Jan 282012

There are a number of new additions and updates to the international stock broker directory. One interesting one is Standard Chartered Bank Securities Trading, which moved into the Singapore brokerage market a few months ago with an unusual product.

It offers online trading in Singapore stocks for 0.2% per trade (0.18% for those with a larger banking relationship) and 0.25% per trade (0.2% for favoured customers) for Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan (including both the Tokyo and Osaka stock exchanges), the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. This has no minimum commission, which is rare in the brokerage business and attractive to customers trading smaller amounts.

There are also apparently no account and no inactivity fees, custodian fees, no dividend collection fees, no corporate action charges, making it a commendably clean fee structure. There is one catch though; currency conversions done through Standard Chartered are considerably worse than many Singapore brokers, with users reporting a margin of 2% over the interbank rate. However, you can hold and fund foreign currency accounts with the bank, so you shouldn’t need to pay this every trade, if you’re careful. Continue reading »

Singapore online brokerage fee comparison table

Last UpdatedJan 232012

The table below compares the dealing charges and other features of 11 Singapore online stockbrokers to help you find the best stockbrokers for trading Singapore shares.

Most firms in Singapore have a very similar fee structure, charging commission of around 0.25-0.28% commission for trades below S$50,000, around 0.2-0.22% between S$50,000 and S$100,000 and around 0.18-0.2% over S$100,000, with a typical minimum charge of S$25. For simplicity, commissions in this table are abbreviated to reflect these standard tiers eg 0.25%/0.22%/0.18%.

However there are a couple of exceptions. Standard Chartered’s service has a rate of 0.2% with no minimum charge, while the local office of Danish firm Saxo Bank charges 0.15% for all trade sizes, with a minimum of S$25.

Interactive Brokers – popular with many Singapore traders for overseas markets – is even cheaper at 0.12% with a minimum of S$3. However, Singapore residents currently can’t trade the Singapore exchange through their accounts, although Interactive Brokers have indicated that this restriction may change in the future.

Continue reading »

International investing news and information


Today, the best international stock brokers can trade most major global stock markets with relatively low cost and hassle. Accessibility is no longer a big barrier to international investing for the adventurous private investor.

But there are still obstacles to building a global portfolio and the worst of these is probably information. Even though individuals can invest around the world, most don’t. Consequently, most investment magazines, newsletters and other resources are geared towards buying shares in your home market and using funds if you want to go abroad.

Institutional investors have access to all-round data feeds such Bloomberg and a steady of investment suggestions from brokers (often useless, but it’s a starting point). But few people market these kinds of services to private investors

The result is that international investors need to do much more legwork to come up with and research investment ideas than they might want. There’s no getting around that. But there are a handful of high quality resources that cater to individuals or are affordable to most. This article lists some of these best. Continue reading »

Nov 252011

Vietnam has proved to be a terrible investment over the last four years. Widely seen as the “next Asian tiger” in the middle of the decade, an article in the FT today shows how attitudes have changed. Here’s a sample:

The government’s focus on breakneck growth at the expense of economic stability has led to growing inequality, soaring inflation, a lack of confidence in the currency and fears of a banking crisis.

Domestic overheating, coupled with the deterioration of the global economy, has forced many investors, foreign and Vietnamese, to revise their view of the country’s prospects. Deep-seated problems, such as corruption, poor education and infrastructure bottlenecks – all often overlooked by investors in the boom years – have moved into sharp focus.

And with inflation driving wages higher but labour skills not advancing as quickly, fresh questions are arising. Among them is whether Vietnam’s Communist party can force through painful reforms needed to ensure they avoid the “middle-income trap” ensnaring the likes of Malaysia and Thailand, whose economies are a source of cheap labour but not yet makers of higher-value products.

Continue reading »

Nov 192011

Reuters is reporting that the Indian government is considering relaxing restrictions on foreign individuals investing in Indian shares, in an attempt to attract more foreign capital. If this goes ahead – and that’s a big ‘if’ – it could be a very exciting development.

Very few countries actively bar foreign individuals from investing in their stock markets, although some make it difficult. Oddly enough, it’s the BRICs – the four emerging markets that foreign investors talk about the most – that are the hardest. And India is arguably the most frustrating of all. Continue reading »

Oct 282011

This is the second part of a review of Asian income funds and emerging market income funds for UK investors, focusing on investment trusts. Click here for Asian income funds – unit trust and oeics.

Asian income funds – investment trusts

There are three Asian income investment trusts in the UK market. And it shows how keen investors now are on the income theme that none trade at a significant discount to net asset value (NAV) – for most ITs, a small discount to NAV is normal.

The Aberdeen Asian Income Fund (LN:AAIF) has a rather different geographic focus to the funds we’ve already looked at in part one – it’s much more geared to Southeast Asia. Singapore is the single biggest holding at 20%, followed by Australia and then Malaysia and Thailand. It doesn’t include a sector breakdown in its factsheet, but I estimate that the biggest holdings are the familiar duo of financials and telecoms at 25% and 20% respectively

Continue reading »

Oct 282011

Asian income funds and emerging market income funds may sound like a contradiction. After all, Asia and emerging markets are supposed to be growth investments. So why turn to a growth market for income?

In fact, Asian income and emerging market income are themes that make a lot of sense when choosing funds, for several reasons.

First, emerging market dividends are no myth. Many emerging markets stocks now have a culture of paying high dividends, so they make up a major part of investment returns in several countries. Dividends accounted for 30% of Asia ex Japan returns over the past decade – about the same as in developed markets.

Continue reading »

Oct 272011

There are a number of updates to the directory of international stock brokers. These include details of five more firms – two from the UK, one from Luxembourg and two from Lithuania – with a few more on the way.

Charles Stanley is a long established UK broker and it offers international stock trading for much of Asia, Greece, Poland and South Africa as well as the usual developed European and North American markets. This is a full-service private client stock broker, which means that fees are a little than the discount stock brokers and you’re probably looking at minimum trade sizes of £2,500-5,000 to be cost effective.

On the other hand, once you factor in better execution and other costs, firms such as these may be more cost-effective for larger international investments. For example, the currency conversion charges that most discount stock brokers charge should be far less with a good private client firm.

Continue reading »

Oct 182011

Swissquote is now in the stock broker directory. This is a somewhat unusual firm, being an online execution-only broker that attempts to add on some of the flexibility that a traditional Swiss private bank provides for broker-assisted dealing.

This means that it will trade a fairly wide range of exchanges that are unusual among European retail stock brokers. If you want this kind of choice in one place, you’re normally talking about a minimum account size in the high net worth individual range. The international stock trading options include Brazil, Japan’s Osaka Stock Exchange (most firms only offer Tokyo), Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey and many others.

The snag is that Swissquote is doing this through intermediaries and hence it’s not cheap. You’re talking CHF200-400 (US$200-400) minimum commission for most of these. So frequent trading in most of these markets is going to be impractical for most retail clients. But it could be useful for investors who want to make the occasional long-term investment in these markets.

Oct 172011

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.