The best Hong Kong international stock brokers

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This is an overview of some leading Hong Kong online stock brokers that are able to buy international shares. If you’d prefer to browse it as a comparison table, see the table of Hong Kong international stock brokers. To compare fees for investing in Hong Kong shares only, see this comparison of Hong Kong online stock brokers.

Who’s who

Boom Securities was one of the pioneers in Asian online stock broking, launching its first platform in 1997. As of 2010, it’s now part of Japan’s Monex Group. The firm offers online trading in most Asian markets and seems to be a popular choice with international investors looking for a regional multimarket account.

Phillip Securities Hong Kong is a well-known independent offering a good range of markets online and by telephone. Its Singapore sister firm may perhaps be a slightly better choice for foreign investors. If comparing brokers internationally, be aware that Phillip Singapore and Phillip Hong Kong seem to be run separately and offer a few differences in markets and fees.

Polaris Securities is the local arm of one of Taiwan’s biggest brokerages, while Haitong Securities International was formerly Taifook Securities until being taken over by mainland Chinese broker Haitong. Both offer Chinese B Shares, Hong Kong and the USA online, while other regional markets are mostly available offline.

Interactive Brokers and Saxo Bank both have local offices. Given the relatively high costs of most North American and European countries through local brokers, they are probably a good option for Hong Kong investors looking to invest in the West.

What they trade

The Greater China markets – Chinese B shares, Hong Kong and Taiwan – plus the US are the core offering for most Hong Kong stock brokers, although plenty of other regional markets are on offer. Interactive Brokers and Saxo Bank are of course more geared towards Europe and North America than Asia, although they offer major Asian markets.

CompanyMarkets available
Interactive BrokersOnline: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India (for NRIs only), Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA
Boom SecuritiesOnline: Australia, China B, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, USA
Haitong Securities (formerly Taifook Securities)Online: China B, Hong Kong, USA

Broker-assisted: Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, UK
Phillip Securities Hong KongOnline: Australia, China B, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, USA

Broker-assisted: Canada, France, Germany, Philippines, UK
Polaris SecuritiesOnline: China B, Hong Kong, Taiwan, USA

Broker-assisted: Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, Vietnam
Saxo BankOnline: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA

Greece available as CFDs

For full details of fees and other services, click to see the detailed Hong Kong international online stock broker comparison chart.

What they charge

Fees vary significantly between markets and providers. A minimum HK$100 is standard for the local exchange, although Interactive Brokers will do this more cheaply. Expect about 0.3-0.7% for most markets and notably rates for Taiwan are better than you’ll get from most other stock brokers globally.

But watch out for hugely uncompetitive rates on markets such as Australia, Canada and Europe relative to what’s available locally in those countries. Look towards Interactive Brokers or Saxo Bank for better rates on these.

Dividend handling charges of around 0.5-1% with high minimums and no maximums are an ongoing irritation at Hong Kong stock brokers. However, custody fees seem to have reduced lately.

In my view

Boom offers a convenient solution with all markets being available online. For Phillip, it probably makes more sense for international investors to go through the Singapore part of the group, which offers Sri Lankan trading and a slightly simpler fee structure.

I have yet to speak to anyone who has used Polaris or Haitong, so can’t form a view on them. Notably, Polaris says that it can trade in Vietnam, which would make it the only retail brokerage outside the country to do so as far as I know.

Local accounts with Interactive Brokers and Saxo Bank will be mostly of interest to Hong Kong residents looking to invest in North America or Europe.

Client restrictions

Most Hong Kong stock brokers will accept non-resident retail clients. However, many will not do business with US residents for reasons explained in this article.

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