Up until recently, I have been using two brokerage accounts, one with POEMS and the other with UOB Kay Kian.
The years 2019 and 2020 was a key turning point as I have invested more in that year and has expanded my portfolio to include more Hong Kong and US listed stocks.
With the increase in foreign market listed shares, there are increases in the custody fees and dividend charges. See below example of the fee structure from UOB Kay Hian.
See below example of the fee structure from POEMS.
Initially, there was not much charges as I was buying (and selling) stocks more often in 2019 and 2020. In 2021, with the rising markets, my trading activities have slowed, or rather stopped. Consequently, with my trading inactivity, the fees have kicked in.
At first, I was not really concerned about these fees as many of my counters are primarily dividend plays and their dividend payouts more than cover for these fees. Moreover, typically, these brokerages issue the custody fees every quarter. Hence most months I do not get any fees (except towards the end of each quarter).
In addition, I am starting to see more greens (unrealised gains) in many of these counters as markets continue their upward march. In fact, to me, the key focus I reckon in any investment should be on the fundamentals of our investments (the companies behind the stocks) rather than the small parts about fees. Why spilt hair? So yes, these do not really bother me (or so I thought).
However, with the proliferation of low fees brokers in Singapore, and many of their offering low commission ($0 commission in the case of moomoo) and attractive sign up promotions (eg. Interactive Brokers, Tiger Brokers and moomoo), I am starting to question why am I paying these fees.
Tiger Brokers Review: Low Commissions And Attractive Sign-Up Promotions (read here)
Moomoo Review (2021) & Comparison: Super Low Cost Brokerage Showdown (read here)
I treat my Hong Kong portfolio primarily as a dividend portfolio. While the US portfolio primarily as a Story fund (Growth portfolio). Hence I am primarily holding these stocks long term. What is perhaps the major push factor, is the recurring custody fees, then next will be dividend charges (by UOB KH and POEMS). Ultimately, over the long term (years), they do add up. What have I got to lose? Think of it as a perennial mosquito bite itch, which happens every quarter and every time I receive a dividend payout (from my US or HK listed stocks).
Heck, I might as well use the money I paid for the custody fees to pay for my mobile phone bills :p
For my case I will be selling my HK-listed and US-listed counters progressively from UOB KH and POEMS and buying them back using Tiger Brokers. Yes there are fees incurred in doing so.
The other method is to transfer the shares out.
I am not aware of the fees involved for UOB KH (see below).
However, in the case of POEMS, the fees for doing so is shown below.
Perhaps many of the local brokerage here can start assessing their fee structure, to keep up with the competition.
Nevertheless, I feel that many of the low cost brokerages here (and even the more established brokerages) here in Singapore can do more to enhance the user experience. I have seen the interface in M1 Finance, and how one can customise their portfolio (or create various sub-portfolios) using the platform there. One can track the monthly overall value of the portfolio to the monthly dividend payout amount, and set up orders to automatically purchase stocks in undervalued ‘sub portfolios’. In addition to assessing the technical/financial data of the stocks and companies, and of course, the low fees.
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