BMO InvestorLine Review 2022: Fees, Cashback, Pros & Cons

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read this disclosure for more info.

This BMO InvestorLine Review takes a deep dive into the services and offering of one of the best robo-advisors and self-directed online brokerages in Canada. 

The BMO InvestorLine has been around for over three decades helping millions of Canadians with unique investment solutions. If you’re considering signing up for the brokerage but wondering if it’s the perfect option for you. You’re in the right place!

In this BMO InvestorLine review, I discuss everything you need to know about the investment platform including how it compares with similar platforms in Canada.


What is BMO InvestorLine?

BMO InvestorLine is a multi-investing platform operating as a self-directed brokerage and a robo advisory service from the Bank of Montreal (BMO).

The investing platform was launched in 1988 as a self-directed brokerage but has now grown to become a hybrid investment platform offering both self-directed and managed/robo-advisor investing options.

As a self-directed investor, BMO InvestorLine provides comprehensive suites of tools, investment and trading accounts in addition to professional support.

And if you’re too busy or have little investing experience, you can rely on the BMO’s robo-advisory service called BMO SmartFolio or get personalized support from dedicated advisors through the InvestorLine AdviceDirect.

In summary, BMO InvestorLine is a one-stop shop for investors with different needs and situations in Canada. 


BMO InvestorLine Products

As a multi-investing platform, BMO InvestorLine caters to investors with different needs and situations through the following products.

1. BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed

Are you a DIY investor looking for a solid platform to trade in Canada? The BMO InvestorLine Self-directed platform could be your perfect option. This is an online trading platform tailored to investors looking to take full control of their investments.

The BMO InvestorLine Self-directed has the tools you need to research, trade, and monitor your investment as a DIY investor.

While this platform charges a $9.95 trading fee, it allows you to trade over 80 Canadian ETFs without commission. In addition to ETFs, you can also trade bonds, mutual funds, options, GICs and stocks on North American exchanges, such as:

  • Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX)
  • National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ)
  • New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) 

That said, the available trading accounts on the BMO InvestorLine Self-directed are:

  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
  • Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)
  • Registered Education Savings Program (RESP)
  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Margin
  • Cash 
  • Joint

Unlike other self-directed brokerages, the BMO InvestorLine Self-directed doesn’t have a minimum amount requirement and offers professional support to help you make the most of your investment. 

BMO 5 Star Program

If you are an experienced DIY investor and trade frequently or trade high volumes, you will automatically be enrolled in the BMO 5 Star Program and enjoy exclusive benefits. 

The program is specifically available to self-directed investors that trade at least 15 times quarterly or invest a minimum of $250,000. As a member of the BMO 5 Star Program, you will enjoy;

  • Preferred pricing and rates
  • Industry-leading research
  • Dedicated support

In addition, you will also access the BMO Market Pro and other professional-level tools. The BMO Market Pro comes with the following features:

  • Level two quotes
  • Real-time streaming
  • Global data review
  • Instant trades 
  • In-depth equity screeners
  • Customized watch lists
  • Broadcasts optimizing
  • Alerts visualizing and managing

2. BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect

If you’re looking for a self-directed platform with dedicated professional advice and support, the BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect could be what you need. 

This online trading platform offers customized recommendations while giving you full control of your investment.

As a result, you will still be in charge of the trading and managing of your investment just as in the BMO InvestorLine Self-directed platform. But in this case, you will save yourself the stress of researching and monitoring the stock market.

Unlike the Self-directed platform that has no minimum requirement, you need a $10,000 minimum balance to start investing on the BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect. However, you will enjoy the following services:

  • Customized investment advice at your fingertips
  • Customized recommendations on buying and selling securities
  • 24/7 portfolio monitoring on your behalf
  • Dedicated human advisor support 

Currently, the BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect offers up to $2,500 cash back to new users who sign-up with the promo code ADCASH2500 till May 31, 2022. Below is a highlight of the eligible investment amounts and their cashback rates.

Investment amountCashback
$10,000 – $49,999$100
$50,000 – $99,999$200
$100,000 – $249,999$500
$250,000 – $499,999$800
$500,000 – $999,999$1,000
$1,000,000+$2,500

That said, the BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect comes with three plans with different minimum balances and features shown below.

PlanMinimum balance requirementKey Features
adviceDirect PreviewDoesn’t require fundingLimited research and securities ratings 
Limited trade ideas 
Limited watchlist 
Limited portfolio evaluation 
adviceDirect$10,000Unlimited research and securities ratings
Unlimited trade ideasTrade recommendations
Online trading
Unlimited Watchlists
Unlimited portfolio evaluation 
Customized advice 
adviceDirect Premium$500,000All the features of the advice
Direct plan
Access to financial planning
adviceDirect advisor relationship

3. BMO SmartFolio

The BMO SmartFolio is a hybrid of robo and human advisors that eliminates the hassle of investing.

Launched in 2016, the BMO SmartFolio is a unique investment platform that allows you to automate your investment with a human touch. This eliminates some of the weaknesses of robo advising and helps maximize your investment returns.

Like other robo advisors, the BMO SmartFolio handles the entire investing while you do the funding. To this end, you will be required to provide information about your: 

  • Investment goals
  • Risk tolerance
  • Investing knowledge
  • Time horizon
  • Financial condition

With this, the robo advisor will automatically match you with one of its five ETF portfolios as follows: 

  • Income portfolio
  • Capital preservation portfolio
  • Balanced portfolio
  • Long term growth portfolio
  • Equity growth

After matching you with the perfect portfolio, the robo advisor will invest your funds and have them managed by a professional human advisor.

All you need is to make a minimum investment of $1,000 to start investing in the BMO SmartFolio. And like other top robo-advisors in Canada, you can set up pre-authorized contributions to your SmartFolio account and enjoy more hassle-free investing.

BMO InvestorLine

BMO InvestorLine Investment and Trading Accounts 

BMO InvestorLine has an above-average collection of investment accounts ranging from ETFs, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options and GICs.

In addition, both the BMO self-directed platform and robo advisor support the following registered and non-registered accounts.

Registered accountsNon-registered accounts
TFSAIndividual
RRSPJoint
RRIFMargin
RESPCash 
LIRATrusts
LIFPersonal holding companies
LRIFPartnerships
LRSPCorporations
RLSPAssociations
Investment clubs 

BMO InvestorLine Fees

The BMO InvestorLine fees vary per investment accounts as you can see below: 

BMO Self-Directed FeesBMO adviceDirect FeesBMO SmartFolio Fees
Online trading fee: $9.95 flat fee Trading fee for  $10,000 to $500,000 investment balance: 0.75% Monthly fee for $1,000 – $500,00 investment  balance: $0.58 to $237.50
Options: $9.95 + $1.25 per contractTrading fee for $500,000 and above investment balance: $3,750 maximumAnnual fee for $1,000 to $500,000+ investment balance: 0.40% to 0.70%
MER: 0.20% to 0.35%

Besides the above fees, the following are some of the general fees on all BMO InvestorLine accounts.

ServiceFee
Cheque requests fee$10 per request 
Non-registered internal transfers$25
Outgoing transfers$150
Withdrawals at non-BMO ATMs and POS$2 in Canada and $5.00 in the US and other countries
FX fee0.55% to 1.75%
Security registration fee $50 per certificate
Monthly securities Safekeeping fee$50 per certificate
Registered/unregistered swaps $45 per swap
Paper statement requests fee$5 per statement

From the above, it’s obvious that BMO InvestorLine is relatively costly compared to similar platforms in Canada. 

However, the features of the investing platform make it worthwhile for high net worth investors that are less concerned about fees. 


BMO InvestorLine Pros and Cons

So far in this BMO InvestorLine review, we’ve gone over its products, fees and account options.

Next, we’ll cover some of the pros and cons of the investment platform:

Pros of BMO InvestorLine

  • Multi-investing platform: Whether you’re looking for a robo advisor, self-directed brokerage, human advisor or a mixture of both, you can count on the BMO InvestorLine.
  • Multiple accounts: BMO InvestorLine has an above-average collection of investment accounts with multiple trading accounts. This makes it more accessible to investors with different needs. 
  • Commission-free ETF trading: You can buy and sell over 80 Canadian ETFs on the BMO InvestorLine Self-directed platform without commissions. 
  • Solid trading platform: Self-directed investors can enjoy hassle-free trading on the BMO Self-directed brokerage because it has comprehensive tools for research, trading and investment monitoring. 
  • Professional advice and support: The BMO InvestorLine is composed of expert portfolio managers with several years of experience that are ready to advise and help you make informed investment decisions.
  • Cashback: With up to $2,500 cash back for opening your first BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect account, you can easily boost your investment and reap more returns. 

Cons of BMO InvestorLine

  • Expensive: The BMO InvestorLine is relatively expensive compared to similar investment platforms in Canada. From monthly fees, quarterly fees, annual fees, and trading fees, the platform left enough to be desired.
  • Minimum Investment: With the exception of the BMO InvestorLine Self-directed, the other platforms have a minimum balance requirements that puts them out of reach for investors looking to start with little money.

Is the BMO InvestorLine Perfect For You?

From the above BMO InvestorLine review, it’s obvious that the platform is more suitable for:

  • Investors looking for a hybrid investment platform with robo and human advisors.
  • Beginner DIY investors looking for professional advice and support without minding fees.
  • Experienced DIY investors that trade frequently or in high volumes looking for tailored solutions.
  • Canadian self-directed investors looking for a commission-free brokerage for trading some ETFs.

If you’re one of the above investors, then you can’t make the wrong choice with the BMO InvestorLine.

However, this platform may not be suitable for you if you’re looking for an investment platform with:

  • No commission on trading stocks and ETFs
  • No monthly, quarterly and annual fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Low fees

To get those benefits, you should consider one of the BMO Investing alternatives covered later in this post.


How to Open a BMO InvestorLine Account

To open a BMO InvestorLine account, you must first meet the requirements below: 

In addition, you will be required to upload or submit one of the following documents per category. 

Group “A” DocumentsGroup “B” Documents
Government-issued photo ID (with the exception of provincial health cards)Bank statement
Registered investment account statement Utility billCredit card statement
Loan account statement

If you meet all the above requirements, you can proceed to open the BMO InvestorLine account online, by phone at 1-888-776-6886 (toll-free) or in-person at any of the BMO closest branches.

The registration process involves selecting your preferred account, providing your personal information, uploading documents, and funding your account.


Is the BMO InvestorLine Safe?

The BMO InvestorLine is safe as it complies with the provisions of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). 

In addition, assets in the BMO InvestorLine are covered by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) for up to $1 million per insured account. 

And for your personal information, BMO protects it with advanced encryption and offers a 100% security guarantee. This saves you from any liabilities arising from unauthorized transactions on your account.

Overall, the fact that the investment platform is owned and managed by one of the big banks in Canada should give you peace of mind.


BMO InvestorLine Alternatives

There are different reasons why the BMO InvestorLine may not be the ideal investing platform for you. Fortunately, there’s nothing to worry about as you can choose from similar platforms with competitive features.

Let’s take a look at some of the top BMO InvestorLine alternatives in Canada to help you make an informed decision.

1. Wealthsimple 

Wealthsimple is also a multi-investing platform as it supports automated and self-directed investing. 

The automated investing platform of Wealthsimple is called Wealthsimple Invest and the self-directed investing platform is known as Wealthsimple Trade

One thing that makes Wealthsimple better than the BMO InvestorLine is that its robo advisor has no monthly/quarterly fee while having a low management fee, low MER and no minimum balance.

In addition, the Wealthsimple self-directed platform (Wealthsimple Trade) also beats the BMO InvestorLine Self-directed platform as it charges no trading fees and commission on trading stocks and ETFs. 

While Wealthsimple Trade has limited investment and trading accounts, it offers access to SRI, halal, crypto and fractional shares trading.

On the other hand, BMO InvestorLine Self-directed platform outshines Wealthsimple Trade in terms of comprehensive research, trading and portfolio management tools.

Learn more: 

2. Questrade

Like the BMO InvestorLine, Questrade is also a hybrid of an automated and self-directed investing platform.

Questrade’s automated investing platform is called Questwealth Portfolios and the self-directed investing platform is also known as Questrade Self-directed Investing.

Both the BMO InvestorLine’s robo advisor and Questrade’s robo advisor require a $1,000 minimum investment to start investing.

However, the BMO SmartFolio has relatively higher fees and MER than Questwealth Portfolios. The same applies to the BMO InvestorLine Self-directed platform which charges a flat $9.95  fee per trade compared to Questrade’s 1 cent fee per share (minimum of $4.95).  

While Questrade allows you to buy unlimited ETFs for free, the BMO InvestorLine allows you to trade over 80 ETFs without commissions.

With multiple investments and trading accounts, comprehensive suites of tools, and low fees, you may find Questrade more suitable than the BMO InvestorLine.

Questrade also offers a number of promotions that you can take advantage of as a new client. Learn how you can earn up to $300 as a new user in this post about Questrade promotions.

Learn more: 


Some FAQs on BMO InvestorLine Review

Why is BMO InvestorLine better than others?

The BMO InvestorLine is better than other investment platforms because of its multiple investment and trading accounts, commission-free ETF trading, cashback, and professional advice and support.

How long does it take to open BMO InvestorLine account?

It depends on the process you used as you can open a BMO InvestorLine account online, by phone or in-branch. However, it takes about 20 minutes to open a BMO InvestorLine account online. 

Is BMO InvestorLine a discount broker?

Yes, the BMO InvestorLine ticks all the boxes of a discount broker as it offers commission-free ETF trading and cashback upon opening your first BMO adviceDirect account.

Can you buy crypto on BMO InvestorLine?

You can’t buy or sell crypto coins on BMO InvestorLine at the moment. 

Can I buy US stocks in BMO InvestorLine?

Yes, you can buy and sell US stocks in BMO InvestorLine that are listed on NASDAQ and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).


Final Thoughts on BMO InvestorLine Review

The BMO InvestorLine has so many attractive features compared to other investment platforms in Canada so this review is positive.

With comprehensive investment and trading accounts, research and trading tools, commission-free trading, cashback, and professional account, this could be the perfect platform for you.

But irrespective of your investment needs, it is essential you consider the fees and minimum balance involved before making a final decision. 

If you need more clarification in determining if this is the perfect platform for you, kindly contact your financial advisor or drop a comment below.

Finally, I invite you to read our other related posts about the best investment products and services in Canada, such as: 

BMO InvestorLine review
4.5

Summary

BMO InvestorLine line is a multi-investing platform operating as a self-directed brokerage and a robo advisor of the Bank of Montreal (BMO).

Simon is a CPA by day and a Personal Finance Blogger by night. With over a decade experience in financial services, he's passionate about personal finance, investing and helping people take control of their financial life.

Leave a Comment