Morningstar Awards: BMO takes home Best Online Broker

This is the second year in a row that BMO InvestorLine has picked up Best Online Broker thanks to adviceDirect improvements and new Chinese Language websites.

Ashley Redmond 1 December, 2014 | 6:00PM
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Ashley Redmond: I'm Ashley Redmond for and I’m here with Julie Barker-Merz, the president of BMO InvestorLine. Julie is picking up Best Online Brokerage.

Julie, congratulations.

Julie Barker-Merz: Thank you very much. We’re very excited.

Redmond: This is your first year as president picking up the award, correct?

Barker-Merz: It is.

Redmond: Exciting. So what made BMO InvestorLine really stand out this year and [ultimately] put you ahead of the competition?

Barker-Merz: I think a couple of different things: we kept our eye on the ball in terms of table stakes; in terms of navigation [we made sure BMO InvestorLine was] easy to navigate; [we’re] simple and [added] more resources with best-in-class research. Those are the things that we do really, really well at and we listen to our clients and we make sure that we provide them with what they’re asking for and what they need.

On top of that I think what really stood out were three things. We launched our Chinese website, which has been very well received, and we’re still the only ones in the market who have end-to-end Chinese trading. The second piece is our mobile. We launched mobile early in the year and it was an amazing achievement. It was again best-in-class and our clients really appreciated having access to everything that we offer through mobile. And then third, we just launched this year as well, is our tablet. We launched it a few weeks ago. It took us a while to get it out because we wanted it to be just right and exactly what our clients were looking for and it’s the best app. It’s winning all the accolades in the App Store and we are incredibly proud of that.

Redmond: That’s great. What’s your goal with BMO InvestorLine in terms of user experience?

Barker-Merz: We want it to be very intuitive and we want it to be easy to understand, easy to navigate, and yet have all the tools at our client's disposal. That’s really important to us. And the other element that we’re really trying to think through as we try to ramp up our digital experience is -- how do we bring a human touch to everything we do? Just because we’re digital doesn’t mean that we can’t connect with our clients in a really human way. So, we’re doing a lot of work on that now to try to get that right and try to really leapfrog what it means to trade online and what it means to invest online.

Redmond: Any new initiatives in 2014 that helped contribute to your success?

Barker-Merz: I think the tablet launch is particularly exciting for us. It’s the first time that we actually integrated our solution with our everyday banking partners in the bank. This is the only app of its kind where it’s not about self-directed investing, it’s also about banking, and how you bring those two together. We worked really hard with every part of the bank to make it come to life and it was tough. We had to make some really difficult decisions along the way. It took the energy of hundreds of people to make it happen and I think the end result has exceeded all of our expectations. It’s just amazing and our clients love it.

Redmond: That’s great. What should investors expect from BMO InvestorLine in 2015?

Barker-Merz: A whole lot more. We don’t stop. Like I said, we really love the feedback that we’re getting from our clients. Our clients are really part of what we do every day. We’ve just launched our active trader platform in recent weeks and we’re going to be activating that even more in the months to come where people can trade through the active trader platform. So, that’s really exciting for all of our active traders.

We’re also going to continue to do enhancements to adviceDirect. adviceDirect is really important to us, and it’s still a really important differentiator. There is a lot of media attention right now around robo-advisors, and that gives us an opportunity to really talk about what adviceDirect is and how it fits within the investing offering. And so we continue to offer more and enhance more and improve the experience all around.

Redmond: Great. Congratulations again.

Barker-Merz: Thank you very much.

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Ashley Redmond

Ashley Redmond  Ashley Redmond is a Vancouver-based freelance writer.

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