When you begin doing your own investing on-line, you must figure out whose service you are going to use for your trading. If you are doing your own investing, then what you are looking for is called an 'online discount stock brokerage'. All of the big banks in Canada have them, for example:
In addition to the ones above, the other discount brokerages in Canada include:
Assuming you already have a bank account (which you most certainly do), it may make sense to use the brokerage affiliated with your bank. This makes moving money between bank accounts and investment accounts pretty much seamless and is probably a good way to start. That said, some of the brokerage fees and services are better than others and in some cases it may make sense to use more than one brokerage. For example, Questrade allows US dollars to be held in their RRSP account...something which many of the other brokerages do not allow. This may be a compelling reason to use them for RRSP investing. Some brokerages now offer commission free ETF purchases as well...something definitely worth researching before signing up.
Opening accounts can be fairly onerous, and in some cases darn-right confusing. In my experience, I just do the best I can on their forms and send them in and then wait for them to call me and tell me what I did wrong.
Note, you can later move investments (and dollars) from one brokerage to another and in some cases the receiving brokerage will cover the costs (call them first to confirm).
There are some great articles below which you can use to help evaluate the brokerages. You'll want to confirm the information before making any final decisions.
Further Related Links and Articles
The 12th Annual Online Broker Rankings (2010) - Rob Carrick, Globe and Mail
Canadian Online Discount Stock Brokerage Comparison - Updated 2011 - Money Smarts Blog
Canadian Discount Brokers - www.dripprimer.ca - A list of Canadian Discount Brokerages from a DRIP perspective
Commission-Free ETFs Arrive in Canada - Canadian Couch Potato
How to Buy An ETF or Stock Using a Canadian Discount Brokerage - Money Smarts Blog
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