BMO InvestorLine Review 2020: A Big Bank Discount Broker

BMO InvestorLine Review
Last updated Aug 14, 2020

Are you looking for an online discount brokerage that can give you the added peace of mind with the backing of a familiar name?

I have used and reviewed many online brokerages over the years. BMO InvestorLine is an online broker that I came across that might interest you.

In my BMO InvestorLine review, I will walk you through the features of the online broker brought to you by the Bank of Montreal – a name I’m sure you’re aware of. Hopefully, my review of the discount broker will help you make the right decision about whether you should use its services.

The Bank of Montreal’s total assets under management (AUM) was as high as $259 billion across more than 20 offices for the financial institution in 14 countries.

BMO InvestorLine Logo

Review of: BMO InvestorLine

Use: Online Broker





Wealthawesome Score: 3.7/5

Summary: If you’re looking for a big bank trading platform or discount broker, BMO is a good option for Canadians. You can trade stocks, etfs, options, and more on the platform. Learn more with this BMO InvestorLine Review.

Discount broker

How to Choose the Right Discount Broker

When looking at choosing a discount broker, it’s crucial to look at a few key things:

  1. Fees: Since the name of the game is discount, having low fees are in my opinion the most important factor in choosing a discount broker.
  2. Platform: No matter how cheap a discount broker is, you must make sure that the reporting features are easy to understand and the platform is easy to use.
  3. Features: You must see if the discount brokers features satisfy your investment goals.
  4. Customer service: The support you receive is important, as you might run into some problems when using the platform.

Let’s use these criterias to see if BMO InvestorLine is right for you.

What is BMO InvestorLine?

BMO InvestorLine Logo

BMO InvestorLine is the discount broker platform created by the Bank of Montreal. One of Canada’s most substantial bank-owned discount brokers, BMO InvestorLine, was initially launched in 1988. It was a self-directed investing service for BMO clients and has grown to become an award-winning investment service for the bank.

It became an online platform in 2000, aligning with BMO’s affinity to lead the charge in adopting innovative technology for the banking sector. Now operating only online, BMO InvestorLine is designed to equip BMO’s clients with the tools, tips, and information to help them make better trades with confidence.

Owned by one of the most renowned banks in the country, BMO InvestorLine carries substantial weight as being a trustworthy platform.

Features and Benefits

Making the right decision requires having complete information. In this section of my BMO InvestorLine review, I will discuss the crucial features and benefits of the online broker to help you understand what to expect from this platform.

BMO InvestorLine Fees and Expenses

BMO InvestorLine Trading Fees and Commissions

You can expect plenty of expenses when you use BMO InvestorLine. The online discount broker charges a $9.95 fee per trade, making it fall in line with other major banks’ online investing products.

Several online brokers offer lower commissions for investors who trade actively using the platform or have higher balances in their accounts. With BMO InvestorLine, the trade commission remains the same for all investors. However, it offers programs with additional features for active traders.

According to BMO, its active traders are clients who make 30 or more trades per quarter. It provides them with trading and research features as part of its Active Trader Platform. Similarly, if you have an account balance between $250,000 and $499,999, the platform offers you the Silver Star program. If your account balance is more than $500,000, it offers you the Gold Star program.

BMO InvestorLine Non-Trading Fees

The BMO InvestorLine platform charges several fees that are not related to trading that you might not like. The main concern with its non-trading fees is the maintenance charges for various accounts you can open with BMO InvestorLine.

If you have a non-registered account with BMO, it will charge you a flat $25 per quarter for an account balance lower than $10,000. BMO will waive this fee if you make at least two trades every six months, or have a registered account with BMO.

It charges $100 per year for registered accounts with a balance lower than $25,000. For the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) account, the discount broker charges $50 per year if your account balance is less than $25,000. If your balance goes above $25,000, it waives the fees.

BMO InvestorLine charges several general account fees, including but not limited to:

  • Security registration fee: $50 per security
  • Statement search, trade investigation, etc. $40 per hour with a minimum fee of $40
  • Internal transfer fee for non-registered accounts: $25
  • Transfer out fee: $135
  • Estate account certificate handling fee: $50 per security
  • Check request: $10 per request
  • Safekeeping Securities except for GICs and CSBs: $50 per certificate or per month
  • Statement and confirmation replacement: $5 per item
  • Paper statement mailed: $2 per month for each account.

BMO InvestorLine Foreign Exchange Fees

USD and CAD

If you are making trades using the platform that requires purchasing assets with foreign currencies, its foreign currency exchange rates may apply. The amount is subject to constant change, but you can typically expect to pay between 1%-2.5% surcharge in foreign exchange fees.

Accounts Offered by BMO InvestorLine

You have the option of opening several types of accounts with BMO InvestorLine that can cater to a variety of financial goals you may have:

  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)
  • Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA)
  • Locked-In Retirement Savings Plan (LRSP)
  • Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
  • Non-registered cash account
  • Non-registered margins account

While you can open several types of accounts with the discount broker, you should know that you have to choose one of two approaches to using your account type. You can go with either the self-directed option or the adviceDirect.

BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed

The BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed approach is quite similar to what other discount brokerage platforms offer. It is the same as its classic approach to facilitating trades for clients before it became an online-only platform. As an investor using the platform, you will make all the decisions on your trades without any assistance, using the information provided.

BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect

If you want personalized advice and constant monitoring of your portfolio based on your risk profile, BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect might come in handy. You get the expert advice from financial experts that work at BMO, so you have qualified professionals monitoring and giving you actionable advice.

However, you should not confuse adviceDirect with robo-advisors. BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect does not invest your money automatically for you. It merely offers advice from experts who are there to help you stay within your desired investor profile. The power to execute trades and balance your portfolio is ultimately yours.

BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect helps you stay within your desired targets by:

  • Monitoring your portfolio’s performance and alerting you if your investments veer outside your profile.
  • It informs you about parts of your portfolio you should consider rebalancing to fit your profile.
  • It will make recommendations of assets you can buy, hold, or sell to put your portfolio back within the investor profile.
  • It gives you access to a team of BMO Investment Specialists that you can call for detailed investment advice or if you have general questions.

BMO InvestorLine Platform Ease of Use

Person using a laptop smiling

You can use BMO InvestorLine through its website or mobile app. The web-based platform provided by BMO for InvestorLine is like most other web-based platforms. You can use it to order entries and have access to considerable research as well as technical analysis.

For higher-tier investors, the platform offers you more substantial information. Its mobile app also boasts cross-platform functionality. You can use it on an iOS, Android, or even a Blackberry device.

BMO InvestorLine Reporting

BMO InvestorLine’s reporting abilities are a useful feature. You can use the reporting tool within InvestorLine to review portfolio performances from previous years, current year to date, and also benchmarked performances against particular indices.

You can also view activity reports and eStatements that go back several years. This information can help you grasp a better idea of the trends to make investment decisions.

BMO InvestorLine Research

BMO InvestorLine’s major advantage is its exceptional research capabilities. It offers you research from MorningStar, S&P top picks, analyst ratings, and much more to help you get all the data you might need to make well-informed trading decisions – even if you are using the self-directed approach.

The discount broker also offers you news and reports relevant to your holdings to keep you informed of any updates that could impact your portfolio’s performance.

BMO InvestorLine Customer Service

This is an important part of my BMO InvestorLine review. Without adequate customer support, using any platform can become impossible. BMO InvestorLine has an online panel where you can share your opinion and feedback. You can also call the brokerage between 8 am to 8 pm from Monday to Friday.

Social Proof

After scouring the internet for hours to find reviews of BMO InvestorLine users, I came across several that you can consider good, while others are not too positive. Here are the reviews which I found the most relevant.

The Good

BMO InvestorLine Review

BMO InvestorLine Review

The Not So Good

BMO InvestorLine Review

BMO InvestorLine Review

BMO InvestorLine Review

There is a mixture of good and bad reviews for the platform. Most of the bad reviews surround the platform’s customer service. However, several customers have had an excellent experience with their customer service. My take on it is that there is an inconsistency that does not make its customer support as good as you might want it to be.

Is BMO InvestorLine Safe and Legit?

One thing you might not have to worry about is safety and security. With BMO InvestorLine, you get access to the same security measures as the bank itself. BMO places the safety of your personal information and funds above everything, and its employees are aware of their responsibilities.

The platform offers you 100% reimbursement in case of any unauthorized transactions through InvestorLine, subject to the condition that the platform is at fault.

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Discount Broker

Discount brokers aren’t for everyone. Here’s what I tell people who are thinking of choosing a discount broker:

Don’t Use a Discount Broker if:

I don’t recommend using a discount brokerage if you don’t know anything about investing and don’t want to learn. You could end up making poor investment decisions. Instead, you could possibly look into robo-advisors, or getting a financial advisor (I recommend a fee-based one if you decide to do that).

Use a Discount Broker If:

  • You want to pay the lowest amount of fees when investing your money.
  • You know a bit about investing
  • You can perform research on your investments and construct your own portfolio.
  • You understand the risks involved with investing and what your personal risk tolerance and investment goals are.

BMO InvestorLine Alternatives

In this section of my BMO InvestorLine review, I will compare this platform to a few alternative products you can consider.

BMO InvestorLine vs. TD Direct Investing

Like BMO InvestorLine, TD Direct Investing is an online broker product offered by a major bank. Owned and operated by the Toronto-Dominion Bank, TD Direct Investing offers similar features to BMO InvestorLine. However, it does not offer exclusive service for larger accounts.

It has more accessible customer support, has a better response time to customer queries, and charges similar fees but has a $15,000 minimum account balance requirement to waive maintenance fees.

BMO InvestorLine vs. Questrade

Questrade is widely considered to be one of the best discount broker products available in Canada right now. It offers lower than average fees and commissions for its clients. It charges no fees for clients under 25 years of age.

Its commission for trades is 1-cent per share with $4.95 minimum and $9.95 maximum. The minimum account balance is $5,000 across all accounts, and it does not charge account maintenance fees. You can check out my Questrade Review to get a better idea about the platform.

BMO InvestorLine vs. RBC Direct Investing

RBC Direct Investing is another online broker owned and operated by a major Canadian bank. A product of the Royal Bank of Canada, RBC Direct Investing, charges similar fees to BMO InvestorLine.

It has a lower $15,000 minimum balance requirement across all accounts to waive maintenance fees or if you make $300 quarterly deposits. It charges lower commissions for investors who have trade volumes of $6.95 per quarter, and an excellent customer support system.

Platform Minimum Account Balance to Waive maintenance charges Trading Fees
BMO InvestorLine $25,000 for registered accounts; $10,000 for non-registered accounts $9.95 per trade
TD Direct Investing $15,000 combined balance across all accounts or three trades per quarter $7.00 – $9.99 per trade
RBC Direct Investing $15,000 combined balance across all accounts or three trades per quarter $6.95 – $9.95 per trade
Questrade $5,000 across all accounts and no fees for clients under 25 years old $4.95 – $9.95

Conclusion

BMO InvestorLine is among the first discount brokers offered by a major Canadian bank. It offers competitive fees compared to other products offered by banks, but it has higher costs than many of its competitors.

While it certainly has good qualities, I will round off my BMO InvestorLine review by saying that I wouldn’t recommend using this trading platform, as there are better and cheaper alternatives out there.

BMO InvestorLine Review

If you liked this article…

<a href="https://wealthawesome.com/author/christopher-liew/" target="_self">Christopher Liew, CFA</a>

Christopher Liew, CFA

Creator of Wealth Awesome

A Canadian CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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