Opening a Canadian Discount Brokerage Account

So you’ve worked your way out of your parent’s house in the suburbs, achieved your initial career goals by working as a downtown professional, and now you realize its time to step up your financial game by making better use of your investment portfolio. What should your next steps be?

The first thing any serious investor should do is create a basic plan. Most investors neglect to do any planning and this usually results in poor outcomes and added stress, since when investors don’t know what their goals are, it will be impossible to reach them. A financial plan comes in many forms, and should be suited to your personal taste. If you’re having a tough time getting your day-to-day expenses under control, the best place to start is by making a budget. There are a ton of online resources that can help you create a budget and evaluate your results including simple calculators that will help you get a handle on the big picture, all the way to custom bookkeeping solutions that will treat your personal finances like running a business.

A basic financial plan can be as simple as a one page point form document. List your main financial goals (i.e. buy a house, save for vacations, retirement, etc) and some of your constraints (i.e. low risk, high risk, sustainable investing, etc). On a periodic basis, (monthly, quarterly, annually depending on your time constraint) list a few near term financial goals (i.e. open a brokerage account, portfolio re-balancing) and tack your one page financial plan to your fridge or beside your desk. This will help remind you to keep your plan on track.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, then you’re probably better suited to working with a team of professionals. If you’re uncomfortable filing your own taxes, work with an accountant or bookkeeper who can file your personal return each year. If making your own investments is too time consuming or scary, find an investment professional who can give you advice and do the paperwork for you.

If your account is under $1 million or so, you won’t be able to use a full service broker, but you’ll be able to go into any bank branch and find someone you gel with. Don’t settle for the first person you meet, because you’ll get the most out of your branch banker when you find someone who you get along with. Don’t be afraid to do an introductory interview before starting a relationship with someone.

At the bank branch, you’ll have access to GICs (Guaranteed Investment Certificates) and mutual funds. You won’t be able to hold individual stocks. But if you open a self directed “discount brokerage” account, you’ll be able to hold any security available to the public including stocks, bonds, and low cost ETFs. All the major discount brokerages are nearly identical, so its best to have your discount brokerage account at the same institution where you do your main banking. Here is a list of discount brokerages from the major Canadian banks:

RBC Direct Investing

TD Direct Investing

CIBC Investors Edge

BMO Investorline

Scotia iTrade

To open an account at any of these discount brokerages, you have a few routes to choose from. You can use your current online banking profile to populate the account forms online. You’ll still need to submit signed documents (and depending on the account type prove your identity) to the brokerage, which can be done by printing and mailing your signed account application. You can also bring your signed application to any bank branch (customer service desk) of the same institution. If printing out your own forms seems annoying, you can also walk in (or make an appointment) with a branch banker who can open an account for you in the branch, print off your docs, confirm your identity, and send your signed docs to the back office for approval.

Once you submit your account opening docs for approval, it will take a few days to a few weeks for your account to be reviewed and approved. Mark your calendar for two weeks, and check your online profile by that time. If your new account does not show up on your online banking profile within 2 weeks, call the 1-800 number of your brokerage to confirm they have received your application.

Once your account has been approved, it should show up on your online banking profile. Transferring funds can be done using an online banking transfer, but you can also send a cheque payable to your brokerage (not your own name) in the mail. You can also process transfers from other brokerages and investment accounts using online forms available on your brokerage’s website.

Managing your discount brokerage account takes a bit of work to start, but the nice thing about a discount brokerage account is you can tailor your account to meet your own specific needs/goals. You can hold a portfolio of low cost ETFs, stocks, bonds, real estate investment trusts, GICs, etc and any mix of what’s available. Each transaction you make for shares (such as stocks and ETFs) traded on the TSX will cost a one time transaction fee. This fee ranges from $5 to $10 depending on your tier level (bigger accounts and more frequent trades are cheaper). If you’re an hands-off passive investor, its perfectly fine to hold low cost ETFs and make 1 trade a year. You can even program your brokerage account to automatically re-invest your dividends (saving you even more time and transaction fees).

If you have specific questions about managing your discount brokerage account, or you would like me to write more posts on investing with a discount brokerage account in Canada, please reply to this post or send me a DM.

Using QCX Vouchers on QuadrigaCX

Transferring money back and forth from crypto to fiat can be annoying and expensive, not to mention attempting to follow anti-money laundering (AML) rules. A lot of the headaches can be avoided by using online vouchers.

Click here to view a post on using Flexepin vouches to buy cryptos.

I recently tried using QCX vouchers on QuadrigaCX exchange to give cryptos to my friend and it was even easier than Flexepin. To make a withdrawal using QCX vouchers, login to your QuadrigaCX account and click the Canadian dollar drop down from the top menu, and choose “withdraw”. You will arrive at page with a list of withdrawal methods, one of which is QCX vouchers. Select this method, then key in the amount you’d like to withdraw. Hit submit and you’ll be presented with a unique code. You can give this code to anyone and it will allow them to lfund their QuadrigaCX account. The code itself is kinda like cash, anyone can use the code if they have it, so keep the code secure, if you loose it, your money is gone.

If you receive a QCX voucher code, you can deposit it to your QuadrigaCX account by logging in and clicking the Canadian dollar drop down from the top menu, and choose “fund account”. You will land on the account funding page, where one option will be to deposit using a QCX voucher code. Simply choose this option, type in your code, and submit. The funds associated with your QCX voucher will instantly be added to your account.

Click Here to open a QuadrigaCX account

Click Here to read more of my posts on QuadrigaCX

What is Stacking DFS?

Stacking a daily fantasy lineup means concentrating your draft picks on players who will score together. For fantasy hockey, this means drafting players on the same line. For NFL this means pairing QBs with their receivers. For fantasy golf, stacking could mean drafting players set to tee off in the same flight (and therefore the same weather/conditions). If the golf course is playing tougher or easier at a particular time of day, there can be an advantage to stacking. Think about extreme cases like the Open where the weather conditions have a big impact, or a golf tournament with rain delays, you can stack by drafting golfers who are likely to tee off at the same time.

Here are some links to other commentary:

fantasywired.com

4for4.com

Fantasy NHL Hockey, Day 15

Finally won my first FanDuel contest 🙂

I’ve been paying more attention to making sure my players are on the ice as much as possible, including being on the powerplay. I played 3 more contests for $1 each. The first contest I built from my own spreadsheet as I had previously. But the second and third contests I built using a free online lineup generator.

I used the lineup generator to fill in in the blanks, and also as a way to remove my own bias. The lineup generator calculates the optimal lineup to draft based on the criteria you give it, so I included a screen to exclude any player my goalie will face. Then I picked a lopsided game (OTT/MTL) and created one lineup with a goalie from each team. Both these lineups did better than anything I had ever created on my own (both over 100 points).

One of the lineups created with the lineup optimizer finished 20/51 but this was out of the money as only the top 16 paid out. The other lineup created with the lineup optimizer finished 5/31, and even better, this contest only paid out the top 7, so the prizes were more top heavy.

Tonight I’m trying something similar, but I’ll pay more attention to stacking. I think the more volatile the better if I’m only entering a single $1 entry into a 30 to 50 entry contest. I’ve got to shoot for the moon.

 

My results after last 3 entries:

DraftKings $0.00

FanDuel -$0.00

Hedging -$0.00

Total -$0.00

 

Overall:

DraftKings +$0.80

FanDuel -$7.00

Hedging +$1.11

Total -$5.09

Hydro One Avista Merger Doubtful

Today the Washington State regulator in charge of a subsidiary of Avista has rejected the proposed merger between Hydro One and Avista Corp. Shares of Hydro One were up almost 5% this morning on the news, while Avista shares were down over 15%. This is a big setback for Avista shareholders as the deal with Hydro One would have provided a good price for increased diversification. For Hydro One shareholders, I think today’s announcement is positive in the short term (as shareholders sold on the rumour and bought on the news), but in the long term its going to make future acquisitions by Hydro One more difficult to achieve.

If its more difficult for Hydro One to make acquisitions in the future, it will increase the risk of their dependance on a single market/regulator. The result will be Hydro One will probably make fewer acquisitions and the remaining ones will also be more expensive (because Hydro One will need to provide more assurances to sellers, and also higher prices to compensate for the higher deal risk). This also hurts Ontario taxpayers because it strands Hydro One strategically.

Compared to Emera, which has grown and diversified since being privatized by the Province of Nova Scotia,hydro One is still highly dependant on a single owner, market, and regulator.

The root of the problems with Hydro One were caused by the Ford government in Ontario which meddled in the business of a private corporation by replacing its board and CEO in a rushed fashion.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-05/washington-rejects-hydro-one-deal-for-avista-on-political-risk

Free Fantasy Lineup Optimizers

If you’re looking for an edge win on daily fantasy hockey, below I review two free NHL hockey lineup optimizer sites that can help you. These websites take the legwork out of picking your daily fantasy lineup by providing you with the tools to generate your own fantasy lineups without having to crunch any of the numbers yourself. Basically, you set the screening criteria, and the lineup generator spits out the optimal lineup.

The key to using these tools successfully is being able to tweak your inputs so that your screen reflects your own daily fantasy strategy.

The first site I’ll review is the OptimusX generator from swishanalytics.com. This lineup optimizer allows users to choose from DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo! daily fantasy lineups. Users can also choose to generate up to 20 lineups, how risky to make the screen (based on volatility of player points night to night), and a salary range. So if you’re entering multiple lineups each night, you can choose to generate up to 20 lineups. You can also choose to make your projected lineup risky or safe, this will reflect your strategy depending if you’re shooting for the moon with a large GPP, or if you want to play it safe in a double-up or 50/50 contest.

The lineup optimizer tool at swishanalytics.com allows you to draft certain players or exclude others. You can also choose to include or exclude particular teams and games as well.

Once you have your variables set, run the program and it creates lineup(s) for you. You can run it any number of times depending on your preference/goals.

The second site I’ll review is dailyfantasyfuel.com. With this site, you can also choose to include or exclude certain players and/or teams. You can also choose to filter players by whether they will be on the power play, and whether to exclude players that will face your goalie.

Seems like the best way to use these tools is to come up with some basic outline of your own lineup, and then start with those basic variables. Once you have your basic inclusions and exclusions (or maybe your goalie picked), then you can run the optimizer to see what it says. Maybe in some cases, it will generate a certain combination(s) of players that you wouldn’t have been able to make yourself. Or maybe you can use the optimizers to fill in the blanks of your lineups that you mostly generate yourself.

If you have any other suggestions on tools I should use or review, please leave your comments below and I’ll try to answer them.

Fantasy NHL Hockey, Day 12

I still haven’t cashed on FanDuel, but I’m having fun exploring the possibility.

Today I’m paying more attention to the “bottom up” aspects of my lineup, this means confirming my picks are likely playing on the first line and the powerplay, and looking for value on players who might be playing up in tonight’s games, whereas usually they won’t get as many minutes (or minutes without star players). So tonight I picked Chiasson (who will be playing with McDavid & Draisaitl), and Yanni Gourde (who will likely play with Stamkos/Powerplay).

I’m also expanding the player pool I can draft players from by ignoring games that are more likely to go “over” in total goals.

Click this link to receive a bonus when you signup for FanDuel. You get $15 once you play $10.

Otherwise, my strategy is almost the same:

  • pick a starting goalie from a team likely to win
  • pick a starting goalie from a team likely to face a lot of shots
  • download the players list from FanDuel into excel
  • remove/hide the columns for ID, first name, last name, and the column for each individual team
  • make data a table
  • remove all injured players
  • create new column to calculate price/FPPG
  • calculate and sort by price/FPPG
  • calculate the average games played, and remove all players with less than average
  • draft players starting from lowest price/FGGP until a team can be drafted
    • skip players after you’ve filled their position
    • for the final pick, skip all players whose price is higher than what’s left to draft

GIC Rates Update 2018-12-03

I’ve created a new page to track the best GIC rates. Click Here for the latest GIC Rates.

The list of the best GIC rates is created by surveying the best wholesale GIC rates offered at major Canadian brokerages (RBC, CIBC, TD, BNS, BMO). The GICs quoted on my GIC Rate Sheet can be obtained from either a full service broker or by using a discount brokerage account.

The highest rates on GICs for 1 year is 2.72% and for 5 years is 3.45%, which means the yield curve is pretty flat (not much extra interest can be earned by tying up your money for a few years). Its also worth noting that the rate on 1 year GICs has risen a bit over the past year along with interest rates in general.

Click Here for the latest GIC Rates.

It’s worth noting that higher GIC rates can be obtained in some cases by holding an account directly with the issuer. This is true for most GIC offered by mortgage banks such as Home Trust (Oaken Financial), Equitable Trust, etc. Investors will generally find that they can obtain about 0.25% better rate by going directly to the issuer, this is because the broker offering third party GICs for sale (i.e. when RBC offers Canadian Tire Bank GICs) the broker receives a 0.25% commission. At least part of this commission is absent when you buy a GIC directly from the issuer. This fact isn’t universal, but its worth keeping in mind. Each investor will need to decide what trade-off they are willing to accept between admin the burden of holding multiple GIC accounts, and the lower/higher rate.

Its also worth noting that if you’re focused on only holding GICs from major banks (RBC, TD, BMO, CIBC, BNS), you will usually find the rate you can obtain from inside your brokerage account will be better than the rate you can obtain from the retail branch of the same institution. For example, RBC offers wholesale GICs through brokers at 2.61% for 1 year, but retail depositors at the bank branch, can’t even earn 2% at a branch. The bottom line is serious Canadian investors should usually purchase GICs through a broker rather than a branch banker.

Fantasy NHL Hockey, Day 10

Last night I lost again, I still have not won anything on FanDuel, but I feel like I’m making progress.  Last night each one of my players earned fantasy points. I also feel like my process is beginning to take shape.

On the goalie side, my goalie last night booked a win for his real life team, so that earned my fantasy team an extra 12 points. My goal recently was to have my goalie at least get this 12 point bonus, and the strategy to achieve this so far I believe is to draft a goalie from a team most likely to win their game, based on the sports book odds. But what was interesting last night is although my goalie won his real life game, the opposing goalie actually scored about the same number of fantasy points since the opposing goalie made about twice as many saves. So I’ve learned that winning the game is only one part of the best goalie score, your goalie also has to also make a lot of saves, which basically means they must face a lot of shots. This leads me to want to also pick a goalie when their opposing team is likely to have a lot of shots on goal.

Click here to view an ESPN page that lists shots on goal stats.

So tonight, the teams most likely to win are: Bruins, Habs, Pens, and Preds. The Pens are playing the Flyers, which are likely to shoot an average number of times. So I’m drafting my goalie from the Pens starter.

I’m no longer going to place any hedge bets, the basis is too much and I can’t be bothered to calculate the right amount, and I’m paying implied vig whenever I place a bet anyway.

I’ve automated some of the spreadsheet work that goes into creating my lineup, basically I’ve written a few macros. I’ll post my spreadsheet to future posts once I clean it up a bit.

This is my strategy right now:

  • pick a starting goalie from a team likely to win
  • pick a starting goalie from a team likely to face a lot of shots
  • list three games with the highest chances of going over the most goals, and restrict my players to those games
  • download the players list from FanDuel into excel
  • remove/hide the columns for ID, first name, last name, and the column for each individual team
  • make data a table
  • remove all injured players
  • create new column to calculate price/FPPG
  • calculate and sort by price/FPPG
  • calculate the average games played, and remove all players with less than average
  • draft players starting from lowest price/FGGP until a team can be drafted
    • filter out any players with less than 70% of the average salary remaining after drafting a goalie
    • skip players after you’ve filled their position
    • for the final pick, skip all players whose price is higher than what’s left to draft

 

My results after last 1 entries:

DraftKings 0

FanDuel -$1.00

Hedging -$1.00

Total -$2.00

 

Overall:

DraftKings +$0.80

FanDuel -$7.00

Hedging +$1.11

Total -$5.09