South Africa online stock trading from Saxo Bank

Saxo Bank is keeping very busy with new launches. After rolling out Japanese and Polish equities in the last couple of months, it’s now adding stocks and CFDs for South Africa. This makes it the first stock broker outside Africa to offer online trading in cash equities for the Johannesburg stock exchange to retail investors.

Rates look good  – 0.25% with a minimum of ZAR100 (US$12) is both cheaper than you’ll pay through other international stock brokers and cheaper than the local brokers. Unfortunately, South African investors can’t take advantage of this – due to local foreign exchange restrictions, Saxo Bank can’t offer the Johannesburg exchange to clients resident there.

It also won’t be available to Swiss residents due to client confidentiality laws there. But for international investors elsewhere, this looks like a helpful development. And the firm says more international markets are likely to be added over the next year or so – in which case, it will reinforce its position as one of the best brokers for international stock trading.

The international stock broker guide and stock broker comparison tables have been updated.


Interactive Brokers now offering Singapore stocks

It didn’t get much of an announcement given that some customers have been lobbying for it for ages, but Interactive Brokers has finally added direct stock trading for Singapore to its platform (it’s had derivatives for years, but not cash equities).

This plugs the last major gap in the firm’s line-up. There are many other exchanges that it will hopefully eventually add, but the absence of SGX was always strange and the biggest limitation of Interactive Brokers’s otherwise very good and cheap service.

Fees are extremely competitive: 0.12% with a minimum of S$3. This compares with standard rates of around 0.275% and a minimum of S$25 in Singapore; even Saxo Bank charges 0.15%. The one caveat is that, judging by the wording of the announcement, Singapore residents still won’t be able to trade Singapore stocks through Interactive Brokers (presumably it doesn’t have a full local licence).

The stock broker list, stock broker comparison tables and Interactive Brokers profile have been updated.


Cheap(er) international data through Interactive Brokers Information Systems (IBIS)

Interactive Brokers have recently announced an interesting new data product called Interactive Brokers Information Systems (IBIS) that seems to be trying to fill the gap for investors and traders who want extensive data and analytics services without the Bloomberg and Reuters-level price tag.

IBIS is available as an add-on to its Trader Workstation for Interactive Brokers’ clients (US$39/month, discounted against commissions) or as a stand-alone product for non-clients (US$69/month for the first year, rising to US$89/month afterwards). That’s the platform fee – you need to pay the relevant exchange and provider fees for price and data feeds on top of that.

Existing clients can already get data through Interactive Brokers on the same terms, so the extra US$39/month value in IBIS is presumably supposed to be the convenience of its interface, portfolio analytics, screening tools and other software. Each trader will have their own view on whether this is worth the money or not.

For non-clients, this now seems to be the cheapest stand-alone way to subscribe to international price and fundamental data. With an IBIS platform subscription, you can then get Reuters Worldwide Fundamentals for US$7/month, for example.


Keytrade Bank – another offshore fund supermarket

Keytrade Bank is now in the broker directory. It offers stock broking services for a decent range of European markets, but the main reason it’s likely to be useful is its fund supermarket.

This is a similar offering to Internaxx, but covers more funds (although the two don’t overlap entirely – there are funds on Internaxx that Keytrade doesn’t carry). With no custody fees it may well work out as cheaper than Internaxx over the long run.

To read more on the options for expats and others struggling to find a fund supermarket that accept non-residents, see the guide to offshore fund supermarkets.


Eastern Europe online stock trading with Brokerjet

Brokerjet, an online stock broker operated by Austria’s Erste Bank, is now in the broker directory. The firm could be very useful to investors buying shares in Eastern Europe, since it’s the first multimarket online broker to offer a good range of stock markets there that provides services in English.

The available stock markets in Eastern Europe are Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. Given that most of these are expensive and hard to access through foreign brokers, Brokerjet’s fees [PDF] look reasonably good at around €20-35 minimum, although Saxo Bank is cheaper for Poland.

The service also includes most Western European markets. International investors will probably have access to most of these through other stock brokers already, but the inclusion of the German regional markets could be helpful for some. These are not included in many international stock brokers’ coverage, since they are of limited interest to most investors.


Saxo Bank now offering stock trading for Poland

Saxo Bank is shortly going to be offering cash equity trading on the Warsaw stock exchange (they already offer CFDs there). As far as I know, that makes them the only the second online broker outside Poland to do so, after Brokerjet.

Unlike most of Eastern Europe, Poland has a stock market that could probably attract wider international attention, with over 400 stocks at present. Many of the other former communist countries such as the Czech Republic and Hungary have just a handful.

The country came through the global crisis pretty well and its prospects are brighter than most of Europe. It should offer some good opportunities in the years ahead and it’s encouraging to see that international investors will finally have a low-cost way to access these.

Poland will be a bit more expensive than most of the Saxo Bank offering at 0.3%, with a minimum of 75 zloty (US$25, £15). But that’s still very competitive compared to traditional broker rates for markets like these.

The list of international stock brokers has been updated to include the details.


How fees affect investment fund returns

Most investors understand that the fees they pay to fund managers have an impact on their investment returns. But it’s easy to overlook quite how large that impact can be. It’s also easy to focus on the wrong fees – putting a lot of effort into reducing one, when it’s the other that matters more.

So exactly how much do fees matter and what should you do to cut costs? Let’s take a look at a real example.

Before we begin, let’s recap what fees we’re looking at. There are two different sets of fees that fund management firms normally charge. One is the entry fee or initial charge, a one-off fee levied when your investment goes into the fund. The other is the annual management charge, which is levied on a recurring basis.

There are some other possible fees to keep in mind. For example, an exit fee might be charged when you withdraw your money or a performance fee levied when returns pass a certain hurdle. But these are less common and so we’ll leave them out for simplicity.


Tax on Singapore stocks for non-residents

This article is about Singapore stock brokers and tax for non-residents. Looking for a stock broker in Singapore instead? Read this comparison of the best Singapore brokers and articles on opening a bank account and opening a brokerage account there.

I’ve often get questions about tax on stocks for non-resident investors who have a Singapore stock broker account. The answer is both simple and good news for most investors.

Singapore is an extremely low-tax jurisdiction and if you are non-resident, you should end up paying nothing to the local tax authorities – although obviously you may still owe taxes in your home country.


The best international stock brokers 2011

International stock brokers can be very inconsistent. Some boast about the ability to trade a handful of markets, while other firms barely mention that they can invest in dozens.

That’s why I put together the international stock brokers list on this site to help investors compare all the firms in detail. But the list is now rather long and going through it to pick out the best stock broker for your purpose can take some time.

So many readers have asked to me to condense it down to a few top picks. And that’s what this article is for. I’d still definitely recommend you read the full guide, since every investor is looking for something different. What I’ve picked here may not suit you.

But if you’re trying to pick one or more international stock brokers to let you invest in as many stock markets as possible at low cost and with low hassle, the firms below are the ones to look at first.


The largest stock broker by market share: Part 3 – Singapore

This is the third of three posts on the market share of stock brokers in the US, the UK and Singapore. The first part deals with US stock brokers and the second part with UK stock brokers.

Of course, the top market share is completely different to who the best stock broker is – in fact, in each case the top five includes firms I wouldn’t go near. If that’s what you’re looking for, see the guide five of the best international stock brokers.

But to discover who is number one in Singapore,  read on.