Good bye, DBS Vickers online

I login to my DBS Vickers online account in November and noticed a mysterious fee charged to my account. It is the custodian fee for foreign stocks, which dbsv started charging in August silently. The amount is $2.14 per month per counter including GST.

To transfer the stocks outside to other broker, there is a fee of S$50 per counter. This is more expensive than doing a sell and a buy to transfer the stocks.

So I sold all my holdings from dbsv in November – vanguard total stock market ETF (VTI) and ABF PAIF Asia bond index ETF (2821.HK). I plan to use standard chartered bank to buy the ETFs back but have not gotten the time to do so.

As to dbsv, you were the broker I used to buy my first ETF (VTI) in 2005 when you were the only local broker who didn’t charge custodian fees for foreign stocks. So long and thanks for all the fish.

StockQuote 2.1.3 released

This is a bug fix release for the price import error when importing price from Yahoo Finance, due to changes in its HTML code recently. No new feature was added.

Download this release at the download page.

Portfolio activity, July-August 2011

With the cash built up from the delayed contribution in October 2010 and April 2011, I have finally made the purchase in July and August. The delay was because (1) I have been trying to get Saxo to offer two global bond ETFs in London Stock Exchange since October 2010, which Saxo finally added them in May 2011, and (2) I was evaluating and setting up Standard Chartered bank online trading in July 2011.

Following my asset allocation plan, I have bought the funds below (through the broker stated in brackets):

  1. iShares MSCI Europe ETF (Saxo)
  2. Lyxor Asia Pacific Ex Japan ETF (SCB)
  3. Lyxor Japan ETF (SCB)
  4. iShares Citigroup Global Government Bond ETF (Saxo)

On the other hand, I have taken the opportunity in the recent rise of bond price to sell Legg Mason Global Bond Trust, an actively managed unit trust fund. Following the sale, I do not have any actively managed fund in my portfolio, except UOB GrowPath 2040 in CPF SA. I will allocate the sale proceed to US equity, again, according to asset allocation plan.

Standard Chartered Online Trading

I opened Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Online Trading in June, with settlement acounts in SGD, HKD, USD, EUR and GBP currency. I waited for another 3 weeks for the W8BEN form to be processed, so that I could start to use the USD settlement account.

The main attraction is that there is no minimum commission for trading in major stock exchanges around the world, so it is very good for small transaction, especially if you want to do monthly contribution into ETF. Read the Brokerage & Market FeesFAQ and this post by hyom. Besides the questions raised n FAQ, I also gathered the following information by calling the online trading hotline at 1800 242 5333 (don’t call the general hotline as the officers are not equipped to answer online trading-related question).

  1. All shares are held in SCB.
  2. No monthly custodian fee.
  3. No dividend handing fee.
There are two other things to note:  currency exchange rates and ETF listed in London Stock Exchange.

Currency exchange rates

I compared SCB currency exchange rates with that of Oanda.com for a random couple of days, see the spreadsheet below (or open the spreadsheet here). As you can see in the last column (Amount % Difference), HKD rate is consistently bad while others fluctuate. I have only transferred money to USD account and did so when the Amount % Difference is in the 0.5–0.6% range.

ETF listed in London Stock Exchange

According to London Stock Exchange (LSE) webpage on  ETF, ETFs attract no stamp duty. The two brokers (POEMS and Saxo) that I have used to purchase ETFs in LSE follow this rule and did not charge stamp duty.

For SCB, you will have to pay the stamp duty of 0.50% on buy trades. I called up SCB, cited the webpage and asked if there was a mistake and whether stamp duty would be refunded if the transaction in LSE was a ETF. SCB said they would call back. Few days later, SCB called me and said all buy trades in LSE will attract stamp duty. Huh?

So how much commission in total (including stamp duty) will I be paying when I use SCB compared to Saxo? See the spreadsheet below or open the spreadsheet here. SCB is more expensive than Saxo when your trading  amount is only slightly over $1000 ($1066.67 to be exact). This means SCB is only cheaper when you trade below $1066.67.

Comments

The ETFs and REIT shares that I use in my portfolio are listed Singapore exchange, US stock exchanges and London stock exchange.

  1. I am inclined to use SCB for transaction in Singapore exchange and US stock exchanges.
  2. I will continue to use Saxo for transaction in London stock exchange.
  3. For currency exchange, I am OK with the hassle of comparing the rate in SCB with Oanda.com each time before initiating the transfer.

Portfolio review for 2010

As usual, my portfolio review for year 2010 is divided into three sections: Expenses, Emotion and Return.

Expenses

2010 2009
Number of Buy 4 9
Number of Sell 0 1
Turnover Ratio 0.0% 0.72%
Average Holding Period (year) Infinity 139
Total Expense Ratio 0.36% 0.58%

Quite a passive year, partly because of delay on planned portfolio activity in October 2010.

Emotion

Nothing much to say here, except the frustration of finding London Stock Exchange(LSE)-listed global bond ETFs that are available in Saxo (the stock broker I use), and the delay caused by the waiting. Anyway, the two LSE-listed global bond ETFs are available now (since May 2011) for trading in Saxo.

Return

2010 2009
Portfolio IRR Portfolio TWR Benchmark Portfolio IRR Portfolio TWR Benchmark
SGD
5.21% 5.20% 4.47% 25.60% 25.48% 20.39%
USD
14.50% 13.70% 28.92% 23.58%

Note:

  1. IRR = Internal Rate of Return, also known as Dollar-Weighted Returns.
  2. TWR = Time-Weighted Returns
  3. Both TWR and IRR returns include dividend and un-invested cash holding.

Comments on the return

  • The IRR and TWR are almost the same. This is because new cash contribution is evenly spread out over the year, as I save monthly to contribute to the portfolio.
  • Portfolio return is quite close to the benchmark, which tells me that my portfolio behaves as expected as a 75/25 portfolio.
  • The gap between SGD return and USD return is due to depreciating US dollars.

Portfolio Allocation

Current Target
Equity 71% 75%
US 25% 25%
EU 13% 20%
JP 5% 5%
APEJ 7% 10%
SG 3% 5%
REIT 17% 10%
Fixed Income 29% 25%
Global 5% 10%
Asia 4% 5%
SG 16% 10%
Cash 3% 0%

There is a slight over allocation in REIT due to a number of right issues by several REIT managers. The Cash holding is caused by the delay on planned portfolio activity mentioned above.

Looking into 2011

There are more and more ETFs listed in SGX and I have not looked into them; could be interesting. For global bond ETF, I will start to use the LSE-listed iShares Citigroup Global Government Bond (IGLO) and iShares Global Inflation-Linked Bond (IGIL) that are now available for trading in Saxo stock broker.

As always, stay the course and tune out financial news.

Portfolio activity for October 2010 is delayed

My regular half-yearly investment should have already happened in October but it was delayed, due to difficulty in finding a suitable platform to buy global bond ETF—Saxo refused to add the global bond ETFs I requested because it is multiple-currency while POEMS added the ETFs but their commission is high, read my post here. The portfolio asset allocation has been within the 5% threshold from the target 75/25 stock/bond ratio since October, but within the bond portion, global bond is under-allocated and requires top-up. That’s why I am looking for global bond ETF to add. I prefer not to add to the current global bond unit trust fund in my portfolio because of the fund’s active management.

Recently, a reader left a comment that a multiple-currency ETF was added to Saxo upon his request. I have sent a request to Saxo again to add the two global bond ETFs. Will update when I have their reply.

Global bond ETF in London Stock Exchange

Update 7-Aug-2011: IGLO and IGIL are now available for trading in Saxo since mid-May 2011. The commission is charged in USD, converted from GBP at Saxo prevailing rate.

I posted HERE that I may consider bond ETF in London Stock Exchange following the reduction of Saxo commission from GBP 15 to GBP 8.  But alas, when I asked Saxo to add the following two global bond ETFs, Saxo replied that they were not able to add because these ETFs are traded in multiple currencies (GBP and USD).

When I probed further and informed Saxo that the two ETFs have different stock symbols for different currencies, Saxo replied they still could not add them because they share the same ISIN number on the same exchange.

Ok, let’s try POEMS. I emailed their tech support to add these two ETFs. And on the following day, it was added! So now you can buy the two ETFs in POEMS, just note that the ETFs are traded in GBP and their symbols are:

However, there is a catch: POEMS charges a higher commission (GBP 25) compared to Saxo. Given this, I am undecided whether to use POEMS or not.