Investing for Teens: How to Get Started | Finder Canada

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Investing for teens

You can start investing when you're a teen, but you'll likely need your parents to open an account.

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Trading on the stock market isn’t the only way to invest in your future — there are numerous ways to build a portfolio. But if you’re bound and determined to invest the market, there are accounts that allow teenagers to trade.

How old do you need to be to invest?

You generally need to be at least the age of majority in your province or territory (either 18 or 19 years old) to open an investing account, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get started when you’re younger. There are many ways to invest, each of which comes with varying degrees of risk:

Investment methodMinimum age to investHow it worksRisk levelCan parents open an account for children who are below the age of majority?
Open a savings account Age of majority (18 or 19 depending on where you live)
  • Deposit as much money as often as you like to earn interest
  • You can make a limited number of free withdrawals per month, after which you pay a fee (usually less than $5)
LowYes. Parents can open a youth account or trust for their children, or they can open a joint account with their children.
Buy a GIC (Guaranteed Investment Certificate)Age of majority (18 or 19 depending on where you live)
  • Earn interest on funds that are deposited in an account for a set term — usually 6 months to 10 years
  • Longer investment terms come with higher interest rates
  • You can’t withdraw funds until the term expires
LowYes. GICs can be held in a variety of accounts that parents can open for (or with) their children including RRSPs, RESPs and savings accounts.
Contribute to an RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan)Age of majority (18 or 19 depending on where you live)
  • Minimum investment required to open an account
  • Contributions are tax deductible, withdrawals are taxed
  • Account automatically converts to an RRIF (Registered Retirement Income Fund) when you reach 71, after which, you must regularly withdraw funds
  • Withdrawing before
LowYes. parents can open RRSPs for their children. Or, children can open RRSPs for themselves with their parents’ consent.
Open an auto-managed investment account with a robo-advisorAge of majority (18 or 19 depending on where you live)
  • Funds are automatically invested based on your goals, preferences and risk tolerance.
  • Investments are algorithmically managed and rebalanced as needed.
  • Some platforms also offer personal professional support if you need it.
Moderate. Depends on your risk tolerance.Yes. Robo-advising platforms typically let clients hold investments in a number of different accounts that parents can open for (or with) their children including RRSPs, RESPs and non-registered investment/savings accounts.
Buy stocks through a broker or online trading platformAge of majority (18 or 19 depending on where you live)
  • Open an account with an investment brokerage firm (brick-and-mortar financial institution or an online broker)
  • Buy and sell securities from your account. Many platforms let you request trades online, over the phone or via mobile app (if available).
High. Stock values can fluctuate and are sometimes unpredictable. There is little or no buffer against the temptation to make risky or speculative trades.Yes. Clients can hold investments in a number of different accounts that parents can open for (or with) their children including RRSPs, RESPs and non-registered investment/savings accounts.

Is there any way to invest without a parent?

No – most savings and investment accounts open to teenagers require parental consent before an account can be opened. Such accounts act as a legal agreement between the account holder and the bank or institution that issues it. If you’re younger than the age of majority for your province or territory, you can’t legally enter into this agreement without your parent or guardian’s consent.

Ways to invest as a teenager

There are 2 ways you can begin investing as a teenager:

1. Get your parents to open an RRSP, RESP or savings account for you

Most financial institutions — including banks, stock brokerages and online trading platforms — allow clients to hold investments in certain types of accounts. So, one way to start investing is to get your parents to open one such account. You’ll likely need your parents to approve of, or buy, the investments you intend to hold in the account.

Parents can open RRSPs, RESPs (Registered Education Savings Plans) or youth savings accounts for their children. They can also open joint savings accounts with their children. Additionally, minors can open RRSPs for themselves with parental consent.

The types of investments you can hold in these accounts include GICs, mutual funds, stocks, bonds and interest-earning deposits. One great way to grow your money is to set up an automatics savings program that automatically withdraws from your everyday banking account on a regular basis (say, when you get paid) and deposits funds in an investment account.

2. Get your parents to buy stocks or ETFs on your behalf

You can get indirect access to the stock market if your parents are willing to buy stocks or exchange traded funds (ETFs) for you through a stock brokerage or online trading platform. They can use their own brokerage account if they already have one. If not, do some research and find a platform that interests you. If both you and your parents lack trading experience, limit your research to beginner-friendly platforms, like Wealthsimple, Justwealth or CI Direct Investing.

Do your homework and find out the minimum amount required to open an account as well as the types of stocks and stock exchanges the platform supports. Doing so can provide both you and your parents with an opportunity to learn more about the stock market and investing in general.

How to open an online brokerage account (plus the best brokers for beginners)

Compare stock trading platforms

If you plan to open an investment account with your parents or if your parent/guardian is opening a new brokerage account to let you start investing, you’ll want to compare your options to find the best fit. Look for an affordable fee structure, access to major stock exchanges and flexibility options for trading and withdrawing your funds.

Name Product Available asset types Stock Fee Option Fee Account Fee ETF Transaction Cost Feature Table description
Questrade
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities, Precious Metals
$4.95-$9.95
$9.95 + $1 per contract
$0
Free
$0 account fee and free ETF transactions.
Opt for self-directed investing and save on fees or get a pre-built portfolio and take some of the guesswork out.
Interactive Brokers
Stocks, Bonds, Options, ETFs, Currencies, Futures
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5% of trade value
$1.50 min. per order
$0 (if monthly commissions are greater than or equal to US$10.00)
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5% of trade value
Extensive trading capabilities and global investment tracking.
Access market data 24 hours a day, six days a week and invest in global stocks, options, futures, currencies, bonds and funds from one single account.
Wealthsimple Trade
Stocks, ETFs
$0
N/A
$0
Free
Deposit and trade $100 and get a $25 bonus.
Pay no commissions when you trade Canadian stocks and ETFs with Wealthsimple Trade.
Qtrade Investor
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs
$6.95 - $8.75
$6.95 - $8.75 + $1.25 per contract
$0 if conditions met, otherwise $25/quarter
$0 - $8.75
Trade 100 ETFs free of charge.
Qtrade Investor offers low trading commissions and an easy-to-use platform with access to powerful tools and a wide selection of investment options. Trade 100 ETFs free of charge and thousands more for $8.75 or lower.
Scotia iTRADE
Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities
$4.99-$9.99
$9.99 + $1.25 contract ($4.99 + $1.25 contract if completed 150 trades or more a quarter)
$0
$9.99 ($4.99 if completed 150 trades or more a quarter)
Pay no annual account fees.
Buy, sell and trade ETFs, Equities, Options and more with competitive commissions.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Risks of investing

Before you start exploring any platform or account options, familiarize yourself with some of the biggest risks associated with making your own investments:

  • Losses. Investments — especially stock market investments — are inherently risky. If the company you invest in does well, so will your portfolio. But if that company underperforms or goes out of business, you may lose some, or all of your money.
  • Complex. There’s no way around it: the world of investments is complicated. And if you don’t understand what you’re investing in, you risk funneling funds into an asset or company that wastes your time and money.
  • Volatility. Even with a solid understanding of the market under your belt, things can go wrong. And that’s because the stock market can rise and fall drastically with little warning.
  • Fees. While commission fees are less common than they once were, account fees are common and you may still face commissions on certain types of securities.

Other ways to learn about the market

There are plenty of ways to learn more about investing. With more knowledge, the better equipped you are to make smart investments and minimize potential losses. Any of the following resources are a solid place to start:

  • Stock trading books. There are helpful books on investing that can start building your knowledge, including How to Make Money in Stocks by William J. O’Neil and Market Wizards by Jack D. Schwager.
  • Stock trading channels. If reading isn’t your thing, try YouTube. Content creators upload video tutorials covering investment basics.
  • Stock trading games. Stock market games help you hone your trading instincts with simulated markets and trading goals. Popular games include Wall Street Survivor, HowTheMarketWorks and the Young Money Stock Market Game.
  • Demo account (also called paper trading). Test-driving your investing skills with a demo account (also called paper trading) is arguably the closest you can get to real trading without risking a penny. This type of account lets you play with virtual money on a hypothetical market that mirrors live market pricing. Many online brokers give clients access to demo environments including Friedberg Direct, Forex.com and Questrade.

Bottom line

The world of investments is exciting — but it isn’t without its risks. Ultimately, the best investment strategy depends on your goals. No matter what type of investing you’d like to try, you’ll likely need your parents to begin investing if you’re under 18 years old. Check out our guide on how to start investing in the stock market to learn more.

Frequently asked questions

Image from Getty Images
Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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