Exchange-traded funds

National Bank Direct Brokerage is making it even easier for you to trade exchange-traded funds (ETFs), with zero commission on all Canadian ETFs at all times*, no matter how many trades you place.

You can invest all over the world or you could choose to temporarily overweight a security in your portfolio in one sector or region, all with zero commission.



What is an ETF?

An ETF consists of a basket of securities that can be traded on stock exchanges. ETFs usually replicate an index, but can also be linked to other types of financial assets like currencies or commodities. Generally, investors use ETFs for two reasons: as a passive way to invest over the long term, or to gain exposure to a short-term trend in a given sector or index.

Types of ETFs

  • Simple
  • Inverse
  • Leveraged
  • Actively managed


  • Stocks
  • Fixed-income securities
  • Currencies
  • Commodities


What are the benefits of ETFs?

1. Low management fees
ETF management fees allow the investor to minimize the management fees paid and capture the maximum potential return. Combined with our 0$ commissions, the savings of today could have a big payoff down the road.
2. Global Offer
It is possible to invest worldwide in a multitude of asset classes with ETFs. Discover the depth of the solutions offered with over 2,000 ETFS available from NBDB by visiting our ETF Center.

3. Diversification
ETFs enable investment in a basket of securities to reduce the risk of holding individual stocks. Diversification has never been more affordable.

4. Transparency
ETF issuers are required to disclose the daily composition of their product. Be aware at all times that in which you are investing.

5. Ease of trading
From the opening to the closing of the markets, ETFs can be traded at any time just like a stock. Just like a stock, you can buy or sell an ETF immediately during the market session, unlike mutual funds whose price is determined only once the market close.
6. Tax Efficiency
The low turnover of assets that make up most index ETFs reduces the years end distribution resulting in tax efficiency. Depending on the account type, choose ETFs that will optimize your taxation.


A couple of examples

  • An ETF can replicate a core consumer price index at a very low cost. This means that an investor can purchase an ETF replicating the S&P/TSX index instead of buying all 235 securities that make up the index separately.
  • By purchasing four ETFs, a client can make a diversified investment in major indexes in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia, without paying any commission at NBDB.

Choosing the right ETF for you

ETFs are a great way to optimize your diversification strategy and reduce portfolio risk compared to shares. However, it is important to choose appropriate funds based on your investor profile and objectives.
NBDB provides a search tool allowing you to filter available products and generate a list of funds that match your criteria. You can access this filter from your National Bank Direct Brokerage account under Quotes & Markets > ETF Centre.

Can I borrow to buy ETFs?

Yes. This is usually carried out using a margin account.

Get even more information on ETF in our Education Center

* The "Zero Commission on ETFs" pricing starts as of September 1, 2016. All trades involving 100 or more units of Canadian exchange-traded funds carried out through our electronic solutions are eligible. Eligible ETFs are those that appear on the list of Canadian ETFs published by the Canadian ETF Association.
Commission-free ETF trades are not counted when calculating:
  • Free access to trading platforms
  • Active Investor pricing
  • Annual administrative fees
Management and other fees may apply to ETF investments. Please read the prospectus before making an investment. ETFs are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.
National Bank Direct Brokerage offers no advice and gives no investment recommendations. The client alone is responsible for the financial and tax consequences of his or her investment decisions. Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.

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