How to open a trading account in Singapore?

Fortunately opening a trading account to invest in stocks and bonds in Singapore is rather easy. I for one prefer the trading account to be in an established retail bank, so that I can consolidate my current account and investment accounts under one roof and have an easy overview of all my finances.

I have experience with two trading platforms: DBS Vickers Securities (www.dbsvickers.com/) and Standard Chartered Singapore (https://www.sc.com/sg/)

Both can be integrated easily with your existing accounts, but differ quite a lot in terms of features and costs.

If you are deciding between these two options here is a comparative table:

DBS Vickers or Standard Chartered?

(Created May 2014)

  DBS Vickers Online Standard Chartered
Stock Exchanges supported Singapore, Hong Kong, U.S., and Canada Singapore (SGX), Hong Kong (SEHK), Tokyo (TSE), Australian SE (ASX), NYSE EN Paris (PAR), London Stock Exchange (LSE), Deutsche Boerse (FRA), NYSE EN Amsterdam (AMS), SIX Swiss Exchange (SWX, VTX), NASDAQ , New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), NYSE AMEX (AMEX)
Running account costs 0 SGD 0 SGD
Minimum commission? Yes (SG: 40, HKD 100, USD 25) No
Commissions (trading online, less than SGD50k) Singapore: 0.28%
Hong Kong: 0.2%
US: 0.3%
Singapore: 0.2%
Hong Kong: 0.25%
US: 0.25%
Quality of research tools available Quite in-depth Rather basic
Ease of use Relatively easy but a few quirks Very easy

 

Overall verdict: for my needs Standard Chartered clearly wins here. As there is no minimum commission I save quite a lot of money, since I mostly do smaller trades. Furthermore I wanted to invest in some European exchange traded bond funds which I could not do on DBS Vickers.

For example:

Buying 1,000 units of the Vanguard FTSE Asia Ex Japan Index ETF for HKD 19.84 each in Hong Kong would cost the following commission charges:

Standard Chartered: HKD 49.6
DBS Vickers: HKD 100 (minimum commission)

As this example shows the minimum commission is quite disadvantageous for smaller investors. You would need to invest more than SGD 6,400 in one trade to enjoy the slightly lower interest rate that DBS Vickers offers in Hong Kong. In all other exchanges Standard Chartered is cheaper and has no minimum commission.

Given my good experience with Standard Chartered and their lower costs I can wholeheartedly recommend them over DBS Vickers.

How to open a Standard Chartered Online Trading account?

I would recommend open a free esaver account online first. From there you can apply for online trading online via the online banking platform. It is rather easy and trouble-free.

Lazy as I am I am not a fan of visiting bank branches and queuing there. Standard Chartered lets you do most things online or via the phone which is most convenient. In over four years I have only visited the bank branch once.

Read on:

16 thoughts on “How to open a trading account in Singapore?

  1. Leigh says

    Do you know if Standard-chartered allow non-residents to apply? I know DBS Vickers do, but I can’t find anything online about Standard-Chartered.

    • singvestor says

      Hi Leigh, sorry for getting back to you so late! To open a trading account at Standard Chartered you normally need to be a customer of the bank with an existing account. I chose the free and minimal e-saver account. Unfortunately you can only open this account as a resident foreigner. No clear details are included in the FAQ at (https://www.sc.com/sg/help-centre/faqs-ways-to-bank.html#online-trading) so I think you should call the bank at: 1800 747 7000 or (65) 6747 7000 (24-hour) if calling from overseas. Good luck!

  2. Blowblue says

    Thanks for this blog. It has been helpful to discover that there are Vanguard ETFs available in tax-dividend free Hong Kong.
    I heard from OCBC and DBSVickers personnel that they have custodian fees of SGD2/month/stock for stocks that are non-SGX (e.g. trading in US stocks). Does Standard Chartered charge custodian fee for HK stocks in your case? Thanks

  3. Sylvestor says

    Hi Singvestor,

    Thank you for sharing your comparison on the 2 local brokers. Besides vickers and scb, interactive brokers and optionsXpress are pretty popular among Singaporeans. Do you have any idea how does the overall costs for US etfs compare with that of the local brokers?

    A friend who uses interactive brokers for US etfs does not have to pay 30% tax on dividend. Here is the link: https://www.interactivebrokers.com/en/index.php?f=tax&p=nonUS

  4. David says

    Hi I am a beginner without any academic or financial related qualifications as well as investment experience. I noticed in the Standard Chartered Online Equities Trading Application Form there is a customer account review section that asks for those experience (which I’m likely to fail). How would you suggest a beginner like me to start investing in low-cost ETFs and bonds? Is DBS Vickers a better platform to kickstart and apply? Thank you!

  5. Pablo says

    Hi there,

    I would like to know your opinion on what brokerage account you think is best for a long term buy and keep investor. Transaction fees are not massively important I guess. DBS and OCBC are very reputable banks but they charge custodian fees for non SGX stocks, which will slowly but steady eat up a portion of the portfolio. What are your thoughts?

    Cheers and happy 2017!

    • singvestor says

      I personally use Standard Chartered for all non SGX stocks and DBS Vickers for the SGX ones. For me this has worked out quite well. I tried OCBC but found them way too expensive with too many random fees, especially for foreign stocks.

  6. Joe says

    How am I find out which securities including ETF’s are offered by DBS Vickers and OCBC online? When I emailed them, each said they could not provide that before I open an account. What? Saxo Bank not only tells you which ones they offer, you can trade them on a trial dummy account. So does anyone know how I can find out about DBS or OCBC?

    • singvestor says

      You can easily find this on the website of the stock exchange, e.g. SGX. Generally you can buy and sell all the ETFs listed on SGX with any of the big brokers.

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