This article was written in collaboration with uSMART Securities. All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg based on our research. DollarsAndSense.sg is not liable for any financial losses that may arise from any transactions and readers are encouraged to do their own due diligence. You can view our full editorial policy here.
For anyone who wishes to invest in financial exchanges such as the Singapore Exchange, Hong Kong Exchange or the Nasdaq and NYSE in the US, you would need a brokerage account that gives you access to buy and sell securities on these exchanges.
For those of you who are old enough to remember, opening a stock brokerage account used to be a full day affair. I can still remember having to set aside a day to head down to the office of a brokerage firm at Raffles Place, and spending a few hours filling in forms and having to photocopy multiple copies of documents such as my IC for submission.
Even after that, I still had a wait for a couple of weeks for my account to be opened before I can finally start trading.
Thankfully, those days are over.
If you are a new investor who wants to start investing today, one low-cost brokerage account that you can consider opening an account with is uSMART. As written in our previous review of uSMART, the platform is particularly user-friendly for first-time investors as it offers a wealth of content that can help investors become more knowledgeable in investing and succeeding in their investment goals. This is on top of the low-cost commission and platform fee it charges for transaction orders.
Even for experienced investors like some of us at DollarsAndSense, we can also have multiple brokerage accounts. Think of it as having multiple gyms we can go to, with the only difference being that – we don’t need to pay to open and maintain a brokerage account most of the time (unlike gyms where we need to pay monthly membership even if we don’t use it). In fact, some brokerage firms may even offer a welcome package for investors.
In this article, we will share a step-by-step guide on how we open and fund a brokerage account with uSMART – all within a day so that we don’t have to wait weeks before we can actually start trading.
Step 1: Open an uSMART account
After downloading and opening the app, there is a tab – Open Account. You can open an account here via the app. You can choose between individual account (what we choose) or joint account.
Step 2: Opt to open an account via Myinfo
Similar to most brokerage firms today, you can choose to open an account with Myinfo. As far as possible, opt for that. It will make the account opening process a lot simpler.
After giving consent for your information to be shared, you would automatically see most of the details pre-filled. There would be some financial background information that you need to fill in (e.g. your net income, net worth). As always, Myinfo is a lifesaver here as it makes all this form-filling work a seamless process.
Step 3: Choose the type of uSMART account you wish to open
Depending on your comfort level, there are two main types of accounts you can open.
Margin Account – This account allows you to trade stocks, US Fractional Shares and Options. You will need to prefund your account and trade on cash or margin if you wish.
Cash Account – This account allows you to trade stocks and US Fractional Shares. You will need to prefund your account before you can make any transaction. You cannot trade on margin (i.e. trade beyond the cash amount you have).
You would also need to provide some background information on your stock investment experience and qualifications. This will have a bearing on the products that you can trade.
Step 4: Risk disclosure & e-signature
You would need to make the necessary risk disclosure. After that, an e-signature is required.
Step 5: Choose between uSMART Trader & uSMART Standard
This could be a little confusing for some of us especially if you are already used to how other brokerages operate. Basically, uSMART offers three types of accounts, each with its own benefits and commission charges. If you like, you can think of it as “membership” tier.
uSMART Trader: This is the “lowest” tier and the commission fee will also be the lowest. For example, for US stocks, the commission fee is USD 0.003 per share (minimum USD 0.50 per order) and the platform fee is 0.005 per share (minimum USD 0.50 per order). For Singapore stocks, the commission fee is 0.02% of the transaction value while the platform fee is 0.03% of the transaction value. However, uSMART Trader comes with fewer features on the app and you won’t be eligible for the welcome promotion.
uSMART Standard: Standard sits between Trader and Intel. While the commission fee is slightly higher than uSMART Trader at USD 0.004 per share (minimum USD 0.88 per order) and the platform fee is 0.005 per share (minimum USD 1.00 per order), uSMART Standard also comes with limited usage of SMART features such as a value screener, technical analysis, featured strategies, daily stock picks and trend tracker. You will also be eligible for the welcome promotion.
uSMART Intel: uSMART Intel provides all the SMART features that uSMART Standard provides but with no limit on usage! However, it’s also priced higher than uSMART Standard with commission fee of USD 0.009 per share (minimum USD 1.00 per order) and platform fee is 0.01 per share (minimum USD 1.88 per order).
You can upgrade to uSMART Intel account when you have an AUM of SGD 3000. Apart from that, there are no other requirements.
If you wish to maintain your uSMART Trader or Standard account tier and yet enjoy the SMART features, you can opt for Intel Subscription (SGD 0.01 for 1st 30 days & SGD 18.80 for subsequent 30 days) instead.
If you are not sure which tier to choose, don’t worry about this as you can also change it later. For us, we choose uSMART Standard as it allows us to explore all the various tools that the uSMART app can offer, plus, allow us to qualify for the welcome promotion.
All in all, with the use of Myinfo, opening an account is extremely easy and we were able to get it done in less than 5 minutes (and that is including the time needed to capture screenshots for the purpose of this article!).
For us, the account approval took less than an hour from the point of submission. Barring any incomplete details submitted or any unforeseen circumstances, you should expect a similar experience or even shorter time.
Deposit Your Funds & Start Trading Via uSMART
Once your account is set up, you are ready to start trading. Start off by depositing some cash into your account. We would strongly recommend that you make a first deposit at least SGD 2,000 or more as this would qualify you to enjoy the welcome promotion (from 1 June to 31 July) that consists of 0.1 Tesla fractional share. Do note this welcome gift is only available for uSMART Standard or uSMART Intel accounts.
This first deposit gift is on top of the SGD 15 cash voucher that we can enjoy for account opening (Standard or Intel). We also enjoy free US and SG market live price.
To deposit cash, go to the “Trade” tab and select “Deposit”. Choose the currency you wish to deposit funds with.
For us, we choose SGD.
You can then choose the deposit method that you want. There are four options available – 1) eGIRO, 2) PayNow, 3) FAST and 4) Telegraphic Transfer.
While PayNow and FAST are methods we are likely already familiar with, eGIRO is a great option as a mode of fund transfer because it can directly debit funds from our authorised bank account (like how GIRO typically works but much faster!). Once set up, deposits are only made upon our request and will be instant. eGIRO is supported by 9 banks in Singapore currently.
uSMART is a great platform for investors who are looking not only to make transactions in the financial markets at a low cost, but who also want to learn more about investing and trading, get valuable insights about the financial markets, and be a part of an investment community. In the uSMART community, we can ask questions and have them directly answered by investment veterans and professionals from uSMART, or discuss it with other like-minded investors on the platform.
This way, as an investor, we can learn, get the information we need and invest using a single platform – uSMART, as opposed to having to find information and trade on separate platforms. Equally importantly, if we wish to act and to trade based on our knowledge, we can fund and trade using the platform almost instantly. And even if we have yet to open an account, we can do so and start trading within hours on the same day.
And if we are not entirely ready to start investing yet, the uSMART app can still be a useful app that can help us gain the knowledge we need first before we make our first trade.