Pros and Cons of the BMO InvestorLine Stock and Market Alert Email Message System

Is it worth setting stock alerts and market alerts for your account? There are some benefits in receiving timely information that will help you decide the optimum time to buy and sell your investments. However, there are some pluses and minuses to the actual system used to generate the alerts for BMO InvestorLine.

Pros of the InvestorLine Stock and Market Alert System

You can set which days you do not wish to receive any stock alerts. This setting ensures all of your Alerts are still set up and will resume after the last day you select. You will not have to re-enter each of your Alerts.

You can set a time period outside of regular trading hours when you do not wish to receive any Alerts. This is a good idea to reduce stress and unnecessary email clutter.

You can set alerts for a wide variety of conditions and technical analysis requirements.

You can add a note to a stock price change Alert that will be delivered with the Alert. For instance, you might add a note stating what you paid when you purchased the stock to remind you of that value when the Alert is received.

You can get alerts for various other items such as dividend announcements and S&P Capital IQ rating changes. See the detailed list of News choices on How to Set a Stock Alert for a BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed Account.

You can receive Market Alerts of upcoming stock splits on the TSX, NYSE, NASDAQ and AMEX exchanges. This may help identify unexpected opportunities to invest. For instance, the last time Enbridge split, I bought a bit, and I’ve been quite pleased with the 34% capital gain I realized on a portion of those shares less than a year later.

You receive an email message from BMO when you first set up the email account address to receive Alerts in your Preferences. This is a good way to know that the Alert system is working and correctly set up for your email address. (You otherwise would not know if the Alert setup was working until you successfully received your first Alert.)

You can receive Market Alerts about which stocks are gaining or losing the most on a daily basis. This may tip you off to unexpected changes in the market and opportunities or risks.

Cons of the InvestorLine Stock and Market Alert System

You cannot turn off Alerts for a few hours within the active trading hours. This means to turn off Alerts during, for example, a business meeting, you would have to temporarily put on the Vacation Hold setting, then remember to remove it after the meeting ends. If you have a period every day when you do not wish to receive Alerts you probably would not find the Alert feature practical to use. You might be able to work around the problem by creating an email account solely to use for receiving email Alerts.

You cannot click on a link in the Alert and, after signing in to your account, get taken directly to the Order Equity screen for that stock. You will have to sign in as usual, and navigate as usual to the Order Equity screen, and pull up the stock quote.

All stock alerts are sent to the same email address. You cannot set an Alert for only one investment to go to a different email address. This might be a problem if you want to keep a close eye on one specific investment.

You can only set Alerts to go to one email address. CIBC Investor’s Edge allows you to send all Alerts to two email addresses. Limiting it to one email address might cause some Alerts to get missed, depending on your email usage habits.

Setting a price alert is a bit tricky. Say you check the Real Time Price for a stock. (For how to do that, please see A Review and Comparison of Real Time Stock Prices at CIBC Investor’s Edge and BMO InvestorLine.) You see that the stock you are interested in is currently trading at $45. You wan to know if it drops to $42 because you’re not willing to commit to placing an order yet, but want to keep an eye on it. So you go to the Alerts page to set the request.

Unfortunately, the Alerts page is based on prices that are 15-20 minutes delayed. That page thinks the price of the stock is $41 already. It won’t let you set an Alert for the stock dropping to $42 because it’s already gone lower than that. Although it really hasn’t since during the last 15-20 minutes it has rebounded up to $45.

I guess you could set an Alert for the price climbing to $42, but that’s rather pointless as the Alert will be sent almost immediately, since we know during the last 15-20 minutes it has climbed through $42 on its way to $45. We want to know if it goes down AGAIN some time from now on, not in the past, to $42.

So for a volatile stock it can be difficult to use an Alert to provide timely information.

NOTE: this constraint would apply to any brokerage that uses Alerts that have a 15-20 minute time delay, not just to InvestorLine accounts.

You cannot have two alerts for the same investment at the same time with different criteria. For example, say you want to set a stock alert for TD to tell you if it reaches $90. This is your long term sell price warning. You always want to know if it spikes this high. Now say today you are considering selling a small amount of your TD stock if it spikes to $84. You can only set one alert, so you have to set it for the $84 level. You then must remember at the end of the day to re-set to $90 if you want that trigger left in place for the longer term.

Alerts to price changes are not “real time.” BMO says that price change alerts are based on information delayed 20 minutes after the real time. In my test it was about 15 minutes delayed. The time delay can be even greater, however, if there are any delays in sending the email through the internet or in receiving the email at your destination.

For example, if you receive email at a company email address, your company may have a 2-5 minute delay upon receipt of all external email messages while it scans them for viruses. Of course if you are not watching your email constantly, a message may also arrive while you are otherwise occupied.

NOTE: email delays will affect Alerts from any brokerage sent by email, not just Alerts from InvestorLine.

Although BMO InvestorLine does not charge any fee for the Alert service, you may have to pay a fee to your email service provider to receive the alert, depending on your fee structure. For example, some people set their Alerts to go to their cell phone email. Some cell phone service providers charge a fee for each email message received.

Most cell phones have an email address that is a combination of the phone’s number and the carrier service’s internet address. Ask you cell phone carrier for your email address and check what charges will apply to receiving email.

You may not receive Alerts properly if you are out of cell phone range and your Alerts are set to deliver to your cell phone email address.

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Do you use Stock or Market Alerts from BMO InvestorLine? Have they helped you make timely decisions? Please share your experiences with a comment.

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