Canadian Discount Brokerages – Phone Call Time Comparison

I’ve been spending some time recently updating the Canadian discount brokerage comparison which contains lots of information about all the Canadian discount brokerages.

I decided to re-test the average wait time (when phoning) to make sure the shortcuts were up to date as well as the wait times. I thought it would be interesting to share the results here as well as look at the biggest improvements and declines.

My method is fairly unscientific (described in the last paragraph of this post) and doesn’t cover all aspects of customer service, but I think for people who are concerned with wait times when calling their broker – it might give them some idea of how the brokers compare.

Brokerages ranked by wait time

Not surprisingly, the smaller independent brokerages that scored well on wait times last year also did well this year. The main reason for this is that the bank owned brokerages have a lot more messages and more extensive phone trees.

Qtrade and Options Express which have the shortest wait times, only make you listen to a short message and no phone tree. CIBC on the other hand wins the “worst wait time” award, mainly because of the ads, messages, and lengthy phone tree which took me one minute and 46 seconds to get through. When I used the phone short cuts (available on the brokerage comparison), it took a more reasonable 25 seconds to get through.

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Biggest changes from last year

None of the brokers did appreciably worse than last year, but on the improvement side – there were a number of brokers that answered the phone much faster.

Questrade was the big winner in this category. Last year they had one of the longest wait times of 168 seconds. This time they were a more respectable 51 seconds. Interactive Brokers, ShareOwner and Disnat also made some significant improvements.

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Phone call wait time methodology

The wait time was measured from after I finished dialing to when a customer service rep started talking. The automated message system was quite time consuming in some cases, which is why if you use the key prompt shortcuts, your actual wait times should be much less. The wait time averages were based on a minimum of five phone calls made on business days between the hours of 9:30 am and 4:00 pm.

It should be noted that I did not use any of the automated message system shortcuts to save time – I wanted to replicate the experience of someone who wasn’t familiar with the automated message system.

4 replies on “Canadian Discount Brokerages – Phone Call Time Comparison”

Can you do a comparison on fees and commissions to see if anyone has improved? This could be followed up by a comparison on service level.


Thanks for the comparison. It’s an interesting idea since I absolutely abhor waiting on the phone, yet I’ve never seen a direct comparison anywhere. Qtrade is the global & mail darling every year, and I’ve been strongly considering setting up an account with them.

@Be’en – Thanks for the suggestion. I keep the comparison up to date and I don’t plan on doing any improvement measurements, unless there are major changes with a brokerage.

@My Uni $$ – Qtrade seems quite good. If nothing else, they answer their phones fast!

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