yet to add option trading to existing accounts. Am in the process of evaluating whom to switch to but definitely parting Investorline!

  37. Very poor customer service. Did not receive proper responses to very simple request and. account charged for information not received.I am thinking of moving my account

  38. BMO Investorline – Join at your own peril. In my dealings with BMO investorline, this is the most unprofessional brokerage I’ve dealt with and I’ve been trading for over 10 years. They have excellent tools and excellent options for self directed investors. However, their customer support system and process, and the incompetency of their traders and managers is beyond comprehension. I’ve never been so frustrated dealing with a brokerage service before.

  39. BMO Investorline; I am a very happy client. All my experiences have been positive. And, I have called their customer support people many times and found them to be professional, knowledgeable and very helpful. The current issue of MoneySense magazine rates it as top choice discount brokerage firm.

  40. I deal with CIBC and TD’s discount brokerages and, since early this year, also with BMO. There is obviously no ideal broker, but so far I have noted the following negatives regarding BMO:

    1) some inconsistent info, as well as some unbelievably unintelligent/uninformed answers from customer service, to the point that I now resort to asking some questions of at least two reps in order to assess the validity of what they tell me.
    More incredibly, these are supposedly reps on their “5-Star Client” Help Desk.

    Granted, the reps are always very polite, however I would not say that they are always knowledgeable or particularly helpful. Keep “substance over form” in mind when dealing with them.

    2) still no book values on month-end statments (straight cash/trading or RRIF accounts). I specifically asked this question in the branch before opening the accounts and was told they had book values.

    3) be careful about their promos. I’d never dealt with them before and they were quite picky about the end-date for the “free trade” period of their early 2015 cash-back and free trade promo, which seemed to have been arbitrairily chosen based on some stage of internal account application document processing they could not explain to me.
    At the time I asked them to confirm the end date, I’d used less than 1/2 of the free trades promised (and in the end only about 1/2 of the free trades were actually used), so it wasn’t like this part of the promo was abused.

    Now for what I really don’t like:

    4) their systems and procedures appear to be set up to profit from uninvested client cash balances more than at competitors (ie. specifically CIBC and TD), as well as to “nickel and dime” clients:

    – high purchase and balance maintenance limits of high interst savings and even higher limits for non-BMO HISA products.

    Bottom line: you’re basically out of luck if you have less than $5K to temporarily park. Apparently some of these limits have been revised downwards as of May 1 (per their new fee schedule), however as of today, it seems the new limits are not possible to do online.

    – inability to purchase HISA online on T+3 sale settlement dates (have to phone in, and if you don’t have the patience to wait on the phone, it means your cash remains unnecessarily uninvested for 1 business day)

    – inability to sell an ETF that was less than a board lot online. Not sure if this is normal all the time or if they would’ve waived the phone trading fee, as I didn’t want to wait on the phone to find out and therefore ended up buying enough addition units to ultimately sell everything online.

    5) phone wait times seem to be 5 mins+ at least half of the time for the last 3 months

    6) VERY DISAPPONTED with their DRIP process.

    CIBC and TD do their DRIPs inhouse, while I’ve been told that BMO has outsourced their process. The result is that TD and CIBC are able to DRIP both Cdn equity and ETFs on the distribution pay date (or next business day), however DRIPs at BMO IL consistently take at least a week and I’ve been told (unapologetically) can take up to 20 days.

    The slow timing is bad enough, however while the DRIP prices at CIBC and TD seem in line with market prices of the distribution date, BMO DRIP prices seem to be a big question mark. I’ve yet to hear a good explanation, but I guess it’s some market price in the week, 20 days etc. it takes to process the DRIP.

    It could be argued that it would not make a big difference over time, but as a passive indexer, this impacts the majority of my assets and, coming back to my feeling that BMO tries to profit from uninvested cash, the cynic in me wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the DRIP delay is just another way of doing so.

    Also to note, although I do not have any direct experience with how well it’s done, both CIBC and TD currently also process DRIP for US issues, however BMO has no plans to do US DRIP at all in the immediate future.

  41. I switched to BMO IL after over 30 years with TD. It was precipitated by changing my banking from TD to BMO.
    So far, I have no regrets about making the move.
    The BMO site is way easier to use. The reporting and stats are way better.
    One feature I really like is to be able to display P/E (or whatever other metrics you like) charts along side price chart. It makes it very easy to evaluate price vs “some metric” historical trends.

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