Monthly Archives: November 2014

A handy decision-tree chart for would-be online discount brokerage users


The Globe & Mail’s Rob Carrick has created a really useful decision-tree flowchart to help newcomers to online or discount brokerages choose which best will suit their needs.

You’ll need to zoom in a few times to make this legible on the web. Once you do, go to the top left corner to “Start Here.” Then you answer a series of yes/no questions about what’s most important to you.

For instance, are US$ accounts critical for you or not? How about buying bonds online? Do you just want the cheapest bank-owned discount brokerage, or one where you’re already doing your banking? Do you want deep research and tools?

Two thumbs up to Rob and his graphic designer, and to the Globe & Mail in general, which earlier this week was named by the CFA Society of Toronto as the country’s top financial publication.

And you read it here first: a year from now Rob will be chosen as financial journalist of the year!

Pretty Little Poor Girl’s tips for shopping on Black Friday

Just in time for Black Friday, we’re pleased to present this timely blog from Danielle Kubes, the blogger behind the Pretty Little Poor Girl blog. You can also find the piece at her site here. Love that slogan: “Because financial literacy is hot.” With Danielle’s permission we’re running it below at the Hub too, and  we hope to run more pieces in the future.

Danielle Kubes, Pretty Little Poor Girl

By Danielle Kubes

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

I only really shop three times a year:

▪ August sales

▪ January sales

▪ Black Friday

It’s a waste of money to buy anything any other time a year. I’m allergic to paying full retail-price for anything so I save up all my money to buy clothes and shoes on sale. And almost everything WILL go on sale eventually.

And by sale, I mean REAL sales. Not those “fake sales,” which are popular with American stores like Bath and Body Works, Ann Taylor and Express. Literally every time I walk into their stores there is “30%” off sweaters, Buy 2 body lotions get 2 free etc.,

If there is ALWAYS a sale, that sale price is just the TRUE price.

Which I why I wait until there are legit sales, like when they actually want to move merchandise. Those three time periods are the only time that really happens.

black friday shoppingNotes 

Often Black Friday is NOT the cheapest time to buy things, but it can be if you need something before January, like Christmas gifts, or there is something you need/desperately want that you legitimately feel might be gone by January sales

▪ It’s important to figure out whether further discounts will be applied on Boxing Day, or later in January. This comes with a few years experience shopping sales. I suggest writing down the discounts available this year, so you know what to expect more for next year. They are usually quite similar year-to-year

▪ A week before Black Friday there are usually sales. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS.

▪ For example, this week everything at Old Navy is 30% off. But it will be 50% off on Black Friday.

▪ Ask the salespeople what sorts of sales they will be having Black Friday. Some stores in Canada, especially the Canadians one don’t participate. For these sales you’ll have to wait until after boxing day. But American stores do Black Friday amazingly

▪ In Toronto, I’ve noticed recent American imports Express, Ann Taylor/Loft and JCrew can have amazing Black Friday sales. Don’t bother with Artizia. The best time to shop at Aritzia is in late August and late January. GOLDEN TIP

Danielle Kubes is a freelance journalist in Toronto. She believes in a balanced attitude toward financial independence. What would her weekends be without brunch? Sad and lonely. But you can also find her hand-washing clothes to save a few bucks at the laundromat.

Globe wins CFA Society’s financial publication of the year, MoneySense gets two individual awards

cfaThe Globe and Mail has won the financial publication of the year award presented by the CFA Society of Toronto, which represents chartered financial analysts.

The award, only in its second year,  is given to the Canadian publication whose work “helps consumers and advisers to gain a better understanding of the investment profession.” Other finalists were MoneySense and Canadian Business magazines, both published by Rogers Media. Here’s the Globe’s version of the announcement.

Two MoneySense writers won individual awards: Retirement columnist David Aston was named Journalist of the Year while MoneySense senior editor Julie Cazzin won the new Spirit of the Future of Finance Award. Here’s MoneySense’s version of the announcements.

Here you can find the full list of winners, including shortlisted candidates.

Congratulations to all.

Mawer big winner at Morningstar awards


I didn’t attend this year but Morningstar’s big annual gala that mostly pays homage to actively managed investment funds was held Wednesday night. As Morningstar reports here on its site, Morningstar analysts chose Calgary-based Mawer as fund company of the year for the second year running. It also won several individual awards.

Edgepoint’s Tye Bousada and Geoff MacDonald won foreign equity fund of the year.

Advisors voted (for the fourth year in a row) for Fidelity Canada as the Advisor’s Choice Fund Company of the Year.

Sun Life Financial won the IFIC Invesor Education Award.

In a posthumous award, Raymond Chang of C.I. won the Career Achievement award.

ETF skunks at the party?

Despite all the attention lavished on actively managed mutual funds and pooled funds, ETFs do get a cameo role. Vanguard Canada was awarded ETF Provider of the Year, while BlackRock Canada’s iShares won Best ETF Initiative for its iShares core series of ETFs.


Qtrade back as #1 in Globe ranking of online brokers

QtradeInvestor_imageOnline discount brokerages are an important element of what I have called the “Findependence Day” strategy, coupled with ETFs and fee-for-service financial planners. The rise of robo-advisers provides a slight variant but picking a good discount brokerage is still a solid way to control investment costs and have control over implementing your strategy.

During my full-time stint at MoneySense, we launched an annual review of discount brokerages running in the summer and ETFs early each year, both spearheaded by Dan Bortolotti, as well as an online directory of fee-only planners, to which we link in the “Getting Help” section.

Still, Rob Carrick’s annual rankings at the Globe have been around the longest and many investors look to it for guidance. You can find the latest survey in the Globe today, or online here.

After two years in the top spot for Virtual Brokers, Qtrade is again number 1, with Virtual narrowly falling to number 2. Questrade is 4th.

BMO in third, leading bank discount brokerages

At MoneySense, where the rankings were picked by a group that included Morningstar Canada, Surviscor and Bortolotti, there was a feeling that convenience  was important, typically meaning having all your banking and investing functions under one roof; as a result, since most Canadians tend to do their daily banking with one of the big six banks, bank brokerages often ended up rated higher than some of the independents, however much the latter may have had a technical or pricing edge.

Even so, the banks don’t do badly in the Globe roundup. This year BMO InvestorLine was third , RBC Direct #5, Scotia iTrade and TD Direct Investing tied for #6, National Bank 7th (I’d say 8th given the tie in front) and CIBC Investor’s Edge 8th (really 9th, IMO).

BMO wins Morningstar’s award

Note that BMO was voted the best online brokerage at Wednesday evening’s Morningstar Canadian Investment Awards. Our comment on the event and a link to a piece summarizing the winners can be found here.

P.S. Check out this decision-tree graphic (from Rob Carrick) to help choose an online broker. We’ll put up a separate new post on this later today.