BMO Investorline Online Broker Review

In addition to Questrade, the other online brokerage account that I have is with BMO Investorline. I have both an RRSP account and a non-registered account.  BMO Investorline has rave reviews (top ranked bank-owned online broker by Globe and Mail, #1 in customer email responsiveness, and an Ipsos Reid poll stating that they are the best in customer service).  Here’s what I think of BMO Investorline:



  • Really, really easy to use.  Easy to access and easy to read format.
  • I love the charts and graphs.  They also provide S&P top picks, Globeinvestor rankings, detailed quotes, company profiles  etc. etc.
  • BMO Investorline’s customer service is fantastic.  They’re always very polite on the phone, and they get back to you really quickly if you have a message for them by email.  They seem very personable.
  • You can collect Air Miles when you first sign up for an account.
  • Easy peasy to transfer money between BMO investorline and your regular BMO account.
  • Easy to transfer USD currency too (which is much harder for Questrade)
  • If you transfer your account, they’ll pay up to $200 in transfer out fees


  • The $9.95 trade is only good if you have over $100,000 in assets (ugh…I don’t even HAVE $100,000 to my name).
  • Their GIC and mutual funds need at least $10,000- $15,000 to purchase
  • It’s $29 a trade.  That’s a big drawback for me.
  • They charge you (like most RRSP accounts) $105 for maintaining your RRSP account per year

My take?

I guess BMO Investorline is targeted towards people who have HUGE portfolios.  I still like BMO Investorline.  Too bad the commission is so high.  I would classify myself as more of a swing trader, so I think that the commissions I would incur would eat my portfolio alive.  I found that with the RRSP account (it holds ETF’s), I was hesitant to “diversify” my portfolio too much, and use dollar cost averaging because of the high commissions.  I think that mutual fund (or TD E-funds) would be better suited for that (dollar cost averaging). Though for that, you just have to make sure the MER’s don’t outweigh the cost of the commissions. Cause then that would be defeating the point.

When I initially signed for the BMO Investorline account, it was when I was escaping Investor’s Group.  BMO told me that I should amalgamate my bank accounts with a family member so that the total assets could be $100,000 and then we’d be able to trade for $9.95 a share.

Although that would be nice, the tax implications of amalgamating the assets would be kind of sketchy.  So I declined.  Maybe one day I’ll be in the “big leagues” (>$100,000 portfolio) and be able to use their $9.95 commissions.

In the meantime, Questrade for me it is.

Do you use BMO Investorline?  What do you think of it?  What about the other (Big) Bank Online Brokerages?


Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

28 Responses to BMO Investorline Online Broker Review

  1. BMO investorline is a subpar service at best. I am a active trader and regularly trade MSFT 10,000 share blocks at a time. Sometimes it takes 2 minutes to fill the trade. Not a good service for an active trader.

    • You’re right Craig, BMO investorline is more for “buy and hold” type investing. With few trades. If you do more frequent trading, I would recommend Questrade. It’s faster that way, and you get real-time quotes. What brokerage do you use, Craig?

    • I completely agree with Craig. I have been with BMO Investorline for over 15 years. In the past year their service deteriorated to the level on totally unacceptable. Most problems are with online access and underlying trading system. Just to warn others, here is the list of problems, some of them are extremely critical:
      1. Poor security. Online login to your account taxes maximum of 6 characters in password and these passwords are not even case sensitive. Any teenage hacker can break-in to your account in less than 10 minutes. Trading passwords are more secure, but I am still uncomfortable that it is so easy to access client’s holdings – to me it’s a big privacy issue. I raise this issue with IL over 3 years ago and they told me that this will be fixed soon – nothing is done as of Jan 2015.
      2. Overloaded servers. Try logging in to your account around 9:30am or 4pm. It takes 2-3 failed attempts (with very “informative” errors like “The proxy server did not receive a timely response from the upstream server. Reference #1.ec2bf648.1422285118.ef29fd99″ or “We’re sorry. The page you are looking for is currently unavailable. Please try again.”). This morning I couldn’t login to my account for 25 minutes. Even when you are successful with login it takes up to 3 minutes delay until you get to your portfolio page. Often, you get disconnected for no reason just because their servers cannot handle that many simultaneous connections. Typical response from IL support: “our investigation shows that there was no issue related to slower than normal website responsiveness”)
      3. Poor customer service. I reported a number of problems using their support system – the answers I received were either inappropriate (e.g. “we cannot confirm your complaint looking at our server logs) or plain stupid (“May be you should try another browser?”, “Close the session and login again, it may help”)
      4. What scares me most about being with IL is how buggy is their software. Even with such simple things like calculations of totals for market value and unrealized gains/losses. The numbers I see on my portfolio page often don’t correspond to reality – I have to manually export my portfolio page to Excel to get correct numbers. This problem is intermittent, but it occurred to me at least 4 times in the past month.
      5. In on one of my accounts I actively trade in options and in the past 3 months I encountered at least 5 days when I would not be able to see bid and ask for all my options for hours. Suddenly, all bid and ask values go to zero and even when you click on the option to trade you get zero values in trading screen. As you can imagine, this is totally unacceptable for options trader as you are unable to trade without knowing what the bids and asks are. I just love the answer I got from IL support (the screenshot was taken at the middle of the trading day and showed zeros for 15+ options, including GOOG, BX, CNQ, ENB, etc.): “With reference to the screenshot you had provided, the prices were reported accordingly as the option holdings had $0.00 bid”.
      At this point I had enough and will be moving to another discount brokerage. It is too bad as IL used to be the best in Canada. I don’t know who re-designed their interfaces a couple of years ago), but apparently it was designed and maintained so badly that they can no longer provide service to clients and they are obviously unable to fix these problems.

  2. You didn’t mention, but there’s a quaterly fee of what I beleive is 20$ to keep the account open and also there’s fees for each transaction you do in the account where the cash is being hold. BMO InvestorLine is not easy to trade on.
    .-= Sunny´s last blog ..Comment by =-.

    • @Sunny Did you mean trading commissions? Yes, there is a $29 commission each time you make a trade… though I haven’t personally had a $20 charge every quarter… I have both a non-registered and a registered BMO Investorline account. I do get charged $105 for the RRSP account though. I find BMO Investorline quite easy to use actually, though they recently changed their appearance and I find it a bit different feeling.

  3. Yes, it was commission. I guess we all have our preferences when it come to platform trading. I use to have RSP broker account with BMO InvestorLine. Doesn’t it bother you to have 2 different access for both account – like you cannot have an eye on the RSP and non registered account at the same time because the 2 accounts are complitely separeted from one of the other. Which I find extremely annoying, in my case.
    .-= Sunny´s last blog ..Comment by =-.

    • @Sunny That’s true Sunny. I think that it’s important to separate the RSP and the non-registered accounts. Questrade does that too. I have a non registered and a TFSA with them. I kind of like it like that- that way you can track your portfolio depending on whether it is a registered or non-registered account.

  4. I’ve been an Investorline user for 12 years and an Active Trader for over a year, currently making over 100 trades a month. My frustration with Investorline is skyrocketing. If you trade penny stocks, run, don’t walk from Investorline. This platform can not accurately record half penny prices. Their third-party Streamer, is buggy and amateurish, and can not record half penny stock prices. I have written repeatedly over the past year and, not only have they done nothing about it, they always make it sound like it’s the first time they’ve heard about it.

    • @a kim- Sounds like you have had a very frustrating experience to say the least! I haven’t traded penny stocks with Investorline, so I wouldn’t know, but it sounds like a nightmare.

  5. Re escaping Investors Group, I’m trying to do the same, hopefully without too much damage, via Investorline…and with my hard earned RRSP money, what options do I have…with Investorline transfers made in kind, I have to keep the IG Fund…and those made in cash, I lose a bundle in taxes…are there other options?


    • @Gerry- I think it’s best you talk to BMO. I ended up losing the money I lost in Investors Group too. But you’d be losing it slowly if you kept on paying the high MER’s anyways! :(

    • I deregistered parts of my RRSP at Investorline on 31st Dec. 2012. After income tax deductions I was supposed to receive a check of $8,510. Investorline sent me a $80,510 check. I took the check in person to their office on Peel street in Montreal hoping that a replacement check could be issued quickly. Sure, they said, a check would go out within 24 hrs. That was nearly 3 weeks ago. Today is 28th January 2013, all Investorline would say is they are looking into it. Everyone I got in touch with said they would investigate and call back within the day. No one ever did.

  6. I read your reviews when deciding whether to use BMO investor line or not. You’re right, The customer service is good and it would probably be an awesome service if you live in Toronto. For the rest of Canada however the process is ridiculous. They are not familiar with investorline and they always need the original forms. Therefore you have to wait for them to recieve your forms by mail in Toronto. I deposited my shares 2 weeks ago and they still arent in my account and by the sounds of it, they wont be for a while. Plus you have to keep sneaking out of work to go to the bank and see whats going on. Until they have a way of approving things in other cities, this is not the route to take. I just thought other cities should know that it’s a long painstaking process.

    • I’m moving my stock trading account with a non-bank Canadian broker over to BMO InvestorLine, mostly because I’ve always banked at the Bank of Montreal and because I’m more comfortable dealing with my bank. Presently I’m in the account opening process. One thing I have learned is that I have to open a cash account first in order to bring over the shares, and then transfer the shares to a TFSA as the original account (with my present broker) is not a TFSA. InvestorLine alerted me to the issue when I asked about bringing the shares over.

      You have to print out the forms and fill them out in original, but so far as I know that is the case with any Canadian broker (presumably due to regulatory requirements). I dropped off my original documents at one of the BMO branches here in town and they couriered them to Toronto for free as BMO has its own internal courier apparently. This is great as I live in Fort Mac.

  7. Biggest problem I have with them is there is nobody available after business hours nor on weekends. Recently they were to process a considerable sum from my rif to my bank account and this didn’t happen. It was to pay taxes I owed at year end. Fortunately I had other funds available and was able to pay on time otherwise I would have incurred a substantial penalty. This is not the first time I have been unable to contact someone outside of business hours to rectify a mistake – most frustrating.

    • “Your patience is greatly appreciated. Your call is very important to us.” Thats all i’ve been hearing for about an hour on my speaker phone. If my call was important then I would get ahold of a person. It’s just crazy how I can’t get someone to deal with my problem. Nobody available after hours, nobody available during hours…………? Whats up with that! I’m seriously thinking of transferring the rest of my accounts to Questrade. I can always get ahold of someone in a timely manner to deal with any problem that arises. Your call is very important to us …. yeah right.

  8. I recently had a chance upon my return from Florida to sit with one of their investment managers and discuss investing in the Investorline. One of my old friend recommended their service( he has moved to the US and used to be with bmo investorline) . To my unpleasant surprise, all they want is more and more money from there clients and I believe they are heavily overworked. Together we called their call center for some clarifications, though the guy seemed knowledgeable he was rushing us. The manager asked him for the reasons being an employee himself and all he said that they had various targets that have to be met. I felt so sorry for my impatience as I then understood how overworked they were for their paycheck. Reminded me of our days when targets were so comfortable with a greater payout.
    My piece of advise for anyone thinking of bmo – Go and have a look somewhere else. Its not the same place it used to be 3-4 years back. They are knowledgeable but they will rush you like anything, and when it comes to my money I don’t like being rushed.

  9. I can tell you from using both Qtrad and BMO Investorline that the service at BMO is REALLY bad. I call qtrade they answer and help me. BMO I have never been on hold less than 14 minutes and even then it is almost impossible for the person to help you. Dont do BMO you will be sorry.

  10. You are a swing trader? Really? How’s that working for you? That seems like a really bad decision for someone who is trying to be financially savvy. Not to mention role modeling for your readers. I would love to hear about your adventures in investing.

  11. I am new investor who will be entering investment market soon. Definitely not a day trader and wont be investing in hundreds of thousands. Planning on buying stocks from stable companies and mutual funds from decent financial institutes. I am considering BMO but nervous about all sorts of deductions and taxes they may charge. QuestTrade is another option but I have been reading negative reviews about them. Wondering if both of them provide complete detailed information about commissions and duties they collect for both stocks and mutual funds.

    • Hey Faisal,

      Sounds like you’re about to take a great leap in terms of taking control of your own financial future. Have you checked out our free eBook yet? Let me suggest you take a skim and then ask if you have any questions afterwards. I think there is a considerable chance you might do some significant damage to your nest egg if you continue on the somewhat scattered path your on. Cheers!

  12. BMO Investorline – Join at your own peril. In my dealings with BMO investorline, this is the most unprofessional brokerage I’ve dealt with and I’ve been trading for over 10 years. They have excellent tools and excellent options for self directed investors. However, their customer support system and process, and the incompetency of their traders and managers is beyond comprehension. I’ve never been so frustrated dealing with a brokerage service before.

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