Which is the best Stock Broker for Singapore Investors? (2021 Guide)


I’ve been getting a lot of queries recently on the best stock brokers that I recommend for Singapore investors. It’s been more than a year since my previous article on the Best Stock Broker for Singapore Investors, so I figured this would be a perfect time to update the guide to best stock brokers for Singapore investors.

Basics: Best Stock Broker for Singapore Investors

Now the way I like to see Stock Brokers is as tools. And remember the saying: A bad workman blames his tools?

Having a good tool doesn’t necessary make you a good workman. But if you’re a good workman already, a good tool goes a long way to making life a lot easier.

In this article, I’ve evaluated the stock brokers based on the following factors:


There are 3 main types of fees to take into account:

  1. Stock Commissions – Stock Commission is basically the amount you pay on each trade. These are really important when you’re investing smaller amounts, but less important as the amount per trade goes up. The difference between paying 25USD per trade on a US stock (DBS Vickers) and 4USD per trade (Saxo) is the difference between a 2.5% fee and a 0.4% fee. So focus on this when you’re investing smaller amounts.
  2. Forex Spread – This one only matters for foreign shares, and only really comes into play if you’re investing big sums. To illustrate – the difference between a 50 bps spread and a 100 bps spread on a USD/SGD pair when you’re investing $1,000,000 is about $5000. That’s big. But when you’re investing $10,000, that’s only $50. So the bigger the sums you’re investing, the more you’ll prioritise good forex spreads over stock commissions.
  3. Custodian Fees – Custodian fees are when the broker charges you a certain fee each year to hold the shares. They’re either a fixed amount (eg. $2 per month per counter), or percentage based (0.1% per annum).

Ownership Structure (Custodian vs CDP/Legal Title)

This is the ownership structure of your shares. It’s either going to be cutodian (where the shares are held in the stock broker / bank’s name on trust for you) and CDP/legal title (where the shares are held in your name).

Practically speaking, for most retail investors, this is only relevant for Singapore shares. Which one you pick depends on the kind of investor you are, and we’ll touch on this in a bit.

For foreign shares, there isn’t a huge difference between the two. So I usually just go with the one with lower fees, which is custodian.

Ease of Use and Customer Service

This is a really underrated point. Everyone is obsessed over fees… until they open an account and simply can’t figure out how to make their stock trade… or when something goes wrong and they need to place a call to Hong Kong to speak to the customer service officer (not naming names, but you guys know who I’m referring to ;).

So in this review, I took ease of use, and customer service into account as well when evaluating stock brokers.

Reliability in the longer term

The thing about stock brokers is that you want them to work, reliably, forever. What you don’t want, is a stock broker that saves you a ton of money on fees, only to close operations the next day and force you to move all your shares out. Not only does that cost money, it’s also annoying as hell to deal with. Case in point – Charles Schwab recently closed its Singapore operations for good, forcing all existing customers to figure out what to do with their shares.

There’s no way of knowing for certain if a broker is here for good, but the bigger their existing base of customers (and the more they’re spending on customer acquisition), the more comfortable I would be.

Account Opening Bonus

Hey, call me a cheapo, but we’re Singaporeans, and there’s nothing we love more than a freebie on account opening right?

When you broker puts money in your hand to open an account (Saxo I’m looking at you, see details below for the Financial Horse x Saxo affiliate promo), that’s cash in your hands immediately. And cash in my hands is far superior to any rebates on stock trades down the road which may or may not materialise.

Money earned from an account opening bonus or referral program is no different from money earned from a stock trade, so it’s important not to neglect this factor too.

Quality of the Stock Broker and misc services

As a couple of readers have pointed out, some other factors to consider include:

  • Quality of the human stock broker (including research reports that can be provided by the broker)
  • Data – Real Time price streaming, market depth, price trigger & long validity, pre/close market trading, time/sale data etc

Not all investors will need these tools, so do also decide for yourself if these are important to you.

For me personally, as a millennial, I prefer my broker to simply do 1 task – buy shares, and buy them cheap, so these are less important to me. Not everyone is like me though, so if these services have value to you, then absolutely do try to maintain some money at a brokerage that can provide these services.

Singapore Markets

CDP vs Custodian

When you use a stock broker linked to your Central Depository (CDP) Account, all Singapore shares / REITs you buy go directly into your CDP account, and you are registered as the legal owner of the shares. The advantage is that because you’re the legal owner of the shares, the company knows who you are, and you get easy access to AGMs/EGMs, annual reports or circulars delivered to your home, timely receipt of other company notices etc.

With a custodian account, the stock broker owns the shares. So if you’re using a custodian service, the shares will be legally owned by the broker, and they hold the shares on trust for you. Advantages are usually lower fees.

Now the way I see it is this. If you’re a trader who takes short term positions in stocks (less than a year each time, typically a few months max), go with a custodian style broker. The lower fees will pay off in the longer run. If you’re a long term buy and hold investor like me, just do yourself a huge favour and pick a broker with a CDP service.

I’ve been at many AGMs where shareholders from a custodian service have huge trouble trying to get in, simply because the company didn’t have records of them being a legal shareholder. It’s also tricky when you’re trying to receive company notices (eg. Notice of EGM, Distribution Reinvestment Plans, general offers etc), because sometimes there’s a delay in your custodian broker sending these notices to you (sometimes you just don’t even get them). So yeah.. go with CDP, and you’ll thank me later.

Comparing the Best Stock Brokers

Dollars and Sense did up a nice table below that compiles all the brokerage fees in Singapore.

Source: https://dollarsandsense.sg/singapore-stock-brokerage-house-comparison/

Buy and Hold Investor – DBS Vickers Cash Upfront

For CDP Accounts (buy and hold investors), use DBS Vickers Cash Upfront because the $10 minimum commission is the cheapest on the market.

The only drawback with DBS Vickers Cash Upfront is that you need to fund the money upfront before a trade rather than the usual T+2 settlement, but this doesn’t really bother me since I already have the money set asie anyway. Do also note that you can’t use DBS Vickers Cash Upfront on sell trades though, so the commission to sell is $25.

If you’re really concerned about fees, you can use DBS Vickers Cash Upfront to buy, and then use FSMOne to sell the shares from your CDP. Some readers have wrote in to share this “trick”, but I haven’t tried it myself personally, so I can’t comment on how much of an effort it is (Update: More readers have written in to comment, and it seems this is fairly straightforward to execute).

If you’re a buy and hold investor though, selling usually doesn’t happen too frequently, so I think this is worth the trade off to have CDP shares.

Day Trader – Saxo Markets

For Custodian Accounts (day traders), both Saxo Markets and FSMOne have 0.08% commissions and $10 minimum commission, which is the cheapest in the market.

Between the two, I would say go with Saxo Markets.

The advantage with Saxo is that they have an account opening bonus (check out the bottom of this article for full details of the Financial Horse affiliate/referral bonus), and they are far more established as a global player. Their platform is much easier to use than FSMOne (at least to me).

Do note also that Saxo’s custodian fee is waived for SGX stocks if you’re a Singapore Citizen/PR, so no need to worry about that!

Saxo is a big Danish bank with a global presence, and they’ve been investing very heavily to expand and build their presence in Singapore recently. This sort of gives me the confidence they’re here to stay. FSMOne is a bit more of a niche, local player, but with their own core group of fans. So I’m not so sure where they will be in 10 years.

So yeah, I would say Saxo is a clear winner here.

Note: As at 9 Nov 2020, Saxo has slashed their fees for SGX stocks. There’s no minimum commission for new clients until 30 April 2021, and it’s $5 for existing clients, making it the clear choice.

US Markets

US shares is where it gets complicated. There are 4 brokers that I would consider for US shares, and each has their own pros and cons. Which one works for you depends on the type of investor you are.

Stockbroker Saxo Markets Interactive Brokers Standard Chartered Online Trading FSM One
Fees 0.06% 0.005 USD/share 0.25% 0.08%  
Minimum Commission $4.00 $1.00 $10
If you are Priority Banking ($200,000 or more AUM), there is no minimum commission.
Forex Spread Good. Good. Decent. Decent.
Custody Fee 0.06% – 0.12% per year (depending on your AUM)
Based on 100,000 USD, this will be 120 USD a year. So 100,000 USD is the tipping point where it will make sense to move to Interactive Brokers.
10 USD a month (US$120 a year) unless your AUM is more than $100,000 or commission is more than 10 USD a month None. None.  
Sign up Promo Referral bonus available. None None. None.
Customer Service Good. No Singapore Office. Usual bank level service. Decent.

The way I see it, is to pick your broker based on the amount you’re investing in US Shares (don’t count your Singapore shares here because those are held in CDP).

Less than US$100,000 – Saxo

When investing less than US$100,000 in US, I see Saxo as the best choice. With Saxo you get USD4 commission per trade (which is truly great), an account opening bonus, and decent forex spreads. The trading platform is nice and customer service is prompt (they have a Singapore office).

That’s about all you want from a broker really. There is the 0.12% AUM Fee to contend with, but to put it in perspective, on a US$10,000 investment it’s US$12 a year. You make that back many times over on the low commissions and account opening bonus. I was also told that at higher AUMs (approx $500,000 and up), Saxo can reduce/waive the custodian fee entirely, as well as provide you additional VIP services, so if you’re a high roller, that could also be one to look out for.

A lot of readers have written in with good things to say about Saxo, and I genuinely think this is the best broker for new to intermediate investors looking to dip into US Markets.

I do get a lot of queries asking why I don’t recommend Interactive Brokers at this tier, and my answer is this. With Interactive Brokers you pay an annual fee of 10 USD a month ($120 a year) unless your AUM is more than US$100,000. As a new to intermediate investor, most of your funds will be split between the Singapore and US market, with a heavy tilt towards Singapore. There’s no way the amount of foreign shares you hold will be anywhere near US$100,000 for it make sense to go with Interactive Brokers. Not only that, but Interactive Brokers’ platform is far more complex than Saxo, which makes it less conducive for beginner investors.

Note: As at Nov 2020, Saxo has slashed its FX Spread from 0.75% to 0.3%. You can also open up to 5 FX accounts completely free of charge.

This is very competitive, even better than the FX spread at brokers like Tiger Brokers or FSM One. Post this change, Saxo’s FX has become very competitive, and you can change FX within the account itself now.

Financial Horse x Saxo Affiliate Link

If you’re keen on opening a Saxo account, Financial Horse has partnered with Saxo for a special account opening bonus if you fund $3000 and make 1 stock trade. The link is below, drop me an email at [email protected] for the next steps!

Note: If you’re interested in this bonus, please do make sure you click through the link to open an account!

Referral Link: FH Account Opening Bonus

Interactive Brokers Referral Link

Or if you prefer IBKR, here is the referral link: Interactive Brokers Referral Link

What about TD Ameritrade, Tiger Brokers and MooMoo?

There have been some shakeups in the stock broking industry recently, with the entry of MooMoo, Tiger Brokers ($1.99 minimum commission) and TD Ameritrade waiving all commissions.

It looks like a great deal, but with brokers there’s always more than meets the eye.

The first is FX fees. With TD Ameritrade, Tiger Brokers, and MooMoo, there is an FX spread if you’re using the broker to change your SGD to USD. It’s about 0.5% each way, so it does eat into your returns.

With TD Ameritrade, there is also a $25 withdrawal fee to withdraw moneys into your bank account (first withdrawal is free). So the broker does make the money back in other ways, and you’ll need to plan around this withdrawal fee. The account opening times for TD Ameritrade are pretty ridiculous now, so do expect to wait a couple of weeks to get your account.

The other problem with both brokers is that they don’t have have access to many other jurisdictions. For example Tiger Brokers does not have access to European / London Stock Exchanges, which are handy for Singapore investors because of superior withholding tax treatment for London ETFs. So these will not work well as an all in one broker.

There’s really no free lunch in this world, and each broker does have their own pros and cons.

If you do want to check out Moomoo, you can use the link below to get a free apple stock, a 30 SGD cash coupon, and commission free trading for 90 days:

FH Referral Link: Moomoo Referral Link / Sign Up Bonus

If you do want to check out Tiger brokers, you can use the link below to get Stock Vouchers up to S$200 + 30-day Commission-free Card + US stock LV2 Quote Card:

FH Referral Link: Tiger Brokers Referral Link / Sign Up Bonus

US$100,000 or more – Interactive Brokers

At this tier, I think that Interactive Brokers becomes a viable option.

When your account value crosses US$100,000, the minimum US$10 a month is waived, which makes it great for buy and hold investors. At this sums, the forex spreads and fees also come into play to make Interactive Brokers a good alternative.

The Interactive Brokers platform is pretty tough to navigate though, so it may be less suitable for beginner investors. They’ve recently just opened a Singapore office as well, but to be honest customer service is not amazing.

But if you can bear through all of that, the fees are great.

If you don’t want to deal with all the hassle though, you can check out Standard Chartered instead.

FH Referral Link – Interactive Brokers

What you are paying with the local brokers

For comparison though, just to illustrate how ludicrous some of the fees charged by the local brokers are, this is what is being charged by DBS Vickers for US shares.

Trading Fee: Minimum USD 25 or 0.18% of trading principal (whichever is higher)

Custodian Fee: SGD 2 per counter per month, capped at SGD 150.00 per quarter.

That’s insane compared to the USD4 for Saxo.

So yes, if you’re still using a DBS, OCBC, UOB or POEMs account to buy US shares, it really is time to switch to one of the above.

HK Markets

Broker Fees Custodian Fee
Saxo Markets 0.15% (min. 90 HKD) 0.12% Annual
Standard Chartered Online Trading 0.25% Minimum $100 in HKD currency (HKD 107 with 7% GST) None.
Interactive Brokers 0.08% of trade value(Min. HKD 18) Minimum commission of 120 USD annually
FSM One 0.08% min HKD 50 None
DBS Vickers 0.18% on trading principal (min. HKD 100 for shares trading in HKD Custody Fee SGD 2 per counter per month, capped at SGD 150.00 per quarter.
POEMS 0.25%  (Min. 100 HKD) SGD 2 per stock up to a max. of SGD 150 per quarter (7% GST applies) Monthly charges are automatically waived if there are at least (a) two trades in your trading account in the same calendar month, regardless of trade size in local or foreign shares OR (b) six trades in your trading account in the same calendar quarter, regardless of trade size in local or foreign shares OR (c) SGD 132 of paid brokerages in the same calendar quarter

For Hong Kong Markets it really comes down to Saxo vs FSMOne for me. You can refer to the discussion above for picking between the two.

Note: Do note that you can now use Saxo to access China A shares at charges of 0.15% (min. CNH 40). This is incredibly competitive as the other broker with such access – Poems, charges 0.25% (min. CNH 88). If you’re looking to get access to China A shares, Saxo is probably the best option out there right now. Read more in our review here.

UK Markets

Broker Fees Custodian Fees
Saxo Markets 0.10% (min. 8 GBP) 0.12% Annual
Standard Chartered Online Trading 0.25% (min. 10 GBP) None.
Interactive Brokers 0.05% (min. GBP 1) Minimum commission of 120 USD annually
DBS Vickers Minimum GBP 25; or 0.35% of trading principal (whichever is higher) SGD 2 per counter per month, capped at SGD 150.00 per quarter.
POEMS 0.4% (min. 25 GBP) SGD 2 per stock up to a max. of SGD 150 per quarter (7% GST applies) Monthly charges are automatically waived if there are at least (a) two trades in your trading account in the same calendar month, regardless of trade size in local or foreign shares OR (b) six trades in your trading account in the same calendar quarter, regardless of trade size in local or foreign shares OR (c) SGD 132 of paid brokerages in the same calendar quarter

For UK Markets it comes down to Standard Chartered Online Trading vs Saxo for me. Between the two, I think Standard Chartered wins out marginally because of no custodian fees, but it really is very close because Saxo has a lower stock commission (percentage wise and minimum fee wise).

I would say just go with the one that is easier for you. So if you already have a Saxo account, just use Saxo here. If you already have a Standard Chartered or Interactive Brokers account, just use that. And if you have an IB account or are able to hit the US$100,000 requirement, IB is probably the cheapest in terms of fees.

What is my recommended set-up?

If you’re a new investor, I know all this is a lot to take in. But if I had to do it all again, I would just open 2 brokerage accounts: DBS Vickers Cash Upfront for Singapore stocks, and Saxo Markets for foreign stocks.

Hand over my heart, I truly think that this combination is the most suitable for most retail investors out there.

The DBS Vickers Cash Upfront works for all Singapore investments you can possibly make, and is likely to remain so for the next 10 years unless DBS makes any big changes.

Saxo works for all foreign investments at least until you start hitting US$100,000 in foreign shares. Once you start hitting such numbers, you may want to start checking out Interactive Brokers (more than US$100,000), or Standard Chartered if you’re able to get priority banking status easily (more than S$200,000 or US$150,000).

I’ve summarized it into the table below:

  Buy and Hold Investor (<US$100,000) Investing Large Sums (>US$100,000) Day Trader
Singapore Stocks DBS Vickers Cash Upfront DBS Vickers Cash Upfront Saxo  
Foreign Stocks (US/HK/UK) Saxo Interactive Brokers (>US$100,000 in foreign stocks) or Standard Chartered Bank (>$200,000)   Saxo

What is the Financial Horse Set Up?

And just to show that I’m putting my money where my mouth is, here is how I do it:

I use DBS Vickers Cash Upfront for all my Singapore shares and REITs. I’m a buy and hold investor, and I really like having shares go into my CDP for the long haul.

For foreign investments (US and Hong Kong), I use Saxo Markets. I really like USD4 minimum commissions, the Saxo platform platform, and the account opening bonus (details below).

I have some US Shares held via Standard Chartered Online Trading back from the good old days when they didn’t charge minimum commissions. Those stay there because it’s too much hassle / fees to move them over to Saxo Markets.

I currently don’t hold UK shares, but if I did, it would probably be either Standard Chartered Online Trading or Saxo Markets.

Financial Horse x Saxo Affiliate Link

If you’re keen on opening a Saxo account, Financial Horse has partnered with Saxo for a special account opening bonus if you fund $3000 and make 1 stock trade. The link is below, drop me an email at [email protected] for the next steps!

Note: If you’re interested in this bonus, please do make sure you click through the link to open an account!

Referral Link: FH Account Opening Bonus

Interactive Brokers Referral Link

Or if you prefer IBKR, here is the referral link: Interactive Brokers Referral Link

Closing Thoughts

Picking the best stock broker for you is always important because every dollar of transaction cost saved, is effectively a dollar worth of investment returns.

But which brokerage you ultimately pick depends greatly on what kind of investor you are, and your existing situation. For example, if you have a Saxo Markets account and want to buy UK shares, it may not really be worth the hassle to open a Standard Chartered account just to save a little on fees. Or if you’re a priority banking customer with Standard Chartered, it makes a lot of sense to just use them for all of your shares. Or if you can maintain USD 100,000 with Interactive Brokers, they’re probably the best fit for you.

But for the average investor who has his net worth spread over real estate, cash, bonds, and other alternative investments, I think the above recommendations work decently well. Of course, don’t take my word for it, think through what works for you, what you plan to invest in in the coming years, and do some independent research, before picking a broker.

But at the end of the day, don’t overthink. Remember, it’s just a broker, not a wife. If you pick wrongly, you can always switch later ;).

What do you think? Share your comments below!

Looking for a comprehensive guide to investing? Check out the FH Complete Guide to Investing for Singapore investors.

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  1. Waiting for IBKR to set up shop in sg and hope there can be a all in 1 platform for both sg and foreign stocks/ETFs. Currently theres only SCB which has poorer fx spread

  2. Hey Financial Horse! Great article as always.
    I do have a question regarding moving equities from SAXO to IBKR/ SCB. Having purchased US equities For over 3 years, I am approaching the $100k mark and is looking to move the funds to IBKR to save on the custodian fees which SAXO charges. Do you recommend selling the equities in SAXO and buying them in IBKR or transfer the equities from brokerage to brokerage.

    Based on my understanding now, transferring of each equity from SAXO to IBKR would cost 50 EUR which I am hesitant to pay for.

    • Great question! It really depends on the number of shares you have I think.

      I would say if its just one or two counters in Saxo, it may be worth just paying the fee to transfer. But if you have say 10 or more counters, then it may not make sense to incur that charge. In such a scenario I would say just leave all the existing shares in Saxo, and use IBKR/SCB for your new purchases.

      Do try out IBKR’s platform before transferring all your shares over though. It’s quite a complex platform, and not for everyone. There are some people I know who just can’t accept IBKR’s platform.

      Cheers, hope this helps!

  3. Could I find out where you found the information for interactive brokers’ custodian fees for HK markets? wasn’t aware that they charged a custodian fee.

  4. The most important that you might have left out is not the fees but the broker who might / might not give the most valuable insight and analyst base on their countless years of differentiating between a blumont and a ST engineering when both stocks rise in tandem.

      • That would be hard to justify where these individuals are and they are spread all over every house here in SG. But I have known some of these people over my course of work and I must say, some old / or young, they have pretty interesting insights and good punts over the years.
        End of the day, how much you save over a few dollars is not going to do justice over your entire portfolio if or when your broker gives substiantial advice, looks after your portfolio and even calculate dividends / rights issuance and placements over the years which you as an investor might have missed out. That’s what you are eventually paying for – as they say. Nothing good comes free.

  5. Hi Financial Horse,

    Your recommended setup for a Buy and Hold investor for Singapore stocks is using DBS Vickers Cash Upfront only. Then how are you going to sell your shares after T+2? Remember that DBS Vickers Cash Upfront is using only CDP settlement and you can’t sell using that platform after T+2 as your shares will be credited into CDP. Unless, you are using the normal DBS Vickers brokerage account to sell which will incur minimum $25 commission.

    My suggestion is to open another account with FSMOne to sell.

    • Agreed! DBS Vickers Cash Upfront to buy and FSMOne to sell is technically the cheapest option. There is a reference to this in the article but perhaps it could be set out more clearly. I’ll make the amendments.

      Cheers! Thanks for raising this.

  6. A couple things to point out:
    – Saxo has no custodian fee for SGX stocks if you’re a Singaporean citizen or PR.
    – I think you’re overstating the effect of Interactive Brokers’ USD 10 inactivity fee. Whatever commissions you accrue offset the USD 10 fee. For example, if you execute trades that cost USD 4 in commission per month, you have to pay an extra USD 6 in inactivity fee at the end of the month. The upshot is that you have USD 10 of “free” trades per month. This is good if you’re a day trader – Interactive Brokers’ commissions are by far the lowest, plus the forex spread is quite good.
    – Also, you might want to check your figures for Interactive Brokers’ UK fees – you’re quoting the fixed pricing. The tiered pricing is 0.05%, minimum commission GBP 1 (https://www.interactivebrokers.com.hk/en/index.php?f=1590&p=stocks2)

  7. Great article. I have a question regarding investing in Ireland domiciled ETFs tracking the US market listed on the LSE – would these fall under the ‘UK’ heading of your article or the ‘US’ heading? Thanks for the clarification!

  8. It’d be good to understand – and an interesting article FH – the features these brokers offer. For example, I’m looking to leave POEMS because they don’t offer me a stop loss on my shares. I’d love to know who does, at any cost.

  9. Good advice as usual. The big challenge with Saxo for large accounts is really the custodial fee. At 0.12%, a buy and hold investor with $1M is paying $1200 a year for nothing and a $10M investor is paying $12K a year This makes is unviable. The lack of FAST for funding also makes it inconvenience for local trading.

    • Agreed! I think that once the amount invested in foreign shares crosses US$100,000, the other brokers start becoming more attractive. For beginner investors who are splitting their money between Singapore and US, Saxo is still a very viable option.

      But yeah for more advanced investors throwing around a few million in AUM, there are better options here.

  10. Hi FH, I am a priority banking customer with Standard Chartered Bank and am wondering if it actually makes sense to switch my local investing activity to DBS Vickers? What are the other advantages of having a CDP account other than the ability to attend EGMs and receiving notices?

    • I would say it really depends on what you value. Do you go to AGMs/EGMs often? How prompt is Saxo in the forwarding of corporate documents to you? For me personally, I find it to be important so if I were in such a situation, I’d probably put my new money into DBS Vickers (CDP).

      But you do really need to decide for yourself which is more important. With SCB you get cheaper sell rates, so that’s a factor to consider as well.

  11. Last time when I checked with IB customer service, they said IBKR Lite is unavailable to non-American clients. Have they opened it up to Singaporeans?

  12. Thanks for your response. I’ve managed to open my CDP account and transferred my shares from SCB to CDP.

    Is it essential to enable Broker Linked Balance (BLB) as well? Not sure if its a norm to open BLB as well, as I don’t directly see my holdings from DBS vickers after linking it with CDP.

    “The creation of the BLB gives brokers visibility and joint control over specific holdings, thus
    allowing brokers to offer more personalised services to investors.”

    • I don’t usually use BLB as well, so I can’t really comment unfortunately. I would say you should be fine unless you want a broker-style service, but do check with your Stock Broker if in doubt. Cheers!

  13. Thank you for you article. Very informative esp for newbies.

    I am new to the world of investment. Looking for suitable investment platform. I plan to invest in SG & US – stocks & reits.

    Is your article meant for SG citizens / PR?

    If Saxo has no custodian fee for SGX stocks if you’re a SGC/PR, would that mean your last summary chart should show Saxo for all tiers of SG Stocks for SGC/PR?

    I notice that your article did not elaborate much on forex spread.
    Can you elaborate this to show comparison between IBKR and SAXO etc?

    Another topic which I am interested to know is Estate Tax and how to avoid them when investing in foreign stocks/reits. Do you have any info on this?

    • Articles are meant for Singapore based investors.

      Yes Saxo has no custodian fee for SGX stocks if you’re SGC/PR. Both IBKR and Saxo are quite competitive on forex spreads. IBKR will edge Saxo out very slightly based on my experience.

      Estate tax is tricky, it depends on each jurisdiction. There are many ways around them though, which I shall not elaborate on here, not all may be fully legal! ;).

  14. Hi Financial Horse, thank you for your articles of great and useful content for beginner investor. I have checked with IB that IBKR Lite is unavailable to non-American clients (e.g. Singaporeans).

  15. i hear Saxo have many hidden costs which add up is not cheap. Do you used SAXO? Your view? Current am use FSM don like they charge for dividend fee.

    • Yep I use Saxo and I like it. Main fee is AUM fee, but to put it in perspective, 0.12% on $10,000 is $12 a year. You make that back from the reduced commissions and no custodian fee. 🙂

  16. Hi there
    For using Saxo to trade US/HK stocks, do you pre-convert your SGD via like SCB or say DBS MCA, and then transfer the currency to the Saxo account or do you just transfer SGD ?

    • Ok this is just me – but I transfer SGD into Saxo and buy there. I’ve found that Saxo gives really good rates for USD (I bought recently and it was very close to interbank).

      HKD I’ve not used Saxo so far – but I tried with FSMOne before and the spread was absolutely horrible. Just a heads up. 😉

  17. Hi there,

    just wondering if it’s possible to buy with dbs vickers cash upfront and sell with saxo instead of fsmone. since you wrote about doing so with fsmone and recommended saxo over fsmone

    • Not possible because Saxo is not CDP linked. Actually DBS Vickers Cash Upfront is good only if you want the shares to go into your CDP. If you don’t need CDP service, you’re better off just buying (and selling) via Saxo directly. Commissions are lower, and there’s no custody fee for SGX stocks.

  18. Hello,

    Saxo charges a 0.75% currency conversion rate for US stocks when operating an SGD account (1.5% for buying and selling). Doesn’t that add up and become really costly in the long run?

    Making trades worth 10k USD would cost 150USD and exceed even the 120USD/year fees charged by interactive brokers. Doesn’t that make interactive brokers much more worth it?

    P.S. Amazing job on the extremely informative article!

    • Hi Sean!

      Haha I actually just made a buy order last week on an SGD account, and the FX spread on the USD was incredibly low (almost interbank). Where are your spread numbers from? Suspect they may be outdated.


    • Didn’t incur it on my trade last week. Perhaps I will confirm this with them the next time I speak with Saxo. Website could be out of date.

      Anyway just let us know if you want to sign up, the affiliate bonus is still running. Just drop an email to [email protected] for the next steps.


  19. Thanks for this article, very useful.
    One question about SGX stocks, with IB, ‘live’ level1 data subscription costs 13 SGD/month; do you get that free with other brokers (interested in DBS Vickers in particular)? Quite uncomfortable to trade without a view of the current book…

    • Really depends on the broker in question. For DBS Vickers – I think you get it after making a certain amount of trades. If it doesnt show up for you just give them a call and ask to enable it, they’ll probably do it as long as you can show some track record of trading.

  20. Hello,

    I commented a while ago about the currency conversion fees. I emailed Saxo and they confirmed that the 0.75% fees are indeed applied for every transaction, it is even stated in the trading costs which you can view before purchasing any shares.

    The cost is actually incurred via the exchange rate. If you compare the market price of SGD/USD rate and the rate Saxo gives you at the specific time you execute your trade, you will see a 0.75% mark up (or down when you are selling).

    I also recently purchased about 27k SGD worth of a certain US stock (in 1 trade) and being subjected to Saxo’s rate instead of the market price, it costed about 200 SGD in fees (will cost another 200 SGD to sell).
    All the fees incurred can actually be viewed under “Historical Reports > Trades Executed” which I found to be very useful for keeping track of all your finances.

    Overall, I find that the trading fees can really build up, basically taking a 1.5% cut in profits every time you buy a sell a stock in a foreign currency.

    • Hi!

      Yeah I checked with Saxo recently and they confirmed the same too. In light of this – If you’re using it for USD shares, best to use a USD denominated account to avoid the forex fee on sale.

      Or if you think you’ll hit 100k soon, could also go with IB from the get go. 🙂

    • Actually if you’re throwing 27k around in one trade, and you plan to do it on a regular basis, there may be better options available. 😀

    • That’s a good question. Saxo definitely works, but not sure whether it’s the most competitive.

      Haven’t looked into this yet. What stock are you looking at? LVMH? 😉

  21. Hi FH,
    I am quite confused by the pricing you are mentioning for SAXO and the pricing that they have on their webpage: https://www.home.saxo/rates-and-conditions/stocks/commissions
    For Classic account (<200K), we'll have to pay min 10USD per order and custody fees is 0.25% per annum (min 5EUR per month).
    Is this the case? If yes, then doesn't it make much worse than Interactive Broker in terms of pricing even for <100K slab?

  22. Hi FH,

    I’m keen to start investing in US index funds but am not quite sure how USD denominated accounts as you recommended work. Could you perhaps share what we should look out for when opening one and if there are any that you would recommend? Thanks!

    • Saxo’s USD accounts are good if you’re new and don’t plan to invest big amounts (< 100k). Not much to it really, you put money in, and you use the USD to buy and sell US shares.

  23. Hi FH, I would like to have a USD denominated account (only buying USD stocks) but I selected SGD previously. Is there any way to change? Some links on SAXO pointed out that 50k is needed in order to have a sub account. I am unable to meet this requirement.

    • Haha I had the same problem, mistakenly signed up for an SGD account by mistake. The only way I found was to close the account and reopen (unless you can top up 50k).

  24. I have been using TD and its flat fee is very attractive. But their merger with Charles Schwab is making me think twice on funding my account for the time being.

  25. Hey FH,

    For your shares in the HK market, do you just use your USD Saxo account to trade them? Wouldn’t that incur an additional round of Forex fees each time you decide to put more of your SGD capital in?

    I was just making my own comparison about Saxo vs Vickers for HK market.

    Saxo is 0.15% min 90 HKD. Vickers is 0.18% min 100 HKD. They’re pretty close. For almost all trades ( HKD) whereas Saxo would incur 2 rounds (SGD > USD > HKD), and I’m not even counting the sell portion 10+ years later..

    Other Fees:
    I haven’t compared these because there’s a lot. I’m talking about all the stamp duties, clearing fees, dividend fees, corporate actions, etc. They are listed in the link below for Vickers. I can’t seem to find the same fees for Saxo but I’m going to assume they are the same and aren’t waived. If you know of anything that stands out, do add on.


    I guess this makes a case for using a local bank broker even for HK shares, assuming we only have a couple of counters and more than $20K/counter, and especially so if our Saxo account is already in USD, to avoid the additional Forex. What do you think? I think a lot of us would expose to HK/China via only the ETF and at most 1-2 other major stock picks and not more, but we may want to leave room for >$20K/counter at some point as China grows as an economy.

    Now, obviously there’s a case of opening a THIRD FSMOne account purely for HK trades, and that’s a clear winner at 0.08% min 50 HKD, and no custody fees. But that’s a bit of a hassle and as you said FSMOne is a small company, so I’ll leave out that option.

    • Just some food for thought for you – I trialled FSMOne a while back for HK shares, and the HKD spread was bad. 50 to 75bps or more if I remember right. So yeah, what you save on fees you lose on forex.

      If you can cough up 100k USD in AUM, IBKR is probably the best bet. Otherwise, just choose between Saxo or FSMOne or a local broker, pick the one you like the most. 😉

  26. Oh now I remember you said somewhere that you heard from Saxo that they might completely waive the 0.12% AUM in the near future? Not sure how likely is that? That would change EVERYTHING and you can ignore what I said. Haha.

    • Well, they said they were looking at it, and are trying to get it out next year. That was pre-COVID19 though, so I have no idea what the current status is now. 😉

  27. Hi FH,

    DBS vickers currently have promotion of zero brokerage fees for the first 5 trades. From your post, you recommend to buy sg stocks using dbs, so with this promotion do you think is better to buy US stocks or SG stocks? I just wondering if is a good idea to buy and hold US stocks using DBS vickers for the long run.

    • Haha, it’s really your call. I don’t like DBS Vickers to hold US stocks because of the custodian fee each month. But I can see the merits if there’s zero brokerage fees.

      I think these are extraordinary times. Don’t focus so much on transaction fees, focus more on what’s going on in financial markets. Don’t miss the forest for the trees here.

  28. Hi FH, I have a couple of queries here. I hope you can help to answer them all.

    1. On SAXO’s customer service quality
    When I’m looking for a good broker, I’d like to put emphasis on the quality of their customer service (eg., 24/7 support availability, response’s speed, helpfulness, etc.) However upon searching on Google, it came to my attention that SAXO has recently gained a very bad reputation for it’s customer service quality (rated 2.7 out of 5 stars, based on 31 Google reviews). Some even said they were being held on the phone line for 3.5hrs, couldn’t reach them during SG office hours, etc which sounds very nightmarish to even begin with.
    Q: May I know your takes on this? Perhaps you can share one specific example of your experience dealing with SAXO’s customer service before?

    2. On ease of doing business/transactions
    Q: How long does it take in average for SAXO to settle our fund deposit/withdrawal request? Do they have the option for FAST transfer to/fro our SG bank account? Do they charge fees for fund withdrawal & if yes, how much would that be?

    3. On account opening
    Q: If I want to trade US stocks & Irish domiciled ETFs, what type of account I should open with them? Do I need to open one USD account & another one GBP account to eliminate the fees incurred on foreign exchange rate? (eg., fees incurred on SGD–>USD/GBP conversion for fund deposit/buy actions or USD/GBP–>SGD conversion for fund withdrawal/sell actions) Also, could you elaborate more on the signup bonus we get from using your affiliate link please?

    4. On trading Irish domiciled ETFs
    Q: May i know if the fees structure related to buying/selling Irish domiciled ETF is covered under “UK markets section in your article above? (ie., UK Markets: Broker = Saxo Markets | Fees = 0.10% (min. 8 GBP) | Custodian Fees = 0.12% Annual)

    5. On trading FOREX
    Quoting this section of your article: “Forex Spread – This one only matters for foreign shares, and only really comes into play if you’re investing big sums. To illustrate – the difference between a 50 bps spread and a 100 bps spread on a USD/SGD pair when you’re investing $1,000,000 is about $5000. That’s big. But when you’re investing $10,000, that’s only $50. So the bigger the sums you’re investing, the more you’ll prioritise good forex spreads over stock commissions.”
    Q: For FOREX trading, do we need to open FOREX account that is different from the USD account & GBP account we use to trade US stocks & Irish domiciled ETFs? Do you have the link to SAXO’s full list of spreads for both major & minor currency pairs? (Because 50bps/50pips spread that you mentioned in your example above doesn’t sound right to me & if it does, means SAXO’s spreads would be quite horrible in this case)

    Thank you for taking your time to read & answer all my questions. Really appreciate your effort to educate your readers through your articles. Keep up the great work!

    • Sure, added my thoughts below. Hope this helps 🙂

      1. Dealt with them before, customer service is very good. This period shouldn’t be representative because call volume is through the roof. Try calling any other broker you will have the same problem.

      2. No fees, transfer is really quick from what I remember.

      3. Drop an email to [email protected] for the autoreply on next steps for the affiliate bonus. Picking the USD/SGD account depends on what kind of stocks you want to trade, and how often you trade. If primarily USD then go with USD. If you mix USD or GBP you may want to think about SGD.

      4. I would think so. Double check this when you buy.

      5. No. Your account lets you play with Forex. The spreads above are for exchanging of money to buy stocks. If you have USD lying around you can technically transfer your USD in to avoid the spread.

  29. HI FH, new yo your blog. interesting stuff. For SGX-listed securities, iFAST is a CDP Approved Depository Agent (DA) so we will also maintain a sub-account with CDP on behalf of each client, even though the listed securities are held with iFAST.


  30. Hi FH,

    Great article as usual!

    Quick qns on SCB for US stocks:

    1. Say I am a Priority customer and the min commission go away. Won’t I still be hit by the commission charge of 0.20% per trade? Which makes it expensive when compare to IB or Saxo.

    2. Lastly one more silly qns, does the S$200k or US$150k apply only to investment/equity value or does it include banking account balances (ie cash sitting in savings/current account)?


    • Hi Raymond, thoughts below!

      1) Fair point – go with IBKR then, since if you’re priority you’ll probably hit the 100k USD AUM easily if you shift some assets around.

      2) It includes cash – basically everything you have with SCB haha.

  31. Hi FH,

    Very informative article for a newbie like me. I am very new to SGX and international markets and I don’t have any broker account so I haven’t started investing yet. But I would to take a first step and start investing.

    I am not a day trader or regular trader, I believe in mid to long term investment (for ex,1 to 3 years).

    You mentioned in your article that “Buy or Hold Investor” go for DBS Vickers Cash Upfront account and “day traders” go for SAXO but if I understand correctly DBS has two options DBS Vickers (CDP Account) & DBS Vickers Cash Upfront (custodian account), kindly correct me if i am wrong !

    I prefer not to go with CDP account considering the higher fees, so I think Custodian is better for me (though I have to pay custodian fees annually or monthly) depending on the broker I select.

    What do you suggest would be the better option for me based on my criteria and understanding?


    • I think both Saxo and DBS Cash Upfront (CDP) are good options for you. DBS Cash Upfront has higher transaction fees when you sell, but you get the CDP service. Saxo has cheaper fees and no custodian fees for SGX stocks, so it’s pretty good as well, but of course no CDP – but it seems like CDP is not important for you.

      Both are really decent options tbh. Saxo has a referral bonus now though that might tip the scales in favour of them. Drop an email to [email protected] for steps if you decide to go with Saxo, to get the referral bonus. 🙂

  32. Thanks FH for your response.

    However I still have queries on below points.

    1. I didn’t understand this part “DBS Cash Upfront has higher transaction fees when you sell, but you get the CDP service”, meaning I still have to open CDP account ??

    2. “Saxo has cheaper fees and no custodian fees for SGX stocks” this only applies to SG Citizens/PR? because I am working in SG on EP.


    • Hi! Replies below:

      1) Yes, DBS Cash Upfront is a CDP service. You need a CDP account. If you don’t want CDP check out Saxo.

      2) Good question, best to check with Saxo on this. This is what their website says – not clear on EPs.

      Singapore Citizens, PRs, and Singapore Incorporated Entities are not charged a custody fee for accessing SGX stocks. Aside from SGX stocks, Saxo Markets has implemented a fee structure for the purpose of ensuring a cost structure that reflects the client’s actual usage of the trading platforms.

  33. Hi FH,

    Was wondering about the points below about saxo.

    1) What happens to the dividends if i bought a US stocks? Does Saxo charge any fees on that?

    2) Whats the difference between a SG dominated account and a USD dominated account? Will i still be charged the forex spread if i opened a US account? If not, will there be any fees since I’m depositing SGD?

    • Sure, thoughts below:

      1) None that I am aware of – but do check with Saxo to confirm.

      2) Really depends on how you plan to fund your account, and what you plan to use it for (US shares vs non-US shares). Yes, there will be a FX spread if you want to buy non-SGD denominated stock – same for any other stock broker.


  34. Hi FH,

    Thank you for the insightful article.

    Just wanted to clarify on Shane’s comment above, if I were to fund my account using SGD and plan to use it solely for US shares/ETFs:

    1. Should I open a SG denominated or US denominated account?

    2. How can I transfer SGD into my account? Through FAST payments?

    3. Will I still face FX spread if I want to buy US shares using my US denominated account?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Welcome to FH! My thoughts below, hope this helps!

      1) You can consider a USD denom for full control over when the USD is converted into SGD. 😉

      2) Yes FAST is one way.

      3) It depends on how you fund. If you fund with USD, then no FX spread from Saxo. If you fund with SGD, then you will take Saxo’s spread.

  35. Hi FH,

    Based on my above reply, I checked with SAXO on custodian fees and I got the same response what is mentioned in their website. So it means the custody fees are applicable for all clients. However for Singapore Citizens, PRs, and Singapore Incorporated Entities are not charged a custody fee for accessing SGX stocks.

    1. Just sharing my thought, to avoid custodian fees i think its good to open DBSV Cash Upfront account only to buy the SGX stocks since the fees is less and no custody fees.

    Could you please provide more information on what are the usual standard charges/fees (apart from brokerage fees) when you buy SGX stocks from any brokers ?

    2. For outside SGX any other broker like SAXO, IB or SCB (no custody fees – https://av.sc.com/sg/content/docs/sgo_efees_schedule.pdf).


    • For DBSV Cash Upfront it costs more to sell a stock though. So you’ll want to see how often you plan to sell, and whether it makes more sense to just eat the custodian fee.

      Are you a Singapore Citizen/PR? If so the custody fee shouldn’t be an issue for you?

      No, all the non-SGX stocks will incur custody fees in some form. It’s just about which is the lesser evil.

  36. I prefer to keep for long term.

    I am not a SG Citizen/PR, hence I was thinking of going with DBSV Cash Upfront to save custody fees on atleast SGX stocks.

    Yes, the point I was making that for stocks outside SGX better option to choose brokers like SAXO, IB or SCB keeping in mind which one is lesser evil.

    Coming back to my questions which I asked above, Could you please provide more information on what are the usual standard charges/fees (apart from brokerage fees) when you buy SGX stocks from any brokers ?

  37. Hi FH,

    Im new to stock investing or trading. Would like to hear your opinion,

    1. if I would like to invest for mid to long term, should i consider saxo or dbs vicker cash upfront?
    2. Understand that saxo is not cdp linked, so would i still receive dividend from shares i bought? Or it has to be cdp linked to entitle dividend?
    3. If i use Saxo for US market and SG market, and say i want to deposit USD for my US stocks and SGD for my SG stocks, would it be possible?

    • Hi Steve, welcome to FH!

      My thoughts below:

      1. Both are fine imo. Saxo is custodian, while DBS Vickers is CDP (but higher sell costs). Decide whether you need the CDP service, and if you don’t saxo is fine. If you need CDP or are not sure, DBS is not a bad choice too.

      2. Yes, dividend will be paid into the trading account.

      3. Only if you are a VIP customer, minimum funding $50,000 if I remember right. That will allow you to open both a USD and SGD account. If you don’t qualify, you can use Saxo for US and DBS for SGD.

  38. thanks for the prompt reply FH, really appreciated!

    right now I have an IBKR account for US market which I recently opened (before I visited your blog, should have drop by earlier T.T) , and thinking to start for SG as well, so im thinking should I shifted everything to Saxo (for US and SG) so that I dont have to maintain two accounts, but then for SG i plan for mid to long term, so US i plan to do short term, so im in dilemma now with the options on hand.

    Would like to seek for your advise on below
    1. should I open Saxo for both SG and US? my capital would be less than 10k for each market
    2. or should i continue with IBKR for US?
    3. for SG, Saxo or DBS is a better option? would you be able to share the advantages of having CDP?

    • Sure my thoughts:

      1) Your call really. If you don’t need CDP, I think it’s an okay option.
      2) IBKR has minimum fee of 10 USD a month. If you dont plan on trading often, or you won’t cross 100k USD AUM, that fee can add up after a while. My thinking is Saxo for smaller amounts, and IBKR if I cross 100k USD AUM
      3) Main advantage of CDP is the shareholder documents and shareholder rights. I like having CDP because I tend to hold my Singapore shares long term, and I’m ok with the higher transaction fees. If I were to use it purely to flip, I would go with Saxo.

  39. Really thanks for your details explanation!

    I’ve tried out IBKR and it was not so user friendly to me in terms of the user interface and charting, do you mind to share your experience with Saxo?

  40. Hi, if I’m an infrequent trader and just leave my funds in Saxo SGD and USD account, will I be charged an inactivity fee? I usually buy and sell within a week and make only about 2-3 trades a month. I rarely hold anything for more than a week so there are periods where my funds are just untouched and sitting there.

  41. I was horribly surprised by a massive 112sgd fee for currency exchange alone, on top of the fx spread when I purchased 5k usd of stock for the first time using Saxo.

    Only then did I find out that Saxo charges a 0.75% currency conversion fee (on top of their spread) for US stocks when operating an SGD account (total 1.5% for buying and selling).

    This is absurd fee is a deal breaker. It makes their advertised 4 usd fee irrelevant. No point using my a saxo account to purchase anything.

    • That’s strange your fee is way too high. Were you trading in periods of liquidity stress like March 2020? If not you might want to speak to Saxo to understand why the rates are so bad, I’ve never paid a spread this big.

  42. I got that shock too when I used my SGD account to buy USD stocks. That charge is just for buying, prepare for another shock when selling!

    The workaround I’ve since found is to open a USD sub account and then convert your SGD into USD there (use the inter account transfer function) and then buy your stocks from there.

    Alternatively, fund the USD account via exchanging your funds through Revolut.

  43. Hi FH,

    I have opened DBSV Cash Upfront Account so I can start investing.

    I am planning to do monthly investment kind of SIP in Index funds / ETFs. Could you please suggest platforms to invest in international index funds/ETFs like S&P 500 ?

  44. Hi FH,

    I am newbies. Would like to trade the US stock. Which type of account dominated USD/SGD should i create with Saxo?
    Like I will get my funding from SGD.

    • The USD account gives you more flexibility because you control the USD to SGD conversion timing (separate from stock transaction), and you have the option to fund in USD.

      But if you want to use it for non-US stocks, you’re basically paying double fx spreads so its less ideal.

  45. I trade US stocks only also, hence I have both a SGD acc (which was what I opened Saxo with) and a USD sub acc (which I applied for later). I fund everything through my SGD account via PayNow (which is immediate) and then before I trade, I convert it to USD within the app / website then make the purchase. Remember to do that instead of buying direct from the SGD acc if you’re buying US stocks to avoid hefty conversion fees.

  46. I trade US stocks only also, hence I have both a SGD acc (which was what I opened Saxo with) and a USD sub acc (which I applied for later). I fund everything through my SGD account via PayNow (which is immediate) and then before I trade, I convert it to USD within the app / website then make the purchase. Remember to do that instead of buying direct from the SGD acc if you’re buying US stocks to avoid hefty conversion fees.

    ***COuld you explain, I dont understand… Thanks***

  47. Hi T,

    Apparently the inter account transfer from SGD to USD will incur the 0.75% conversion fee too (https://www.home.saxo/en-sg/rates-and-conditions/commissions-charges-and-margin-schedule, see “Currency Conversion Fee”). Hence, I’ve considered your way of funding through Revolut/YouTrip, but according to their credit & debit card payment factsheet (https://www.home.saxo/-/media/documents/regional/en-sg/funding-instructions/credit-debit-card-payment-factsheet.pdf), the card operator could charge up to 2.91% transaction fee!

    To top it off, Saxo’s support said HSBC will charge a fixed TT commission for non-SGD deposits. For example, if I transfer USD$10,000 from DBC MCA to Saxo’s HSBC account, I will not get the full USD$10,000 in my USD Saxo account.

    Do you have any experience with this?

  48. Greetings,

    You mention quite a few brokers and banks in your article. What are your thought on DBS Treasures for trading US and SG stocks? Their fees seem to be quite lower than DBS Vickers.

    Also can you please clarify if all foreign (non-SG) stocks are held in custodian accounts irrespective of the broker/bank or there is a way to hold them in own name like SG stocks?


    • Hi! Replies below:

      1) Sure – really goes back to personal preference. I know some who use them, but personally I think IBKR is better if you’re investing more than $100k USD anyway (which you likely will be for DBS Treasures). Personal preference ultimately.

      2) You can hold in your own name, but there are additional custodian fees per month. DBS Treasures is one of them I belive.


  49. Hi FH,

    Tiger Brokers has entered the field. Just wondering if they do Irish Domiciled ETF and the fee structure? You might want to do a review on them?

  50. hi FH,
    if say one buys stocks under IB. can he transfer the stocks from IB to a local brokerage (or CDP)?
    any idea cost of it and the how long the process will take?

    • I believe you can, but there will be fees involved. Shouldn’t take more than a few weeks once you initiate the process. 🙂

  51. Hi. From what I experienced with Saxo, there is a currency conversion fee of 0.75%. Do you have any comparisons for this for Stand chart and IB? Thanks!

    • IB has the best spread of the 3, then SCB is between Saxo and IB. SCB has higher stock transaction fees though, and IB has 10USD a month inactivity fee. So it really goes back to what you value most as an investor – including your trading style / markets.

    • I don’t actually. Just go with the one that minimises FX cost for you. And has to fit your trading pattern too – do you trade often, or buy and hold. 🙂

    • Yes there is a spread on top of the interbank FX. Same with every other broker – they all make from you in different ways.

  52. Hi, I have created a SAXO USD account. But I see that there are several charges for depositing account. Eg: Wire transfer = bank charges, debit/credit = fees, SG paynow = Conversion fees. May I ask what would you suggest as the best way to deposit funds into my USD account to minimize the fees?

    And alos, what are the holding/carrying fees associated with SAXO and how they are calculated? Thanks for your help!

  53. Hi, have you gotten any change to take a look at IBSG, looks they recently started accepting account open, the account will be under IB Singapore.

    > Please Note: Singapore residents having an existing account under Interactive Brokers LLC are not able to trade Singapore stocks. Singapore residents can open an account under Interactive Brokers Singapore Pte. Ltd. to trade Singapore stocks.

    I am wondering, should I keep using my existing IB account which is under IB LLC, or open a IBSG account, and transfer my position into IBSG?

    Any idea, thanks

    • That’s a good question. I’m in the same position where I have an IB LLC account and not an IBSG account. Currently I continue to use DBS Vickers Cash Upfront for Sg shares – no plans to switch to IB SG, I’m just a huge sucker for the CDP system.

      Maybe you can try checking with IB if there is a way to transfer the account. If the account value is big enough, they might be able to do it for you?

  54. Can I check with people with IBKR account, do they tell you when they deduct for the monthly charge? i.e. is there any record of the transaction? Because I cant seems to find it/know what exactly are they charging

    • I have an IBKR account, and I agree with you – It’s really hard to find this. I know they charge it, but I havent bothered to dig around to find out where I can see this charge reported.

  55. Hi there! Great article. I was wondering if you have any thoughts regarding TD Ameritrade $0 commission and how it compares with this article for US stocks?

    • Great point – I’ve been meaning to do a revised article that includes TD Ameritrade and Tiger Brokers. Stay tuned for it. For now do note that TD Ameritrade has $25 withdrawal fees – so you will want to plan around that if you open an account.

  56. You should be able to find all the details of fees in your activity report:

    Account Management -> Reports -> Activity Report

  57. Hi Financial Horse,

    Thanks for such a detailed comparison!

    Just curious. If I were to leave all existing shares in Saxo and only conduct new trades on IBKR, wouldn’t I incur inactivity fees on Saxo?

  58. Hi, just would like to ask some qns since im a beginner to investing.

    1. Is there any minimum investment amount for US ETFs

    2. Will my account be be charged any account interest if it has a positive net free equity above 15000USD

    • My replies below! 🙂

      1. Minimum is 1 share, but usually you’ll want to invest a bit more because of transaction fees.

      2. Depends on the broker you use. Some like Interactive Brokers have a minimum 10 USD fee a month if your account balance is below 100k USD. Saxo uses 0.12% a year which is good for smaller amounts. Tiger Brokers is pretty good for investing small amounts into US because they have no custody fees. It really depends on your personal profile, so it pays to do a bit of research because it’s a lot of hassle to change brokers.

      I’ll try to do an update on the stock brokers article soon.

  59. HI FH,

    Like many here, I am new to investing, really appreciate this writeup of yours.

    My question is,
    CDP vs Custodian

    When you use a stock broker linked to your Central Depository (CDP) Account, all Singapore shares / REITs you buy go directly into your CDP account, and you are registered as the legal owner of the shares. The advantage is that because you’re the legal owner of the shares, the company knows who you are, and you get easy access to AGMs/EGMs, annual reports or circulars delivered to your home, timely receipt of other company notices etc.

    Now, Let say I want to buy a US stock (e.g facebook stock). I want to be recognize as the legal owner of the stock under my name. What choice do I have in order to do this?


  60. Wait – Saxo changed their Currency Conversion Rate from 0.75% to 0.3%? Is there a source / link for this info? I can’t seem to find anything on this.

  61. Hi FH!

    I’m a new investor and i bought some UOB stocks a few months back using the POEMS cash+ account. Wasn’t aware of the inactivity fee when i chose POEMS then, until i got charged the recent quarter as I didn’t make any trade. Am inclined to use Saxo/DBS Vickers going forward, and appreciate your advice on how I could proceed forward with my existing stocks in POEMS as I dont forsee myself making frequent trades every quarter and would likely have to incur the inactivity fee (e.g. possible to transfer the stocks out without selling?) Thanks!

    • Hi Amanda, it depends on your personal situation – how many shares you bought, and the amounts invested. Most of the time, it’s not worth the cost + hassle to transfer the shares, you can either (1) leave it there or (2) sell and transfer the funds to a new broker, and take the one-off hit.

  62. Hi FH, I’m a new investor. Say if i have about <$1K/month to invest consistently into LSE listed ETF (tax benefits) & SGX listed ETF over the long-term, which would be your preferred broker as a whole? (e.g. cost, service level, ease of platform/performing trades)? I did a preliminary calculation, seems like IB and SAXO don't differ much in terms of cost, or maybe I am doing it wrongly. Appreciate your advise, thanks!

    • IBKR has a USD10 monthly fee if your AUM is below US$100,000. That adds up quickly – so at lower AUMs, I would say go with Saxo.

  63. With reference to my previous comment, I forgot to mention that this is taking into account of the recent changes with SAXO, would SAXO or IB be your choice in terms of trading LSE listed ETF monthly?

    • Really ties back to AUM. If you are above or close to US$100,000, I would say go with IBKR. At lower AUMs, Saxo may make more sense.

  64. Hi if i plan to use SAXO for US stocks, is it advisable to change the main account to USD based? or should I still have a SGD main account and create a USD sub-account?

  65. Hi FH,
    It’s really an informative article for newbie like me who just started an investing journey.
    I am really thinking between IBKR and Saxo.
    I have read through some of the comments as well. One of them mentions that IBKR charges $10 – (commission for each transactions on that month). For instance, I made 4 transactions in the month of Feb which they charges $4 commission fees. For February, I have to pay $10 – $4 = $6. It’s as though $10 worth of credit every month. For saxo, they charge about $4 per transactions. If I make 4 transactions, it’s $16. But of course, there is no monthly fees.
    Please kindly share your thoughts.

    • Yep your analysis is correct. If you think you’ll make 4 trades a month every month going forward, then IBKR is probably cheaper in the long term. 🙂

      Short term Saxo does have the referral bonus to help offset the commissions though.


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