This is an overview of the leading Singapore online stock brokers that are able to buy international shares. If you’re looking for a straightforward comparison table, there is one summarising Singapore brokers for international investing and a separate one comparing their costs for Singapore-listed shares only.
Singapore is very popular with international investors looking for a brokerage in Asia. Please see the articles on opening a Singapore bank account or opening a Singapore stock broking account for more information on how non-residents can open accounts in Singapore.
After some consolidation among brokerages in recent years, most of the biggest stock brokers in Singapore are the bank-owned ones. OCBC Securities has pushed most heavily into international dealing lately, with its iOCBC platform offering a wide range of regional markets online. DBS Vickers and UOB Kay Hian seem to be lagging behind a little, but offer a few markets online and several more through broker-assisted trades.
Among the remaining independents, Phillip Securities Singapore has built a strong range of markets that rivals OCBC. Its online platform is a little less comprehensive, but broker-assisted markets include Sri Lanka, making it the first Singapore firm to promote this to retail 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.)
Kim Eng offers a mix of online and broker-assisted markets; it’s well-regarded, but is perhaps not looking as competitive as it did in the past. Hopefully, the recent investment from Malaysia’s Maybank will help it to expand.
Lim & Tan used to offer solely the Malaysian and US markets, but now provides an extensive range of international markets online using a platform from a third-party foreign broker. The identity of this firm isn’t disclosed, but seems likely to be Hong Kong-based Boom – which suggests that investors should skip the middle man and deal direct with Boom.
There are plenty of other brokerages – AmFraser, CIMB iTrade, Citibank Brokerage, DMG & Partners – but few are notable for foreign dealing. An exception is the Singapore office of Denmark’s Saxo Bank, which has a limited regional offering but is one of the cheapest way to invest in European markets through a Singapore-registered firm. Standard Chartered Bank also offers low commissions for many major global markets, but beware high FX conversion costs.
The traditional core is Hong Kong, Malaysia and the US. Other Southeast Asian markets and Japan are common and other regional markets are available from some firms. Australia and Canada have become common in recent years, but can be expensive. European coverage is very sketchy and extremely expensive, with the exception of Saxo Bank and to some extent Standard Chartered.
|AmFraser Securities||Online: Malaysia, Singapore, USA
|CIMB Securities iTrade||Online: Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, USA|
|Citibank Brokerage||Online: Hong Kong, Singapore, USA|
|DBS Vickers||Online: Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, USA
Broker-assisted: Australia, China B, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, UK
|DMG & Partners||Online: Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, USA|
|Kim Eng||Online: Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, USA
Broker-assisted: Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand
|Lim & Tan||Online: Australia, China B, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, USA
Most foreign markets traded through unspecified intermediary (possibly Boom Securities in Hong Kong)
|OCBC Securities||Online: Australia, China B, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, UK, USA
Broker-assisted: Canada, Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan
|Phillip Securities Singapore||Online: Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, UK, USA
Broker-assisted: Australia, Canada, China B, France, Germany, Korea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan
|Saxo Bank||Online: 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
|Standard Chartered Bank Securities Trading||Online: Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, UK, USA|
|UOB Kay Hian||Online: Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, USA
Broker-assisted: Australia, Canada, China B, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, UK
For full details of fees and other services, click to see the detailed Singapore international online stock broker comparison chart.
Very hard to summarise owing to tiered commissions and very different fees across international markets. Expect to pay something around 0.2%-0.5% with a minimum of S$20-40 for the most common markets and up to 1% with a minimum of S$100 for the more difficult ones.
Custody charges of S$2 per share per month are common, but will usually be waived for a moderate level of activity (around six trades per quarter). Dividend handling charges and corporate action fees are also fairly common and S$10 per event is a reasonable assumption.
FX charges are typically incorporated in a quoted exchange rate rather than broken out. Bid-offer spreads reportedly seem to vary from near-nil to about 1.5% depending on the currency pair.
If your sole priority is accessing a wide range of regional markets at a reasonable cost and maximum simplicity, OCBC and Phillip are so far ahead of their peers that it isn’t worth considering any other firms.
OCBC has the simpler fee structure and can be integrated with an OCBC bank account, but Phillip is cheaper for some markets and offers exchanges that OCBC doesn’t yet include. Both are worth investigating before you make up your mind.
Saxo Bank is an excellent choice for investing in European shares, while Standard Chartered is useful for some markets. Commissions elsewhere for the UK and mainland Europe remain far above domestic rates in those markets and too high to be viable, even through OCBC or Phillip.
As an alternative, Interactive Brokers does not currently have a Singapore arm but Singapore residents could go through one of its international offices – as could residents of most other countries.
Most Singapore stock brokers accept non-resident retail clients – known exceptions are Citibank and possibly Standard Chartered. Some are likely to accept US residents, who are rejected by many international firms for reasons explained in this article.