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Just over a third of do-it-yourself (DIY) investors say they use discount brokers because advice is too expensive, according to new research from the Ontario Securities Commission’s (OSC) Investor Office.

The regulator published a report, based on an online survey of 2,000 DIY investors and carried out by Leger between Nov. 16 and Dec. 6, 2020, which found that 34% of respondents said they invested directly because advice was too expensive.

The survey also found that 18% said they don’t trust advisors, 15% worried that an advisor would lose their money, 12% didn’t value advice, and 11% cited a prior bad experience (respondents could give more than one reason).

The top reason for using a discount broker was that the investor enjoyed it (44%).

Enjoyment was a particularly prevalent factor among those with larger portfolios. For investors with over $500,000 in assets, 64% said they used a discount broker because they enjoyed it.

Among these wealthier investors, concerns about cost (40%), trust (22%) and a past bad experience (19%) were also more frequently cited than for the overall survey population, as was the belief that the investor could do better on their own (34%).

Of the DIY investors surveyed who also worked with an advisor, 32% said their discount brokerage accounts were a secondary account they opened because they enjoyed trading, 28% wanted their advisors to manage some of their portfolios, and 27% also had a DIY account because they wanted to take more risk.

The survey noted that, while 10% of respondents had opened their DIY accounts during the pandemic, 16% said they started using an advisor because of the pandemic.

Overall, the majority of DIY investors reported being satisfied with their experiences (69%), another 20% were neutral, and 10% reported being dissatisfied. Wealthier investors reported even higher rates of satisfaction (82%).

However, the research found that 24% said they’ve had an issue entering or completing a trading order with their firms.

For 17% of respondents, this happened in the past year, and for 9% it was during the market volatility in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic’s onset.

Despite a surge in retail investing, a large majority of DIY investors (74%) said they make fewer than 50 trades per year.

“There has been a significant rise in do-it-yourself investing this past year in Canada and other countries,” said Tyler Fleming, director of the OSC’s Investor Office, in a release. “We are closely monitoring developments in this investing channel to inform our regulatory activities.”