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Setting up your first brokerage account in Singapore

For those who have been following us and are keen to start your own personal investment journey, we thought it would be good for us to provide some simple guide on how to open your 1st brokerage account. It was not too long ago whereby we too had to undergo the process of starting our own account, and without any such guides for reference to!

We will cover some key considerations, and hopefully these will prove helpful in giving you a clear idea on the process and insights towards opening a brokerage account for stock trading.

Basic Information

There are only two things that you need to do if you want to trade shares (or stock as it is better known in some parts of the world)

 I. You have to open a brokerage account. A brokerage account is an account through which you will do the buying and selling of shares. It is usually tagged with a brokerage firm (for example DBS Vickers), which will transact trades on behalf of the instructions of the client.

II.  You have to open a Central Depository (CDP) account. A CDP account provides services such as:

  • Statements to Account Holders
  • Deposit of Securities
  • Withdrawal of Securities
  • Transfer of Securities
  • Entitlement Processing and Corporate Actions
  • Securities Lending and Borrowing

As retail investors, we have to know that it is not the brokerage firm that safe keeps our securities but the CDP account that provides this service. If you are opening your 1st brokerage account, the brokerage firm will guide you accordingly on the procedures on opening a CDP account.

Opening of Account

While opening a brokerage account is quite similar to opening a standard bank account, there are some key considerations that you may wish to note.

Fund Transfers:

I. If there is a need to transfer funds to the brokerage company when you purchase shares, some readers might find it more convenient if they open a brokerage account with one of the banks that they already have an account with. For example, one may use OCBC Bank solely for investments so the person will find it more convenient by opening a brokerage account with OCBC Securities. By doing so, funds will be giro-ed automatically from your savings account with OCBC Bank to OCBC Securities.

Level of Support:

II. The level of support received is important. We think it is essential to have someone whom we can call to when we have queries, whether technical or otherwise. For example, OCBC Securities will assign a trading representative to every account holder after they open an account. Most of the brokerage firm should provide this service automatically, but be sure to confirm this before you apply.

Starters Perks:

III. If you are new to trading, you will definitely need to start from somewhere. Some of the brokerage firms have introduced starter packs for investors who just started up. For example, OCBC Securities have the OCBC Young Investor Pack , which offers commission rebate for the first trade and other support services. The CIMB Securities Youth Engagement is another such service worth considering.

Risk of Default:

IV. Your brokerage firm defaulting is definitely an issue you DO NOT WANT to be concerned about. We can safely say that the risks of brokerage houses defaulting are very slim due to stringent regulations that MAS imposes. Nonetheless it is still better to be safe than sorry as seen from the failure of MF Global. One suggestion is to choose local brokerages that are generally safer as their regulatory standards are typically more stringent.

Commission Fee:

V. When an investor purchase shares, they have to pay a commission fee for the brokerage company to transact on their behalf. Bear in mind that this is a two-way charge. A commission charge is payable during both the purchase and sale of shares. Because the industry is so competitive, most of the rates offered by brokerage companies are quite similar and you can check out the rates offered from the different brokerage house on these links OCBC Securities, CIMB Securities, Standard Chartered Equities Trading, Citibank Brokerage. Standard Chartered tends to stand out from the rest as there is no minimum commission, no custody fees and the commission rate is lower.

[Editor’s Note: From 1 August 2016, Standard Chartered online equities platform would no longer be offering the “No Minimum Commission”. Instead, a minimum charge of $10 will apply for all shares being traded on the SGX. The 0.2% brokerage charges would still apply, so you pay whichever is higher. Read: Standard Chartered To Introduce Minimum Commission Fee For Online Brokerage Trades ]

We will share more technical related pointers for your consideration in our next article. For now, we hope that the pointers highlighted would assist you in better assessing the many options out there when opening a brokerage account.  As always drop us a comment if you have any further questions and support us by “Liking” us on Facebook! Your endorsement means alot to us!

Royalty-free photo from Getty Images. Used with appreciation.

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