Personal Finance

Cheapest/Best broker for ETFs in an RRSP? Questrade?

  • Last Updated:
  • Oct 17th, 2010 12:00 pm
Sr. Member
Jul 18, 2009
679 posts

Cheapest/Best broker for ETFs in an RRSP? Questrade?

I'm leaving my employer soon, and I have about $25,000 to roll into a locked in RRSP. I want to set up a portfolio of ETFs - most of which will be US ETFs. I won't be trading that often, mostly just occassional rebalancing after the initial allocation. Which broker has the best fee structure for this kind of (small) account? Also, I've been looking at Questrade, as it seems to have good prices, but does anyone know does the $5 USD charge get charged when USD dividends are added to the account? That seems like it could really eat into earnngs on ETFs that have frequent but small distributions.
3 replies
Sr. Member
Jul 18, 2009
679 posts

Also, how does this allocation sound? (ETF symbols I'll use in brackets)

10% broad based canadian bond fund (XBB)
10% real return bonds (XRB)
10% international bonds (BWX)
=30% bonds

7.5% Canadian Real estate (XRE)
7.5% International real estate (DRW)
=15% real estate

15% Canadian Equity (mix of XIC/CDZ/XMD)
12.5% - US Equity (mix of VTI/JKJ/DVY)
12.5% - International Equity (VEA/VSS)
10% - EMerging Equity (VWO)
5% - Frontier Marker Equity (FRN)
=55% Equities

I realize some aspects of this portfolio are higher rish (small caps, frontier markets, etc.) but I'm 30 so my time horizon is pretty long, and I'll be contributing to my regular RRSP as well which is in a conservative mix of TD-eFunds.

Thoughts? Have I missed anything important? better choices for my ETFs?
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 29, 2002
3824 posts
Yes, QT is cheapest for RRSP - message me if you need a referral.

Allocation looks OK. Since you only have $25K, I'd dump FRN/VSS and simplify with VWO, VEA, VTI, XIU/XIC.
Same with bonds - 2 of XBB/XSB/XRB.
VNQ may give you the Int'l REIT exposure you want, with 1/4 of the MER (0.5%+ vs. 0.13%).

15 stocks in a $25K portfolio is overkill - re-balancing quarterly, it'd cost you ~1% in trading fees excluding your MER.

There is no $5 USD fee on dividends. It's only when you do FX conversions, not when you buy/sell stocks.
Sr. Member
Jul 18, 2009
679 posts
Thanks for the advice. I would like to keep FRN in the mix, since I do think smaller emerging markets are a good long term bet, but until my portfolio grows I think I will take your advice and cut out the smallcap and dividends, and just stick to broad indexes in my equity categories. That cuts 5 ETFs out of the mix.

I don't thnk VNQ gives me quite the same exposure as DRW - VNQ follows US REITs, and I was looking for something that follows realestate globally. But yes, the expnse ratio is fairly high. Is there another global REIT ETF that I should be considering? They all seem to have fairly high expenses!

In terms of the bonds, again I was hoping for some global exposure. I guess I wondering what the advantage is of holding only domestic bonds?