Desjardins Online Brokerage (Disnat) Review

Desjardins Online Brokerage or Disnat, as it is also known, is a subsidiary of the Desjardins Group, one of the biggest credit unions in North America. The online brokerage is one of the earliest and most popular discounts brokerages in Canada. It has. It has allowed its customers to trade ETFs and stock options in the North American market for several years now.

As an online brokerage, Disnat allows its customer to trade on their own (DIY investments), allowing them to save up on investment fees.

Clients of Desjardins Online Brokerage can access the market either through Disnat Classic or Disnat Direct. Both trading platforms are tailored to suit the specific needs of the client at any point in time.

Are you interested in using Disnat’s services? Well, this review should provide you with all the necessary information you need on Desjardins Online Brokerage.

Let’s get to it.

Desjardins Online Brokerage (Disnat)

The Desjardins Group, the parent company of Disnat, is an amalgamation of about 300 credit unions in Canada. It provides several services to its clients and customers, including insurance, retail banking, and venture capital.

Disnat is the union’s answer to its clients’ need for brokerage services. Established in 1982, Desjardins Online Brokerage operates mainly in the Quebec and Ontario provinces. Still, its services are available all over Canada.

Despite providing access to the North American trading market, Americans cannot open accounts with Disnat. Nonetheless, Canadians can trade in U.S. dollars while using the platform.  

The platform allows clients to trade bonds, ETFs, stocks, options, and mutual funds. However, clients can mainly trade on either the Disnat Classic platform or the Disnat Direct platform.

Disnat

Disnat Classic

This platform is the most basic trading platform offered by Desjardins Online Brokerage. Nonetheless, it is well equipped with appropriate tools and reports to help investors while they are trading.  

If you’re a beginner investor or just an everyday trader, this is the best platform.

You can easily access the classic platform on any device, be it a laptop, a smartphone, or a tablet.  

You can easily access your holdings, view the trade screen to make trades, and view the market screen to view your last ten market quotes once you are logged in.

The Disnat Classic platform comes with fungible charts and analyses that can help you make your trade decisions.

You can use this platform for free, so long as you make at least ten trades each month. Otherwise, to use the platform, you may have to pay a fee.

Disnat Direct

The Disnat Direct platform is aimed at more active advanced traders. You will get all the charts and research analysis present on Disnat Classic along with several other more complex graphs, watchlists, and quotes.

You can use the technical signals present on the platform to perform trade analysis before buying or selling on the market.

Additionally, clients on the Disnat Direct platform can view quotes not available on the classic platform. These quotes can provide further information on market trends as opposed to the simple layout provided on the other platform.  

While this platform offers more than its counterpart, it does not come for free. You will need to pay a fee to access the platform and use the tools and other research information.

You can also make use of Recognia and Hardbacon on Disnat Direct platforms. These two analytical tools help conduct market research and analysis.

Recognia provides both fundamental and technical reports that will allow traders predict both short-term and long-term trade events.  Hardbacon is comparable to Personal Capital. It allows traders to perform portfolio analysis and gives access to trade advisors.

Hardbacon has recently been in the news. It intends to become a public company to help Canadian investors reduce their investment fees.  Partnering with Disnat is one of the steps towards this goal, and this is good news for Disnat clients.

Both these tools are available to Disnat’s clients for free over a three-month trial period. After this period, interested users will need to pay to use these tools.

Generally, the major differences between these two platforms lie in the frequency of trading done by the client and the complexity of tools offered on the platform. If you intend to trade frequently and already have a good trading background, you should opt for the Disnat Direct platform. Suppose you are just looking to slowly build a portfolio for yourself. In that case, the Disnat Classic platform is the better option for your purposes.

How To Access Desjardins Online Brokerage Platforms

Disnat platforms are available on most Mobile devices. You just need to download the app and log in to access your account. If you believe you will be trading on the go, then you may want to use this option.

The app comes with fingerprint verification to make sure that impostors don’t get access to your account.

However, you can also log in on a computer if this is more suited to your style. All you need is an up-to-date operating system and the latest version of any of the following browsers.

You may experience some difficulty accessing Disnat’s platforms on your computer if the system requirements are not met.

Both the website and the apps are user-friendly, and all you need is a few seconds to get the hang of them.

You can also call to make telephone transactions if you find yourself in an area without internet coverage. Disnat’s knowledgeable customer representatives would be more than happy to help you out.

Disnat

Desjardins Online Brokerage Accounts

You can use either regular or registered accounts on the Disnat trading platform.  Most kinds of accounts are accessible on both the classic and the direct platforms. This accessibility makes it easy for clients to use the platform regardless of their needs.

The most popular account options available for use include

  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP): This account allows Canadian workers to save towards their retirements. Funds deposited into this account remain untaxed and will continue to grow till they are withdrawn. There are several kinds of RRSPs, including individual and spousal RRSPs.

  • Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA): As the name implies, this account allows you to save towards specific goals without being taxed. Unlike most regular accounts, you can also deposit bonds and securities into this account. Funds deposited in this account are untaxed even after a withdrawal is made.

  • Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA): This account is a special type of Registered Retirement Savings Plan. Unlike regular RRSPs, the funds in this account are locked away till you retire.

  • Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF): RRIFs payout predetermined incomes to the account holder or a set beneficiary. This account type is usually available to citizens older than 71 who no longer have access to RRSPs.

  • Life Income Fund (LIF): This account is a special type of Registered Retirement Income Fund. You can think of it as LIRA for citizens older than 71. Accountholders cannot make lump sum withdrawals and must instead withdraw funds in such a way that it will serve as income for the rest of their lives.

  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP): This account was designed to encourage parents to save towards post-secondary schooling of their children. The funds in this account are untaxed. The Canadian government will also make supplementary payments to help out until the child turns 18.

Other accounts that you can use on the Disnat platform include

  • Short-selling Accounts

  • Margin Accounts

  • Cash Accounts

  • Margin Options Accounts

You should note that the Cash Account option is only available to Disnat Classic users.

You can also set up non-registered accounts as an individual, corporate body, trust fund, nonprofit organization, estate, partnership, private foundation, proxy mandate, or a guardian.

Desjardins Online Brokerage Young Investor

Disnat offers young investors a chance to join the investment trend through its young investor platform. The platform is aimed at those between 18 and 30 and allows them to grow up into seasoned investors when they are older than 30.

Young investors gain access to many training videos and analytical tools that can help them understand how trading works. You can access the Desjardins Online Brokerage experts who will put you through the trading process as a young investor.

Additionally, Disnat offers those who join the young investor program the following benefits.

  • Free transactions (Up to 5 upon opening the account)

  • Waived Inactivity fees

  • No set minimum deposits for registered accounts

  • Exclusive events and training sessions

However, all account holders under this program must deposit a minimum of $1000 in their accounts to begin trading unless it’s a registered account.

Disnat

Types Of Investments Available On Disnat Platforms

The Desjardins Online Brokerage Platform offers several investment options to its client. While many of these options are quite common, others are unique and can rarely be found on other platforms.

Generally, the Disnat platform allows its clients to trade in equities from both Canada and the United States of America. The market reach encompasses all stocks, warrants, ADRs, rights, preferred shares, and warrants traded in North America. This ability is one of the reasons it remains a popular platform amongst Canadians.

Other investment options available to Disnat’s clients are as follows

  • Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs): ETFs are securities that track or monitor specific commodities, indexes, or sectors that can be sold on the exchange market just like a regular stock.

  • Mutual Funds: Mutual funds are gathered funds pooled from various investors for investment purposes. The funds can be used to purchase various kinds of securities, including bonds and stock. Experienced managers are usually in charge of allocating the funds to raise profits for all investors.

  • Options: Options are financial instruments that operate based on specified underlying securities. It is quite common for options to be traded through online platforms such as Disnat.

  • Bonds: Bonds are fixed-income instruments that symbolize the credit offered by the investor, creditor, debtholder, or issuer to the borrowing party. Usually, the borrower is either the government or a reputable corporate firm. You can simply think of bonds as I.O.Us offered by parties who want to make use of your money.

  • Structured Notes: It is much easier to see the structured note as debt obligations. However, structured notes are also embedded with a derivative component that regularly adjusts the risk-return profile of a specific security. Financial institutions are responsible for issuing structured notes.

  • Treasury Bills: Treasury bills are short-term government-backed debt obligations, with one year being the maximum maturity period of the bill. They are sold in denominations of a thousand dollars, but they cost tens of millions. They are considered to be one of the lowest-risk investment options out there.

  • Bankers Acceptances: Bankers Acceptances are best understood as post-dated checks that are guaranteed by the bank rather than the account holder. They are also called bills of exchange and can be used to make payments for very large transactions. You can trade them on money markets just like you would any security.

  • Commercial Papers: Commercial papers are short-term financial instruments employed by corporate organizations to service debts. They are generally used to finance payrolls and stockpiling inventories. The maturity period of commercial papers varies, and they can last up to 270 days. All commercial papers are issued based on current market situations.

  • Bearer Deposit Notes: these are fixed-income securities owned by the bearer or holder of the security instead of the registered owner. Just like other securities, they come with specific maturity periods.

People on phone

Trading Commissions On The Desjardins Online Brokerage Platforms

The trading commissions of the online brokerage can range from $5 to about $10. The amount you pay as commission depends on the platform you’re using, the price of your trades, the volume of your trades, and your frequency of activity. Generally, you would need to trade at most 10,000 shares worth about $2 to get the $5 commission.

Note that only those on the Disnat direct platform would be eligible for the trading commission reduction.

All ETF and stock trade carried out on the classic platform are charged at about $10. However, trading in Options will require you to pay $8.95 as commission as well as a $1.25 per trade contract.

Most mutual funds are traded commission-free on the Disnat platform. However, you may need to pay for commission in some specific situations. You may also come across mutual funds that bear the DSC (Deferred Sales Charge) tag.

Additionally, any fixed-income trade must pay a minimum of $50 as commission per trade.

If you are going to be buying bonds from Disnat, you will need to purchase a minimum of $5000 worth of Bonds. On the other hand, the minimum purchase value for treasury bills is $10,000.

Disnat also provides streams for its clients, but you may need to pay an additional fee to get access to this streamed data.

Disnat’s trading commission is relatively cheap compared to other online brokerages such as RBC Direct Investing and TD Direct Investing.

The table below provides a quick picture of what Disnat’s trading commissions look like.

 

Stocks

Options

ETFs 

Fixed Income

Regular Trading Commission

$0

$1.25 per trade contract and a minimum payment of $8.75 as commission

$0

At least $50 per trade

Active Trader Commissions

$0

$1.25 per trade contract and a minimum payment of $8.75 as commission

$0

A minimum of $50 per trade

Trading Over The Telephone

At least $45

Minimum of $35

At least $45

At least $50 per trade

Disnat’s Account Fees

There are other fees that you may have to pay while using Disnat’s services. Unlike the trading commissions, they are not exactly mandatory. They require you to trigger them in one way or the other.

Account fees that you may have to pay while using Disnat’s services include.

  • Registered Account Administration Fees: You pay for administrative and management functions carried out on your registered account. The fee payment is $100 for LIRAs, LIFs, RRIFs, and RRSPs per year. As long as you either make a minimum of 125 trades annually or have at least $15,000 in your account and maintain it at this level, you may find this fee waived. RESP accountholders typically pay $50 as fees for account administration. However, this varies if the balance is less than $25,000.

  • Monthly Streaming Data Fees (Level I): Classic clients typically pay $30 for streaming data while their direct counterparts pay $35. Also, having access to the TSX venture exchange can push this fee up to $50. However, you can simply waive this fee as long as you make a minimum of 10 trades each month regardless of if you are a Classic user or a Direct User.

  • Monthly Streaming Data Fees (Level II): the level streaming data is usually only available to Direct clients. The fees cost about $105 and can go as high as $155 if you are accessing the TSX platform. You can simply waive this fee by carrying out at least 41 trades each month.

You may also end up paying a $30 inactivity fee each quarter. Under Disnat’s rules, your account is inactive if it meets any of the following conditions. You do not make at least six trades in the previous 12 months.

There are some other fees that you should keep an eye out for. They are just as related to operating your account as the rest; however, they only trigger under specific circumstances. Examples of such fees are

  • LIF and LIRA account unlocking. This usually costs about $150.

  • Transferring your account out: this can also cost about $150, just like the unlocking fee.

  • Statement of account and research requests: The fee comes at a fixed rate of $50. You pay an additional $5 for each extra item.

You may also end up paying fees for transfers or converting from one currency to the other.  Any potential Disnat client will also need a minimum deposit of $1000 to open an account with Desjardins Online Brokerage.

Ensure that you read all the by-laws and fine print before you append your signature to any document from Disnat.

Here’s A Quick Summary Of Disnat’s Trading Fees:

Type of Fee

Amount Paid ($)

Registered Account Administration Fees (RRSP, LIRA, LIF, and RRIF).

$100 (As long as you maintain a $15,000 balance or make 125 trades each year.)

Registered Account Administration Fees (RESP)

$50 (As long as you maintain a $25,000 balance)

Monthly Streaming Data Fees (Level I) (Disnat Classic users)

$30 ($50 if you can access TSX venture)

Monthly Streaming Data Fees (Level I) (Disnat Direct users)

$35 ($50 if you can access TSX venture)

Monthly Streaming Data Fees (Level II) (Disnat Direct users only)

$105 ($155 if you can access TSX venture)

Inactivity Fee

$30 per quarter

Account Unlocking

$150

Account transfer out

$150

Statement Requests

$50 (+$5 for every additional item)

Pros and Cons Of Using Desjardins Online Brokerage

The Pros and Cons of using Disnat’s services are:

Pros

  • There is no trade commission on ETFs and stocks

  • You can choose from several account offerings

  • There are multiple investment choices

  • Provision of a unique program for grooming young investors between the ages of 18 and 30

  • There are training sessions, and exclusive events held all year round

  • Their trade commissions are relatively cheap

  • Their mobile app is very user friendly

  • There is a chance to trade mutual funds for free

Cons

  • The minimum deposit to open an account for trading is $1000

  • There is an inactivity fee paid each quarter for those with small accounts (<15,000) or a low number of trades over the year

  • The clients will need to rebalance their portfolio thanks to the brokerage’s self-directed trading components.

How Does Desjardins Online Brokerage Compare to other Online Brokerages?

Desjardins Online Brokerage is a great choice for an online brokerage, but how does it compare to others in the business.

Let’s take a look. The following section will compare Disnat’s services with Questrade, TD Direct Investing, and Wealthsimple Trade.

  • ETF and Stock Trading fees: When it comes to ETF and stock trading fees, Disnat is cheaper than Questrade and TD Direct Investing. When you are trading ETFs and stocks on the Desjardins Online Brokerage platform, there are no trading fees. However, you will need to pay about $5 to $10 per trade if you are using Questrade or TD Direct Investing platform. Wealthsimple Trade’s fee for trading ETFs and stock is also $0.

  • Options or Contract Trading Fees: If you are trading options or contracts on Disnat, you will need to pay about $1.25 per contract or $8.75 per trade. However, both Questrade and TD Direct Investing charge more. Questrade charges $9.95, while TD Direct Investing charges $9.99 (and $1.25 for additional trades).

  • Commissions on ETFs: You will not need to pay any commission if you are trading ETFs on Disnat’s platforms. Wealthsimple Trades operates on the same basis. However, the situation changes if you are using either Questrade or TD Direct Investing platforms to trade. Trading ETFs on Questrade is commission-free if you are purchasing the ETF; however, if you are selling, you will need to pay a commission to the platform. You will need to pay a commission for any ETF trade carried out on the TD Direct Investing platform, regardless of if you are buying or selling.

  • Accounts offerings: Disnat allows its clients to open registered (RRSP, RRIF, LIRA, LIF, RESP, and TFSA) and margin accounts. You can also do the same if you are using Questrade and TD Direct Investing to trade. However, Wealthsimple Trade has certain restrictions on the accounts you can use on their platform. The company allows you to trade on TFSA, RRSP, and personal non-registered accounts only.

  • Minimum Balance: You will need a minimum of $1000 to open an account with Desjardins Online Brokerage. This rule applies to opening an account with Questrade too. However, both Wealthsimple Trade and TD Direct Investing do not have minimum investment limits.

  • Maintenance Fee: You will need to pay a quarterly maintenance fee of $30 if your account balance is lower than $15,000 on the Desjardins Online Brokerage platform. The maintenance fee is lower on TD Direct Investment at $25 per quarter for balances lower than $15,000. There are no maintenance fees for trading on Questrade and Wealthsimple Trade.

  • Accessibility: Disnat’s platforms are accessible on the web and mobile app. You can also access Questrade and TD Direct Investing by the same means. Wealthsimple Trade also has a desktop app for its clients to use.

Compared to the other trading platforms, Desjardins Online Brokerage does quite well for itself. The platform may have a minimum balance requirement, but its accessibility and relative cheapness compared to the other platforms more than makes up for that. You should definitely consider it when you are starting your trading journey.

Disnat

Who Can Use Desjardins Onlsine Brokerage?

Everyone. Desjardins Group, Disnat’s parent company, is a credit union. The group aims to satisfy all its customers. This desire applies to Desjardins Online Brokerage. The online brokerage caters to the needs of both experienced and inexperienced traders. 

Additionally, the company boasts one of the best customer service records in the country. The company attends to all its customer’s questions and complaints in due time.

You will also gain access to quite a number of tools and reports that will greatly ease your investment journey. Regardless of if you are a day trader or buy-and-hold investor, you will definitely find something on the Disnat platform to suit your needs.

Keep in mind that you will need Canadian citizenship to open an account with Desjardins Online Brokerage. Once your account is active, you can hold your funds in either Canadian Dollars or U.S. Dollars and gain access to the entire North American market. 

Keep in mind that Disnat will not let you trade on international exchanges. Nonetheless, you can short sell or use uncovered options/contract strategies on the Disnat Platform.

How Safe Is Desjardins Online Brokerage?

Being a subsidiary of one of the largest credit unions in North America, Desjardins Online Brokerage is very safe. The parent company, Desjardins Group, has existed ever since the 1900s and retains its position as a giant financial institution. This is indicative of the financial strength backing Disnat’s operations.

Additionally, Desjardins Securities belongs to both IIROC (Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada) and CIPF (Canadian Investor Protection Fund). These organizations protect Disnat and, in turn, your investment against insolvency.

Final Thoughts

Desjardins Online Brokerage or Disnat is a subsidiary of the Desjardins Group and operates as the company’s brokerage platform.  The review covers all you need to know about Disnat, its platform choices, the kinds of accounts you can use on the platform, and all the trading fees and commissions you may need to pay while using the platform.

Overall, the platform is worth taking a look at, especially if you are new to the investment world. The company offers training sessions and various tools that can help you become the kind of investor that you are trying to be.

Thanks for reading! Please let me know your thoughts and comments below. 

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