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These brokers are best at keeping their clients satisfied

Bank towers are shown from Bay Street in Toronto's financial district.

Adrien Veczan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Desjardins Online Brokerage has taken top spot in a new customer satisfaction ranking.

But if you're looking for the optimum do-it-yourself investing experience, check out Qtrade Investor. Qtrade took second spot in the customer satisfaction survey by J.D. Power, and it's a top player in comprehensive rankings of Canada's online brokerage firms.

J.D. Power assigned Desjardins a ranked of five out of five based on the results of a survey of 2,609 investors who are primarily self-directed as opposed to having an adviser. Qtrade came next with a score of four, followed by seven firms with an industry average score of three. Questrade received a score of two.

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Desjardins scored a B- grade in the latest Globe and Mail online brokerage ranking, a mid-pack result. Surviscor, a firm that looks at online banking and investing, slotted Desjardins ninth out of 13 firms in its most recent comprehensive ranking.

Qtrade is a firm that combines a high customer satisfaction score with good results in more detailed comparisons. In the Globe ranking, Qtrade tied Virtual Brokers for top spot with an A grade. Surviscor put Qtrade first, ahead of Scotia iTrade.

Surviscor has singled out Qtrade's fees and commissions, its customer service, its record-keeping and reporting, and its market data. In the Globe ranking, Qtrade was a leader in providing 40 different features and services that investors – as opposed to active traders – need. Qtrade is actually part owned by Desjardins, which maintains its own in-house online brokerage firm as well.

J.D. Power's latest study of customer satisfaction in the DIY investing world uncovered a growing preference for advice among self-directed investors. This poses challenges for online brokers because they're restricted by regulators from providing any sort of guidance to clients.

Robo-advisers, which build and manage portfolios for clients, are an obvious alternative to online brokers from people who want help with their investments. However, J.D. Power found that usage of robo-advisers by DIY investors fell to 19 per cent in 2017 from 25 per cent in 2016. Self-directed investors appear to want to make their own decisions, but also have a human to consult about financial planning and investment matters. The Canadian market awaits the appearance of a service like this.

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About the Author
Personal Finance Columnist

Rob Carrick has been writing about personal finance, business and economics for close to 20 years. He joined The Globe and Mail in late 1996 as an investment reporter and has been personal finance columnist since November 1998. Rob's personal finance columns appear in The Globe on Tuesday and Thursday, and his Portfolio Strategy column for investors appears on Saturday. More

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