Jan 062013

There are a couple of updates to fees at two Singapore brokers. OCBC Securities has slightly reduced its commissions on the higher tiers for Singapore stock trades – trades S$50-100k are now 0.22% from 0.275% and trades above S$100k are now 0.18% from 0.20%. This brings it in line with most of its local peers for online Singapore trades.

It’s a small change, but at least it’s in the client’s favour. DBS Vickers appears to have gone in the opposite direction. A reader has pointed out some significant alterations to the firm’s fee schedule for some international markets. (These apparently came in a little while ago, but neither I nor anyone I know uses DBS, so I wasn’t aware of it until now.)

Continue reading »

Dec 192012

Fidelity now appears to gone live with the eight additional markets they announced they would be adding earlier this year – there doesn’t seem to have been any official announcement of this, but the exchanges, currencies and commissions are now listed on the international trading pages of their website.

The new markets are Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Poland, South Africa and Spain and all relevant new currencies have also been added (Danish Krone, Polish Zloty and South African Rand). Rates look reasonable – for online trades, the euro markets are €19 (US$25) like others already on the platform, Denmark is DKK160 (US$28), Poland is PLN90 (US$29) and South Africa is ZAR225 (US$27). However, there is of course a foreign currency conversion charge on top, of up to 1%. Continue reading »

Dec 192012

Slight delay on updating this due to other commitments, but Saxo announced new fees for its UK Modern Wealth Management service, all of which seem to be in the client’s favour. The main changes are:

  • The waiver of commission on currency conversion for international trades has been made permanent. Any FX mark-up near 0% is rare, so this makes it extremely competitive, with the only downside being that the MWM platform only has a limited range of international markets (the new rates do not apply to Saxo Trader). In particular, it’s good for anyone who wants to hold overseas stocks in an ISA, since Saxo’s new rates make it one of the cheapest ISAs for foreign stocks around.
  • The annual fee of £35 has been removed for regular investment accounts and only applies to ISAs.
  • The fund supermarket has become more competitive – it’s now on an RDR compliant basis and will now return all trail and platform commission to investors. Saxo will charge an annual custody fee of 0.5% on fund holdings, although this is being waived until January 2014. It’s hard to know how competitive 0.5% will look in a year’s time, since most of the supermarkets have not yet announced their post-RDR pricing, but I’d guess it will be mid-tier – other firms such as Cavendish will probably be cheaper. Still, Saxo is for now a much more serious contender as a fund supermarket than it was, so I’ve added it to the fund supermarket table for the time being.

Overally, good to see a firm lowering costs and a contrast to TD Direct Investing’s changes the other day.

Dec 122012

Charles Stanley‘s Fastrade service – notable for being one of the cheapest ways to get CREST Personal Member Account – is going to be rebranded as Charles Stanley Direct in the new year. The firm is promising that this isn’t just cosmetic and the new service will be improved; less encouragingly, it will also be raising some fees later in the year.

While the new fees haven’t yet been posted on the site, they have been emailed to a contributor on a Motley Fool UK discussion, from where I’ve copy and pasted them below: Continue reading »

Nov 302012

TD Direct Investing (formerly known as TD Waterhouse) has renamed its Luxembourg division from Internaxx to TD Direct Investing International. Apart from standardising the brand, I imagine this is also part of breaking with the Fortis era. Internaxx began as a joint venture between TD Waterhouse and the Fortis-controlled Banque Générale du Luxembourg in 2001, with TDW buying out Fortis’ stake after the latter was nationalised in the 2008 crisis. Continue reading »

Oct 202012

Update October 2013: There is now a new version of this comparison incorporating changes to brokers’ fees over the past year. See Best ISAs for International Stocks October 2013.

Update March 2013: Saxo Bank is closing the Modern Wealth Management service and introducing an ISA wrapper on its Saxo Trader platform. This seems likely to work out slightly more expensive than the Modern Wealth Management example below, but will apparently allow access to a much wider range of exchanges. The comparison table will be updated once I have full details of the revised service.

[Updated again on 06/11/2012 to include estimated costs for Interactive Investor and again on 19/12/2012 to reflect Saxo Bank’s new pricing for Modern Wealth Management]

I’ve updated the tables from the Best ISAs for international stocks post from April to reflect a few fee changes and include a new broker. Some changes and key points are:

  • iWeb has cut its dealing fee to £5 per trade. On the downside, its foreign exchange margin is scheduled to increase to 1.5% in April 2013, which will make it significantly more expensive. The figures in the table are based on the current margin, but estimates based on the increased margin are included in the footnotes.
  • Sippdeal has recently been added to the broker database and added to the tables for the first time. I wasn’t aware of this firm’s international offering until recently – all told, the cost structure looks very competitive if you want to trade in CREST-settled foreign stocks.
  • The figures for iDealing have been changed to be based on a 0.5% foreign exchange margin. Like Sippdeal, iDealing passes on the market maker’s FX commission without adding its own – the firm has previously told me that 0.25% was a typical mark-up, but based on figures from Sippdeal and elsewhere, I think this is probably too low for the relatively small deals I’m factoring into the table, so have adjusted it for this example.
  • Admin fees/inactivity fees for Alliance Trust, Halifax and Selftrade have changed slightly since the last update, although this has had relatively little impact on their overall competitiveness.
  • The estimate for Saxo Modern Wealth Management is based on its scheduled 0.5% regular FX charge rather than the introductory offer of no FX mark-up.  Saxo has now made the 0% FX charge its permanent rate, so the figures have been updated – this makes it look extremely competitive, albeit for a limited range of markets. Continue reading »
Oct 062012

Since the Saxo Modern Wealth Management platform for UK long-term investors is rather different to the Saxo Bank platform, it now has its own entry in the broker directory. There are also a few updates to the details of the service from the summary when it first launched in April 2012.

  • Saxo has confirmed that the currency conversion fee is 0.5% over interbank rates, not 1.5%, and that this is being waived until mid 2013. Am not sure if this was an error in the original charges sheet or a decision to bring it down to match the standard Saxo Bank rates. Regardless, it is now far more competitive, making its ISA (which is only available through Modern Wealth Management rather than the Saxo Bank service) look like one of the more cost-effective ones for holding foreign stocks. Continue reading »
Sep 292012

In what looked like a carefully timed attempt to make Charles Schwab’s new international service less newsworthy,  Fidelity has announced that it will be adding eight new countries to its international platform by the end of 2012. The proposed new countries are Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Poland, South Africa and Spain.

There are no details on fees yet, but assuming they are sensible, Fidelity’s international service may start to look a relatively decent option for US residents to invest in a wide range of international markets at reasonable cost. Countries such as Poland and South Africa are still hard to trade in a cost-effective way, especially since US investors don’t have easy access to international firms such as Saxo Bank.

Sep 292012

Charles Schwab has extended its international investing services, following Fidelity’s decision to do the same earlier this year. The new Schwab Global Account offers online access to 12 non-US markets: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway and the UK.

Schwab is initially is offering zero commission online trades until the end of 2013 – thereafter, international commissions will be in the range of US$15-35 online and US$50-75 by telephone (at current exchange rates). Currency conversion fees will be up to 1% and there is also a 0.1-0.25% fee from the local brokers that Schwab uses to execute trades abroad (something that isn’t clearly displayed on the Schwab website, but can be found in the latest fees guide [PDF]).

The Global Account seems to be distinct from the existing international trading service available through the Schwab One Account, which offered 20-30 countries for telephone trading, albeit at very high costs. While the Global Account mentions access to 30 countries in addition to the 12 online markets, this appears to mean the ability to trade ADRs and OTC stocks from other countries in US dollars, which is not at all the same thing as having direct access to a foreign market (selection will be more limited, liquidity will usually be poorer, spreads may be wider and prices may be stale). Continue reading »