These brokers are best at keeping their clients satisfied

Rob Carrick
September 19 2017
Reprinted with permission of The Globe and Mail

Desjardins Online Brokerage has taken top spot in a new customer satisfaction ranking.

But if you're looking for the optimum do-it-yourself investing experience, check out Qtrade Investor. Qtrade took second spot in the customer satisfaction survey by J.D. Power, and it's a top player in comprehensive rankings of Canada's online brokerage firms.

J.D. Power assigned Desjardins a ranked of five out of five based on the results of a survey of 2,609 investors who are primarily self-directed as opposed to having an adviser. Qtrade came next with a score of four, followed by seven firms with an industry average score of three. Questrade received a score of two.

Desjardins scored a B- grade in the latest Globe and Mail online brokerage ranking, a mid-pack result. Surviscor, a firm that looks at online banking and investing, slotted Desjardins ninth out of 13 firms in its most recent comprehensive ranking.

Qtrade is a firm that combines a high customer satisfaction score with good results in more detailed comparisons. In the Globe ranking, Qtrade tied Virtual Brokers for top spot with an A grade. Surviscor put Qtrade first, ahead of Scotia iTrade.

Surviscor has singled out Qtrade's fees and commissions, its customer service, its record-keeping and reporting, and its market data. In the Globe ranking, Qtrade was a leader in providing 40 different features and services that investors – as opposed to active traders – need. Qtrade is actually part owned by Desjardins, which maintains its own in-house online brokerage firm as well.

J.D. Power's latest study of customer satisfaction in the DIY investing world uncovered a growing preference for advice among self-directed investors. This poses challenges for online brokers because they're restricted by regulators from providing any sort of guidance to clients.

Robo-advisers, which build and manage portfolios for clients, are an obvious alternative to online brokers from people who want help with their investments. However, J.D. Power found that usage of robo-advisers by DIY investors fell to 19 per cent in 2017 from 25 per cent in 2016. Self-directed investors appear to want to make their own decisions, but also have a human to consult about financial planning and investment matters. The Canadian market awaits the appearance of a service like this.


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