BMO InvestorLine Review

Check out BMO InvestorLine; an online investing platform that allows you to automate your investments and access real investment managers.

Lisa Rennie
Updated November 11, 2020


Not only has online banking taken over the traditional banking process, but now robo-advisors have become the newest way to invest. While there are plenty of online-only investment platforms available to Canadian investors, big banks have also introduced their own versions, and BMO was the first among them to do so. 

BMO offers a SmartFolio product that offers investors a passive way to invest and allows them to leave their investments in the hands of experts behind the scenes and algorithms to manage their investments. But those who prefer a little more input and control over their online investing may find the BMO InvestorLine more appealing. This particular platform comes in two different varieties: 

  • InvestorLine Self-Directed: Investors have the power to manage their portfolios completely on their own.
  • InvestorLine adviceDirect: Investors are given personalized guidance and advice along with ongoing monitoring personalized to their particular investment needs and goals, yet are still the ones who ultimately make any final investing decisions.

Let’s take a closer look at BMO InvestorLine to help you decide if this is an ideal investment profile for you. 

How Does BMO InvestorLine Work?

The term robo-advisor might conjure up thoughts of dealing solely with bytes and algorithms, but that’s not exactly how these innovative platforms work. While it may be true that all your investing is being done virtually, there are actual humans behind the scenes in addition to algorithms helping to make the magic happen. And with BMO InvestorLine, you’ll have even more input compared to SmartFolio or other robo-advisors. 

BMO InvestorLine offers a wide range of options, drop-down menus, and toolbars that allow you to invest, track your progress, and see how your investments have been doing over the past. 

The interface is very user-friendly and lacks the flashy graphics that can be distracting and confusing. Instead, the platform is clean and easy to navigate, making online investing as simple and convenient as possible. 

As soon as you complete the application and fund your InvestorLine account (there’s no minimum), you’ll be given immediate access to your account and can start trading right away. InvestorLine allows you to trade stocks, bonds, options, GICs, and mutual funds.

BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed 

BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed offers clients tools to help make sound self-directed investment decisions but does not offer recommendations. Instead, you take the reigns with your investing, from research to trading, to tracking your portfolio’s progress. 

If you think you could benefit from some professional advice, a BMO Nesbitt Burns Investment Advisor is always available to offer you investment products and assistance needed to come up with a financial tactic that’s best for you.

BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect 

On the other hand, BMO adviceDirect provides customized investment advice for your investment portfolio and offers assistance with understanding ratings for available stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. With adviceDirect, you are still in control, but your portfolio will be continuously monitored by experts to ensure that its performance aligns with your investing needs. 

You will also be instantly notified with optimal buy and sell recommendations as required, and you’ll get personal support from a dedicated team of investment experts. At the end of the day, you’re still the one calling all the shots.

Regardless of what plan you choose, you’ll have access to free, real-time quotes in your account when you are signed in. You can research what to trade with the comprehensive analysis and investment tools and track your portfolio’s performance from the convenience of your computer or mobile device. 

Important Features to Consider When Choosing To Work With BMO InvestorLine

Take a look at some of BMO InvestorLine’s features to help you decide if this is the right platform for you to trade on:

Types of accounts. Choose from a variety of accounts, including registered accounts (RRSP, TFSA, RESP, RRIF), locked-in registered accounts (LIRA, LRSP, LRIF, LIF), non-registered accounts (cash and margin accounts), and corporate and non-personal accounts. 

Live advice. Get hold of an investment expert to get sound advice when you need it. 

Online tutorials for new traders. Newbie investors have an online suite of demos available to help put your best foot forward when you start trading. 

BMO InvestorLine 5 Star Program. Investors who are very wealthy and are active traders get access to the 5 Star Program which consists of three tiers:

  • Gold Star: For investors who have at least $250,000 invested or make between 15 to 75 trades every quarter. 
  • Platinum Star: For investors who have at least $2 million invested or who make between 75 to 179 trades every quarter.
  • Diamond Star: For people who have at least $5 million invested or who make at least 180 trades every quarter. 

Advanced tools for active traders. Active traders who make at least 75 trades every quarter get free access to BMO Market Pro that offers a customized trading dashboard with real-time data.

How Much Does BMO InvestorLine Cost?

Investment fees with BMO InvestorLine are as follows:

  • BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed: $9.95 flat-fee trading
  • BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect: $750 flat fee for all assets from $50,000 to $100,000; 0.75% for all assets from $100,000 to $500,000 with a maximum fee of $3,750. 

Administrative fees:

  • Registered accounts (ie. RRSPs): $100 annual administration fee for plans with assets under $25,000 (fee is waived for plans with over $25,000).
  • Non-registered accounts: $25 fee each quarter on account balance with less than $15,000. 

Fees are waived for investors who hold an RSP (such as RRIFs, LIRAs, LIFs, LRIFs) with BMO InvestorLine and for those who make at least two commissionable trades in 6 months. Further, informal trusts and accounts that are open for less than 180 are exempt from fees. 

How Personalized Are the Investment Portfolios?

With BMO InvestorLine, your portfolios are highly customized, and you play a key role in this. Since you are in total control over your portfolio and where your capital is invested, your portfolio will be entirely personalized according to your appetite for risk, financial goals, and current financial status. 

Account Types Offered 

BMO InvestorLine accounts include the following: 

  • Cash investment accounts
  • Self-directed RRSPs and RRIFs 
  • LIRAs 
  • LIFs 
  • LRIFs
  • RLIFs

What Perks Does BMO InvestorLine Have?

  • Special offer. Get as much as $2,000 cash back when you open an account.
  • No minimum balances. There’s no minimum amount required to open an account with BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed ($50,000 minimum balance is required for adviceDirect).
  • Trade smarter. Make informed decisions on investments with real-time information. 
  • Alerts. Get notified of the most recent news with alerts.
  • Track your portfolio’s performance. Compare stocks and ETFs and pinpoint trends.
  • Variety of accounts. Choose from a number of accounts including RRSPs or TFSAs. 
  • One platform. No matter what your investing style is, you can get it all done on one convenient, user-friendly interface. 
  • 24/7 portfolio monitoring. Keep tabs on your portfolio around the clock. 
  • Advice. Get personalized investment advice when needed.
  • Reputation. Because BMO is Canada’s oldest bank, you can rest assured that you are dealing with a sound and reputable financial institution.

Who is BMO InvestorLine Best Suited For?

Anyone looking for a more affordable and convenient way to invest and trade may find BMO InvestorLine an attractive option while still having access to the advice and guidance of experienced investment portfolio managers and advisors. It’s a particularly attractive option for investors who like the idea of trading with a well-established banking entity. 

Investors who want a passive way to invest may want to look at BMO SmartFolio, but those who prefer to be more hands-on would be better suited to the InvestorLine Self-Directed or adviceDirect platforms, which put the investor in the driver’s seat.  

Is BMO InvestorLine Safe?

When you invest with BMO InvestorLine, you can rest easy knowing that up to $1 million of your account will be protected by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). 

Overview of BMO InvestorLine

FeesBMO InvestorLine Self-Directed: $9.95 flat-fee trading
BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect: $750 flat fee for all assets from $50,000 to $100,000;
0.75% for all assets from $100,000 to $500,000 with a maximum fee of $3,750.
Account types– Cash investment accounts
– Self-directed RRSPs and RRIFs
– LIFs 
– RLIFs 
Minimum Investment-BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed: none
-BMO InvestorLine advice Direct: $50,000
Financial AdviceYes
Special tools– BMO InvestorLine 5 Star Program
– BMO Market Pro 
Tax-Loss HarvestingNo
Socially Responsible Investing OptionsNo
Active Portfolio ManagementYes

Should You Use BMO InvestorLine Or Work With a Human Advisor?

The great thing about BMO InvestorLine is that you’re not really completely on your own when you invest. While you’re in the driver’s seat as far as your investments are concerned, you will still have access to professional investment managers who will be available to you if you ever have any queries about your investments. Much like it would be if you worked with a human advisor, the support will always be there with BMO InvestorLine. 

Not only will you have the assistance of experts, but you’ll also have the advantage of convenience and low fees compared to taking the traditional investing route. 

Thinking of working with an online broker? Check out our list of the best online brokers in Canada.

Why Should You Invest?

It can be difficult to build substantial wealth just by putting a few bucks into your savings account every month. While you may be able to find decent interest rates with certain accounts, they typically pale in comparison to the types of returns you can realize when you invest in investment vehicles. And with the right tools and support, you can watch your money grow much faster when you invest appropriately as opposed to leaving it in a savings account

Final Thoughts

If the idea of investing conveniently and affordably with a trusted name like BMO sounds appealing to you, then the BMO InvestorLine platform may be something you might want to try out. Not only will you have the convenience of investing virtually, but you’ll have access to support when you need it, while giving you total control over your investments.