Trader Workstation, Client Portal, IBKR Mobile and IBKR APIs
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Also known as IBKR for short, US-based Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is already a popular trading platform among investors despite being a recent entrant in Singapore’s stock-trading market.
This NASDAQ-listed brokerage has been a pioneer of global electronic trading with over 40 years of track record. It is also well-known for its commission-free benefit when you’re trading US Exchange-Listed Stocks or ETFs. But IBKR offers more than just that.
Low commission rates, premier technology incorporated into mobile and online trading platforms, the exclusive IBKR “Education” suite, and extensive access to over 135 markets in 33 countries, in 23 currencies, all in one integrated platform — something which not many brokerages have and it’s probably what you and other fellow investors are looking for.
With so many products and services in this single platform, it may be a little daunting to decide on where to start. But fret not, we’ve got the gist of it all which can help you figure out if IBKR is suitable for you, whether you’re a serious or casual investor. First, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this online brokerage.
You’ll be able to trade on more than 60 exchanges in Asia, North America, Europe, Pacific and other markets via IBKR Singapore’s platform. Here’s a list of some of the exchanges by geographical location.
Note that the trading hours will vary for different products on different exchanges.
IBKR offers a wide selection of tradable securities which gives you more options to choose from. Their range of products include:
For commission fees, it is charged in two ways by IBKR — Volume-Tiered Pricing or Fixed Rate Pricing, depending on how often you trade and in smaller or bigger volumes.
This form of pricing works for larger trades as the higher volume is traded (higher monthly trade value), the lower the commission fee charged.
For example, when you trade with a monthly value of SGD 2,500,000 for SGX stocks, the minimum commission fee is 0.08% per trade value (min. SGD 2.50), while the minimum fee for a monthly trade value of up to 50,000,000 will be 0.05% per trade value (min. SGD 1.60), and vice versa. Also, in cases where an exchange provides a rebate, IBKR will pass some or all of the savings directly back to you.
A fixed commission rate, more commonly used by many brokerages, is simply just a fixed commission fee charged per share or as a percentage of the trade value. Again, if we use SGX stocks as an example, you’ll be charged a minimum of 0.08% per trade value (min. SGD 2.50).
And if you’re trading US Exchange-Listed Stocks or ETFs, you may be really glad to know that there’s no commission fee for that. For commission fees on trading stock and ETFs in other markets, you’ll be able to find the details on MoneySmart’s Interactive Brokers Singapore online brokerage page.
IBKR supports a total of 23 types of currencies: AUD, CAD, CNH/CNY, CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HUF, INR, JPY, KRW, MXN, NOK, PLN, NZD, RUB, SEK, SGD, TRY, USD and ZAR.
Currency exchanges can be done in-app, and tight spreads can be as narrow as 0.1 PIP with low commissions of 0.08 to 0.20 bps times the trade size, with no hidden spreads or markups. You’ll also get access to real time prices from 17 of the world's largest FX dealers.
IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro are the 2 types of margin trading accounts which you can choose to open on IBKR’s platform. Also, both IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro account holders have access to IBKR’s “Education” suite which is exclusive to all IBKR customers.
This suite of research tools and analytical features include: IBKR Campus, Traders’ Academy, Traders’ Insights, IBKR Quant Blog, Webinars, Student Trading Lab, Short Videos, Traders’ Glossary and Traders’ Calendar which you can find out more here.
This account type is more suited for beginner investors, although intermediate investors can also choose to trade using IBKR Lite. If you’re a beginner investor looking to familiarise yourself with IBKR’s platform, the Student Trading Lab has a full complement of trading tools and $1 million paper trading equity which lets you “practice” trading without using any actual money.
This feature, plus many other complementary tools and resources in IBKR’s “Education” suite will be useful to help you understand various investment products and markets before you do any real trading.
As an IBKR account holder, you’ll not be charged any account maintenance fee and also be entitled to commission-free trading of stocks and ETFs that are listed on US exchanges, and fixed commission fees will be applicable for most trading products (except for forex and bonds which are charged with the tiered pricing scheme).
However, if you're interested in trading other products like mutual funds, options, futures, and more, you’ll be charged the same trading costs as what IBKR Pro investors pay.
As the name implies, IBKR Pro is designed more for advanced traders and for intermediate traders who are looking to become more serious traders, and the features are similar to the IBKR Lite account but with more benefits.
Unlike IBKR Lite, IBKR Pro account holders have the option to pick fixed or tiered commission fees for most trading products, and they are entitled to both the Stock Yield Enhancement Program and FDIC Promontory Program, as well as IBKR Web Trader and IBKR APIs trading technology, which IBKR Lite investors do not have access to.
Moreover, the interest charged for margin loans begins at benchmark plus 1.5% (1% lower than IBKR Lite accounts). However, there’s an account maintenance fee of up to USD 10 per month (less the commission paid that month).
Section BlurbFrom simplified single and complex multi-leg option trading, to lower cost ETF alternatives, IBKR offers you a wider range of trading platforms as compared to many other brokerages.
Currently, its trading platforms are available for mobile, desktop and web with iOS, Android, Excel API, and FIX API versions.
IBKR's 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 (with IBKR Pro account) who already have a good grasp on the complex workings of a trading platform, as there’s a variety of indicators and software including over 400 data columns, option exercise and spread templates, news, research, charting and scanners, all of which may be too overwhelming for a beginner trader. Order presets can also be created via TWS, which prefill order tickets for fast entry. Presets set up on TWS are also available from the mobile app.
As for beginner traders (IBKR Lite account), your TWS will vary slightly from the advanced traders’. You’ll still have access to the trading tools (minus the indicators and advanced software) and be able to seamlessly search for stocks, place orders, compare prices and even customise your trade station to show you the stocks which you frequently trade.
If you're a beginner, you might find IBKR's IBot pretty useful – it’s basically a natural-language chatbot 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. Both IBKR Lite and Pro account holders have access to this IBot.
The Client Portal is a website-based administrative and trading platform which allows you (whether you’re an IBKR Lite or Pro account holder) to conveniently access your account and trading information anywhere – so long as you have access to the internet.
Interactive Brokers Singapore Pte. Ltd. is one of the 11 affiliates of NASDAQ-listed Interactive Brokers Group, Inc., which has an impressive track record of over 40 years as one of the more established online brokerages on the market.
Interactive Brokers Singapore Pte. Ltd. is licensed and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (License No. CMS101000), complying with regulatory requirements set out by the MAS to protect consumers.
With $9 billion in equity capital, over $6.5 billion in excess of regulatory requirements and no long-term debt, IBKR maintains its capital position through a conservative strategy.
This is reflected in the way they manage their brokerage and market making businesses in separate companies, which are registered with local securities and/or top-tier financial and commodities regulators such as UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In terms of risk management, IBKR ensures that the resulting payables/receivables are reconciled to outside sources automatically. Its automated real-time margining system will mark all client positions to market continuously, and credit-vetting is done for every order, with automatic liquidation of accounts with inadequate margin deposits.
There are 3 options to ensure safe logins for all IBKR accounts: IB Key feature through IBKR mobile app, 2-step authentication through SMS messaging, and Secure Login System in which a plastic code card is used.
You’ll need to complete a deposit notification or withdrawal request on the Transfer Funds page in Client Portal for either request.
For deposit notifications, you’ll have to contact your bank or broker to complete the transfer after completing the deposit notification process via IBKR’s mobile or desktop app.
To make a withdrawal of funds, you’ll need to complete a withdrawal request on the Transfer Funds page in the Client Portal. IBKR allows only one free withdrawal request every month. After the first withdrawal, there will be fees charged for any subsequent withdrawal.
As IBKR continues to maintain its competitive rates, many other newer entrants such as Tiger Brokers and Moomoo are catching up by offering low cost trades. Currently, IBKR doesn’t charge any platform fees (for IBKR account holders) unlike Tiger Brokers and Moomoo, but let’s compare these 3 platforms in detail to help you come to a conclusion.
In the table below, we looked at the key factors which are commission fees (on the Singapore stock exchange), platform fees, market access and trading products available. IBKR’s commission fee seems to be the highest with a minimum of SGD 2.50 per trade as compared to Tiger and Moomoo.
Although a brokerage with lower commission fees may sound appealing, you’ve got to take into consideration the variety of markets and trading products available as well. If you’re an investor who doesn’t mind paying a little more for greater accessibility to a wider range of products and services (which may or may not increase your investment profits), IBKR would be more suitable for you.
|Interactive Brokers||Tiger Brokers||Moomoo|
|Commission Fee: 0.08% of trade value (min. SGD 2.50 per trade)||Commission Fee: 0.04% of trade value (no minimum)||Commission Fee: 0.03% of trade value (min. SGD 0.99 per trade)|
|Platform Fee: |
None (IBKR Lite account & IBKR Pro account)
|Platform Fee: 0.04% of trade value (no minimum)||Platform Fee: 0.03% of trade value (min. SGD 1.50 per trade)|
|Markets Available: Over 135 markets in 33 countries, in 23 currencies||Markets Available: 10 markets in Singapore, US, Hong Kong, China, Australia in 9 currencies||Markets Available: Singapore, US, Hong Kong, China|
|Trading Products: Stocks, ETFs, warrants, mutual funds, options, futures, bonds, currencies, metals||Trading Products: Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, futures, options warrants, CBBCs, REITs||Trading Products: Stocks, ETFs, options, futures, ADRs, REITs|
Besides Tiger Brokers and Moomoo, you might have chanced upon TD Ameritrade and Saxo which are also among the other popular platforms on MoneySmart’s online brokerages wizard.
For US stocks, these two competitors of IBKR provide low cost trades on US stock exchanges as well. Here’s an overview of the similarities and differences in their commission fees (for US stocks), market access and trading products.
In summary, TD Ameritrade appears to be the most cost-effective platform for trading US stocks as it doesn’t charge any commission or platform fees, as compared to IBKR which has a minimum of USD 1 per order, and Saxo that charges an even higher minimum of USD 4 per order.
|Interactive Brokers||TD Ameritrade||Saxo|
|Commission Fee: USD 0.005 per share (min. USD 1 per order)||Commission Fee: None||Commission Fee: 0.06% of trade value (min. USD 4 per order)|
|Platform Fee: |
None (IBKR Lite account & IBKR Pro account)
|Platform Fee: None||Platform Fee: 0.12% annual custody fee|
|Markets Available: Over 135 markets in 33 countries, in 23 currencies||Markets Available: US only||Markets Available: Over 37 markets in US, Europe, Asia and Australia, in 21 currencies|
|Trading Products: Stocks, ETFs, warrants, mutual funds, options, futures, bonds, currencies, metals||Trading Products: Stocks, ETFs, options, futures||Trading Products: Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, bonds, currencies, CFDs, commodities, cryptocurrency|