Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO) Brokers 2023
The Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO) plays a key role in upholding the integrity of financial markets, including overseeing brokers and trading platforms. This guide covers how the CIRO works, from its structure and history to its responsibilities and powers. We also rank the top CIRO brokers.
Best CIRO Brokers
Brokers authorized by the CIRO have to follow rules designed to protect Canadian traders, facilitating a secure trading environment. These are the leading brokers regulated by the CIRO:
#1 - OANDA
OANDA is an award-winning global broker, established in 1996. The hugely respected brand offers competitive trading accounts and serves clients from 196 countries. It has proven a popular option with both beginners and experienced traders thanks to its user-friendly and sophisticated web platform, no minimum deposit and premium currency products and services. The company is also overseen by reputable regulators, including the FCA, ASIC and CIRO.
"OANDA will serve traders looking for a trustworthy broker with a beginner-friendly platform, best in class research and straightforward account opening. The $0 minimum deposit makes it especially attractive to newer traders and those on a budget."- DayTrading Review Team
- Instruments: CFD, Forex, Stocks, Crypto, Commodities
- Regulator: FCA, ASIC, MFSA, MAS, CIRO, FFAJ, BVI
- Platforms: MT4, MT5, TradingView, AutoChartist
- Min. Deposit: $0
- Min. Trade: $0
- Leverage: 1:30
Speculate on popular financial assets covering forex, commodities, indices, metals and bonds. Clients can trade CFDs on the award-winning MT4 platform or the firm's beginner-friendly web trader.
OANDA offers 68 currency pairs, more than most forex brokers, covering majors, minors and exotics. The OANDA Trade platform also offers powerful technical analysis tools while average execution speeds are fast at 12 ms.
Over 1600 shares are available from leading stock exchanges, including blue chip firms like Apple and Meta. There are also no commissions on US stocks and traders benefit from free expert insights and market reports.
OANDA offers trading on leading cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin. We rate the low fees which start at 0.25% and that you can place trades in the app hassle-free.
- The guaranteed stop loss order (GSLO) is a useful risk management tool not available at many alternatives
- We found the OANDA web platform easy to learn and rated the sophisticated charting tools
- With 68 forex pairs the broker will serve active forex traders
- There is a narrow range of payment methods with no PayPal
- Social and copy trading tools aren't supported
- Weekend customer support isn't available
#2 - CMC Markets
CMC Markets is a trustworthy brand authorized by tier-one regulators including the FCA and ASIC. Advanced trading tools, excellent market research and low fees help the broker stand out from rivals. The no minimum deposit, free demo account and social trading service have also made CMC Markets popular with aspiring traders.
"CMC Markets is a great option for active traders with thousands of instruments, spreads from 0.0 pips and an award-winning trading platform."- DayTrading Review Team
- Instruments: CFDs, Forex, Stocks, Indices, Commodities, ETFs, Treasuries, Custom Indices, Spread Betting
- Regulator: FCA, ASIC, MAS, CIRO
- Platforms: MT4
- Min. Deposit: $0
- Min. Trade: 0.01 Lots
- Leverage: 1:30 (Retail), 1:500 (Pro)
CMC Markets offers leveraged CFDs on an extensive list of 12,000+ instruments with transparent pricing, powerful trading software and ultra-fast execution speeds. Out-of-hours trading on CFD indices is also available, plus 24/5 award-winning customer support.
CMC Markets offers a superb list of 330+ forex pairs with tight spreads and ultra-fast executions. The selection of currencies is significantly wider than rivals.
CMC Markets offers opportunities on 10,000+ shares with no hidden fees and support when the markets are open. You also get access to analysis from Morningstar at no charge.
CMC Markets offers trading on popular digital tokens and crypto indices for broader exposure to the market. There is minimal slippage and an excellent 99.9% fill rate.
- A hugely respected broker listed on the London Stock Exchange with 300,000+ clients
- Transparent pricing model with lower spreads than alternatives and no deposit or withdrawal fees
- Responsive and knowledgeable support team available 24/5 to help new traders get started quickly
- A $10 monthly inactivity fee that kicks in after 12 months of no activity
- Spread betting is only available in the UK
- US clients are not accepted
#3 - Qtrade
Qtrade is an award-winning Canadian financial services firm that offers a selection of investing accounts with $8.75 and $6.95 stocks, mutual fund trades and 100+ commission-free ETFs. This is a long-running brand that is well regarded in Canada, where many investors choose it to build their savings account or pension pot. QTrade is also highly trusted and authorized by the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO).
"Qtrade is a good match for Canadian traders who are looking for a reputable and regulated broker to make longer-term investments as well as leveraged trades."- DayTrading Review Team
- Instruments: Stocks, ETFs, Bonds, Mutual Funds, Options, GICs
- Regulator: CIRO
- Platforms: TradingCentral
- Min. Deposit: $0
- Min. Trade: Variable
Qtrade offers Canadian and US stocks, including those trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Canadian Securities Exchange, NASDAQ and NYSE. Each stock trade incurs an $8.75 commission, which drops to $6.95 for active or high-capital traders. There are also 100 commission-free ETFs on offer, as well as other US and Canadian ETFs, OTC stocks and rights and warrants.
- Good range of US and Canadian stocks as well as funds, ETFs and other assets
- Easy to use and award winning platform and customer experience
- No deposit or withdrawal fees
- Transfer out fee
- CAD to USD exchange charge
- Commissions of $8.75 per equity can stack up
#4 - Fortrade
Fortrade is a multi-asset, multi-regulated broker with branches regulated by the FCA, CySEC and ASIC among others. The brand offers trading opportunities on a wide range of instruments including stocks, bonds, commodities, forex, indices, cryptocurrencies and ETFs, with competitive fees and support for MetaTrader 4 and a proprietary platform.
"With strong regulatory oversight, helpful educational content and support for the market-leading MetaTrader 4 platform, Fortrade is a good pick for newer traders."- DayTrading Review Team
- Instruments: Forex, CFDs, indices, shares, commodities, cryptocurrencies, DMAs, ETFs, bonds
- Regulator: FCA, ASIC, CySEC, NBRB, FSC, CIRO
- Platforms: MT4, TradingCentral
- Min. Deposit: $100
- Min. Trade: 0.01 Lots
- Leverage: 1:30 (varies by entity)
Fortrade's list of leveraged CFDs covers a wide range of asset classes including forex, stocks, bonds, indices, commodities and cryptocurrencies. Traders can access leverage up to 1:30 and will trade with zero commission, fast execution and low latency on MetaTrader 4 or the bespoke platform.
Fortrade offers 60+ currency pairs including a good selection of majors, minors and exotics. Trading takes place via MT4 or Fortrade's proprietary, low-latency terminal, and spreads on the USD/GBP pair average a reasonable 2 pips.
Fortrade offers leveraged CFDs on a wide range of stocks from the UK, US, Hong Kong, Australia and a range of European companies with variable spreads and no commissions. CFDs are derivative contracts that do not entail ownership of the underlying stock. Professional traders can also access a decent list of Direct Market Access stocks.
Fortrade offers CFD trading on the largest cryptos by market cap paired with USD. Crypto CFD availability depends on local regulations and they are not offered in jurisdictions including the UK due to restrictions.
- Unlimited time demo account
- Wide range of markets available including cryptos
- Online CFD trading APK
- Wider than average spreads on some assets
- Only one account type available
- Slow withdrawals
What Is The CIRO?
The Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization, or CIRO, is a self-regulatory body of investment brokers, mutual fund dealers, and other firms operating in the country’s equity marketplace.
It was formed through the merger of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association (MFDA) in 2023.
The CIRO sets and maintains industry standards that safeguard Canadian investors, amongst other objectives, including monitoring the activities of online brokers. It has the power to investigate businesses to ensure compliance and discipline any firms in breach of the rules.
The CIRO is the Canadian equivalent of regulatory bodies such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in the USA and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.
There are around 262 firms and 108,000 representatives that are members of the CIRO.
The CIRO was formed through the combination of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association (MFDA) in January of 2023.
Initially, it was named the New Self-Regulatory Organization of Canada but in June of 2023, its name was changed to the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization.
- The IIROC was created in 2008 as the country’s primary regulatory authority overseeing retail investing, including online brokers and trading platforms.
- The MFDA was launched in 1998 as a self-regulatory organization that focused on the mutual funds marketplace.
The CIRO is a non-profit and self-governing regulatory body funded through membership fees whereby firms are charged both an entrance fee to become members alongside an annual fee. The annual fee varies according to several factors such as the total revenue of the broker and the number of approved persons.
The organization is run by a president and CEO, along with a board made up of both independent and industry directors. For example, the president and CEO of TMX Group and the chairman of Peak Financial Group.
Andrew J. Kriegler was appointed as CEO of the IIROC in 2014 and kept his position after the amalgamation with the MFDA.
Responsibilities & Powers
The Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization oversees the way that businesses operate, including trading brokers, and implements standards that firms must abide by. In other words, it carries on the duties of both the IIROC and MFDA.
The main responsibilities and powers of the CIRO include:
- Creating legislation and standards that members must follow. For example, regular financial reporting, the separation of client funds away from those of the broker, and minimum funds of $250,000 ($75,000 for type 1 introducing brokers).
- Overseeing the auditing process of regulated firms. This is done by ensuring the audit report is carried out correctly by assessing the procedures and statements.
- Investigating reported breaches by registered firms. There are seven regional branches set up across the country to help monitor industry trends and respond to issues.
- Disciplining firms in the case of non-compliance. Punishments can include fines, suspensions of business operations or even permanent bans. The organization also has the power to implement a trading halt or force changes to trades when they feel that market integrity has been compromised, for instance, through fraudulent trading.
Note that these rules are an updated version of the Universal Market Integrity Rules implemented by the IIROC. Also, at the time of writing, these are classified as interim rules and are subject to change in the future.
The interim rules are in place to help brokers transition from the IIROC and the MFDA to the CIRO’s single rulebook.
To help protect retail traders, the CIRO mandates certain measures.
One measure is that CIRO-regulated brokers can only use counterparties that are deemed to be acceptable according to certain criteria. This includes Canadian banks that have between $10 million and $100 million in paid-up capital and surplus. Another acceptable counterparty is a corporation with a net worth in excess of $75 million.
These strict rules mean that brokers cannot use fraudulent counterparties or liquidity providers with insufficient capital and, as a result, can keep order quality high.
Additionally, regulated entities such as licensed brokers must be members of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (IPF). This ensures that client and business funds are kept separate so that traders can reclaim their money if the broker were to default.
In the case where clients’ funds cannot be recovered due to insolvency, they can claim compensation of up to $1 million.
One key criticism regarding the CIRO surrounds conflicts of interest. As the organization is funded by its members and has many directors from licensed companies and entities, there is arguably cause for concern.
For instance, how independent can the CIRO really be, and how robust will it be in terms of disciplining non-compliant firms?
This concern is backed up by common criticisms of the IIROC and MDFA that relate to inconsistent enforcement actions. For example, there have been times when the regulators have issued penalties that arguably did not correspond with the magnitude of the infraction or misconduct. This is in addition to instances where fines have been overturned completely.
So while CIRO brokers are normally a safer bet than brokers that aren’t registered with the CIRO, the financial body is not held in the same regard as top-tier agencies like the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.
How To Check If A Broker Is Regulated By The CIRO
CIRO-regulated brokers usually publish this information on their websites. This can often be found in the footer of the homepage along with information on the registered name, address and license number.
You may also be able to find this on any page on the site dedicated to legal information and regulatory authorizations.
Another option is to check the regulator’s directory. At the time of writing, the CIRO has not set up a publicly-accessible registry containing all the members. Therefore, you may need to confirm membership by looking at registries on the IIROC and MFDA websites. On both sites, you can search for brokers to verify their license details and to see how long they have been members.
You can also check to see if the broker is a member of the IPF by looking at the members directory on the Canadian Investor Protection Fund website. This will show whether you will be able to claim compensation if you register with a broker that later becomes insolvent.
Note that CIRO members have until the 31st of December in 2024 to update their systems so you may need to check the IIROC or MFDA website prior to this date.
The CIRO has the important tasks of overseeing Canadian-based brokers and implementing rules that protect the financial markets and retail investors. To do so, it provides Canadian traders with various protections, including access to the Investor Protection Fund.
While there have been criticisms of both the IIROC and MDFA, they have generally been reliable regulators. The amalgamation of the two bodies should also mean that they are stronger moving forward.
Can I Trust CIRO-Regulated Brokers?
The Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization is a reputable regulatory body and its authorized brokers are generally legitimate and trustworthy.
The CIRO ensures that trading platforms abide by strict operational rules, with the aim of maintaining market transparency and integrity while protecting retail investors.
How Does The CIRO Keep Retail Traders Safe?
The Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization issues rules that members must abide by, including using credible counterparties, separating client assets from company capital, and ensuring access to compensation schemes in the event that a brokerage becomes insolvent.
The CIRO also has the power to investigate and punish non-compliant brokers using fines, suspensions or outright bans.
How Can I Make Sure A Broker Is Licensed By The CIRO?
If a broker is authorized by the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization, generally, there is information on the website confirming this.
For example, you can check the ‘About Us’ section or scroll down to the footer on the homepage. Alternatively, you can check the regulator’s directory which includes a list of all current members.
How Can I Report Misconduct To The CIRO?
If you have a complaint about a regulated broker, you can contact either the IIROC-based branch or the MFDA-based branch. To do this, you can either fill out a secure form on the respective agencies’ websites or you can call the teams at 1-877-442-4322 for the IIROC or 1-888-466-6332 for the MFDA.
How Was The Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization Created?
The Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization is a self-regulatory body formed from the amalgamation of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association (MFDA) in 2023.
The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada was the main financial regulator in the country that oversaw the operation of trading brokers. The Mutual Fund Dealers Association specialized in regulating certain investment vehicles, such as mutual funds.
- Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization Website
- Canadian Regulated Brokers Entity Check
- Canadian Investor Protection Fund Website
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