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Every day, millions of Canadians contribute to their investment accounts and monitor their stock portfolios with hopes of seeing good returns in the future. Some prefer small investments with quick return rates and higher risks, others invest in RRSPs or other long-term accounts, which take years to pay off but offer a greater possibility of reward.

Luckily, there are many online investment platforms available in the country, like the National Bank of Canada Brokerage.

What Is The National Bank Of Canada Brokerage?

The National Bank Direct Brokerage (NBDB) was created in 1987 and is an extension of the National Bank of Canada, one of the country’s largest financial institutions. Today, they’re a great platform for any sort of investor, offering a wide range of investments, accounts and services, including stocks, bonds, and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). 

The NBDB platform also allows customers to:

  • Make investments and transactions whenever they want  
  • Monitor their investments
  • Profit from National Bank Financial and Morningstar’s expert analytics 
  • Access the latest stock quotes and market data 
  • Find a variety of online tools that make investing easier

To apply for a National Bank Direct Brokerage account, you must provide: 

  • Your name, address & other personal details 
  • Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Valid photo identification (passport, driver’s license, etc.) 
  • Your regular banking information

The National Bank Of Canada Brokerage Features

The National Bank Direct Brokerage platform has tons of advanced features and options for customer convenience, including but not limited to:

Watchlists

If you’re looking for an easier way to manage and monitor your securities (otherwise known as assets), you can use the NBDB platform to create a Watchlist. When you add an item to your Watchlist, you can see many related details, like real-time stock market quotes, asset performance, and what Canadian or US exchange rates currently apply.

Additionally, a Watchlist allows you to buy and sell assets. You can create up to 10 Watchlists with a maximum of 10 securities per list or choose “Quick Watch List” to see a simplified version of a specific Watchlist while you browse the NBDB platform. You’ll also have the ability to rename your Watchlist or delete securities from it.

Price Checking

Another great thing about the National Bank of Canada Brokerage platform is that it gives you access to different stock market information, such as:

  • The latest commodity prices, international exchange rates & financial news
  • Real-time performance statistics for various market sectors 
  • The highest & lowest performing securities & ETFs from each major market 
  • The most recent fluctuations in the stock market
  • Graphs, filters, analytics & financial data from assets that appeal to you

Platform Customization

Once you’ve signed up for an NBDB account, there are a number of ways to customize and monitor your platform so that it’s more accommodating, like:

  • Choosing a homepage layout that suits your taste
  • Identifying the roots of your account
  • Selecting the default accounts that you want to be displayed when you log in
  • Tracking your investments (real-time values, gains, losses, etc.)  

Investment Tools

To get the most out of your investments, it helps to have the right technology on hand. The National Bank of Canada Brokerage platform features the following tools:

  • Recognia – As part of a recent update, the platform now uses The Recognia tool suite from Trading Central. Using a range of criteria, this suite can help you find new investments, improve your share searches, locate undervalued shares, analyze bull or bear market signals and legitimize your investment decisions.
  • OptionsPlay – This analysis platform allows you to discover new options trading ideas and compare 3 strategies that can be used in keeping with your market forecast. It also helps you figure out a strategy’s risk zone, determine possible gains or losses and gives you other advanced options, like a results simulator.
  • Alerts – No matter what kind of investor you are, it’s essential to keep an eye on the performance of your assets. That’s why the NBDB platform lets you monitor your most important securities and set up alerts, which notify you whenever your preferred price is reached. You can then buy or sell accordingly.
  • Market-Q – Available at 4 price levels, Market-Q Trading is a tool from Interactive Data that gives you access to a personalized view of the assets you hold with the NBDB. Create up to 20 watchlists (with 200 securities maximum), customize your interface, view real-time market fluctuations and check company analytics. 
  • ETF Centre – If you need help choosing Exchange-Traded Funds, this tool lets you check ETF price fluctuations using customizable graphs and quick searches with keywords or symbols. You can then pick ETFs based on various factors, including management styles, industry types, annual fees, currencies and more. 

Types Of Accounts Available With The National Bank of Canada Brokerage

Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of the NDBD is that they offer a huge variety of registered and non-registered accounts, such as: 

Registered (Tax-Advantaged) Accounts

Non-Registered (Personal) Accounts

  • Cash 
  • Margin
  • Short Selling

Special Accounts

  • Association
  • Company 
  • Estate
  • Investment Club
  • Partnership
  • Sole Proprietorship 
  • Trust & In-Trust    

National Bank of Canada Brokerage Investment Types

If you’re looking to expand your portfolio, as well as your potential gains, you can also use the NBDB platform to buy and sell different types of investments, including: 

National Bank Direct Brokerage (NBDB) Trading Fees

Another great thing about the National Bank of Canada Brokerage is that they charge competitive trading fees that are similar to most independent discount brokerages and lower than many competing banks. Fees are based on a 6-tier pricing system:

  • Active Investors – Investors who make over 100 trades each quarter will pay $0.95 per trade and $0.95 per option (along with a flat fee of $1.25 per contract with a minimum fee of $8.20). In addition, active investors get their yearly administrative fee waived and free access to Market-Q data. 
  • ETF Trading – If you buy more than 100 shares and register for all-electronic documents, you can trade Canadian and United States ETFs for free. Although traditional investors will pay standard stock prices, trading ETFs on the NBDB platform is free for new Canadians, professionals and students. 
  • National Bank Clients – If you have a savings or chequing account with NBC, it costs $6.95 per stock trade or $6.95 (plus a flat fee of $1.25 per contract) for a stock option. There’s also a $100 yearly administration fee, which gets waived if you have an InvestCube account, under $20,000 in assets or another promotion.    
  • Newcomers, Students & Professionals – At the NBC Brokerage, professional workers, students and new Canadian residents can become eligible for lower commission fees of $5.95 per stock or $5.95 (plus $1.25/contract) for options. To qualify, students must be enrolled in one of these educational programs: Accounting, Business, Engineering, Healthcare, or Law. 
  • Young Investors – If you’re 30 or under, the NBDB will give you 10 free trades a year and it only costs $4.95 per stock trade after that limit is passed. While options cost $0.95, along with a flat fee of $1.25 per contract with a minimum fee of $8.20, all administration fees will be waived too.      
  • Other Clients – On par with most big banks, standard stock trades cost $9.95 and options are $9.95 plus $1.25 per contract for clients who don’t match the above criteria. Like with NBC Clients, a $100 administration fee will apply, unless you have an InvestCube Account, under $20,000 in assets or another promotion.

National Bank Direct Investing Overview

Here’s a quick breakdown of how the National Bank Direct Brokerage works (keep in mind that stock prices and fees may vary based on the account, investment and client):  

Minimum Investment$0.00
Types of AccountsRegistered: RRSP, TFSA, Spousal RRSP/RRIF.
Non-Registered: Cash, Margin, Short Selling.
Special: Corporate, Sole Proprietorship, Partnership. 
Types of InvestmentsBonds
ETF, ETD, GIC
Linked Notes
Mutual Funds
Options/Contracts
Stocks/Equities
Fees Stock Trading Fee = $0.95 – $9.95/trade 
Options Fee = $0.95 – $9.95 
Contract Fee = $1.25/contract
Administration Fee = $100
ETF Fee = $0.95 – $9.95 (Active Investors, Young Investors, NBC Clients & Other Clients)    
Investment ToolsPrice Checking
Real-Time Stock Market Information, Quotes & Fluctuations
Portfolio/Platform Customization, Management & Monitoring
Personalized Alerts & Watchlists
Reconia, Options
Play, Market-Q & ETF Centre Technology 

Pros And Cons Of The NBC Brokerage

The National Bank Direct Brokerage has a ton of benefits to consider. That said, it’s very important to think about the potential drawbacks of their platform as well:

Pros

  • Commission-Free ETFs – If you buy at least 100 shares and register for electronic documents, US and Canada ETF trading won’t cost you a penny. 
  • Discounts Available – If you fall under specific criteria (student, active investor, etc.) you may qualify for low stock trading prices and zero administration fees.
  • Good Selection of Accounts/Investments – The NBDB offers a huge variety of stock options, as well as products like registered and non-registered accounts.
  • Customizable Platform – You’ll also have plenty of options when it comes to the way you manage your investment portfolio, NBDB account and stock watchlists. 
  • Solid Reputation – Since the NBDB is owned by the National Bank of Canada, you can rest assured that your accounts and investments will be held safely. 

Cons

  • High Fees May Apply – Some types of NBDB accounts and investments come with relatively high fees compared to other banks and trading platforms.  
  • Discounts Might Not Apply – If you don’t buy at least 100 ETF shares or meet certain criteria, you may not qualify for free services or discounted/waived fees.
  • Inactivity Raises The Price – Some medium-level accounts and investments have gradually increasing fees if you don’t contribute to them on a regular basis.
  • Less User-Friendliness Than Competitors – For now, the NBDB doesn’t have an app and their platform may not offer as many simple options as others.
  • Limited Promotions – If you create an account with the NBC Brokerage, any promotions may not last long or be as good as those from other banks/platforms. 

NBC Brokerage FAQs

What is InvestCube?

InvestCube is a robo-advisory system that’s managed by NBC. It allows you to choose from several portfolio types, as well as Exchange-Traded Funds according to risk. Portfolios are weighted across 5 different asset classes and rebalanced systematically. To qualify, you must make a minimum investment of $10,000. 

What platform(s) is the NBC Brokerage available on?

As mentioned, the NBDB platform doesn’t feature a mobile app. Transactions can only be conducted online, over the phone or at a National Bank service location. Additionally, you can link a bank account from another financial institution.

Is the National Bank of Canada Brokerage safe?

The National Bank Direct Brokerage is part of National Bank Financial Inc., a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), as well as the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). Plus, they are owned by the National Bank of Canada, one of the country’s most popular financial institutions. As such, there are tons of security measures to protect your investments and accounts from fraud, major losses or other threats. For instance, a CIPF membership means NBDB clients get asset protection of up to $1M if the brokerage declares insolvency.

Should You Use The National Bank Direct Brokerage?

With aspects like their free buy/sell feature, the NBDB is best suited toward investors who like ETF trading. It’s also a good platform for youths, professionals, students, and newcomers due to its potential for lower (even waived) fees.               

Bryan Daly avatar on Loans Canada
Bryan Daly

Bryan is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University. He has been writing for Loans Canada for five years, covering all things related to personal finance, and aims to pursue the craft of professional writing for many years to come. In his spare time, he maintains a passion for editing, writing screenplays, staying fit, and travelling the world in search of the coolest sights our planet has to offer.

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