Interactive Brokers (IBKR) Singapore: [2022] Full Review

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Interactive Brokers Singapore Review: Trade in Over 150 Markets!

Articles written are independent opinions, and are not affiliated/sponsored unless specifically mentioned.

interactive brokers IBKR review

Table of Contents

Interactive Brokers, also known as IBKR, is an award-winning, multi-national online investment brokerage.

Interactive Brokers made its official debut in Singapore in July 2020, though prior to this the brokerage was already gaining significant popularity amongst Singaporean investors.

This post provides an in-depth overview of Interactive Brokers to help you decide whether the platform is a good fit for you.

Markets Offered by Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers allows users to trade in 150 different markets spanning over 30 countries and in up to 25 currencies.

Effectively, Interactive Brokers offers a one-stop gateway to the world’s markets.

Covering some of the top exchanges in the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe such as the New York Exchange, London Stock Exchange, and the Hong Kong Exchange, just to name a few, Interactive Brokers is one of the most comprehensive and diverse online brokerages offered in Singapore.

In addition, Interactive Brokers offers trading in emerging markets like the Israeli market, the Indian market, and our very own Singapore Exchange, providing opportunities for portfolio diversification across several global markets.

Here is a summary of the available markets:

The Americas

  • United States: 21 different stock exchanges in the United States, including the world-class Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange
  • Canada, including the Toronto Stock Exchange
  • Mexico Stock Exchange, a market that is not commonly offered by competing online brokers in Singapore

 

Europe 

  • Austria’s Vienna Stock Exchange
  • Belgium
  • Estonia
  • France, including Euronext France
  • Germany, including the Frankfurt Stock Exchange
  • Hungary’s Budapest Stock Exchange
  • Israel’s Tel Aviv Stock Exchange
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • The Netherlands, including Euronext Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland’s Warsaw Stock Exchange
  • Portugal
  • Russia’s Moscow Exchange
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • The United Kingdom, including the London Stock Exchange

 

Asia Pacific 

  • Australia, including the Australian Stock Exchange
  • Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong Exchange
  • India, including the National Stock Exchange of India
  • Japan, including the Tokyo Stock Exchange
  • Singapore’s Singapore Exchange
  • South Korea

 

Tradable Asset Classes Offered Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers offers a diverse selection of investment products, all from the convenience of its single platform.

Products include stocks, options, futures, currencies, and over 200 bonds and mutual funds from its Mutual Funds Marketplace and Bonds Marketplace.

Here is a breakdown of product offerings by market.

The Americas

 

Europe

  • Stocks in 44 different exchanges
  • ETFs
  • Securities Options
  • Futures
  • Futures Options
  • Bonds
  • Spot currencies
  • Mutual Funds
  • Stock Futures
  • Indices
  • Warrants
  • Metals

 

Asia Pacific 

  • Stocks in 11 different exchanges
  • ETFs
  • Securities Options
  • Futures
  • Callable Bull/Bear Contracts (CBBCs)
  • Futures Options
  • Spot currencies
  • Mutual Funds
  • Single Stock Futures
  • Indices
  • Warrants

 

By offering a diverse range of investment products, Interactive Brokers caters to both new and seasoned investors.

Products such as fixed-income bonds, indices, and mutual funds are relatively low-risk options, making them ideal for new retail investors.

Stocks and ETFs are a relatively straightforward option for wealth generation and a standard asset in most investment portfolios regardless of experience.

Experienced investors can advance their trading portfolios by exploring higher-risk asset classes such as CBBCs and futures or exclusive warrants and options.

In short, Interactive Brokers offers a comprehensive range of asset classes, and whether you are a beginner dipping your toes into investing for the first time, or you have been investing for 10 years, you shouldn’t have a problem building a custom portfolio that matches your investment goals with Interactive Brokers.

Commissions and Fees Charged by Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers has some of the lowest commissions and fees in the global online brokerage industry.

Commission fees— a trading fee that is charged every time you trade with the brokerage— vary based on the product and market.

There are 2 commission structures: the tiered commission system and the fixed commission system.

The tiered system depends on the number of shares traded or the total trade value.

The larger the monthly volume of shares you trade or the higher your monthly trade value, the lower the commission fees you will be charged.

Interactive Brokers has no account minimum— an appealing characteristic for short-term investors who may need to withdraw funds regularly.

There are also 2 different account options: IBKR Pro and IBKR Lite.

IBKR Lite offers extra opportunities to save on commissions but it is only available to US residents at the moment.

So for our Singaporean readers, you’ll incur the IBKR Pro pricing below.

IBKR Pro

Stocks and ETFs in Singapore markets

Total Monthly Trade Value Tiered Commission Fee Fixed Commission Fee
≤ S$2,500,000 0.08% of Trade Value 0.08% of Trade Value
S$2,500,000.01 – S$50,000,000 0.05% of Trade Value
S$50,000,000.01 – S$150,000,000 0.03% of Trade Value
> S$150,000,000 0.02% of Trade Value
Minimum per order Tier I – S$2.50

Tier II – S$1.60

Tier III – S$1.20

Tier IV – S$0.90

S$2.50

In comparison to other Singapore online brokerages such as Saxo Markets, DBS Vickers, FSMOne, and OCBC Securities, Interactive Brokers’ commission fees are very low making it an ideal choice if you are looking to make frequent trade transactions.

But there are still a few brokerages in the industry that surpass Interactive Brokers in terms of cheap commission fees, for example, Tiger Brokers and Moomoo.

Furthermore, Interactive Brokers has no maximum fee per order which can get pricey if you intend to trade huge sums of money, though this is of course rare amongst the average retail investors.

In addition, you will also be subject to third-party exchange fees on top of the Interactive Brokers fees – which is common with all brokerages.

Stocks and ETFs in the United States market

Shares (monthly) Commission Tier per share Fixed Commission per share
≤ US$300,000 US$0.0035 US$0.005
US$300,001 – US$3,000,000 US$0.0020
US$3,000,001 – US$20,000,000 US$0.0015
US$20,000,001 – US$100,000,000 US$0.0010
> US$100,000,000 US$0.0005
Minimum per order US$0.35 US$1.00
Maximum per order 1% trade value 1% trade value

With the tiered system, the minimum per order is only US$0.35 while the minimum for the fixed system is US$1.00.

Let’s look at an example, an investment of US$10,000 for 100 shares under Tier 1 commission level and fixed commission.

With Tier 1, you will have to pay US$0.0035 per share amounting to US$0.35.

This is below 1% of your trade value and meets the minimum amount requirement and is, therefore, the final amount you will pay.

With a fixed commission, you will pay more per share— US$0.005—amounting to US$0.50.

However, because this is below the minimum, you will have to pay an additional US$0.50, amounting to a total of US$1.00.

The tiered option is evidently more economical, especially if you plan to make large-level trades.

As usual, you will also be subject to third-party fees from regulatory institutions, including the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Stocks and ETFs in the Canadian market

Shares (monthly) Commission Tier per share Fixed Commission per share
≤ 300,000 US$0.006 US$0.008
300,001 – 3,000,000 US$0.004
3,000,001 – 20,000,000 US$0.003
20,000,000 US$0.002
Minimum per order US$0.80 US$0.80
Maximum per order 0.5% trade value 0.5% trade value

Stocks and ETFs in Hong Kong market

Total Monthly Trade Value Tiered Commission Fee Fixed Commission Fee
≤ 15,000,000 0.05% of Trade Value 0.08% of Trade Value
15,000,000.01 – 300,000,000 0.05% of Trade Value
300,000,000.01 – 900,000,000 0.03% of Trade Value
900,000,000.01 – 2,000,000,000 0.02% of Trade Value
> 2,000,000,000 0.015% of Trade Value
Minimum per order Tier I – HK$18.00

Tier II – HK$12.00

Tier III – HK$8.00

Tier IV – HK$6.00

Tier V – HK$4.00

HK$18.00

Commission-Free ETFs and Mutual Funds

Interactive Brokers’ also offers over 90 ETFs under its no transaction fee program. The program reimburses commissions paid on ETFs listed under the program.

Similarly, Interactive Brokers offers thousands of mutual funds with no transaction fees, offering clients an affordable way to benefit from the expertise of world-class global asset managers.

If, however, you are interested in purchasing a mutual fund, most European mutual funds start at EUR 4.95 per order. US mutual funds commission fees are a little steeper at 3% of the trade value and capped off at $14.95.

Inactivity Fees

Interactive Brokers has penalisation fees for inactive accounts, though there are ways to get around it.

Accounts with a Net Liquidation Value (value of your investment portfolio if you were to sell everything at the current market price) of less than USD1,000 will be charged a USD 1.00 fee on a prorated basis.

Clients who opt for the fixed-commission fee system are exempt from this inactivity fee.

Sign-Up, Funding, and Withdrawal Options at Interactive Brokers

Sign-Up

Interactive Brokers has a few account options for individual retail investors; individual, joint, or IRA.

Regardless of which account you are after; the sign-up process is the same.

You simply visit the official Interactive Brokers website and select open an account, enter your contact information and additional financial details.

Once submitted, it takes a few days to approve.

If you are a SingPass account holder, you can expedite the sign-up process by using the MyInfo to autofill your details into the Interactive Brokers online application form.

If you want to try out Interactive Brokers before taking the plunge, the brokerage offers a no-risk, free trial.

During the free trial, you get virtually full access to Interactive Brokers’ impressive suite of advanced trading tools, including market data, access to trading platforms, and strategy labs.

If you wish to stick with Interactive Brokers after their free trial, you can upgrade their free trial to a full, live account.

Depending on your trading experience (which is determined by Interactive Brokers from the responses to your application questions), your account may be limited to just a few beginner-friendly assets.

Funding

Accounts can be funded in SGD via bank transfer, wire transfer, and even physical cash deposit.

The fee for a physical cash deposit is 1% of the deposit or a minimum of SG$65.00.

The arrival of funds can be immediate or take up to 4 business days to process.

Transfers made with Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST), an electronic funds transfer service for transferring funds from one Singaporean bank to another, can arrive in as little as 15 minutes.

Interactive Brokers offers detailed instructions on how to fund accounts via wire transfer.

Furthermore, users can notify Interactive Brokers of their intent to wire funds and request confirmation when funds arrive to add an extra layer of security.

If you want to fund your account in USD, the options are even more plentiful. Bank wires, direct deposit, online bill pay, and mailing a cheque are all accepted.

Interactive Brokers accounts can also be financed by transferring securities from other financial institutions. This takes between 2 and 8 days to arrive.

Account funding is not limited to SGD and USD, you can choose to fund your account in a variety of currencies, including British Pounds, Chinese Yuan, and Hong Kong Dollars, though if you choose to trade in a different currency than the one you fund your account with, you will be subject to foreign transaction fees.

If you do not have the capital to fund your account, you apply for a margin account.

With a margin account, you will effectively be taking a loan from Interactive Brokers to finance your investment portfolio.

While this adds extra risk and potential for higher losses, Interactive Brokers offers extremely competitive margin rates – up to 75% lower than other online brokerages.

Margin rates are based on simulated market risk.

Withdrawal

Interactive Brokers offers convenient account withdrawal options.

You can request withdrawals directly from the official Interactive Brokers website.

Free withdrawals are not unlimited however, each account is restricted to only one free withdrawal a month.

Additional withdrawals can be made for a fee of SG$15.00 per wire transfer and SG$1.00 per ACH.

To successfully withdraw funds, you must have sufficient funds after any margin debt has been deducted.

Withdrawals can be made via wire transfer, ACH, or General Interbank Recurring Order (GIRO).

ACH and GIRO can take up to 2 days, while wire transfers are processed and approved within 1 day if the request is submitted prior to 16:00 hours.

Interactive Brokers also allow clients to transfer assets out to other brokerages, though they must pay an asset transfer fee of SG$50.00.

Usability of Platform Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers packages trading tools, information, account services, and more, all from the convenience of a single platform.

You can choose from a variety of different versions of the platform, depending on trading experience ranging from beginner to advanced and overall investment goals.

Trader Workstation

The Trader Workstation is the signature desktop platform.

The Trader Workstation offers advanced features like research and market data, real-time monitoring, risk management tools, over 100 trade order types, and a customisable mosaic display, this option is ideal for intermediate to advanced traders.

Client Portal

The Client Portal, Interactive Brokers web app, is geared towards beginner to intermediate level traders and accessible by desktop, mobile, or tablet.

This option does not require downloading any software- all you need to do is log in online.

Using a clean format and intuitive graphs and charts, the Client Portal provides essential information such as portfolio performance, key account metrics like net liquidation value, recent transactions, and notifications.

In addition, you can place trade orders, make withdrawals, and fund your accounts from the Client Portal.

IBKR Global Trader

The IBKR Global Trader is one of Interactive Brokers’ mobile platforms and offers a one-stop shop to trade global stocks and is best suited for beginner to intermediate traders.

IBKR Mobile

IBKR Mobile is Interactive Brokers’ other mobile platform.

This option is best suited for intermediate to advanced traders as it offers an extended suite of cutting-edge trading tools to trade stocks, options, futures, currencies, bonds, and advanced order types.

IBKR Mobile also offers innovative add-ons like advanced market quotes, options spread, and Interactive Brokers revolutionary order wheel.

IBKR APIs

IBKR APIs is Interactive Brokers’ second desktop platform and is designed for advanced traders.

In addition to features offered by Interactive Brokers’ other platforms, the IBKR APIs allow users to build custom trading applications and integrate trading into existing front-end applications.

Extra Perks Interactive Brokers

In addition to Interactive Brokers’ high-tech user platforms, the brokerage also offers free, and on-demand educational resources housed under its IBKR Campus.

This can be especially useful if you are just a beginner at investing.

IBKR Campus

The IBKR Campus includes:

  • IBKR Traders Academy– The Traders Academy offers courses on topics like investment assets, crypto, and instructional classes on how to navigate and use Interactive Brokers’ extensive suite of trading tools.
  • IBKR Webinars– Interactive Brokers offers a wide library of recorded webinars covering topics from financial market analysis to review the brokerage’s trading tools.
  • IBKR Traders Insights- This resource shares valuable trading insights from some of the industry’s most renowned experts.
  • IBKR Traders Insight Radio Podcast- Started in 2022, the podcast features top investment analysts who discuss current market trends and events.
  • IBKR Quant- This platform is geared towards experienced traders and quantitative professionals who would like to improve their programming, API, and other quantitative skills to enhance trading and IBKR API integration.

 

Interactive Brokers Investors Marketplace

Interactive Brokers has created a space for its users to do what its name suggests— interact.

The space is called the Investors’ Marketplace.

Through the Investors’ Marketplace, retail traders can connect with other investors, institutions, and third-party providers.

Examples of interactions include sharing beta portfolios, no-cost service advertisements, sharing industry research, and more.

Currently, the Marketplace offers over 1,600 services covering financial, administrative, technology, and research.

Referral Program

While Interactive Brokers does not offer any sign-up or special promotions, the brokerage does offer a referral program.

Referrers can earn $200 for each referred client. There is a catch, however.

The referred client must maintain a balance of at least $10,000 for one year.

Is Interactive Brokers Safe?

Reputation

Though Interactive Brokers only opened offices in Singapore in 2020, the American multi-national company has been going strong since 1978, which is a total of 44 years.

Today the company has over 1.8 million client accounts and executes over US$7.1 billion in excess regulatory funds.

Interactive Brokers differs from most other online brokerages by the fact that the company’s management, employees, and affiliates own a substantial proportion (over 76%) of the company and therefore have a high vested interest in the success of the company— a reassuring detail if you are considering investing with them.

Security

Interactive Brokers is distinguished from other online brokerages by the high level of diligence it handles clients’ funds with.

Interactive Brokers Singapore stores clients’ investments in separate custodian accounts, ensuring that client’s assets can be returned to them if Interactive Brokers closes or goes bankrupt.

Custodians include the Interactive Brokers Singapore US affiliate, Interactive Brokers LLC, which is licensed by the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and a member of the US Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC’).

Furthermore, the brokerage segregates cash daily to make sure it has enough capital to cover securities owed to clients- this is far more frequent than the one-week segregation schedule that is standard amongst other brokerages.

Another strength of Interactive Brokers is that the brokerage does not partake in any proprietary activity.

That is trading activities aimed at having the brokerage make a profit from market activities rather than client commissions.

Abstaining from high-risk profit-making activities significantly reduces Interactive Brokers’ chances of bankruptcy.

Login

To add an extra layer of account protection, Interactive Brokers offers two-factor mobile authentication.

The add-on requires users to confirm login requests on their mobile devices whenever a login is attempted with their username.

Customer Support with Interactive Brokers

Since the Singapore office opened in 2020, Interactive Brokers clients based in Singapore have had access to a direct, local sales, and customer services hotline.

In addition, customer support is accessible via email and live chat room.

To Sum it Up—Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers is a reputable and world-class online brokerage.

Because it offers such a wide variety of products across a wide range of markets, multiple all-in-one trading platforms to suit just about every skill level, a long track record, and ultra-competitive fees, it truly is a brokerage that appeals to the masses.

If you are not interested in Interactive Brokers’ advanced features or you are after the lowest cost trading you can find, you may be better off opting for one of their cheaper competitors, such as Moomoo or Webull Singapore.

Disclaimer: Each article written obtained its information from reliable sources and should be purely used for informational purposes only. The information provided by Singapore Financial Planners and its affiliated parties is not meant to be construed as financial advice. Singapore Financial Planners shall not be held liable for any inaccuracies, mistakes, omissions, and losses incurred should you act upon any information listed on this website. We recommend readers to seek financial planning advice from qualified financial advisors. 

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