Serving a Canadian-only clientele, Questrade is indeed one of the oldest online FX/CFD/Managed Investing brokerages in the world. As such, over the years, the operation has accrued hot and cold user feedback-wise. There are reviews out there praising every aspect of the operation, while some message boards feature nothing but negative feedback.
What exactly does Questrade offer though and why should you, as a Canadian (no one else can trade there) choose its services over the competition?
The operator claims to be the first and only Canadian financial company observing a customer-first policy. It was indeed the first Canadian brokerage to introduce penny stocks ($4.95 stocks) in 2006, at a time when normally, a single trade would set users back some $130. In 2008, the operator introduced the first registered accounts designed to hold USD as well as CAD, to allow users to trade US stocks, while sparing them the expenses associated with conversion. According to some of their users though, conversion fees are in fact charged by the brokerage…
Trailer fee rebates on mutual funds have been introduced in 2009, followed by commission-free purchases of North American ETFs in 2013. In 2014, Questrade Portfolio IQ – the first low-cost online actively managed investment portfolio, was introduced. 2017 was the year when the brokerage launched its mobile app.
In addition to all the above perks, Questrade also feature account protection for their traders, up to $10 million.
The operation handles some $5.5 billion in assets, and it sees some 30,000 accounts opened every year. For 6 years, Questrade was elected one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies.
The Promotions section of the brokerage is filled with various deals carrying extra value. There’s a free eBook offered to new traders, aimed at easing them into the mysteries of option trading. Those who make use of a special coupon code, can secure 5 free trades. A newsletter with technical analysis is delivered through the Daily Ticker, and there’s a practice account available to those looking to trade the FX and CFD markets.
Traders who open a new account and deposit at least $25,000, get a month’s worth of free trades, coupled with advanced market data. Even after the expiry of the free trades deal, such users can subscribe to an additional advanced data plan and various other perks.
Questrade are obviously eager to have their clients transfer their brokerage accounts to them. In this regard, they offer an extra incentive, by covering the transfer-out fee.
Security at the site is trusted to Verisign’s EV SSL technology, the latest iteration of the well-known and proven secure socket layer solution.
Two main investment options are offered at Questrade: Self-Directed Investing (for those looking to trade on their own) and Portfolio IQ which is – as mentioned above – a low-cost, actively managed investment portfolio.
Through Self-Directed trading, users can trade 1cent/share stocks, they can buy ETFs commission-free and they can access powerful trading platforms. The minimum on the 1 cent stocks is set to $4.95, and the maximum to $9.95.
Options cost $9.95+$1 per contract, and while low FX spreads are advertised, these spreads actually start from 1.7 pips, which is not really that low by online trading standards. Rollover costs are also part of the package. Open positions will be rolled over every day at 5 PM ET. The costs involved depend on the type of product that’s being rolled over.
Those who elect to trade on their own at the brokerage, will also have their mutual fund fees rebated and their fees generally lowered through the myFamily feature, which allows them to link their trading accounts to those of their friends and family.
Portfolio IQ is a managed investment service, allegedly handled by professional traders. The service promises to help its users retire “30% wealthier,” a proposition which is indeed well within the limits of reason.
Through Portfolio IQ, investments are diversified and due to the much lower fees – when compared to an average mutual fund – profits are compounded much faster. The way Portfolio IQ is set up means that the more one invests, the lower the fees will be. Setting up the Portfolio IQ system is easy too.
First off, users are required to state their financial goals (based on which Questrade’s experts will pick a more or less aggressive investment strategy). Secondly, the system recommends the user an investment portfolio, which he/she can then review, and approve. Only after these two steps are completed, can the user proceed to open and fund the account. The profile creation process can be paused and saved at any time, and support can be requested too.
The brokerage features three trading platforms, of which the handiest and most straightforward to use is the web-based Questrade platform. As such, this platform does not require a download. According to the Questrade site, their webtrader is much more than a trading platform: it is a complete environment, which – besides the features required for trading – brings fundamental analysis and multi-leg options to the table, too.
The IQ Edge platform is a downloadable one, which is aimed as professional traders and experts. Featuring a much more powerful suite of analysis tools, IQ Edge allows for trading environment customization and advanced trading orders. The software is compatible with Windows as well as Mac.
Questrade mobile is aimed at mobile devices users. The most recently released of the Questrade platforms, the mobile app is surprisingly powerful and versatile.
Should I Trust Questrade?
Despite the fact that there are many user complaints out there regarding the quality of various Questrade services, no one has yet claimed outright fraud. The operation is indeed legitimate, though if you are not a Canadian, the issue of trust is entirely irrelevant to you.
Question Marks and Red Flags
As said, the operation is legit, though the countless complaints posted by its users regarding their currency exchange fees, platforms and just about every other operational facet, certainly do raise a few questions.
Most of the above-mentioned complaints regarding Questrade’s services are rather old, posted in 2012-2013. The operator may have addressed those contentious issues since.
Questrade Review Conclusion
Questrade looks like a legitimate operation, but its services can only be accessed by Canadians. That makes it quite irrelevant for the overwhelming majority of the online trading industry. Its features are plentiful, as are the perks/promotional deals it offers. Though often complained-about, its trading platforms seem satisfactory as well.