Desjardins Online Brokerage (Disnat) Review

Desjardins Online Brokerage (also known as Disnat) is a platform self-directed investors can use to trade stocks, ETFs, options, structured notes, and more in Canada.

DIY investing can help you save on investment fees and improve your returns if you know what you are doing.

While Disnat’s fees are fairly competitive when compared to brokerage platforms operated by the big banks, you can cut your fees further by choosing a no-commission broker.

Trading platforms that waive commissions on ETF and/or stock purchases include Wealthsimple Trade and Questrade.

On these two platforms you are also spared the annoying ‘inactivity’ fees that apply when you don’t trade a minimum number of times during a specific timeframe.

This Desjardins Online Brokerage review covers its fees, account types, pros and cons, and alternatives.

What Is Desjardins Online Brokerage?

Disnat or the Desjardins Online Brokerage is the online investing service managed by Desjardins Securities, the brokerage arm of Desjardins Group.

It was founded in 1982 and was the first company to offer discount brokerage services in Canada in 1983.

Desjardins Online Brokerage offers two main platforms:

  • Disnat Classic: a trading platform for beginners and everyday investors
  • Disnat Direct: a trading platform for active traders

The Disnat trading app is available on the App Store and Google Play.

Desjardins Online Brokerage Accounts

Disnat accommodates a variety of accounts depending on your needs, including registered accounts such as:

  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA)
  • Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)
  • Life Income Fund (LIF)
  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

You can also open a non-registered account, as well as cash and margin accounts.

Non-registered accounts can be set up to be owned by an individual, cooperative, corporation, trust, private foundation, non-profit organization, partnership, estate, guardian or to have a proxy mandate.

Desjardins Online Brokerage Investment Types

This platform offers a good selection of investments you can trade, including a few that are not commonplace:

  • Canadian and U.S. Equities (including stocks, preferred shares, ETFs, trust units, warrants, ADRs, and rights)
  • Options
  • Mutual Funds
  • Structured Notes
  • New Issues
  • Bonds
  • Treasury Bills, Bankers’ Acceptances, Commercial Paper and Bearer Deposit Notes

Desjardins Online Brokerage Trading Fees

The trading and account fees on Disnat are on the high side and vary depending on how often you trade.

Compared to Wealthsimple Trade which offers free stock and ETF trading, you pay a commission for all buy/sell orders placed on Disnat.

 StocksETFsOptionsFixed Income
Standard trading fees$6.95 per trade$6.95 per tradeRegular trading fee + $1.25 per contract (min. $8.75)$50 min. per trade
Active trader pricing$4.95 to $6.95/trade for 0-29 trades/month;
$0.75/trade for 30+ trades/month
$4.95 to $6.95/trade for 0-29 trades/month;
$0.75/trade for 30+ trades/month
Regular trading fee + $1.25 per contract (min. ($8.75)$50 min. per trade
Telephone tradesMinimum $45 feeMinimum $45 feeMinimum $35 fee$50 min. per trade

Mutual fund purchases are free subject to some conditions. A $32-$45 fee may apply if you hold the fund for less than 90 calendar days, etc. Some mutual funds also carry a deferred sales charge (DSC).

A minimum purchase (face value) of $5,000 is required for bonds, and for Treasury Bills, the minimum purchase is $10,000.

If you want access to streaming level 1 and/or 2 data, an additional fee applies. Streaming data fees are waived when you exceed a minimum number of trades per month.

Desjardins Online Brokerage Account Fees

A $30 quarterly inactivity fee applies if you do not meet one of the following criteria:

  • Place 6 or more trades that have been executed in the preceding 12 months
  • The value of your portfolio is $15,000 or more
  • You have a registered account with Disnat (e.g. RRSP, RESP, TFSA, or RRIF)

The annual administration fee for RRSP and LIRA accounts is $100. It is waived if the market value of your account is $15,000 or more, or you place 125 trades per year.

The annual administration fee for an RRIF or LIF is $100. It is waived if your account value is $25,000 or more, or you place 125 trades per year.

RESPs have a $50 annual fee unless the combined market value is $15,000 or more.

Some other fees to note are:

  • Account transfer out: $150
  • LIRA and LIF unlocking: $150
  • Request for research and copy of statement of account: $50 fixed rate + $5 per item

Disnat [email protected] 18-30

Disnat offers new clients who are 18-30 year old access to five free transactions. Inactivity administration fees are also waived.

To take advantage of this offer, you must deposit at least $1,000 in your account (no minimum is required for registered accounts).

Desjardins Online Brokerage Trading Platforms

The two main platforms are: Disnat Classic and Disnat Direct.

Disnat Classic is aimed at everyday investors who want an easy-to-understand platform they can use to place trades and do research.

It is available on all types of devices.

Disnat Direct is an advanced platform for seasoned investors who want access to streaming quotes, unlimited number of charts, watchlists, and more.

For market analysis, clients can use Trading Central, Desjardins Securities analysis, and MorningStar.

Related: Retirement Planning in Canada

Is Desjardins Online Brokerage Safe?

The Desjardin Group was founded in 1900 and is one of the larger groups of credit unions in the world.

Desjardins Securities is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).

CIPF membership means that your investments are protected against broker insolvency up to $1 million.

Pros and Cons of Disnat

Some pros and cons of using the Desjardins Online Brokerage are:

Pros:

  • Variety of account types and investment products
  • 18-30-year-olds get a break on inactivity and admin fees
  • Free training events year-round
  • Competitive pricing for active traders

Cons:

  • The standard trading fee for stocks is $6.95 per trade. There are cheaper alternatives including Wealthsimple Trade ($0) and Questrade (starts at $4.95)
  • No free ETF trades
  • The minimum deposit to start trading is $1,000
  • A $30 quarterly inactivity fee can add up if you don’t place trades and have a small account (<$15,000)
  • Self-directed trading means you are responsible for rebalancing your portfolio, and deciding when, how, and what to trade.

If this sounds like a lot of work, you should consider a robo-advisor instead.

Desjardins Online Brokerage vs. Alternatives

The table below shows how Desjardins Online Brokerage compares to TD Direct Investing, Questrade, and Wealthsimple Trade.

 Desjardins Online BrokerageWealthsimple TradeQuestradeTD Direct Investing
Stock and ETF trading fees$6.95/trade$0$4.95-$9.95/trade$9.99/trade
Options/contract$1.25/contract (min. $8.75/trade)N/A$9.95 + $1$9.99 + $1.25
Commission-free ETFsNoYesETF purchases free: fees apply to ETFs salesNo
Types of AccountsRRSP, TFSA, RRIF, LIF, RESP, LIRA, MarginRRSP, TFSA, personal non-registeredTFSA, RRSP, RESP, LIF, LIRA, RRIF, MarginTFSA, RRSP, RESP, DPSP, LIRA, RRIF, Margin
Minimum investment$1,000None$1,000None
Maintenance fee$30/quarter if balance <$15,000NoneNone$25/quarter if balance ≤ $15,000
PlatformWeb and mobile appWeb and mobile appWeb, mobile and desktop appWeb and mobile app
Transfer-in fees waivedN/AUp to $150 on transfers of $5,000+Up to $150 per accountUp to $150 with transfers of $25,000+
PromotionsN/AGet a $25 bonus when you open an account and trade $100Get $50 in free trades when you deposit at least $1,000N/A
Learn moreRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review

Related: How To Save for Retirement in Canada

Desjardins Online Brokerage Review
3.2

Summary

Desjardins Online Brokerage or Disnat is the brokerage platform of the Desjardins Group. This Disnat review covers what you need to know about its fees, account types, pros and cons, and alternatives

Pros

  • Multiple account types and investment securities
  • Admin fee waived for 18-30 year-olds
  • Free training events 
  • Active trader discount

Cons

  • No free ETF trades
  • $1,000 minimum balance to trade
  • $30 quarterly inactivity fee
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Author

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. His writing has been featured or quoted in the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, MSN Money, Financial Post, Winnipeg Free Press, CPA Canada, Credit Canada, Wealthsimple, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO and monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell.

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