Online share trading makes it easy and affordable for anyone to begin investing in shares through the New Zealand Stock Market (NZX), US stock markets and beyond. In this guide, you’ll learn how online share trading platforms work, how to make money from stocks, what kinds of fees you’ll pay and what all that confusing terminology means.
Shares or stocks represent partial ownership of a company, and they’re sold to raise funds for that company’s expansion. Shareholders buy and sell shares through stock markets, such as the New Zealand Stock Market (the NZX).
A company’s share price changes several times throughout the day as people buy and sell the shares, so most shareholders aim to buy shares when they’re low in cost and sell when the price of the share increases to make a profit.
Where do I trade shares in New Zealand?
For New Zealand-listed companies, all trading is done through the NZX, which lists over 165 companies. Overseas shares are traded on a variety of exchanges, including the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the NASDAQ and the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
How do I buy shares in a company?
In the pre-Internet era, the only way to buy or sell shares was by hiring a full-service stockbroker, which could be expensive and time-consuming. Today, investors can buy and sell shares themselves through online trading platforms with the click of a button.
Using an online platform is far cheaper for individual investors than using full-service brokers. When you buy shares online, you’ll pay a brokerage fee for each transaction, which typically ranges from $15 to $30 for NZX trades, as opposed to $75 to $100 for full-service brokers.
The standard NZX trading hours are 10am to 5pm NZST Monday to Friday, while other global exchanges keep similar hours. Along with shares, you can trade in index funds, such as exchange-traded funds (which track the performance of a range of stocks) and other products.
Keep in mind there’s a minimum first order of $500 when buying shares in a company on the NZX. However, some trading apps get around this by offering fractional investing, just as others choose to impose a higher minimum limit. To buy shares online, simply open an account with an online share trading platform.
Compare brokerage fees on New Zealand share trading accounts
Brokerage fees are an important factor when comparing trading platforms; however, there are other things to consider too. While share trading accounts tend to highlight their lowest available brokerage fee, this is usually impacted by how often you trade and how much you trade. Some accounts also have monthly inactivity fees if you don’t place any trades for a specific period of time.
How can I make money from shares?
There are two main ways to make money from share trading:
Capital growth. If you can sell your shares for a higher price than what you paid for them, you’ll make a profit. This is known as capital growth, given that your initial capital (your shares) has increased in value. This is possible both with short-term investments (where you sell the shares after a brief period of time) and over longer periods.
Dividends. Some (but not all) companies pay regular dividends to their shareholders, based on the amount of profit they make, which can provide an ongoing income stream plus tax advantages for certain investors. Dividend payments are a great form of passive income, and it means investors may never need to sell their shares to make a profit.
What is a blue-chip share?
Blue-chip shares are large companies that are financially strong and have a solid track record of producing good earnings to shareholders. Typically, they are industry leaders and household brands. Investing in blue-chip shares could be a good strategy for beginners, as they are usually considered to be very stable and have been in the market for a long time. For example, Sky City, Fonterra, Auckland International Airport, Fisher & Paykel and Vector, are considered blue-chip shares.
How can I choose the best share trading platform for me?
When choosing an online share trading platform, consider the following factors:
Broker fees. This is the fee that is charged every time you buy and sell shares. Brokers charge different fees depending on the product you’re trading (e.g. global shares, local shares, options), how often you trade in a month and the size of the trade.
Monthly fees. Some brokers charge ongoing subscription fees or additional inactivity fees if you don’t make any trades within a certain period of time. This may or may not suit you depending on your trading requirements.
Availability of advice and research options. Online brokers sometimes offer market news and updates, as well as other research tools that will let you investigate the trading history of individual stocks.
Integration with bank accounts. Some services let you transfer money easily from your trading account to a transaction or savings account. Others offer linked debit cards to use with your accounts.
Access to global markets. If you want to invest in offshore exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), check what options are available with each service.
Foreign exchange fees. If you’re interested in trading global stocks, you’ll want to check what the foreign exchange (FX) fee is for converting your NZD to the foreign currency of choice.
Other trading options. Other products offered by some online brokers include forex, CFDs, managed funds and options trading.
Customer support. Check what level of customer support is available, what hours it’s available and if the support team is based locally in New Zealand. This is particularly important for new traders.
Tips for online share trading
Here are some tips to help get you started:
Read the news. It’s important to stay up-to-date with the broader economy and be aware of how major events, such as national elections or COVID-19, are impacting the share price of various companies.
Research companies before buying. If you want to buy shares in a company, research as much as you can about the company before making your final decision. It’s a good idea to read the company’s annual reports and meeting minutes to learn what’s in the pipeline, and what changes will be made that could affect their share price.
Consider blue-chip companies. This is a good strategy for people new to the share market, as blue-chip often have more stable returns, are less volatile and often pay dividends.
Diversify. Say you had $5,000 to invest in the share market. Rather than invest it all in one company, consider spreading it out across a few companies from different industries. Diversification will help lower your risk, and ensure you don’t have all your eggs in the one basket.
Share trading glossary – learn the key share trading terms and what they mean
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.
Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.
Kylie Purcell is the investments editor at Finder. She has a background in business and finance news with previous roles at SBS, Your Money, TVNZ, Switzer Group and The Adviser magazine. Kylie has a Masters in International Journalism and a Graduate Diploma in Economics. When she's not writing about the markets you can find her bingeing on coffee.
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which finder.com receives compensation. We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.