Best Investment Brokerage Platform for Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) 2020

Choose from MoneySmart's curated list of best brokerages to invest in ETFs from 3000+ markets and Learn how to maximise returns. Read More
We found 6 Online Brokerages for you!
Saxo logo
Best Overall Trading Platform
Global ETFs Available
3000+
Stock Holding Type
Custodian
Min. Funding
$3,000
Apply Now
IG logo
Leading CFD Provider
Global ETFs Available
2000+
Stock Holding Type
Market Maker
Min. Funding
S$0
Apply Now
TD Ameritrade logo
Promotion
Best Broker for Options
US ETFs Available
5,000 over
Stock Holding Type
Custodian
Min. Funding
US$3,000
Promotion: Get up to 100 commission-free trades when you open and fund an account! Valid till 31 Dec 2020.
Apply Now
PhillipCapital (POEMS) logo
Online Promo
Most Popular Trading Platform
Min. Commission Fee SG Stocks
S$8
Stock Holding Type
CDP
Min. Funding
S$0
Online Promo: Enjoy 5 Free Trades when you open a Cash Plus Account. Valid for new POEMS customer only. Valid till 30 Sep 2020.
Apply Now
CSG-CIMB Securities logo
Best Analysing Tool
Market Access
2,000
Stock Holding Type
CDP
Min. Funding
S$0
Apply Now
DBS logo
Global ETFs Available
70+
Stock Holding Type
CDP
Min. Funding
S$0
Read More

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Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

What are ETFs?

An Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) is a collective investment, like a unit fund. Investors also buy units in an ETF. But unlike unit funds, an ETF aims to track or replicate a particular index; for example, the Straits Times Index (STI) or the S&P 500. The returns of an ETF are meant to match the index that it tracks or replicates. That means the performance of the ETF will match the performance of the market in general, rather than the performance of a few specific companies in the market.

How does an ETF work?

Let’s say I want to track the STI. I would buy a bunch of shares from many different companies, and create a basket of stocks. This basket would be a microcosm, or miniature, of the STI (not technically correct, but a close enough example). When the STI as a whole makes money, my miniature version should as well. And vice versa when it goes down. Now, remember that the STI is composed of many different companies. For it to slide, the majority of those companies would have to make a loss. That’s not impossible, but it’s improbable that so many companies go tumbling downhill at once.

Why invest in ETFs?

Passive Management

As an ETFs track an index, they are passively managed. There is no need for you or a fund manager to constantly check on or manage the funds. Since there’s no need to pay a fund manager, you get more of the returns.

Dividend yield

Stocks are one of the underlying assets of an ETF. Hence, an ETF also has dividend payouts as these dividends come from the stocks it invests in. This acts as a form of passive income which appeals to passive investors. ETFs pay good dividends, which appeals to passive investors.

Diversification

An Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) is a collective investment which means that it contains a basket of equities. For example, the SPDR Straits Times Index ETF which tracks the STI index contains 30 stocks. This helps to reduce the risk as compared to investing in a single stock.

Top 10 ETFs to invest in listed on SGX

ETFAsset ClassExpense ratio
SPDR STI ETFEquities0.30%
Nikko AM Singapore STI ETFEquities0.30%
ABF Singapore Bond Index FundBonds0.25%
Phillip Sing Income ETFEquities≤0.70%
Lion Phillip S-REIT ETFREITs0.60%
SPDR S&P 500 ETFEquities0.09%
SPDR Gold Shares ETF Commodity (Gold)0.40%
Ishares Barclays USD Asia HY Bond ETFBonds0.50%
NikkoAM-StraitsTrading Asia ex Japan REIT ETFREITs0.60%
Nikko AM SGD IG Corp Bond ETFBonds0.30%

How Much Does Buying an ETF Cost?

The costs of ETFs can be quite variable. However, most ETFs have TERs that are much lower than unit funds (around 0.5%). It is possible to start buying ETFs with fairly low capital (as little as $1,000, depending on the going rate at the time).

How to choose what ETFs to buy?

Index tracked

The returns of an ETF are meant to match the index that it tracks or replicates. Hence, returns of the ETF should be similar to the index it tracks. However, this does not mean that returns are the same due to the possibility of ‘tracking error’.

Weighting

Besides checking the index the ETF is tracking, you should also check exactly what the ETF is investing in. That means to check for exactly what stocks, bonds or REITs is it invested into as this will impact the performance of the ETF.

Your investment objective

Even if the ETF does show decent returns in the past, you need to ensure that the ETF aligns with your investment objectives. For example, if you have a good outlook on the technology industry, you would not buy an ETF that invests in retail mall REITs even if it has shown good performance.

How to invest in ETFs?

Step 1Open a brokerage account

A brokerage account enables you to purchase and sell publicly listed REITs. You have a wide range of brokerage options to select from. Some investors also have multiple brokerages but this is not necessary but based on your preference.

Step 2Open a CDP account

If you want to purchase Singapore REITs, you are required to open another account besides a brokerage account. Before you can purchase equities listed on the SGX exchange, you would need a central depository (CDP) account. A CDP account allows you to safekeep the Singapore REITs you have purchased.

Step 3Purchase your chosen ETF

Place your order with your broker for the ETF you want the purchase and the number of units you would like to buy. Alternatively, you can also invest in ETFs using a regular savings plan where you invest a fixed amount every month.