If you are thinking about brokerage comparison in Singapore, look further no more. In this article, I would list out all the pros and cons of each in my opinion as well as the broker I am using personally.
1. Singapore Brokerage Comparison
Back then when I was thinking about buying US or China stocks, the options that are available is FSMOne, SAXO, and IBKR. Tiger Brokers and TD Ameritrade only came a few months later. So I went with FSMOne because IBKR charges a monthly fee of US$10 if your portfolio value is < $100k.
SAXO has an annual custody fee of 0.12% and they have expensive currency conversion fees of 0.75% each time you convert SGD to USD and vice versa. The exchange fees alone can kill you. You have to come up with workarounds to convert SGD into USD first before depositing and the whole process is cumbersome. So I gave up on that thought.
On the other hand, FSMOne charges US$10 commission for US stocks and they have no custody fees or monthly inactivity fees. Their currency conversion rate charges a slight premium but it is still reasonable and acceptable. So Naturally, I went with FSMOne as it seems to be the cheapest and viable option.
2. Why Use Interactive Brokers?
Why the change then? After using FSMOne for a while, my gut feeling and intuition just wants me to change to IBKR. I want something that is of quality standard, something international, something with a strong brand where everyone else uses it. Sort of like the De Facto Standard. If you ask all the high-net-worth individuals around, most of them would probably tell you they are using IBKR.
The branding of FSMOne seems to be one that is very local for Singaporeans and very niche-focused. The user interface is sort of like a bazaar marketplace that provides you with all kinds of products. But I think they are most famous for their bond products, which I am not interested in.
I wanted my portfolio to be less reliant on Singapore and more internationally-focused. And I also want to get this set-up right once and for all without thinking about the hassle of switching brokers in the future. So I decided to make the switch to IBKR.
But what about the monthly fee of US$10?
3. Comparison of Brokerage Fees
Since my portfolio value is less than $100k, the annual fee to use IBKR is about US$120. That is a lot if you look at it from a dividend perspective. Here you are trying hard to build up a source of passive income and IBKR takes away US$10 each month.
However, if you think about it. When you make more than 1 trade each month, your cost would already be cheaper than FSMOne. This is because the commission fees for IBKR is only US$1 in comparison to US$10 for FSMOne.
2 trades each month for IBKR is US$12 ($1 + $1 + $10) and US$20 in FSMOne.
Recently I posted some trades in my telegram channel to sell BABA, MSFT, SE and used 50% of the proceeds to buy ARKG. That is already 4 trades in total. It would cost a hefty US$40 to make this rebalancing move in FSMOne but only cost me US$4 in IBKR.
Hence in IBKR, you can take advantage of opportunities, move around more freely and not worry about the commission fees. If you think TSLA is extremely over-extended, you can just sell some and buy back some later at US$2. US$1 for selling and the other US$1 for buying. Try doing that in FSMOne and it will be US$20.
All it takes is just for you to make AT LEAST 2 trades each month and IBKR is already a better option than FSMOne. If you are DCA-ing every month as I am, that is already 1 trade. Then you can make as many trades as and when you want subsequently without worrying about commission fees.
On top of that, IBKR also has the best currency conversion exchange rate as compared to FSMOne and definitely SAXO. If you are pumping in big amounts, that difference could be material.
Considering all the above given factors, it is a clear signal to move ahead from FSMOne to IBKR.
4. How to Transfer Stocks from FSMOne to IBKR?
This part would be for those who are in my exact same scenario. You have an FSMOne account and you want to transfer your assets to IBKR.
To initiate a transfer position, you have to first create an IBKR account. Then go to Menu, Transfer Positions and click on FOP (US). *Note this is only for US stocks.
The next step is to enter your broker information. You won’t be able to find FSMOne name as they are using another broker to hold US shares.
Based on my previous experience, the broker name is “Apex Clearing Corporation” and their account number is 0158. But I would advise to call in again and double confirm, not sure if such information would change.
Finally, click on add asset and put in the stock symbol name with the number of units you own. For me is 2 MSFT, 3 SE and 10 TSLA.
After which, IBKR will generate an inbound copy of the FOP transfer report for you to forward it over to FSMOne.
That’s all you need to do on IBKR side.
On FSMOne side, you also have to fill up a letter of intent transfer position form. You need to tell FSMOne that you wish to transfer position out from their account somewhere else.
In that form, they will ask you who is the transferee. That is interactive broker and their DTC number is 0534. Also, you have to fill up your account id on interactive broker in that form as well as your iFAST account number.
Finally, just write down the shares you want to transfer and the quantity. This should match exactly with that which you filled on IBKR inbound transfer request.
Additionally, just export out a copy of your portfolio holdings in FSMOne in csv file and attached it together with this letter of intent transfer.
In summary, there are 3 files that you need to send to FSMOne.
- Inbound transfer report generated from IBKR side
- Letter of Intent Transfer from FSMOne
- A CSV excel file of your portfolio holdings from FSMOne
The entire process took me about 1 – 2 weeks and that is how easy you transfer shares from FSMOne to IKBR. If unsure or stuck in any of the steps above, just call in to either party and they will be happy to guide you through.
5. Which Broker is the Best in Singapore?
If given the option to choose again from FSMOne, SAXO, IBKR, Tiger Brokers and TD Ameritrade, I would still go with IBKR.
Why not Tiger Brokers or TD Ameritrade? I don’t know much about Tiger Brokers, haven’t really tried out their platform. But I know Tiger Brokers is fairly new and they are backed by IBKR in funding. In fact, the backend trade execution and settlement is handled and cleared by IBKR.
In terms of branding and reputation, IBKR definitely triumphs over Tiger Brokers. IBKR has been around for decades while Tiger Brokers is the new kid in the block. The latter is also more focused on Chinese investors and they are backed by many Chinese VC funds. This may or may not be a good thing depending on how you view it.
IBKR on the other hand is more internationally-focused, recognised globally and they have a broader range of products and offerings. Though the fees are cheaper for Tiger Brokers, I don’t mind paying more for branding, reputation and a sense of assurance.
As for TD Ameritrade, it is out of my consideration as you can only buy US stocks there. I would want a broker that also offers China/HK shares as it is easier to manage your portfolio with one broker rather than having multiple brokers for different countries.
While the dashboard interface of IBKR looks clean and sleek, the only downside is that sometimes it can be laggy on high-volume days. But that is only on rare occasions and it doesn’t affect my trades or whatsoever.
In summary, if you are planning to DCA and make at least 1 or more trade a month, then IBKR is the best option in my opinion. If you are below 25, the monthly fee is only US$3. If you are a new user above 25, the first 3 months of activity fees would be waived off.
Otherwise, Tiger Brokers is the 2nd best option.
If you want to sign up an interactive broker account, do click here to get started. The KYC process is pretty simple and straightforward. Good luck and invest safely!
*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.