• RBC Direct Investing

How to Build an ETF Portfolio at RBC Direct Investing

In the fourth installment of my beginner DIY investing series, we’ll learn how to implement an ETF portfolio at RBC Direct Investing.



$9.95 trading commissions

In 2014, RBC was the first of the big six banks to lower its standard trading commission to $9.95 per trade (others quickly followed suit). Although $9.95 may not seem cheap in 2016, it’s still reasonable if you keep your trades to a minimum.

Avoid the quarterly maintenance fee

If you have combined assets across all accounts of $15,000 or more, RBC Direct Investing will waive their $25 quarterly maintenance fee. Similar to TD Direct Investing, they will also waive their quarterly maintenance fee if you set-up a pre-authorized contribution of at least $100 per month ($300 per quarter).

For smaller accounts, use less ETFs

Although I’ve shown how to build a 5-ETF portfolio in my tutorial, you can get away with using just three ETFs to cut down on trading commissions. Instead of holding separate ETFs for US, international and emerging markets stocks, simply hold the iShares Core MSCI All Country World ex Canada Index ETF (XAW).

Stay tuned next week when we’ll learn How to Build an ETF Portfolio at Scotia iTRADE.

By |2017-01-17T17:27:33+00:00November 8th, 2016|Categories: DIY Investing, ETFs, Video Tutorials|Tags: |8 Comments


  1. RJ March 11, 2018 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Hi Justin,
    If I were to buy an ETF and setup a monthly pre-authorized contribution does RBC charge the $9.95 trading fee each month?

    • Justin March 11, 2018 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      @RJ: I don’t believe so, but please contact RBC Direct Investing with your question to be certain.

  2. Aki January 11, 2018 at 7:07 am - Reply

    I am wondering with new rbc etf in market whose mer are close to vangaurd. Will they be free to trade on rbc DI platform

    • Justin January 12, 2018 at 2:14 am - Reply

      @Aki: I wouldn’t hold your breath – BMO has had its own line of ETFs for years now, and you still pay $9.95 to trade them at BMO InvestorLine.

  3. JamesB November 3, 2017 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    @Justin: Thanks for posting these tutorial videos, super helpful!

    After a couple of months of reading your blog and Dan’s, I’m moving towards building my first ETF portfolio. I have narrowed my choice of brokerage down to: QTrade, Questrade, and RBC Direct Investing.

    Do you have a recommendations on which brokerage to use? My portfolio is going to consist of 2x Canadian-listed ETF, 3x US-listed ETFs, and a GIC ladder, spread across 2x registered and 2x taxable accounts.

    Thanks again,

    • Justin November 3, 2017 at 7:45 pm - Reply

      @JamesB: If you’re using Norbert’s gambit to purchase US-listed ETFs, RBC Direct Investing is the easiest platform to use (you can buy and sell DLR/DLR.U instantly and immediately purchase your US-listed ETFs on the same day). RBC Direct Investing also has a wide selection of GICs (which you can also purchase online without the need to call an RBC trader). RBC Direct Investing also does a decent job of calculating your overall portfolio’s rate of return (using the Modified Dietz method, which can be benchmarked to time-weighted index returns).

      Questrade has the advantage of cheaper commissions, but if you’re not placing many trades, this benefit may not be worth it.

      I don’t have a Qtrade account, but I think that most DIY investors who are concerned about reducing trading commissions opt for Questrade instead.

  4. Jeremy January 8, 2017 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Thanks Justin. I’ve been a long-time RBC customer and prefer to keep my investments there to see all financials in one interface, and I’ve been looking for RBC advise around direct investing for a while. Questions: do you stand by your model portfolios for 2017 or are you planning to update them for the new year?

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