National Bank Direct Brokerage Review 2021

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by Enoch Omololu

Updated

Advertiser Disclosure

National Bank Direct Brokerage is a securities broker offering access to self-directed trading of stocks, Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), options, GICs, and bonds.

It is a division of National Bank Financial Inc. and a part of National Bank, the sixth-largest commercial bank in Canada.

Online brokerage platforms that are close competitors of National Bank Direct Brokerage include Questrade, Wealthsimple Trade, Qtrade, and the big-five bank brokerage platforms.

National Bank Direct Brokerage recently dropped its trading commissions on stock and ETF trades, the first bank-owned brokerage to do so in Canada.

This review of the National Bank Direct Brokerage (NBDB) covers its fees, trading platform features, benefits, downsides, and alternatives.

National Bank Direct Brokerage Accounts

DIY-investors can open a variety of registered and non-registered accounts with NBDB.

Personal non-registered accounts include cash, margin, and short-selling.

For registered tax-advantaged accounts, you can open a:

  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
  • Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)
  • LIF, LIRA, and LRSP

Business entities can also open investment accounts with options including sole proprietorship, partnership, association, and trust accounts.

Also available are estate, investment club, and individual pension plan accounts.

National Bank Direct Brokerage Investment Products

Investors can use the platform to access a variety of investment products for their portfolios, including:

  • Stocks (Equities)
  • ETFs
  • Options
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds (government, corporate, and municipal)
  • Exchange-Traded Debentures
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs)
  • Linked notes

National Bank Direct Brokerage Platform

Traders get access to an online trading platform that is available via a web interface.

You get technical and fundamental analysis tools and easy setups for watchlists, alerts, real-time market data, and more.

The brokerage platform also offers access to Recognia for technical analysis and investment ideas.

National Bank Direct Brokerage Trading Fees

The trading fees for ETFs, stocks, and options are:

Trader CategoryStocks/ETFsOptions
Standard Pricing$0/trade$1.25/contract (min. $6.25/trade and max. of $19.95 when transaction value <$2,000)

Most mutual funds can be purchased commission-free, however, the inbuilt MER will apply.

A minimum purchase of $1,000 or higher is also required for most mutual fund transactions.

Exchange-Traded Debentures cost $0 per trade.

Orders placed by phone incur additional costs. For example, the minimum commission for a stock, ETF, or mutual fund phone order is $44.95.

National Bank Direct Brokerage Account Fees

In addition to trading commissions, you should watch out for general account fees such as:

  • Account Administration Fee: $100 is charged annually if your account balance is lower than $20,000 or you do not meet other qualifying requirements (e.g. 30 years old or younger; at least 5 stock, ETF or option trades for the trading year- June 1 to May 31, etc.).
  • RRSP, RRIF, or LIF withdrawal: $50
  • Excess contribution reimbursement: $100
  • Account transfer to another institution: $150
  • Paper statements: $6/quarter
  • NSF cheques: $45 each
  • Estate settlement: $200 per estate
  • Gains and losses report: $50 per item
  • Duplicate statements or confirmations: $10 per item

Is National Bank Direct Brokerage Safe?

National Bank Direct Brokerage is a division of National Bank Financial Inc., which is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).

CIPF membership affords NBDB’s clients asset protection up to $1 million if the firm becomes insolvent.

This online discount broker is also a part of the National Bank of Canada which was founded in 1859 and is one of Canada’s largest banks.

Pros and Cons of National Bank Direct Brokerage

The benefits and downsides of this trading platform are:

Pros:

  • $0 commission stock and ETF trades
  • Offers a variety of accounts and investment products
  • Owned by a big bank

Cons:

  • Annual inactivity fee increases your costs if you have a moderate account.

National Bank Direct Brokerage vs. Alternatives

The table below compares NBDB with some of its competitors including Questrade, Wealthsimple Trade, and Qtrade.

National Bank Direct BrokerageWealthsimple TradeQuestradeQtrade
Stock trading fee$0/trade$0$4.95 – $9.95$8.75
ETF trading fee$0/trade$0$4.95 – $9.95$8.75
Options/contract$0 + $1.25N/A$9.95 + $1.00$8.75 + $1.25
Types of accountsRRSP, TFSA, RESP, RRIF, LIRA, LIF, margin, corporate, etc.Personal non-reg, RRSP, TFSATFSA, RRSP, RESP, LIRA, LIF, RRIF, margin, corporate, etc.TFSA, RRSP, LIF, RESP, margin, corporate, etc.
Minimum investment$0$0$1,000$0
Account administration fee$100/year if balance less than $20,000; or do not meet other conditionsNoneNone$25/quarter if balance less than $25,000
PlatformsWebWeb and mobile appWeb and mobile appWeb and mobile app
PromotionsN/A$50 Bonus when you fund and trade $150 or more$50 in free trades when you deposit $1,000 or moreN/A
Learn moreVisitVisitRead Review
National Bank Direct Brokerage Review
3.9

Summary

National Bank Direct Brokerage is an online discount broker in Canada. This review of the platform covers its fees, features, and alternatives.

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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 Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, Credit Canada, MSN Money, National Post, CIBC, and many other personal finance publications.

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

3 thoughts on “National Bank Direct Brokerage Review 2021”

  1. One feature I found useful with TD (and must be available with other brokers) is after hours trading. If you look at charts of major players many will spike and dip after hours so if you have the good sense to put in a high sell order or low bid order it may just get filled. This is great because the vast majority of the time when an equity moves very fast up or down it usually recovers shortly after. You can almost never come close to hitting the top or bottom of course but its a whole lot better than doing things normally. TD gives me access for 90 minutes before and a full 4 hours after. Now the real market is actually between 4am > 8pm so I’m only getting a small part of that before and missing an hour at the end. A very few ETF’s like SPY and QQQ trade 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. But you have to be American to have access to those hours. Sorry – we were just born on the wrong side of that border if you like to invest.

  2. The page /information needs to be updated- National Bank has recently declared NO Commission/trading fee on ETFs, Stocks etc!!

  3. NB’s layout is much nicer than questrade’s.

    a real pro of questrade is their live chat: once you’re logged on requesting a live chat i usually get a rep in under 1 min (for WS it’s 2-10 min)…but for national bank however: their live chat doesn’t work: instead it directs you to a ‘contact form’ but there is nothing to fill in…instead you get an FAQ and Toll free to call (wait times 1-2 hrs in both instances i called, the recording told me..and then it redirects me back to the live chat…so round and round it goes)…so right now, given the new zero trade fees, i think they’re overwhelmed and can’t offer the manpower to support this new approach.

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