Let’s face it. Over the years, technology has taken toll on many middle functions. Stock broking is no exception. It is no longer the, once-upon-a-time lucrative high-profile business. Commission rates offered by brokerage houses are so competitive that there are hardly differences separating one from another. All the commission charges have two features in common:
(1) Contract value range ie. 0 and $50,000 (inclusive), above $50,000 to $100,000 (inclusive) and above $100,000.
(2) A minimum brokerage charge, of which almost all the brokerage houses charged at $25.
Generally, the only difference that separates one from another is the brokerage fee rate (in percentage term) for each of the mentioned contract value range. (See youtube video by clicking the link below.
So, once we know the brokerage rate for each contract value range, we can calculate the absolute amount in dollar terms how much one would have to pay for all the transaction fees including brokerage fees when we buy or sell SGX stocks on-line. Certainly, under this circumstance, a video would be extremely useful to demonstrate how it can be done.
The difference may be not be significant due to their infinitesimally small percentage compare to the trading (or contract) value. As such, a change of one or two bits upwards or downwards could have offset this difference. However, it is still important as an end-customer to know the figures are derived. This would certainly go a long way to help us optimise the brokerage charge. This is particularly true for those who trade very often. Of particular significance are at the transition point from minimum brokerage threshold as well as at the cross-over points at $50,000 and $100,000. They are marked in circles shown in the diagram.
- Transition Point A. The transition charge from the minimum brokerage of $25. Generally, brokerage houses have a minimum charge of $25. The only difference is the transition point from $25 to either 0.275% or 0.28% for most brokerage houses. Consequently, there is a difference in the contract value amount. The higher the transition value, the better it is for the client. The difference, however, is infinitesimally small of less than $0.50 maximum. So, this factor alone is unlikely able to move traders from one broking house to another.
- Crossover point at B & C. The brokerage charge dips quite significantly at $50,000 and $100,000 contract value mark. What do those numbers mean for clients? To help reduce the brokerage (though insignificant compare to the absolute contract value), trades may be carried out at slightly higher value than $50,000 and $100,000 respectively. Let’s look at the DBS and Jardine C&C as examples. They are trading at about $25 and $36 per share currently. If I were to buy or sell 2000 DBS shares, the contract value would be about $50,000. For $50,000 or less, the brokerage charge is 0.28%. This is calculated to be $140. However, if I were to trade at $25.01 per share, the brokerage rate would have dropped to 0.22% or $110.04. This means that I would have saved $30 in brokerage, but of course, this saving is offset by the higher trading price, which translates to $20 higher for 2,000 shares in order to reach a contract value of $50,000. So, there is actually a small saving of slightly more than $10 including GST. While coming from a viewpoint that if one is able to afford $50,000 a pop to buy or sell 2,000 DBS shares, the $10 extra in brokerage may not mean much, but still it is a good knowledge to know about. The same story goes at the crossover point at $100,000. Assuming if I am waiting to buy 3000 shares of Jardine C&C, it does make sense to buy at $33.34 than at $33.33. For 3000 shares at $33.33 would mean my contract value is $99,999 and the brokerage works out to be $220. However, trading 3,000 shares at $33.34 would mean that the brokerage is $180.04. After accounting for the higher trading value and GST, the savings again works out to be slightly more than $10. This, again, is quite insignificant compare with $100,000 in contract value. (Based on my self-programmed excel software, the difference comes to a little more than $12 for both cases.) This ‘trick’, however, is useful only for high-priced stocks, such as DBS and Jardine C&C. For lower-trading price stocks, they are not useful because it takes a sizeable quantity to reach a contract value of $50,000 or $100,000. Just allowing 1-2 cents increase would magnify the trading value so significantly that a lower brokerage rate would not able to offset the difference in the trading value.
Overall, it is a good mathematical knowledge to know although I do not think the brokerage fee alone will move customers from one broking house to another. Furthermore, they can only happen for ‘special-case’ situations like trading in DBS or Jardine C&C shares. Most of the time, they do not apply. Generally, clients only move due to a confluence of factors.
All that said, it is important that our actions to buy or sell stocks should not be based on penny-pinching decisions of one cent. After all, brokers and remeisiers do work hard in their professional capacity to service clients. Certainly, they deserved to be paid in some ways. What we should be more concerned is whether the stock that we want to buy or sell can move in our favour. That should be the more important factor to look at.
Disclaimer – The above pointers are based on the writer’s personal experience. They do not serve as an advice or recommendation for readers to buy into or sell out of the mentioned stocks. Everyone should do their homework before they buy or sell any securities. All investments carry risks.
Brennen has been investing in the stock market for 30 years. He trains occasionally and is a managing partner for BP Wealth Learning Centre. He is the instructor for two online courses on InvestingNote – Value Investing: The Essential Guide and Value Investing: The Ultimate Guide. He is also the author of the book – “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks” which is available in both soft and hardcopy.