Online stockbroker fees, compared

Fees depend on what you want.

This article was first published in the latest issue of the Moneyweb Investor. To read the magazine click here.

Once upon a time your stock broker was a familiar figure, as well known and trusted as the family GP. But this changed when the JSE did away with its trading floor, enabling stock brokers to move their services online and radically reduce fees. Stock broking was democratised.

With more investors taking responsibility for their own investment decisions, how then does one rate online stock brokers, if it’s no longer about the quality of investment advice?

These days it’s about the fees charged and services available. Is there much to differentiate one service provider from another?

Moneyweb Investor has updated its popular and long-running table that compares fees charged by online stockbrokers (for both trades and administration). As is the case in the broader investing market, there has been strong downward pressure on fees.

A few years ago, one wouldn’t have dreamed of paying less than 0.4% commission on a trade (‘brokerage’). Now, however, there are five brokers who charge less than this as a flat- rate (Unum Capital, Saxo Capital Markets, Afrifocus, Sharenet Securities and Easy Equities).

Easy Equities has upended the local online share trading market with its ultra-low cost fee structure. However, given its focus on entry-level investors, it lacks more advanced features offered by most other online trading platforms, chiefly live prices. Also, unlike other brokers, it offers rand-based investing, which means you trade shares for a rand amount, not a number of shares. For example, you invest R1 000 in Company A which is trading at R160 per share, entitling you to 6.25 shares (technically, you own the whole shares as normal and own rights to the underlying portions of a share through fractional share rights). 

This is different to trades at ‘normal’ brokers, where your purchase will be for six shares at a total of R960 (excluding mandatory charges).

Every online platform has a minimum commission (‘brokerage’) per trade although here, too, Easy Equities effectively has no minimum charge (it is set at 1c). Excluding Easy Equities, these range from R70 (Nedbank) to R150 (Afrifocus and Unum Capital).

The market has also started to shift away from monthly (or quarterly or annual) administration fees. Four providers no longer charge this. In certain instances, these fees are waived if you trade more than a certain number of times or, as is the case with Absa and Standard Bank, if you are a Private Banking or Absa Platinum customer.  

Along with commission, investors will pay the following mandatory charges on every trade:

 

Securities Transfer Tax (STT)

0.25% on purchases only

Strate (This fee covers the electronic settlement of your share transactions through Strate, the electronic settlement authority)

0.005787% (excluding VAT) based on the value of the share transaction:

The minimum is R10.71 for trades with a value up to R200 000

The maximum is R70.02 for trades with a value over R1 million.

 

FSB Investor Protection Levy

0.0002% on all trades.

 

It must be noted that investors cannot be lumped into a one-size-fits-all category. Investors will have differing needs and make (typical) trades of various sizes. For some, a basic service will suffice, while others may be prepared to pay for more advanced features like live pricing or research, or simply for better service. For others, and this is likely the niche providers’ forte, it may be about the relationship.

Picking an online stockbroker is, in many ways, like choosing a bank (and bank account). A ‘beginner’ or entry-level investor would likely be best suited by Easy Equities, while those with more advanced requirements should consider the rates and minimum commission charges. After all, these platforms are commoditsed services and the less you pay per trade, the more you invest.

 

Broker

Minimum Commission (excl. VAT)

Rate of Commission (excl. VAT)

Admin Fees (incl. VAT)

28E Capital

www.28eonline.co.za

R145

Up to R50k – 0.7%

R50k-R500k – 0.5%

R500k-R1m – 0.4%

Over R1m – 0.35%

R50 per month

Absa

www.absastockbrokers.co.za

R120

0.4%

R66.66 per month1

Afrifocus

www.afrifocus.co.za

R150

0.3%

 

Easy Equities

www.easyequities.co.za

1c

0.25%

No charge

FNB Securities

www.fnbsecurities.co.za

R100

0.5%

R70 per month2

Nedbank

www.nedbankonlinetrading.co.za

R70

Up to R250k – 0.7%

R250k-R750k – 0.5%

R750k-R1m – 0.45%

Over R1m – 0.35%

R150 per quarter

PSG

www.psgonline.co.za

R98

Up to R25k – 0.9%

R25k-R100k – 0.85%

R100k-R250k – 0.75%

R250k-R1m – 0.5%

Over R1m – Negotiable

R40 per month

Sanlam

www.sanlamitrade.co.za

R75

Up to R500k – R75+0.5%

R500k-R1m – R75+0.4%

Over R1m – R75+0.35%

R50 per month3

Saxo Capital Markets

za.saxomarkets.com

R100

0.34%

 

Sharenet Securities

www.sharenetsecurities.co.za

R110

0.3%

R250 per quarter4

Standard Bank

securities.standardbank.co.za

R90

0.5%5

R90 per month6

Thebe Securities

www.thebesec.co.za

R125

Up to R100k – 0.75%

Over R100k – 0.50%

R47.50 per month

Unum Capital (formerly Vunani)

www.unum.co.za

R150

0.35%

 

 

Anchor Securities, AngloRand, Investec Securities and Momentum SP Reid Securities also offer online brokerage platforms, however, pricing is not disclosed publicly on their websites and requests for comment were not responded to.

 

1 This is waived for Absa Platinum and Absa Private Banking customers. It is also waived for the remainder of the year “after five trades in five separate contract notes have been completed”.

2 If you choose to receive printed and posted communications, this fee is R125 per month.

3 Waived if brokerage paid is more than R300 in a month (equal to one trade of R45 000 or five smaller trades)

4 Waived if you trade more than three times in a quarter.

5 0.4% for Standard Bank Private Banking Suite clients

6 Waived after three trades in a calendar month.

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COMMENTS   1

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Great article, thanks! As you so rightly point out: what people look for in an online share trading platform is a combination of low cost and feature richness. This article addressed the cost question really well. I would love to see a feature comparison between the platforms to give me an idea of what I’m getting for what I’m paying. What would also be good is to see features broken down by trader proficiency to show which accounts might be best for which types of traders. Something you only alluded to with Easy Equities.

End of comments.

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