Over the years, online brokerages in Singapore has gained traction. As an online platform that serves as an intermediate body to aid its clients in investments, online brokerage platforms have definitely made investment easier and more convenient. Continue reading to find out how you can maximise your online brokerage experience and find the best online broker for you!
The Online Brokerage Scene in Singapore
Saxo Capital Markets. Tiger Brokers; you have probably heard of these online brokerages in Singapore. With new entrants such as moomoo powered by FUTU coming in, the competition in the online brokerage scene in Singapore has intensified over the years.
While a large portion of their popularity comes from young investors, their commission-free trades and even free shares have also captivated the more mature investors.
Factors to Consider to Find the Best Online Broker in Singapore
In order to help you maximise your return on your investments and find the best online broker for your needs, we have compiled a list of key factors that you should keep in mind when choosing your broker.
Your Needs and Priorities
Depending on your level of experience, investment goals and financial situation, the type of investments that you should consider and the online broker that you should choose will vary.
Are You New to Investing?
For those new to this arena, you may place more importance on educational resources such as comprehensive glossaries and financial advisors who provide extensive investment advice. As such, you should choose an online brokerage platform that offers such services. However, it is imperative to note that with such services conveniently accessible to you comes a higher price tag.
On the other hand, if you are an experienced investor, you may prefer to have more independence and not pay for the additional services that you would not use. Thus, you may be looking for an online brokerage platform that simply allows you to place trade orders instead.
What Are Your Goals?
Through understanding your investment goals, be it to supplement your regular income or for it to become your primary source of income, you will be able to choose the type of investments that you should invest in and the platform to use. Because platforms often only offer a few options for you to invest in, it is crucial that you understand what you would like to invest in before opening an account with the online broker.
As mentioned, depending on the range of services that you prefer, the prices charged will differ. But these are not the only fees charged by online brokers. Below are the common costs that online brokerage platforms will charge you.
Because you are using their platform, online brokerage companies will charge you a commission fee to execute the transactions or for their services. Typically, commission fees are a percentage of your transaction amount.
Below is a table that summarises the commission fees charged by the following online brokers.
Apart from a commission fee, online brokers also charge a minimum fee. This fee is applicable to smaller investments. In cases where the commission fee is less than the stipulated minimum fee, the minimum fee will be charged instead.
To put things into perspective here is a case study using fees charged by Tiger Brokers.
|Commission Fee Chargeable
|SGD1.80 < Minimum Fee
As illustrated above, because the commission fee chargeable is less than the minimum fee of SGD1.99, the investor would pay SGD1.99 instead of SGD1.80.
Referring to the minimum amount needed to open an investing account with your online broker, it is also important to take note of the minimum deposit imposed by your brokerage platform.
This is a fee that ensures that the profits gained will be able to cover the costs of services offered during the transaction. Generally, those who offer premium services tend to charge higher minimum deposits.
The Type of Account That You Want
When choosing the type of account to open, you will come across Custodian accounts and Central Depository (CDP) accounts.
Central Depository (CDP) Account
Managed by Singapore Exchange (SGX), it is an account that offers clearing, settlement, and depository services. As stated by SGX, the clearing fee is 0.0325% of the traded value and the trading fee is 0.0325% of the traded value.
Should you choose to open a CDP account, stocks bought will be under your name and you will become a shareholder of the company. Being a shareholder entitles you to the right to attend the Annual General Meetings (AGMs) as well as voting rights. However, you will only have access to the Singapore market.
Managed by your chosen online brokerage, stocks bought will be under a nominee account and not be under your name. Further, they will be under custody by the brokerage platform. Typically having lower fees charges, you may only buy and sell within the same broker. However, you will have access to both Singapore as well as the international market.
What You Would Like to Invest In
With the wide range of investment options available, it is easy for first-time investors to be unsure of their key characteristics.
Utilised by governments and companies to raise funds for specific projects, bonds help raise funds through borrowing from investors.
The two biggest types of bonds in Singapore are corporate bonds and Singapore Government Securities.
Corporate bonds are used to raise money for research and development as well as expansion. While the interests earned from corporate bonds are taxable, they normally offer higher returns than government bonds.
Singapore Government Securities (SGS) Bonds
Backed by the Singapore government, the Singapore Government Securities (SGS) bonds carry a lower risk. SGS bonds pay a fixed interest rate and have maturities ranging from 2 to 30 years. Under SGS bonds, there are three categories - SGS (Market Development), SGS (Infrastructure), and Green SGS (Infrastructure). The table below shows the key differences between the three categories and their key characteristics.
|Government Securities Act
|Significant Infrastructure Government Loan Act (SINGA)
|Significant Infrastructure Government Loan Act (SINGA)
|To develop the domestic debt market
|To finance major, long-term infrastructure
|To finance major, long-term green infrastructure projects
|2, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 years
|Minimum Investment Amount
|$1,000, and in multiples of S$1000
Essentially, a mutual fund is a pool of money contributed by individuals for investing purposes. These individuals will then gain a proportionate amount of profit made by the mutual fund.
Such funds are popular as they are affordable, are low maintenance, and have high liquidity. Further, because the research and allocation of assets are professionally managed by fund managers. As such, mutual fund shareholders do not have any voting rights.
One type of mutual fund is an equity fund.
Equity investments are essentially monetary investments in a company through the purchasing of shares of that company in the stock market which is usually traded on a stock exchange. As such, investors only invest in equities if they expect that the company’s value will rise. This can take the form of capital gains or dividends.
Equity investment also allows for diversification of portfolio. Exposure to the various stocks reduces the risk of losses and maximises returns. Through investing in different areas, even if a few stocks are not performing well, the investor will still be able to reap gains from stocks in other areas that have performed well during the same period.
However, because equities are subject to market fluctuations and performances, it can be considered to be a high-risk investment.
Exchange Traded Funds
Similar to a mutual fund, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are investment funds holding assets such as commodities, bonds, stocks, and foreign currency. Similar to mutual funds, ETFs are pooled investment security, which are tradable financial assets like equities. However, unlike mutual funds which are not bought and sold on an exchange, ETFs can be bought and sold on a stock exchange.
Such funds also offer a great degree of diversification as they can have multiple investments, maximising returns.
Real Estate Investment Trusts
Defined by the Real Estate Investment Funds (REIT) Association of Singapore, REITs are “funds that invest in a portfolio of income-generating real estate assets such as shopping malls, offices, hotels and industrial properties with the aim of generating income for unit holders of the REIT.”
Similar to mutual funds, REITs are made up of a pool of investors. REITs are professionally managed with an aim to generate income distribution and long-term appreciation potential.
As one of the largest and most liquid asset markets, forex, also known as foreign exchange, is a worldwide market for the trading of national currencies. International currencies have to be traded in order to conduct foreign trade and business.
Forex trading does not take place on stock exchanges but in an over-the-counter market, which refers to trading via a broker-dealer network.
The value of a country’s currency is dependent on an array of factors such as politics and economics. As such, an economic instability that can be caused by trade tensions with another country will inevitably cause great volatility to the country’s currency.
Local vs International Stocks
For first-time investors, investing in local stocks may be a good start to get familiar with the investing process as you will already be familiar with their business performance. However, for those relatively well-versed in investing, you may want to consider investing in international stocks as well.
Apart from the obvious opportunity for diversification, investing in international stocks will likely give you higher rate of returns. As almost half of the global equity market resides in the United States (US), there are countless opportunities ready for you to capitalise on. With investment opportunities under the 11 Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) stock market sectors - energy, materials, industrials, utilities, healthcare, financials, consumer discretionary, consumer staples, information technology,communication services, and real estate - investing in the US market is also a great way to maximise your returns.
Having said that, with high returns comes high risks. As the US market is relatively more volatile than the local listed companies in the Singapore market, investing in US stocks or in the international markets in general is more suitable for experienced investors.
Finding the Best Online Broker in Singapore
Having understood your needs and investment interests it is time to help you find the best online broker that fits your needs.
Beginners - Saxo Markets
|* Saxo min. SG: S$5; US:$3-$4; JPY1,000-1,500; HKD60-90; EUR6-12
Saxo Markets offers the best online trading platform for those who are looking to invest online. With SaxoTraderGO, their platform designed for less-experienced traders, customers gain access to a variety of tools to help them research the best products for the trade. For example, their Fundamental Analysis Tool analyses company indicators to help you determine whether or not you want to invest. Interactive learners can also benefit from annotation features to save and take note of listings, graphs, and more. Furthermore, the platform synthesizes both in-house and third-party research to constantly feed you up-to-date information, whether you are on your mobile or desktop.
Saxo Markets also delivers some of the lowest fees in the market (for, among others, Singapore, the US, Hong Kong and Japan), has the largest international market scope, and allows you to trade a variety of products like stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, foreign exchange, futures, etc. Finally, prior to opening an account you can both preview the platform on their website and try a 20-day demo trial to practice using the platform. Although beginning to trade online can seem daunting, Saxo Market will supply you with all the tools you need to get started at low rates.
Cheapest - Tiger Brokers
|Tiger Brokers Fee
|Industry Average Fee
|Industry Average Commission
|$0.01 per share
|USD 1.99 per order
|Stocks, ETFs, Stock Options, Futures
|Stocks, Warrants, CBBCs, Futures
|Stocks, ETFs, Rights Issue, Futures, REITs
|A-shares (in HKEX Northbound Trading)
Tiger Brokers has one of the lowest commission fees on the market, an easy-to-use platform, and live prices for the US and Singapore, making it a great option for new and seasoned investors. The commission charged for every trade is just 0.03%, which is much lower than other online brokers who charge around 0.08%-0.28%.
This is still impressively lower than the average in Singapore, which is 0.21%. Additionally, new customers can also enjoy 500 Tiger Coins, 60 commission-free trades (within 180 days) and 1 share of Apple (AAPL) once the account is funded with an initial deposit of S$2,000 or more. Moreover, Tiger Brokers charges neither a custodian nor a currency conversion fee, and it's fairly quick to open an account (1-3 days).
For those looking to invest abroad, Tiger Brokers' platform gives customers real-time access to markets in the United States, Hong Kong, China, and Australia. For trading in the US, you can invest for as little as USD $0.01 commission with a minimum fee of USD $1.99 per trade. For those who prefer to trade in Hong Kong, Tiger Brokers' minimum fee is only HKD $15. This is one of the most attractive rates in Singapore, as most firms charge around HKD $100-HKD $240. Trading futures is also simple, as there are built-in features on their platform to give customers support with these deals. With low trading fees, a user-friendly platform, and access to current market data, Tiger Brokers is a great platform.
ETFs and US Stocks - Syfe Trade
|Commission-Free Trades a month
|Five free trades a month^
|USD0.99 flat fee^
|After Introductory Offer
|Two free trades a month
- US Stocks
- US ETFs
Syfe Trade has the lowest commission fees on the market for trading US stocks and ETFs.
For a start, the Singapore online brokerage is giving every investor five free trades per month, and thereafter a flat fee of USD 0.99 per trade, during its introductory offer which will end at the first quarter of 2022. Even after its introductory offer comes to an end, Syfe Trade remains extremely competitive by giving its investors two free trades per month, and a flat fee of USD 1.49 per trade.
|USD0.99 flat fee
|Saxo Markets (Bronze Plan)
|0.01 per share
|0.0099 per share
|*moo moo & Tiger Brokers rate consists of commission and platform fees
Syfe Trade also allows investors to engage in fractional trading for US stocks and ETFs, allowing retail investors with smaller capitals to get the US stock or ETF of their choice from just USD 1.
The only drawback to Syfe Trade, for now at least, is that it only offers access to the US market. While there are plans to expand into more markets, including Singapore, users who are looking to invest in the short run would be better off looking at other choices.
If you are willing to wait, however, you’ll be happy with Syfe Trade’s simple and intuitive interface and the protection for up to 500K against brokerage failure.
Similar to other online brokerage offerings in Singapore, Syfe Trade gives its users live US market data as well to maximise your investment gains.
Curious to know more about the other platforms to find the best online trading platform in Singapore, check out our comprehensive online brokerage comparison in Singapore!