Who is the most trusted investment firm in Canada?

Need an investment firm to help with your financial goals? Check out the top investment firms in Canada for 2023

Who is the most trusted investment firm in Canada?

Updated 10-25-2023

Some investors remain keen to grow their portfolios despite the headwinds created by a series of unusual events. In this hyper-connected and globalized economy, current conflicts and regional tensions reverberate across countries and can impact investments.

For Canada, the IMF predicts that real GDP growth will reach only 1.7% this year, compared to an average of 3.4% in 2022.

Considering these challenges, how can investors in Canada maximize growth for their investments and mitigate the associated risks towards the end of 2023? One good way is to entrust their investments to Canada’s top wealth management or investment firms. In this article, we look at some of the top investment firms in Canada.

Why consider hiring or working with an investment firm?

Some investors may argue that it may not be in their best interests to work with or engage the services of an investment firm. After all, this can mean paying a considerable amount in fees, which are added to fund MERs or product fees that collectively eat into earnings.

But if you have a more complex or aggressive investment strategy, an investment firm can help implement this and provide invaluable assistance in portfolio management. They can make the appropriate asset allocations, employ risk management strategies, and evaluate and monitor portfolio performance.

Top-performing investment companies in Canada also have ongoing communications with their clients. This is to make sure that any portfolio management activities align with risk tolerance, investment objectives, and financial goals.

Here’s a video that can be helpful when making this decision:

Is it worth working with an investment firm?

The easy answer is yes, but only if investors maintain a large portfolio and use an investment strategy that is aggressive enough.

Most investment firms or full-service brokerages will only take on clients that have a high net worth, starting at $100,000. Some investment firms may even require ten times that, at $1 million.  

Investors who can afford the high fees and meet the net worth requirement can say it’s worth it, as some of these firms have a consistent record of giving market-beating returns.

Employing an investment firm also allows investors to leverage experienced, individual investment advisors or even entire teams. The services that they can provide include retirement planning, tax planning, estate planning, financial planning, and insurance.

The all-in-one financial services and high returns that investment firms can offer are worth it, if the client can pay their fees.

The Top 10 Investment firms in Canada for 2023

From a study on client satisfaction conducted by JD Power, these are the best investment firms for 2023. These firms scored the highest trust ratings and investor satisfaction.  

1. Raymond James

In the top spot is Raymond James, an independent financial services company that was established in Florida. This full-service brokerage garnered the highest ratings for investor satisfaction across all seven of the metrics in a study by JD Power.

The firm has a small office in Canada, although it boasts a workforce of 8,700 advisors and an Assets Under Management (AUM) of over $1 trillion.

Raymond James offers a diverse menu of services that includes asset management, investment banking, and insurance. Client servicing is given a high priority in this firm, and Fortune magazine consistently ranks this as one of the best companies to work for.

2. Edward Jones

A close second, Edward Jones is a great choice for a full-service brokerage in Canada. As with Raymond James, this firm also has roots in the US, having been founded in St. Louis, Missouri.

What makes this firm unique is its business model: advisors within the firm are also part-owners of the company. The brokerage has nearly 19,000 advisors in its employ who service more than 8 million clients. Edward Jones manages assets worth a little over $1.7 trillion.

Another unique feature of this brokerage is that most of its advisors have individual offices in different cities and towns. Edward Jones places high importance on having personal meetings with clients and taking a more personal approach to investing.

3. Assante

At the third spot of the top investment firms in Canada is a much smaller brokerage compared to the top two. CI Assante is owned and operated by CI Financial.

CI Financial is one of the largest Canadian wealth management firms that is neither a bank nor attached to any bank. CI Assante was founded in Toronto in 1995. The firm has 900 advisors managing assets of around $46 billion. Assante offers most of the same services as other brokerages, including retirement planning, tax planning, investment management, and insurance.  

4. National Bank Financial

National Bank Financial earned its spot among the top 10 investment firms not only for its remarkable client satisfaction score, but also for its high expertise in Canadian capital markets.

Despite being the smallest among the large Canadian banks, National Bank Financial’s full-service brokerage arm boasts of a network of 850 advisors who manage more than $140 billion in assets.

National Bank Financial offers investment banking, wealth management, financial planning, institutional sales and trading, wealth management, and financial planning. It holds offices in major cities, such as Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.

5. iA Private Wealth

At fifth place among the top investment firms in Canada is another independent investment firm, Industrial Alliance (iA) Private Wealth. This brokerage firm is considered a lean and mean one, having only over 500 advisors working throughout Canada. Even with their comparatively small workforce, iA Private Wealth manages $48 billion worth of their clients’ assets.

6. IG Wealth Management

IG Wealth Management is yet another independent, non-bank investment firm. The company focuses mainly on portfolio management, financial planning, retirement planning, and tax planning. IG Wealth Management has a network of over 1,500 advisors from coast to coast and has been in business for more than 90 years. IG Wealth Management currently has around $107 billion in AUM.

Its excellent investor satisfaction scores show that the firm has put a very strong emphasis on client service over the past years. Based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, IG Wealth Management also has offices across Canada.

7. RBC Dominion Securities

Apart from scoring well in investor satisfaction, RBC Dominion Securities has also consistently ranked as the highest-scoring bank-owned brokerage in Canada. With over 1,600 advisors, RBC Dominion Securities has roughly $205 billion in AUM.

RBC Dominion Securities is the largest full-service brokerage in Canada in terms of assets. The brokerage is also backed by its mother company and Canada’s largest bank, the Royal Bank of Canada.

Since 1901, RBC Dominion Securities has been in the business of investment management. RBC advisors have a wide range of tools and resources when it comes to managing their client’s assets.

8. BMO Nesbitt Burns

Right behind RBC Dominion Securities is BMO Nesbitt Burns, the latest iteration of the oldest and most respected investment houses in Canada. It was founded in 1912 and formerly known as Nesbitt, Thomson and Co., until the Bank of Montreal acquired the business in 1987. In 1994, Bank of Montreal acquired Burns Fry Ltd., which was merged with Nesbitt Thomson to create what is now BMO Nesbitt Burns.

This firm has 1,300 advisors in 76 BMO branches across the country. It is focused on investment banking, institutional sales, trading, wealth management, and private banking. As of this writing, BMO’s Private Banking and Nesbitt Burns business units manage client assets worth over $195 billion.

If you already transact with the Bank of Montreal, it can be very simple to get in touch with a Nesbitt Burns advisor - they usually hold office in BMO’s branches.

9. CIBC Wood Gundy

In ninth place is another bank-owned, full-service brokerage. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’s (CIBC) Wood Gundy employs over 1,400 advisors who work in over 100 CIBC branches across Canada.

As a subsidiary of CIBC, Wood Gundy manages around $160 billion in assets for its clients. Any current CIBC banking client of CIBC will have an easier time getting an account set up with CIBC Wood Gundy.

One thing to note about this firm: while CIBC Wood Gundy ranked ninth in Canada this year, it ranked below the industry average when it came to investor satisfaction for 2022.

10. Scotia McLeod

Coming in last place and below CIBC Wood Gundy is Scotia McLeod. This bank-owned, full-service brokerage rounds out the list of top investment firms in Canada.

This firm works mainly with high-net-worth clients across Canada, and provides services like retirement planning, investment management, financial planning, tax planning, and estate planning. As Scotia McLeod is last on the list, keep in mind that it’s because it garnered a substantially lower investor satisfaction score than top brokerages.

What was the basis for these ratings?

Notice how the number one slot was not awarded to Raymond James because of the amount of assets they handled. If money was the most important and only criterion, then it would be Edward Jones with $1.7 trillion in assets (not Raymond James with $1 trillion) in the number one position.  

The basis for ranking these brokerage firms were seven criteria:

  1. Trust
  2. People
  3. Products and services
  4. Digital channels
  5. Flexibility in wealth management
  6. Problem resolution
  7. Value for fees

Raymond James surpassed all other investment houses by scoring the highest in all seven categories.

Relevant Authorities for Investment Companies

Before you choose an investment firm and hand over your hard-earned money, it’s important to know if, how, and by which bodies they are regulated. Here’s are the regulatory bodies for investment firms:

Note: in January 2023, the IIROC and MFDA joined to form one regulatory body: the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO).

Why is AUM important when looking at investment houses?

A specific fund’s or investment firm’s Assets Under Management (AUM) are an indication of their size and their success in managing their assets, especially if the AUM grows.

In general, investment products that have large AUMs have higher trading volumes, as investors would prefer to do business with them. This results in higher liquidity, which allows (and probably encourages) investors to buy and sell the fund – but some argue that this is not advisable.

When it comes to rating investment firms, the amount of money they handle and their profits are important factors. However, they’re not the only criteria. The level of trust and the quality of relationships are key in rating the top investment firms in Canada.  

Were these rankings an eye-opener for you? Do you agree with the criteria and the way these firms were ranked? Let us know in the comments!