Broker Review Richmond Investing

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Ally Invest Review

Backed by Ally Financial, Ally Invest is a low-cost broker providing $0 stock and ETF trades. Ally’s complete universal-account management experience and easy to use website makes the brokerage great for current Ally Bank customers and everyday investors alike.

Top Takeaways for 2020

After spending five months testing 15 of the best online brokers for our 10th Annual Review, here are our top findings on Ally Invest:

  • Ally Invest is the discount online brokerage arm of Ally Financial (publicly traded, “ALLY”), which also operates Ally Bank. As far as banking and brokerage combinations go, Ally delivers.
  • Alongside $0 stock and ETF trades, Ally’s greatest strengths are customer service and ease of use. Whether banking or trading, Ally understands how to provide a clean user experience, which could make it a good fit for beginner investors.
  • For traders seeking a feature-rich experience, Ally Invest trails industry leaders such as TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE in core areas including trading platforms, tools, and investment research, making it difficult to recommend Ally Invest as a standalone online brokerage.

Overall Summary

Feature Ally Invest
Overall 4 Stars
Commissions & Fees 4.5 Stars
Offering of Investments 4 Stars
Platforms & Tools 3 Stars
Research 3.5 Stars
Education 3.5 Stars
Mobile Trading 3.5 Stars
Customer Service 4.5 Stars
Ease of Use 5 Stars

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Commissions & Fees

At Ally Invest, regular stock and ETF trades are $0 and options trades cost $0.50 per contract, which is similar pricing to most discount stock brokers .

Funds pricing: Ally’s $9.95 mutual fund trades are much lower in cost than full-service brokerage competitors.

Penny stocks: Ally Invest is not a good deal for penny stock trading. For any stock under $2.00 per share, the charge is $4.95 plus an additional $.01 per share (max commission 5% of trade value).

Ally Invest pricing summary:

Feature Ally Invest
Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trade Fee (per trade) $0.00
ETF Trade Fee $0.00
Options Base Fee $0.00
Options Per Contract Fee $0.50
Mutual Fund Trade Fee $9.95
Broker Assisted Trades Fee $20.00
Commission-Free ETFs all

Banking

Among the bank and brokerage combinations, Ally shines and competes with the best in the industry.

Universal account access: All your bank and brokerage Ally accounts are managed under one login. Transferring money between accounts is also a breeze.

FDIC insured banking: Ally Bank is a registered member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which insures bank deposits up to $250,000.

High-yield savings: Ally’s high-yield savings account is easy to use and offers competitive annual yields. Also, Ally does not nickel and dime its customers; it embraces no-fee banking.

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Branch locations: Being digital only, Ally Bank does not have any physical bank locations. Furthermore, there are no loyalty rewards offered for using multiple products, which is where Bank of America Merrill Edge reigns supreme. See: Best Brokers for Banking Services

Trading Platforms & Tools

When it comes to trading platforms and tools, Ally Invest’s trading tools will satisfy most casual investors, but leave more advanced traders wanting more. That said, the Ally Invest website is easy to use and navigate.

Stock charts: Placing trades is a breeze and viewing stock charts, modifying settings, and performing technical analysis is a pleasant experience. Thirty-six drawing tools are available as well as 117 technical indicators.

Options trading: With options trading, the user flow process is contained on one page. From the options chain, you flow into the strategy workbench, then the probability calculator, and finally into the profit/loss graph. While the experience trails the best options brokers overall, it will satisfy most casual options investors.

Day trading: Ally Invest offers limited capabilities for day trading. For example, direct market routing is not offered, nor is their a downloadable trading platform offered.

Ally Invest trading platform screenshots:

Research

Ally Invest offers investors the basics of what’s required to conduct in depth stock research. Thanks to a clean design, insights are quickly uncovered when researching stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds.

However, after assessing over 50 variables for research, market research leaders Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and TD Ameritrade offer significantly more for the same $0 price per trade. For example, Ally Invest provides no stock, ETF, or mutual fund screeners.

Ally Invest market research screenshots:

Mobile Trading

While lacking in numerous areas of advanced functionality, Ally’s mobile experience is bug-free. It includes the core capabilities required to manage a basic portfolio. Both brokerage and bank are managed through the same app.

Mobile app trading tools: Watch lists do sync with the website but are not streaming in real-time; instead, they refresh once every five seconds. Also, no stock alerts functionality is provided, and you cannot view after-hours charts or place after-hours trades in the mobile app. The bottom line, Ally’s app is easy to use but trails the best stock trading apps in terms of functionality.

Ally Invest mobile app screenshots:

Offering of Investments

As a full-service brokerage, Ally Invest provides a diverse offering that meets the industry standard. Stock, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds and options are all offered. Managed investments (robo-advice) is also offered through Ally Invest Managed Portfolios.

Education

Ally provides a comprehensive educational experience for its customers when it comes to everyday finances. As far as online trading specific topics go, most topics are covered, from stock trading to retirement. The exception is Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), which we could not find 10 individual pieces of content. Overall, it’s good, but not great. The best educational copy is on options trading; however, the content is not available within the primary learning center.

Ally Invest consistently provides webinars on investing topics for customers (average 15 per month in 2020). Unfortunately, webinars are not archived for viewing on-demand. Furthermore, all educational content is in article form. No videos are provided.

Customer Service

To score Customer Service, StockBrokers.com partners with customer experience research group Confero to conduct phone tests from locations throughout the United States. For our 2020 Broker Review, 280 customer service tests were conducted over ten weeks.

Customer Service testing results:

  • Average Connection Time: rd (14 brokers)
  • View Infographic

Final Thoughts

The primary benefit of being an Ally Invest customer is having universal account access, which makes managing all your Ally accounts under one roof a breeze. Furthermore, customer service is excellent, and the Ally Invest website is user-friendly, including everything a casual investor would require to manage a portfolio.

Usability and Ally Bank synergies aside, if you have no ties to Ally, Ally Invest doesn’t provide enough value as a discount broker to warrant a recommendation.

About Ally Invest

Ally Invest is the discount online brokerage arm of Ally Financial (publicly traded, “ALLY”). Ally Financial is best-known for its FDIC-insured banking services through Ally Bank, which includes online banking, auto financing, and home loans. Ranked as the 19th largest bank in the United States by total assets, Ally serves over six million customers, according to Wikipedia.

2020 Review Methodology

For the StockBrokers.com tenth annual best online brokers review published in January 2020, a total of 3,540 data points were collected over six months and used to score brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.

Participation is required to be included. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and provided executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.

RBC Direct Investing Review 2020

Summary

Recommended for investors, including beginners, who focus on the Canadian and US markets

RBC Direct Investing is a division of the Royal Bank of Canada which was founded in 1864 and is a Canadian discount stockbroker. It is regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).

RBC Direct Investing is considered very safe because it has a long track record, is listed on the stock exchange, has a banking background, discloses its financials, and is regulated by a top-tier regulator.

RBC Direct Investing pros and cons

RBC Direct Investing is an established company with a banking background and fast account opening for RBC banking clients. The customer service is relevant and quick, the education resources are also great and cover a lot of tools, including a demo account.

RBC Direct Investing’s most obvious weakness is its outdated mobile trading app. The product portfolio also only covers the US and Canadian markets. Withdrawal and deposit options are also limited.

Pros Cons
• Quick, relevant customer service • Only US and Canadian markets covered
• Easy account opening in some cases • Lack of withdrawal/deposit options
• High-quality educational tools • Outdated mobile trading platform
RBC Direct Investing main features and highlights
��️ Country of regulation Canada
�� Trading fees class Average
�� Inactivity fee charged No
�� Withdrawal fee amount $0
�� Minimum deposit $0
�� Time to open an account 1-3 days
�� Deposit with credit card Not available
�� Depositing with electronic wallet Not available
�� Number of base currencies supported 2
�� Demo account provided Yes
��️ Products offered Stock, ETF, Fund, Bond, Options

Oskar Golebiowski

Canadian broker expert

Author of this review

Everything you find on BrokerChooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology

RBC Direct Investing review
Fees

RBC Direct Investing has no mutual fund fees and low non-trading fees. As long as you are an RBC banking client you don’t have a withdrawal fee either. On the negative side, the options fees are high and an account fee is charged if you have an account balance less than CAD 15,000.

Pros Cons
• Low non-trading fees • Quarterly account fee
• No withdrawal fee • High Non-RBC Client Withdrawal Fee
• No mutual fund trading fee
RBC Direct Investing fees snapshot
Assets Fee level Fee terms
US stock Average CAD 9.95 per trade. If you trade 150+ per quarter, it’s CAD 6.95
EURUSD Not available
Mutual fund Low CAD 0 per trade
Inactivity fee Low No inactivity fee

We ranked RBC Direct Investing’s fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed brokers.

To get things rolling, let’s go over some lingo related to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees, and non-trading fees.

  • Trading fees occur when you trade. These can be commissions, spreads, financing rates, and conversion fees.
  • Non-trading fees include charges not directly related to trading, like withdrawal fees or inactivity fees.

Below you will find the most relevant fees of RBC Direct Investing for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing commissions are the most important fees.

We also compared RBC Direct Investing’s fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Questrade and Qtrade. This selection is based on objective factors such as products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc. See a more detailed rundown of RBC Direct Investing alternatives.

To have a clear overview of RBC Direct Investing, let’s start with the trading fees.

RBC Direct Investing trading fees

RBC Direct Investing trading fees are average.

Stock fees and ETF fees

The fee structure is mostly transparent. The stock, ETF, and options fee structures are volume-tiered, and you get a discount after 150 trades per quarter.

RBC Direct Investing has generally average stock and ETF commissions compared to all brokers but some of its direct competitors offer lower commissions.

Stock and ETF commission of a $2,000 trade

RBC Direct Investing Questrade Qtrade
US stock $7.5 $5.0 $6.6

RBC Direct Investing charges a flat fee for stocks and ETFs of $9.95 per transaction if you have less than 150 transactions per quarter. If you trade 150 times or more in a quarter, you will be charged $6.95 flat per transaction.

If you prefer stock trading on margin or short sale, you should check RBC Direct Investing financing rates. RBC Direct Investing financing rates are average. The financing rates or also known as margin rates vary based on the base currency of your margin account.

What are financing rates? Financing rates or margin rates are charged when you trade short sell or on margin. Trading on margin basically means that you borrow money from your broker to trade. For this borrowed money you have to pay interest. This is the financing rate. It can be a significant proportion of your trading costs.

RBC Direct Investing annual financing rates for stocks, futures, and options

RBC Direct Investing Questrade Qtrade
USD margin rate 5.5% 8.5% 6.3%

The financing rates above are also applied for options.

Fund fees

RBC Direct Investing charges no commission fees for mutual fund transactions.

Commission for a $2,000 fund purchase

RBC Direct Investing Questrade Qtrade
Mutual fund $0.0 $10.0 $0.0

Bond fees

RBC Direct Investing has generally high bond fees.

Commission of a $10,000 government bond trade

RBC Direct Investing Questrade Qtrade
US Treasury bond $18.8 $0.0 $18.7

RBC Direct Investing offers only Canada-based government, provincial, municipal, and corporate bonds. The commission is incorporated into the total price of the bond which is not the most transparent. The minimum commission incorporated into the price is $25 per transaction, while the maximum is $250 per transaction.

Options fees

RBC Direct Investing options fees are high.

Stock index options commission of 10 contracts

RBC Direct Investing Questrade Qtrade
US stock index options $16.8 $20.0 $15.9

RBC Direct Investing charges an options trading commission of $9.95 flat + $1.25 per contract if you trade less than 150 transactions per quarter. If you trade 150 times or more in a quarter, you will be charged $6.95 flat + $1.25 per contract afterward.

Non-trading fees

RBC Direct Investing has low non-trading fees and it has average non-trading fees. It charges no inactivity fee and there is no withdrawal fee in some cases. However, there is a management fee of CAD 25 per quarter fee if you have less than CAD 15,000 account balance and withdrawal fee can be quite high.

RBC Direct Investing non-trading fees

RBC Direct Investing Questrade Qtrade
Account fee Yes No Yes
Inactivity fee No Yes No
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

The withdrawal fees strongly vary based on whether you have an RBC bank account or not, which account type you choose, and which withdrawal method you use as seen below:

RBC Direct Investing withdrawal fees

Clients with RBC bank account

Clients without RBC bank account

Margin, cash, RESP, TFSA accounts

Wire transfer: CAD 45

Free up to 2 withdrawals, each withdrawal after costs CAD 25

Wire transfer: CAD 45

CAD 50 plus tax

Wire transfer: CAD 95

RRSP account under Home Buyer’s Plan or Lifelong Learning Plan

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