Finding the best online share trading platforms
Discover more about fees, trading tools and features and learn how to find the right online broker for you.
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Are you looking for the best online brokers in New Zealand? Thanks to the rise of online share trading platforms in the past couple of decades, it’s now easier than ever to buy shares online or on your mobile phone.
But with so many options to choose from, you’ll want to make sure you’re picking the right one for you. Our guide covers everything you should consider when comparing investment apps, including fees, trading options and support features.
Open a share trading account
How to compare share trading platforms
There are plenty of things you’ll need to consider when looking at different platforms, however it all comes down to how you’re intending to use it. Ask yourself, do you want to buy New Zealand shares or are global shares important too? And do you consider yourself to be a beginner or an advanced investor?
Your answers will help you to decide which share trading platform will benefit you the most. Here are some of the key features to look at when comparing online share trading platforms:
- The fees. Almost every online trading platform will charge you a brokerage fee when you buy or sell shares, ranging from around $15 to $30 per trade. However, fees may be calculated as a percentage of the transaction amount for larger trades and may also be lower depending on how frequently you trade. Some providers also charge ongoing subscription or inactivity fees on top of this, especially with the more feature-dense platforms.
- What can you trade? Some trading platforms will not only give you access to New Zealand shares but also international shares. Others will also allow you to trade CFDs, forex, indices, currencies and much more, so look for this functionality if it’s important to you.
- Ease of use. Share market trading can be complicated and often requires you to respond quickly to market changes. With this in mind, look for a platform that allows you to make fast and precise trades with minimum fuss.
- Access to market data and research. Does the platform offer dynamic, real-time or delayed market updates? Some platforms offer research and broker analysis on individual stocks that can come in handy.
- Trade options. Consider the options available when you are buying or selling shares. Can you place orders at market and/or at limit, and are stop/loss orders an option to add more flexibility to your trading?
- Reporting. Check what reporting tools each platform offers to help you track how your trades are performing, record dividends and pass on any relevant information to the IRD at tax time.
- Margin loans. If you’re looking to borrow money to build your portfolio, check to see whether the platform provider offers margin loans.
- Customer support. Look for phone, email and live online chat support. Do they offer customer service 24/7 if you’re having trouble placing a trade?
- Education. Some platforms also feature a range of educational tools and resources, such as how-to guides and webinars, to help you get more out of your trading account.
- Security. How secure is the platform and what measures are in place to ensure the safety of your funds?
Find the best share trading platform to suit you
How can you choose a share trading platform that’s right for you? Ask yourself the following questions:
- What type of trader am I? Are you a casual trader, an active trader or an expert investor? This will influence the features you’re looking for in an online broker and their trading platform. From the ease of use of the system through to the market research information available, it’s critical that the trading platform complements your trading needs.
- How often will I trade? If you buy or sell shares once or twice a month (or even less), you’re most likely a casual investor. The more you trade each month, the more likely you are to need a share trading platform that offers an extensive range of features and expert analysis. Some platforms charge inactivity fees or higher broker fees if you don’t place a minimum number of trades per month, quarter or year.
- How will I place trades? Will you be placing all your trades online, via a mobile app or over the phone? Check the fees charged for the different ways to place trades.
- What will I be trading? While shares are the most commonly traded security, you can also trade a wide range of other securities through online brokers. Consider whether you want access to international shares, forex and CFDs as well as New Zealand stocks.
- How much does it cost? As well as ongoing fees, consider the brokerage fees that apply to your transactions and whether they may be waived or reduced if you satisfy certain criteria, such as placing a specified number of trades each month.
There are two main fees that commonly apply when you use online share trading platforms:
- Brokerage fees. Brokerage fees are the charges that apply to each buy and sell transaction, and they usually vary depending on the size of your buy or sell order or how often you trade.
- Ongoing fees. These apply monthly or annually, but not all providers will charge ongoing fees. This may depend on how frequently you trade, for example inactivity fees are often charged if you don’t place any trades within a certain period of time.
Brokerage fees vary greatly between providers but typically start at around the $15 to $30 range. For large transactions, fees of around 0.3% and up usually apply. If you’re planning on making lots of trades, you’ll want to keep an eye out for a platform that offers low per-trade fees.
Some providers will not charge any monthly fees at all. However, more advanced trading platforms and those that offer premium services will often charge a monthly fee. A number of brokers will waive this fee if you perform more than a certain number of trades each month.
Finally, remember that many brokers offer different membership levels – for example gold, silver and platinum – which offer different features and therefore attract varying fees.
The table below contains details of the fees charged by a selection of share trading platforms and accounts in New Zealand. Keep in mind that some of these platforms are geared towards casual investors while others are designed for experienced investors.
|ASB Securities||Shares, ETFs (New Zealand securities):|
Shares, ETFs (Australian securities):
|Direct Broking||NZ-listed securities (excluding debt securities):|
Australian-listed securities (excluding debt securities):
|IG||For trades placed online:|
For trades placed over the phone:
Benefits of using share trading platforms
- Control your investments. Online brokers give you the ability to take charge of your finances and invest your money in a range of local and global financial instruments.
- Convenient. You can trade shares and boost your investment balance all from the comfort of your own home. Trading shares online can require much less legwork than for example, investing in property.
- Affordable. The online share trading sector is becoming increasingly competitive, which is great news for consumers because it means better features and lower fees. The cost of buying and selling shares online has dropped markedly over the past couple of decades.
- Information at your fingertips. Many share trading platforms give you access to a wealth of market news and company information to help you make informed trading decisions.
Risks of using share trading platforms
- Lack of knowledge. The fact that you get to take full control of your investments can be a double-edged sword. While it allows you to take charge of your finances, it also means that you must rely on your own know-how to buy and sell shares. If you don’t know what you’re doing you can lose a significant amount of money.
- Temptation to take risks. When you’re able to buy and sell shares in just a few quick clicks, it can be easy to forget that you’re dealing with real money and not just playing a game. Remember, these are serious financial decisions you are making and all trading carries a degree of risk.
- Error. A simple typo and a failure to proof-read any buy or sell orders before you place them could cost you a lot of money. Review your orders closely before you submit them.
Once you’ve found the right online share trading platform, it’s quick and easy to apply for an account. If the platform is run by your bank and you already have an internet banking account, there’s often very little you have to do except deposit funds into your share trading account and start placing orders.
If you’re signing up for an account with a new provider, however, you’ll generally need to provide the following details:
- Your name, address and contact details
- Your tax number
- Your driver’s licence number
- Your linked bank account details
Once you’ve deposited funds into your account – a minimum deposit amount may apply – you’re ready to start trading.
Once you’ve found a share trading platform and you’re ready to start investing, it’s actually quite easy to get started buying and selling shares. Read our guide on how to buy shares online here for a step-by-step guide to buying shares.
- Bear market: This term refers to when prices on the market are falling and further falls are expected to occur.
- Blue chip stock: A blue chip stock is a large company with a steady history of turning a profit.
- Brokerage fee: This is the fee you must pay to a share trading platform when you use the platform to buy or sell shares.
- Bull market: Opposite to a bear market. This term applies when share market prices are rising and expected to continue to rise.
- Contract note: This confirms a buy or sell transaction and includes details such as the type of share, the price paid and the quantity traded
- Dividend: Companies can distribute their profits or earnings to shareholders in the form of dividends. A dividend is calculated as a number of cents for each share you own.
- Float: The initial raising of capital through public subscription to a security.
- Fundamental analysis: This involves analysing the financial statements of a business to determine its overall financial standing.
- Futures: Futures are contracts to buy or sell an asset at a specified future date.
- Limit order: A limit order specifies the maximum (when buying) or minimum (when selling) price you are willing to accept for a share transaction.
- Listed company: Listed companies have shares that are purchased and sold through the NZX.
- Live price: This is the price of a share at a precise moment in time.
- Market order: A market order is an order to buy or sell a share at its current market price.
- NZClear (New Zealand Electronic Registries Interface System): This NZX system settles share trades and acts as the central registry for the electronic transfer of share ownership.
- NZX: The abbreviation for the New Zealand Stock Market, New Zealand’s primary stock exchange
- NZX 50 Index: This is an index of the performance of the share prices of around 50 of New Zealand’s biggest companies. Also referred to as the NZ50.
- Short selling: This is when you borrow a security and subsequently sell it, with the obligation to buy it back in future at a much lower price.
- Volatility: This reflects the amount of fluctuation in share prices.
- Warrant: This gives its holder the right to purchase a security within a certain timeframe and at a specific price.
- Yield: This is your return on an investment and is expressed as a percentage.