Saxo Markets (Singapore) investment brokerage review: How to invest using SaxoTraderGO?

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You're ready to start making your money work for you by investing it. Great!

But before you can start, you need to decide which investment brokerage to use. That's where a lot of people get lost and then give up before they've even started.

Saxo Markets' SaxoTraderGO is one platform that enables you to buy and sell assets such as stocks, ETFs, funds, bonds, options, futures, forex and CFDs online.

Let's see how its platforms measure up.

What is Saxo Markets?

Saxo Markets is a subsidiary of Saxo Bank, a Danish investment bank. For many people, that's enough to dispel any doubts about the company. Its SaxoTraderGO trading platform is used by investors all over the world.

The good thing about Saxo Markets is that their fees are actually pretty affordable compared to other brokerage firms. More on fees below. 

In addition, it has an international focus, and is ideal for those who wish to invest in overseas markets or exchanges, although you can of course just stick with SGX stocks if you wish. 

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Saxo Markets overview: fees, products, trading platforms 

Trading products Stocks, ETFs, bonds, commodities, options, futures, funds, FX and CFDs
Minimum commission fee (SG stocks) $5
Minimum commission fee (US stocks) US$4 (S$5)
Minimum funding amount $3,000 (Classic Account) / $300,000 (Platinum Account) / $1,500,000 (VIP Account) 
Stock holding type   Custodian
Trading platforms SaxoInvestor, SaxoTraderGO, SaxoTraderPRO
Payment method FAST, PayNow, MEPS, internet bank transfer or credit/debit card
Inactivity fee None

Saxo Markets commission and trading fees

High commission fees can really bite you in the butt if you buy and sell frequently.

One of Saxo's biggest strengths is their affordable fees – trading Singapore stocks incurs a 0.08 per cent fee, compared to others that charge around 0.18 per cent to 0.275 per cent.

Here's what it costs to trade stocks on various markets with the classic plan: 

Saxo Markets Fees
SGX Trading Fee  0.08 per cent with minimum of $5 
New York Stock Exchange Trading Fee  0.06 per cent with minimum of US$4, max US$100
Hong Kong Exchange  0.15 per cent with minimum of HKD$90 (S$15)
Australian Securities Exchange Trading Fee  0.10 per cent with minimum of AUD$8 (S$8)
Tokyo Stock Exchange Trading Fee  0.15 per cent with minimum of 1,500 JPY (S$18)
Forex fees 0.7 pips for EUR/USD, 1.1 pips for USD/SGD
Platform fee  None 

Note that these fees are charged for both buying and selling (some brokerages charge commissions only when you buy). 

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Fees for Platinum and VIP accounts are 0.01 to 0.03 per cent lower for stocks in non-Singapore markets. 

On top of those fees, you'll also have to pay a custody fee of 0.12 per cent per annum on any stocks, ETFs and bonds not listed on the SGX. SGX instruments do not attract a custody fee.

How to invest with Saxo Markets' platforms?

Saxo platforms  Who is it for Products 
SaxoInvestor Simple interface for beginners who are just trying out Cash products, stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds 
SaxoTraderGO Comprehensive one-screen dashboard for investors with some knowledge FX, FX Options, CFDs, stocks, ETFs, futures, listed options, bonds, mutual funds, commodities
SaxoTraderPRO For advanced institutional traders FX, FX Options, CFDs, stocks, ETFs, futures, listed options, bonds, mutual funds, commodities 

Saxo has three main platforms through which you can invest: SaxoTraderGO, SaxoTraderPRO and SaxoInvestor. 

SaxoTraderGO is Saxo's most popular consumer-facing trading platform that makes it easy for users to manage investments from a wide range of asset classes, currencies and countries.

You can see consolidated breakdowns and statistics that give you broad overviews at a glance, even historical reports of your net holdings. Overall, it's a solid platform especially if you want to trade forex or on overseas stock markets.

You don't have to apply for a CDP account to start using SaxoTraderGO. But you can transfer your stocks from your Saxo account to your CDP account.

The catch is that you can't transfer stocks from your CDP account to your Saxo account, so if you wish to sell them through SaxoTraderGO you will have to leave them in your Saxo account.

SaxoTraderPRO is a slightly more advanced platform, with functions designed for advanced traders or institutional traders. The benefit of SaxoTraderPRO is that it does not charge the typical fees of institutional trading apps.

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SaxoInvestor is on the other end of the spectrum, designed for the typical retail investor - basically regular folk like you and I.

It solely provides cash products and has investment themes that give an overview of trends in relevant yield products such as electric vehicles and robotics, to 'inspire' beginner investors.

Each theme has a curated list of relevant stocks, mutual funds, ETFs within. 

Saxo also offers a Regular Savings Plan where you can invest in managed ETF portfolios, offered by asset managers BlackRock and Lion Global.

It allows you to build long term savings with an initial minimum investment of $2,000, and subsequent regular monthly contributions from $100. The service fee ranges from 0.25 per cent to 0.75 per cent per annum.

You can use all three platforms free of charge, to monitor your investments and place trades. You can also read about global news in different industries and get a better understanding of what products you may want to buy next.

Saxo also tries to cater to different levels of investors with video tutorials on the basics of trading, managing risk and how to trade, regular podcasts on market insights and webinars. 

How to apply for a Saxo Markets account?

If you want to give Saxo a try, opening an account is free and pretty straightforward as SingPass holders can sign up using MyInfo, which retrieves your personal particulars.

The process is quick and painless. You can get your account up and running in five minutes, and transfer funds easily to your account by bank transfer (PayNow, FAST, iBanking or MEPs), credit or debit card, and then start trading. 

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Saxo has a web version for desktop as well as an app for both Apple and Android mobile devices, and the interface is quite straightforward so you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. 

The good thing is, once you have an account, you have access to all three of Saxo's investment platforms.

Take note that while there is no minimum funding for SaxoInvestor, SaxoTraderGO and SaxoTraderPRO require a minimum initial deposit of $3,000. 

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Guide to how to make a trade on Saxo Markets

Once you've opened your account, you can log in to access Saxo's platforms and start buying products on your preferred platform.

Here's how to get started on SaxoInvestor:  

PHOTO: Screengrab/MoneySmart

Clicking the Stocks page will show you an overview of different global stocks. 

PHOTO: Screengrab/MoneySmart

Click on USA stocks, then click Apple Inc and you'll see more details about Apple's price and performance. If you've decided to buy, click the blue TRADE button to open up a trade ticket. 

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Simply enter your desired amount of shares you want to purchase and click BUY to confirm your purchase. 

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SaxoTraderGO (below) lets you create a watchlist of products that you're eyeing, which you can track and then place orders for.

They've got pretty detailed video tutorials on their support page on how to place orders for different products. 

PHOTO: Screengrab/MoneySmart

Who should use Saxo Markets?

Saxo Markets' SaxoTraderGO can be a good choice if you want to trade forex or stocks on foreign exchanges, as it offers access to these markets at a good price and on a platform that doesn't make you want to tear your hair out.

Saxo is known for its lower commission fees compared to other online brokerages.

Do note, however, that you will have to pay custodian fees on any non-SGX stocks, ETFs and bonds.

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If you're only going to be trading on SGX, Saxo offers a good price. But if you are not comfortable having your stocks being held in custody rather than transferred to your CDP account, you will need to look elsewhere.

Bear in mind that if you plan to use Saxo's platform not only to buy and sell your stocks, but also to check stock prices and view charts, you should ensure that it works well and is easy enough for you to use, especially if you tend to trade frequently and on the go.

Beginner investors may want to consider SaxoInvestor as it gives access to a large basket of products and has a simpler interface so that you don't drown from information overload.

If it's your first time, you can also take a look at the instructional videos that guide you how to search for funds, monitor your investments and upgrade to more complex products. 

If you need help, Saxo has a detailed FAQ section on their support centre or you can also contact them via live chat on the Saxo platform. If you hold a VIP account, you will be assigned to a dedicated relationship manager.

Alternative investment brokerages to Saxo Markets 

TD Ameritrade - One of the US's biggest and well-established discount brokers regulated by the big guns, TD Ameritrade is great for those who want to trade in the US markets thanks to its $0 commission fee for US stocks and ETFs, while options trades cost only US$0.70 per transaction. 

POEMS  - PhillipCapital's POEMS is a familiar local investment platform that also offers access to SG and US stocks at pretty decent fees. A great option for local investors who want to get their feet wet.

Compare online investment brokerages in Singapore before you commit.

This article was first published in MoneySmart.