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I'm an American, married to a Canadian. We split time living in both countries.

I trade options and have a stock portfolio using Schwab. My wife would also like to have a similar portfolio of stocks and options in Canada - using USD.

She has an RBC bank account in both currencies. How would we set her up in Canada? Does she have to apply for a brokerage in the same way I had to (answering questions about my knowledge in options) with Schwab?

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Your wife could open a non-registered margin trading account with a Canadian full-service or discount broker. An account at one of the top Canadian brokers should provide access to trade U.S.-listed options. I've traded both Canadian and U.S.-listed options with my own broker.

On the application, you'd need to indicate an interest in trading options, and more specifically, what kind of option trades; e.g. long puts and calls only, covered writing, combination trades, etc.

And yes, part of the application approval process (at least when I went through it) is to answer a few questions to prove that the applicant is aware of the types of risks with trading options.

Be sure to do some research on the fees and currency/fx aspects before you choose a broker. If you plan to exercise any options purchased or expect to be assigned for any you write, be aware that those fees are often different from the headline cost-per-trade advertised by brokers. For instance, I pay in excess of $40 when a call option I write gets assigned, vs. ~$10 that I'd pay if I just plain sold the stock.

One other thing to investigate is what kind of online option trading research and order entry tools are available; not every broker has the same set of features with respect to options — especially if it isn't a big part of their business.

  • Thank you for your detailed, thoughtful response. What brokerage do you use? – Torque2 Jan 13 '17 at 13:08
  • I won't say, but it is one of the ones affiliated with a major Canadian bank. – Chris W. Rea Jan 13 '17 at 14:41

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