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I have to be honest in saying that I was slightly skeptical when recently presented with an opportunity to be guided through TD Direct Investing‘s new platform. It wasn’t that I didn’t think TD would be able to handle the fundamentals of DIY investing, such as buying and selling stocks and bonds within a TFSA or RRSP, I just know how fierce the competition has been when it comes to innovation in the financial technology sector the past few years.  Small, nimble companies have been putting out user interfaces that have set a new standard for usability and aesthetic pleasure.  Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how committed one of Canada’s major banks would be to revamping a brokerage that was serving quite a sizeable group of users just fine.  Banks aren’t exactly known as “risk takers” after all.

Initial Impressions and the Home Page

I am happy to say that I was immediately positively surprised!

TD’s new home screen is simple, elegant, and vivid.  It looks like they hired someone from Apple to come down and improve the text-heavy look of their old dashboard.

At a glance, users can now take in:

  • Their total overall balance.
  • The individual balance of each account (RRSP, TFSA, margin, etc).
  • A colour-coded visual of the investments held within each account.
  • A section on the right hand side titled “your events” that operates as a Facebook-esque scroll of the news pertaining to the companies you’ve invested in or that are on your “watch list”.

The new menu has been pared down considerably from the all-options-listed model that TD used before.  In their place, we now have a few simple and clean menu options.  TD states that they wanted fewer levels of navigation, with more intuitive navigational combinations.  What this means in layman’s terms is that it is much easier to get where you want to go and to see what you want to see right from the first time you come to the site.  This is especially true if you are accessing the platform through a smartphone or tablet.

Related: See Robb Engen’s take on TD’s New Direct Investing Platform

Features

For folks like me who are pretty vanilla couch potato investors, the easy-to-use home dashboard is almost all we’ll ever need.  You can tell right away using the simple visuals what will need to be re-balanced and then make the necessary adjustments.

If you are set on becoming an active investor, then the TD platform really shines.  The customizable news events feature allows you to quickly scan all the market updates that pertain to the companies that are currently part of your portfolio.  For example, quarterly updates or major changes in management will go straight to your feed.  There is all manner of bells and whistles if you wish to track companies’ performance, and more graphing options than most people will ever use.

One really cool option that pertains to folks who wish to trade equities in a non-registered account (where tax planning is a major consideration) is the gains vs losses chart.  By looking at which trades you’ve made and “locked in” either profits or losses, you can easily handle much of your tax preparation and tailor any tax-loss harvesting strategies you may wish to implement towards the end of the fiscal year.  This chart is also easily exportable straight to Excel.

7 - GAIN AND LOSS - 2015

One of my favourite features (again, as a boring index investor) is all of the graphic and visual options that TD presents for tracking your investments over time.  There are all the basic performance graphs that you would expect, but then you can add several different overlays if you wish to see how you are doing against several different indexes.  You can even devise your own custom standard to compare against your current portfolio.  Direct Investing also cleverly allows you to track both your portfolio’s “money-weighted rate of return” and your overall balance.  The difference being that your overall balance will be affected by new deposits and withdrawals, whereas if you want to know how your investments have done independent of any new money being put in (or taken out), then it is easy to see that as well.

Side by side of balance trends

Commitment to Education

The final area in which TD’s new platform really impressed me was in the wide range of educational resources they’ve developed.  Sure, there’s the usual stuff about how to do a limit trade and a market trade, and what a stock is versus a bond, but there is also so much more.  For relatively seasoned investors who have a high degree of investing knowledge but perhaps could use a hand with how to navigate the platform, there are some quick and easy videos to guide you on your way.  If you’re a beginner investor who is quite comfortable with the technological side of things, but wishes to learn about what certain graphs mean, or how to best use some of the research filters, they’ve got you covered there as well.

Education

There are over 80 videos and webinars that make up over eight hours of educational resources waiting to be accessed.  You can learn at your own pace, and while the total amount available might be a bit intimidating at first, TD has chunked up the information into bite-sized pieces that you can sample at your leisure.  Administrative staff has also assured me that they were making education and financial literacy a real point of emphasis going forward, and consequently they would continuously be adding new content.  I commend TD for making this investment of time and money as more and more people begin to dip their foot in the DIY investing pool.

Related: Questrade Discount Brokerage Review

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, I think TD has done a fantastic job of revamping their new platform.  The user experience is easily customizable so that a simple needs investor like me doesn’t feel overwhelmed, yet a person who actively trades and has much higher needs than me can also get everything they want.  The site looks great on a small screen – which is much harder to create than you might think – and is as user friendly as it aesthetically pleasing.

Please note this post has been brought to you in partnership with TD, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Article comments

19 comments
CheapyPants says:

TD still uses FAXes (yes in 2020) and manual forms.
Everything still needs to go through Ontario.
Office hours are based on Eastern Standard Time.

Chris says:

I am a loyal TD customer for 30 years. – personal savings, etc. The investing platform is very disappointing. Often many issues and logs out of the account randomly, always getting ‘badgateway’ error. On top of the tech issues, the customer service is basically non existent. Whenever I need help with my accounts, I am on hold for 2-3 hours. The email support i’m pretty sure goes no where as that is impossible to get a response as well. Not sure if they actually have a support team to be honest… it’s just brutal.

Overall – Platform is very unreliable and customer services and support does not exist. If your investing large amounts and require fast, dependable service I would highly recommend looking else where.

john says:

in TD Advanced dashboard Stop Loss orders you attach to the main order are not being executed and it may take you 5 minutes to cancel Stop Loss order so you can close position manually. Imagine how far price can move against you during those 5 minutes… Terrible.
Order execution in Web platform works better, though it is not suitable for fast orders placing and does not even provide the charts.

Ken says:

the conclusion that:
“….yet a person who actively trades and has much higher needs than me can also get everything they want….”
is completely inaccurate.
I switched from TD Direct Investing, after 15 years with them, to Interactive Brokers and Questrade after I started active trading.
Why? with Interactive Brokers:
Trades on stocks and specially options would cost me 70-95% less
Much more advanced platform
Much more knowledgeable support staff to answer my questions

Ken says:

an example of how unreliable the information on their platform is:
They report dividends of Canadian companies on their charts converted to USD, without mentioning that the reported figures are in USD.
So a $1 dividend on the chart may be actually CAD 1.4

Wondering how a brokerage so crappy in so many ways (read other reviews) could survive competition for so long?

I think the main reason TD Direct Investing is still in business and not gone bankrupt is because TD bank subsidizes their operation and channels a steady stream of less sophisticated traders and investors to them.
They would not survive on their own!

paul says:

March 25th, 2020 – I have been a customer for years but TD Waterhouse is having extremely serious technical problems at the moment. Please do not even consider becoming a customer. It’s so bad that gaining access to your account has not been possible on many occasions, and there are many problems with even basic order execution [these problems have nothing at all to do with the current COVID-19 crisis and market volatility]. These are TD’s own technical issues! It doesn’t surprise me to see the other complaints about TD Waterhouse, from other customers, posted here too!

Mokhtar Michel Bassily says:

it became the worst trading platform, worst customer service. you wait hours on the phone even if you make a call in the middle of the night. it is impossible to execute a trade if you need customer assisstance.

ray says:

Very poor trading platform. Very unreliable keeps screwing up.

Ken says:

buying or selling 100 shares of any company or etf on TD Direct investing costs $10.
Exact same transaction on Interactive Brokers costs you $1.
which one you choose?

Steve says:

I’ve had a terrible time with TD Direct Investing…it is constantly under maintenance, logs me out, won’t sell stock when I need it to, just displays a whirly thing. Perhaps it’s because I’m on a Mac, but I’ve lost a lot of money due to it’s buggyness. The interface is great, so if it worked properly (as in: allowed me to trade without crashing) then I’d go back to it.

Jason says:

I love the new TD Webbroker’ but TD still doesnt allow me to transfer in and out USD dollars into registered account similarly offered by other Brokerage like RBC direct investing…. that is really the main drawback of TD.

Kyle says:

Are you familiar with Norbert’s Gambit Jason?

Freeman says:

I was lured to questrade by the $500 Apple credit. Beware they charged Ecn fees. While it’s usually pretty small but can add up very quickly. To give you an example, when I put on a trade for 5000 shares of stock, I was being charged for $27.50 commission one way. Based on the positive review of the new td, I plan to switch to give it a try. I had been trading with Investoeline for years, they are ok for stocks but not for options. I had been only paying for $9.95 with them regardless of size.

Anthony Cho says:

I’d like to know if TD’s platform is better than QuestTrade’s. Also, their trading fees.

Kyle says:

The trading fees are 9.95 per trade (with the usual terms and conditions Anthony). Check out both platforms and see which one you like better. It’s really about personal needs and preferences.

Jeff MacDonnell says:

Do you know when this new look will be rolled out?

Kyle says:

You should already have access Jeff? Am I wrong on that?

Akshay says:

Quest Rade allows you to buy free etf,other than td e series I am not aware of any index funds from td

Kyle says:

That is true as far as I’m aware Akshay.