How do I find the best stockbroker?

We compare online brokers with full service brokers and show you what to look out for.

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Are you looking for a stockbroker to buy and sell Australian and global shares? The best stockbroker for you will depend on which stock exchanges you want to access, how experienced you are and how often you trade.

To find the best stockbroker that suits your circumstances, you'll need to compare your options. Read on for tips and advice on how you can find the best stockbroker for you.

Full-service brokers vs online brokers

Before you start comparing stockbrokers, it’s first important to understand that there are broadly two different types of brokers available: full-service brokers and online brokers.

A full-service broker is the traditional service most of us think of when you hear the word “stockbroker.” Full-service brokers, such as Morgans and UBS, offer a high-level investment service to their customers and do all of the buying and selling of stock and other assets for you.

After assessing your financial situation and investment goals, this type of broker will typically provide detailed investment research and advice on which shares you should buy and sell.

Your other option is an online broker (aka online share trading platform). Online platforms such as CommSec and IG Share Tradin are much cheaper than full service brokers, offer no personalised advice and require you to do all the trading yourself.

Compare online stockbrokers

Name Product Standard brokerage fee Inactivity fee Markets International
eToro (global stocks)
US$0
US$10 per month if there’s been no login for 12 months
Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Yes
Zero brokerage share trading on US, Hong Kong and European stocks with trades as low as $50.
Note: This broker offers CFDs which are volatile investment products and most clients lose money trading CFDs with this provider.
Join the world’s biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
IG Share Trading
$8
$50 per quarter if you make fewer than three trades in that period
ASX shares, Global shares
Yes
$0 brokerage for US and global shares plus get an active trader discount of $5 commission on Australian shares.
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
Superhero share trading
$5
No
ASX shares, US shares
Yes
Australia’s lowest-cost broker for ASX shares and ETFs.
Pay zero brokerage on US stocks and all ETFs and just $5 (flat fee) to trade Australian shares from your mobile or desktop.
ThinkMarkets Share Trading
$8
No
ASX shares
No
Limited-time offer: Get 10 free ASX trades ($0 brokerage) when you open a share trading account with ThinkMarkets(T&Cs apply).$8 flat fee brokerage for CHESS Sponsored ASX stocks (HIN ownership), plus free live stock price data on an easy to use mobile app.
Saxo Capital Markets (Classic account)
$5
No
ASX shares, Global shares, Forex, CFDs, Margin trading, Options trading, ETFs
Yes
Access 19,000+ stocks on 40+ exchanges worldwide
Low fees for Australian and global share trading, no inactivity fees, low currency conversion fee and optimised for mobile.
CMC Markets Invest
$11
No
ASX shares, Global shares, mFunds, ETFs
Yes
$0 brokerage on global shares including US, UK and Japan markets.
Trade up to 9,000 products, including shares, ETFs and managed funds, plus access up to 15 major global and Australian stock exchanges.
HSBC Online Share Trading
$19.95
No
ASX shares, mFunds, ETFs, Bonds
No
Limited time offer: Get up to $100 in brokerage rebates on your first 5 trades when you sign up to a HSBC Online Share Trading account (T&Cs apply). Make trades online with brokerage fees starting from just $19.95 with an HSBC Online Share Trading account. Plus gain access to complimentary expert research, trading ideas and tools.
Bell Direct Share Trading
$15
No
ASX shares, mFunds, ETFs
No
Invest in Australian shares, options and managed funds from the one account with no inactivity fee.
Bell Direct offers a one-second placement guarantee on market-to-limit ASX orders or your trade is free, plus enjoy extensive free research reports from top financial experts.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Important: Share trading can be financially risky and the value of your investment can go down as well as up. Standard brokerage is the cost to purchase $1,000 or less of equities without any qualifications or special eligibility. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.

What are the costs?

Whether you should choose an online broker or a full-service broker really depends on your investment experience, personal preferences and how much you plan to invest.

The benefits of online broking services are that they are cheap, easy to use and convenient. Brokerage typically ranges from around $5 to $30 per trade and there are trading platforms available to suit everyone, from casual investors to experienced traders.

Online brokers don’t offer the same level of advice as full-service brokers. However, depending on the trading platform you choose and the membership level you select, you may be able to access detailed company research, analyses and buy and sell recommendations from the online broker’s expert staff. Of course, you may need to pay an extra fee to access these services.

Meanwhile, the advantage of using a full-service broker is that you have an expert advising you on investment decisions and they do all of the trading for you.

The downside to this is that full-service brokers come at an extra cost, with brokerage fees typically starting from around $70 - $200. Brokerage fees are usually charged as a percentage of the total buy or sell transaction amount, so you will need to factor this extra expense into your calculations when deciding whether a full-service broker is the right choice.

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Choosing between online brokers and full-service brokers

You may be starting to realise that choosing between a full-service stockbroker and an online broking service isn’t always a clear-cut decision. To help make the choice easier, ask yourself a few simple questions:

How much money do I want to invest?

If you only have a small amount to invest, you may decide that it might not be worth your while to pay a full-service broker’s fees.

How much do I know about investing?

Consider whether you may benefit from the tailored expert advice that a full-service broker may offer.

How much does each option cost?

Consider how the brokerage fees charged by full-service and online brokers will affect your investment budget.

How much control do I want to have over my investments?

Would you prefer to have full control over where your money is invested, or do you want a broker who can take care of all your buy and sell trades for you?

Do I need more than one broker?

Some investors use multiple brokers to access expert advice on different investment sectors.

Once you know the answers to the above questions you should be a lot closer to working out whether you should choose a full-service broker or go for the DIY option and open an account with an online share trading broker.

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How to choose a full-service broker

If you’ve decided you want a full-service stockbroker to help you make the right share trading decisions, consider these factors when comparing brokers:

What you can buy and sell

Compare the investments that different brokers can advise you on and help you trade, such as shares, warrants, ETOs, futures and more.

Fees

Compare the fees charged by stockbrokers for the services they offer. Is there a flat fee or a fee charged as a percentage of the transaction amount? How does the fee vary depending on the size of the transaction? Fees for full-service brokerages can range enormously, anywhere from $70 - $300 per transaction.

Services

Make sure you’re fully aware of the services your broker provides. Will they offer advice and then execute the trades you instruct them to, or will your broker be authorised to trade on your behalf.

Specialist expertise

Some broking firms may have specialist areas of knowledge, for example, the resources sector, which may be worth considering if you are looking to concentrate your investments in specific industries.

Minimum investment amount

There may be a minimum amount that you must invest before you are eligible to access a broker’s services.

The broker’s questions

Before a full-service broker can offer advice, they must first take the time to understand your financial situation and investment goals. Look for a broker that shows an in-depth interest in your investment needs and asks all the right questions to form a complete picture of your requirements.

Regular contact

Finally, consider how you will be able to contact your broker if you ever have a question about your portfolio. Will you be contacted regularly with updates on the performance of your portfolio? How often will your broker monitor it and will you be informed of any adjustments that need to be made? You can also use the ASX’s find a stockbroker tool to help you get in touch with the right broker for your needs.

What full-service brokers are available in Australia?

There are plenty of full service brokers available in Australia, some of which also have online share trading platforms if you choose that route. Some of the most popular of these include:

  • Bell Potter Securities Limited
  • Commonwealth Securities Limited
  • Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Australia
  • Morgans Financial Limited
  • Phillip Capital Limited
  • Shaw and Partners Limited
  • Macquarie Equities Limited
  • UBS
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How to choose an online broker

If you’ve decided to sign up for an online broking service, keep the following factors in mind when comparing the benefits and drawbacks of different share trading platforms:

Brokerage fees

Compare the fees you will need to pay each time you buy or sell a parcel of shares. This could be a flat fee or a percentage of the transaction amount and it could also vary depending on the size of the trade.

Ongoing fees

It’s free to maintain a basic account with many online share broking services, but some charge ongoing membership fees. Many providers will also allow you to access regular company news, research and analyses if you pay an ongoing monthly fee.

What you can trade

Can you trade shares on the ASX and a selection of other global stock exchanges? Can you trade anything else other than shares through your online account?

Trading limits

Check to see whether the trading platform imposes minimum and maximum limits on your trading transaction amounts.

Ease of use

How easy is each provider’s trading platform to use? Is it simple and intuitive or is it too confusing to place a trade? Many brokers offer free demo accounts that can help you answer these questions.

Research and analysis

Compare the market analysis and stock recommendations you can access through each online broker. Will you need to pay an additional fee to access these services?

Flexible trading options

Can you take advantage of options such as stop loss orders to create a more advanced trading experience?

Additional access

Does the provider offer a smartphone and/or tablet app to allow you to trade on the go? Is phone trading also available and, if so, does it attract any extra fees?

Customer support

Finally, make sure you will be able to access the help you need if you ever have a problem with your account or a particular transaction.

Compare online stockbrokers

Best online share trading platforms.

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