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 Fees, FAQ 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).
- All shares are held in SCB.
- No monthly custodian fee.
- No dividend handing fee.
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.
The ETFs and REIT shares that I use in my portfolio are listed Singapore exchange, US stock exchanges and London stock exchange.
- I am inclined to use SCB for transaction in Singapore exchange and US stock exchanges.
- I will continue to use Saxo for transaction in London stock exchange.
- For currency exchange, I am OK with the hassle of comparing the rate in SCB with Oanda.com each time before initiating the transfer.