SA's Top Rated Online Trading Platforms
Finweek English|6 June 2019
SA's Top Rated Online Trading Platforms

Online trading platforms have become more easily accessible than ever, and freely so in some instances. finweek takes a look at fees, ease of use and market information offered by each to help readers find the best platform for their needs.

Timothy Rangongo

all self-respecting active traders take the tools of their trade seriously. They arm themselves with trading platforms that enable them to execute trades in a wide range of securities (from options, swaps and equities to digital and virtual currency) at razor-sharp speeds.

We take a look at the online platforms EasyEquities, IG Markets, DWT Securities, Rand Swiss, Sharenet, GT247, Khwezi Trade, Old Mutual Wealth Trader and Standard Bank Online Share Trading and how they compare when it comes to fees, financial securities on offer, market information and most importantly, which platforms are best-suited for investors versus traders.

EASY EQUITIES

Intellidex conducted market research across financial and capital markets in SA in 2018. It designed two comprehensive questionnaires – one for stockbrokers and another for their clients. The survey report lauded EasyEquities’ ease of use, saying “the firm’s efforts to make trading and investing fun and less daunting to novice traders is paying off, and it is one of the lowest-cost brokers around”.

“EasyEquities enables anyone to invest in the stock market. We do that by making the experience of investing easy and educational – no jargon, no complex tech and lots of content to help you get clued-up about what investing means and how it can make a real difference in your life,” says the platform’s head of client engagement, Justin Pearse.

“We’re also really affordable – it’s part of our drive to lower barriers and create access to wealth creation. Because of our fractionalised investing model, anyone is able to invest with as little as R10.”

The broker (rated 9.07 out of 10 by Intellidex) prides itself on providing a simple trading process and platform for investing not only in equities but exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and notes (ETNs) as well.

Securities Investors can invest within any of four accounts automatically offered on registration: a normal investment account, a tax-free savings account, a retirement annuity account and a US account.

To invest in international stocks and ETFs, EasyEquities makes use of EasyFX — which allows investors to send rands offshore from their EasyEquities rand-denominated account, and buy stocks denominated in another currency. With special permission to collect and transfer funds in bulk, EasyEquities converts funds three times a week and then releases the funds into investors’ offshore EasyEquities accounts.

Usability EasyEquities’ trading platform is straightforward and is accessible via the web with apps for Android or iOS devices available for download. It does not include advanced features like watchlists, live prices and charting tools.

Although the trading platform has a 15-minute delay in share prices shown on the platform, EasyEquities’ brand manager, Carly Barnes, says share prices are less relevant for EasyEquities investors “as we allow you to invest a rand value with any amount you have available. This is made possible by our unique fractional share investing, which essentially means you can invest in a piece of a share (or ETF or managed portfolio), instead of having to invest in a whole share and therefore pay its full price at any particular time.”

Pearse says the platform is suited for “absolutely anyone”.

“We have kids investing for themselves on our platform, families who invest together and discuss their share picks at the dinner table and users who are well into their 90s. The range of experience is completely spread too – there’s something for everyone that make EasyEquities their investment platform of choice.”

Cost “It costs nothing to sign up and use our platform,” says Barnes. “We also don’t require you to start with any minimum or set amount of money. Our brokerage is 0.25% on the value of the investment you make, and then there are some other levies and taxes on your transactions which we are legally required to charge. On a straightforward investment of R100 into a particular share, this works out to about 64c in fees and only 32c/ R100 when you buy an ETF.”

A minimum charge of 1c per transaction applies and the charge will be rounded to the nearest cent.

Market information Each company share page offers users access to basic information relating to that stock, including a chart on share performance over various selectable periods of time, together with information about the company, a link to more detailed technical share information housed on Moneyweb and analysis which EasyEquities regularly posts and updates on their research portal.

EasyEquities does not have a live market information feed, but has a research portal with blog posts authored by market participants. It also puts up analyst reports and technical analysis via GT247. The platform has chat forums and an education portal.

IG MARKETS

IG is a household name when it comes to trading platforms. Founded back in 1974 in the UK, where the group is listed on the London Stock Exchange, IG began with facilitating trading in financial derivatives such as contracts for difference (CFDs) and financial spread betting and, as of 2014, added stockbroking to retail traders.

Securities

IG is one of a few brokers that offer trades in CFDs, a derivative product that enables investors to speculate in, for example, shares, foreign exchange, indices and commodities without having to take ownership of the underlying assets.

The platform features over 12 000 local and global stocks to pick from, not excluding options, bonds, commodities, foreign currencies, global indices, ETFs and cryptocurrencies.

IG offers two accounts depending on whether an investor wants to trade in domestic products, international or both. There is a domestic account held with IG Markets SA and an international account held with IG Markets UK (both can be taken for a spin, for free, using a demo account).

“From the local platform traders will have access to trade the Top40 Index, JSE-listed shares and ETFs as well as CFD derivatives. From the international platform traders will have access to many different asset classes (such as CFDs and options) including indices, hard and soft commodities, energy, bonds/ gilts/treasuries as well as major equity exchanges from around the world,” explains senior market analyst at IG, Shaun Murison.

Usability

The web platform is comprehensive, with a plethora of tools, yet simple to navigate. It will require some tutorials (available for free online via the IG Academy) to make the most of the many extra features.

Users can open, close and edit individual and aggregate positions; apply a range of indicators and drawings without sacrificing speed or stability; split charts to view the same market across multiple time frames simultaneously; trade faster with smart settings that remember your deal sizes and stop values, and choose between a dark or light platform theme.

The free mobile apps are no different to the web platform save for the exclusion of advanced features — users on mobile still get to analyse markets using charts and a wide range of technical indicators, and annotation tools. Users can quickly react to trading opportunities on mobile devices by trading directly from price alerts.

Traders with IG have access to live real-time pricing on securities, and market depth on request.

Murison says what sets IG apart, is that it has developed its own bespoke trading platform over the last few decades and roughly 40% of its global staff contingent is focused on IT development.

“Trade execution is extremely fast. The latest intervention on the platform is regulator-approved card payment functionality to trade offshore using your single discretionary allowance.

“The platform is best-suited to all types of traders. CFDs carry no time to expiry so traders can hold onto their trades indefinitely if they choose to,” says Murison.

Trader and investor Garth Mackenzie, best known for his TradersCorner TV show on BusinessDayTV, tells finweek that he’s found using IG Markets “very good”, especially for CFDs, and recommends it for advanced traders. Mackenzie trades CFDs, shares, futures and options online.

Cost

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6 June 2019