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Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is an American brokerage founded in 1978 in New York City. Today, it operates in 150 markets in 33 countries trading stocks, forex, options etc.
Interactive Brokers is best for Singaporeans who are already trading and investing frequently, and are looking to trade wider range of products across global markets.
IBKR charges lower commission fees that start from $0.0005 per share, which is one of the lowest commission fees in the industry. When considering other types of assets like options, futures, and forex, IBKR's commission fees are also competitive. For example, IBKR charges $0.65 per contract for US options trades. This is lower than the commission fees charged by many other brokerages. Experienced traders who trade in higher volumes can get to enjoy even lower commission fees. For example, to qualify for the 0.050% commission rate for Singapore shares, you will need to have a monthly trading volume of at least S$2.5 million.
IBKR pays about 4.83% (as of September 7, 2023) of interest rates on instantly available cash balances, and has attractive margin loan rates ranging from SGD 4.951% to 5.951%.
You'll be able to access a comprehensive variety of trading instruments and products – from stocks, ETFs, warrents, to futures, spot currencies, commodities, and more across 150 markets in 33 countries and with 27 currencies.
For basic consumer accounts such as the IBKR Lite (only for US citizens) or IBKR Pro (you'll probably be using this), there are no minimum deposits nor minimum account balance to maintain. If you're eligible to open a margin account, there is a USD100 minimum deposit requirement.
As with all brokerages, there are other fees you should take note of (listed below), such as Monthly Activity Fee, API fees if you require the Trader Workstation.
If you're an average Singaporeans just starting to invest and trade, the IBKR website's amount of information, instruments, markets, fees and pricing structures may seem confusing at first sight. Here's a suggestion: click on the "Free Trial" and go for a paper account.
Interactive Brokers offers an educational platform called IBKR Campus with 5 different categories of learning materials – Trader's Academy to learn how to use the Trader Workstation platform, Webinars, and Insight for market news and analysis, Quant for technology news, and Student Trading Lab for educators.
There are 4 main Interactive Brokers online trading platforms – a website client portal, a desktop software called Trader Workstation which you will most likely use, a mobile trading app called IBKR Mobile, and custom trading APIs.
First up, try out the platform with a paper account via the free trial. Visit the Interactive Brokers Singapore website, click on "Free Trial" on the top menu bar. Then, click on "Start Your Free Trial". Fill in your personal details, download the TWS, and you're ready to go.
Once you're ready to open your Interactive Brokers account, simply scroll up and click on "Apply". You'll be prompted to fill in your personal details to apply for your Interactive Brokers account seamlessly.
You'll then be prompted to verify your email address, after which you'll be led to sign in to the IBKR website Client Portal to choose your account type. If you're a Singaporean, you will be able to auto-fill the application via SingPass MyInfo.
Then, verify your mobile number (to receive 2FA login codes). You'll then have to declare if you're a retail, accredited, or expert investor, declare your income and net worth, your investment objectives, and choose between a margin or cash account.
Next up, the customer knowledge assessment. You'll have to fill up your knowledge and experience with each trading product for approval to trade. As your trading experience grows, you'll be able to add more trading permissions in your account settings.
Now that you're done with your application, how to fund your Interactive Brokers account? You'll be receiving Interactive Brokers' custodian bank account information in your email inbox – along with a set of detailed instructions on how to make your first bank transfer, and how to set up subsequent standing orders.
|Trading Product||Commission Fee||Conditions|
|Stocks, ETFs, Warrants||From US$0.0005 per share||Minimum US$0.35 per order with <300,00 share trades per month|
|Options||US$0.35 - US$0.65 per contract||Minimum US$0.35 per order if you trade > 200,00 contracts per month|
|Futures, FOPs||US$0.10 - US$0.25 per contract||Minimum US$0.10 per contract if you trade > 5,000 contracts per month|
|Metals||1.5 basis points of your trade value (US Spot Gold for example)||If your order is below US$500,000|
|Mutual Funds||Either free or €4.95 (for non-US residents)||Inclusive of regulatory and exchange fees|
|Spot Currencies||0.20 basis point of your trade value||If you trade <=US$1 million per month|
|Single Stock Futures (SSFs)||1 basis point (SGX SSFs, for example)||-|
Interactive Brokers' flagship desktop trading platform is called the Trader Workstation (TWS) which you can download from their website. The user interface is more suitable for seasoned traders who already have a good grasp on the complex workings of a trading platform.
If you're a trading beginner, you might find Interactive Brokers' IBot pretty useful – it is basically a natural-language chat bot which answers your questions with relevant trading information. So, all you need to do is to launch a chat, type in your question, and view the answer.
Interactive Brokers' Client Portal is a website-based administrative and trading platform which allows you to conveniently access your account and trading information anywhere – so long as you have access to the internet.
|Account Features||IBKR Lite||IBKR Pro|
|Citizenship||For US Residents and individuals under the EmployeeTrack programme||For non-US residents|
|Commission Fees||No commission for US exchange-listed stocks and ETFs||Fixed or tiered commission fees|
|Account Minimum||No account minimum||No account minimum|
|Inactivity Fee||No inactivity fee||If monthly commissions are less than US$10, you'll be charged an inactivity/ maintenance fee of US$10 (minus your commissions)|
|Idle Cash Balance||Benchmark minus 1.5%||Benchmark minus 0.5%|
Interactive Brokers offers an entire online trading news, information, and education programme called the IBKR Campus – made up of 5 programmes listed below. The IBKR Campus aside, there's a Trader's Glossary, Calendar, and Short Videos tutorials available for all.
You will find theTrader's Academy on the Interactive Brokers website, and the courses are segmented into 3 levels – beginner, intermediate, and advanced – for you to learn about trading products, how to use the trading tools, risk analysis, trade plans, etc.
Interactive Brokers' Trader's Insight is almost like a daily news, expert insight and opinions homepage that you should keep up with to keep your finger on the pulse of global trade and economy news. Here, you'll find articles, market roundups, explanation of key market trends and happenings that are worth your attention.
The IBKR Quant Blog involves niche content for quantitative analysts, such as programming, coding, APIs, data engineering and manipulation, excel, alongside relevant market big data news, machine learning algorithms, and more.
Interactive Brokers also offer free in-depth webinars exploring topics such as "Bitcoin as an Investment Asset", opportunities in commodities, the future of e-commerce, etc. All webinars are scheduled, so you can mark out specific dates and times for topics you're interested in.
Finally, Interactive Brokers has a free online programme for finance and computer science teachers to tap into – allowing students to experience real-world trading via individual paper trading accounts.
What is a floating rate? What are open contracts? What is T+3? Yield-to-Call? If these terms are new to you, or if you are a seasoned trader who just needs to verify the official meaning of these terms, visit the free Interactive Brokers Traders' Glossary on their official website.
|Interactive Brokers||Saxo||TD Ameritrade|
|Brokerage founded in 1978 in New York City||Founded by the Copenhagen-based Saxo Bank||Founded in 1971, then known as Ameritrade. Later acquired by TD Waterhouse in 2006, and Charles Schwab Corporation in 2020|
|If monthly commissions are less than US$10, you'll be charged an inactivity/ maintenance fee of US$10 (minus your commissions)||US$0 Inactivity fee||US$0 Inactivity fee|
|You'll get to choose between fixed or tiered fees, such as US$0.0035 per stock, ETF, warrant; US$0.25 per options contract; US$0.85 per futures/ futures options contract etc.||0.08% commission for SGX stocks; 0.06% for US stocks; 0.6 pips for FX EUR/USD; US$3 for US stock CFDs; US$3 on US-listed ETFs; 0.05% on US government bonds etc.||$0 no commission fee for online stock, ETFs, options (US markets); US$0.70 per options contract; US$2.41 per futures/ futures options contract; US$7.44 for OTC online stocks|
|Trading Platform – Trader Workstation||SaxoInvestor, SaxoTraderGO, Saxo TraderPro||thinkorswim website, dekstop, and mobile|
|Education – Interactive Brokers offers a full fledge IBKR Campus online with materials for both beginners, intermediate, and advanced traders||Saxo offers trading courses, video tutorials, Saxo Insights, and Saxo Market Call podcasts||TD Ameritrade provides access to market news and insights on the thinkorswim platforms. If you're just learning to trade, there's a 5-week introduction to trading course online|
If you're looking to contact the customer service centre, you can call the Interactive Brokers Singapore contact hotline at 800-101-3456 (toll free).