SAXO has a tiered membership programme whereby if you have a larger sum of money, the rates tend to get better. The tiers are - classic, platinum and VIP. For the sake of streamlining this review, I'll only mention the prices for the classic level as I think most of us out here will fall into the classic tier. The platinum tier requires a minimum funding of SGD300,000 and the VIP tier requires SGD1.5 million. Alternatively, with enough volume of trading, you could work your way up to the higher tiers with their rewards program. You would need 120,000 points to reach the platinum tier. As a reference, you only earn 160 points with EUR10,000 worth of stock trading.
The commission rates are competitive, with 0.08% (Min SGD10) for SGX, 0.06% (Min USD4) for US markets and 0.1% (Min GBP8) for LSE. For SGX commissions, most brokers with a cash upfront account will have roughly the same rates, but I haven't heard of many that offer a better rate for overseas markets.
The FX conversion fees are high, at 0.75% per transaction. For both buying and selling, that comes down to 1.5%, which will eat into your returns. One way to get around this is to set up a separate sub account denominated in the currency you would like to trade in. That way you are not subjected to Saxo's FX conversion and can use your own bank's/remittance FX conversion rates. However, this comes with a catch. You need to have SGD10,000 AUM before you can be allowed to set up a sub-account denominated in another currency. Saxo also charges a custodian fee of 0.12% p.a. for stocks, ETFs and bonds. (SGX products are excluded from this fee). This is not too bad as other brokers charge roughly 0.25% to hold overseas products in their custodian account. Singapore accounts (Account numbers starting with 3388) do not have any inactivity fees. You need to pay extra for live data as it is delayed by 15 min
The opening process is straightforward due to the integration with MyInfo and takes roughly 3 working days.
You can fund your account through FAST/Paynow, or even debit/credit cards. However, funding via credit/debit card carries additional transaction fees, and Telegraphic Transfer (TT) if you have a sub-account denominated in another currency. Mobile wallets like PayLah are not supported. There are no wire out charges (TT) but do take note of your bank's incoming wire fees.
There are 3 platforms targeted to various levels of expertise. The most basic platform is SaxoInvestor, which has access to the more basic products like shares, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds and managed portfolios. Obviously, as it is targeted to beginners, the platform is really easy to navigate. The next level is SaxoTraderGO, which has access to all of the products in SaxoInvestor, along with OTC products like forex, CFDs, and derivatives like futures and options. This platform has the required tools for trading, like charting, fundamentals and news reports. I personally feel this platform was not too difficult to navigate, and still had a good U/I. Both platforms have a mobile app. A comprehensive account overview is provided in both platforms which shows net holdings, % in holdings, P/L analysis over a certain timeframe etc. Lastly, the highest level is SaxoTraderPRO, which is meant for professionals, but retail investors have access to the platform too. It has features like algorithmic trading, options chains and much more detailed charting. I downloaded the software and there is a learning curve to it but most retail investors would just stick to the mid-level platform, SaxoTraderGO. The mobile apps (SaxoInvestor and SaxoTraderGO) are user-friendly and easy to navigate. Also, there is quite a comprehensive set of instructions/articles on the Saxo website for common queries.
Saxo Bank is based in Denmark and has been around since 1992 and is regulated in 15 countries, including by MAS. Personally, this is an important factor for me as Saxo is a Custodian-type broker and I prefer to use a broker that has been able to weather past recessions. However, if you do your due diligence on new entrants that haven't been around as long (e.g. Tiger Brokers) and believe they have what it takes to withstand any potential headwinds, then a cheaper broker may be better for you. Saxo has a capital markets service license in Singapore, can provide custodial services (unlike Tiger Brokers that relies on external banks for their custodial services) By MAS' regulation, if you do not pass the CAR/CKA requirement, you need to take courses to trade SIPs. For listed SIPs you need to take the SGX SIP Online Education Module and for unlisted SIPs you need to take the ABS SIP modules (CFDs, FX and mutual funds). These courses are simple and need to submit the results if you would like to trade the respective products and you do not pass the CAR/CKA requirement.
The person you refer to has to fund their account with a minimum of SG3,000 and carry out 3 trades in margin products (CFDs, FX, Futures or Options) for you to earn SGD250 and for your friend to earn SGD100.
There is a local office in Singapore and thus there is a local number to contact. Waiting times are quite bad. Alternatively, there is an option to submit a ticket on their platforms or request for a live chat. Support is not available on weekends.
This is probably where Saxo stands out from the rest. They have access to 37 exchanges, most major ones included. This is great for those looking to gain international exposure as they can do so through a single broker.
Products offered include shares, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds and leveraged products like FX, CFDs, futures, options. A point to note is that there are no custody fees for mutual funds along with no commission fees. You can invest in both government and corporate bonds, but the selection is limited for Singapore bonds. There is an option for RSP, which would help you to dollar cost average (DCA) into the market. The fees are 0.75% p.a. and there are three portfolios varying from defensive to aggressive to suit your risk appetite (returns ranging from 13-18%). The minimum funding is SGD2,000 for the first time with SGD100 monthly subsequently with payment holidays allowed. Saxo does not allow you to invest from CPF/SRS.
2FA is not available by default on the platforms, you need to explicitly send a request to set up 2FA on your account. 2FA is available via both SMS or an authenticator app. Overall, I think Saxo has managed to target many investors ranging from beginners to advanced due to their suite of platforms and products available. I personally use this platform for Ireland-domiciled ETFs through LSE. However, I am thinking of switching to Interactive Brokers (IB) for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the commissions are even lower (USD1 for US markets, GBP6 for UK markets). Secondly, the FX conversion fees are the best in the market, and there is an option for a multi-currency account settlement without needing to meet any AUM requirements. The lower commissions make it easy to DCA into the market. IB has obtained their license from MAS and are in the midst of setting up their office in Singapore. One thing you may deter you from IB is their custodian fees - is USD10 per month if your AUM is under USD100,000. Thus, it only makes sense to use IB if your AUM is above USD100,000 as if it is lower than USD100,000 the custodian fees will still be cheaper at SAXO. However, your commissions paid will be subtracted from this custodian fees - so if you trade frequently enough your custodian fees may be lower or you won't even be charged. Also, if you are below the age of 25 the custodian fees are lower at USD3 a month, making it viable to use IB if your AUM is above USD30,000 or you trade at least twice a month.