How to Choose a Trading Platform in Australia
It's the one you need to get master before embarking on your investment journey
If you’re thinking about starting your investing journey, you’re going to need to find somewhere to buy, sell and store these investments. For most of us, this will be through a trading platform.
There are lots of different trading platforms out there with all sorts of varying features. In reality, what’s right for you, might not be right for your friend, colleague or partner, as it’s likely that you’ll have different budgets, investing experience and user friendly. It’s all about knowing how to choose the best trading platform for you.
If you’re living in Australia though, there’s a few key things to be aware of when considering your investment journey.
First up, your protections. In Australia, there’s good news! You’re covered up to 250,000 AUD for each account at a bank, building society or credit union. This extends to trading platforms that are registered and licensed in Australia. So, if your bank or platform goes down the pan, you’ll still be protected up to this amount.
It’s worth noting that if you opt for platforms that are based in other countries, the regulations might be different and you may not have the same protections in place.
Resident and taxpaying
Next up, your Aussie status. Australian residents are generally taxed on their worldwide income, while non-residents are generally only taxed on their Australian-sourced income.
On the investing front, Australian citizens who are non-residents can buy shares which distribute a fully franked dividend, which basically means that it could potentially be tax-free income.
This is quite complex stuff, so it’s worth seeking further tax advice if you’re unsure as to whether you fall in this camp and whether it might be relevant to you.
Last but not least, your pension contributions. All Australian residents by law must contribute to what’s known as a Superannuation, to ensure that they’ve got sufficient pension contributions.
Your Superannuation savings are invested by the fund that manages the plan and can grow over time. When you reach retirement age, you can access your Superannuation and use it as an income stream to support you in retirement.
This means that you might be an investor without even realising it and that you might be able to investigate trading your existing pension if you haven’t done so already.
Choosing the right platform is a very personal decision.
Time to have a think about some of the trading platforms you can use to kickstart your investing journey. There’s a few big trading platforms available when it comes to trading stocks, funds and other investments for those living in Australia, all with varying features.
Their order in this article doesn’t denote preference or which is best, as this will be down to you.
So now we’ve cleared all that up, let’s have a look at where you can get going with your investing.
Commsec from Commonwealth Bank
The first trading platform in, CommSec, is offered by the household name Commonwealth Bank.
Thanks to its status as a big name, it’s also one of Australia’s biggest online brokers, with diverse investment opportunities.
It currently has investing options in stocks, ETFs, options and even fixed income securities that mean anyone looking to invest in a reputable name with a big range might’ve found their platform.
IG markets has a huge growing global presence and is renowned for use amongst more experienced investors.
In Australia, it boasts the ability to invest in over 18,000 different investment products, covering a range of stocks, crypto and CFDs.
If you’re unsure, you can always test out their demo account to see what the system is like and if it appeals to you. Generally these more complex investment instruments (CFDs) are reserved for more experienced investors, but the demo account really helps anyone at any level play around with the interface.
Another broker with a global presence, CMC markets has been around for the last 30 years, offering services for investors who are wanting to get involved in a wide range of trading opportunities. On their list are stocks, ETFs, forex and commodities, amongst other more complex trading instruments.
It has platforms available on desktop, app and mobile as well as services for those who are more frequent traders.
There are also research and charting tools for anyone wanting to get stuck into the mathematical analysis.
Dubbed the trading platform for the everyday Australian, SelfWealth has been around since 2012 and is pretty popular for those looking for a simple, low cost option.
It has a range of Australian, Hong Kong and US shares, as well as ETFs. They have recently announced that they will also be spreading their wings into the world of crypto, which opens doors for anyone wanting to mix up their investing.
With their marketing tagline ‘trusted by over 127,000 Australians’, it’s a solid local choice for many looking to get started on their investing.
A new kid on the block, Tiger Brokers became available to Australian investors in 2022. It’s a popular low cost option which has stocks and ETFs in both Australia and internationally.
There are some more complex investments and research tools available for investors that are a little more experienced but with a combined app and desktop many rate the user friendliness pretty highly for those who have equally never invested before.
Another newbie, Superhero is an Australian startup that launched in just 2020. It has Aussie and US based stocks, as well as ETFs.
It became particularly popular when its expansion spread into the Superannuations, allowing users to transfer their pensions and invest into stocks and ETFs through the platform as well. There are also some cheeky bonus points that make it appealing for those looking for a more one-stop-shop when it comes to investing.
Last but not least, eToro is an app based platform that is based in the US and has a global presence on the trading and investing scene.
With the ability to invest into global stocks, as well as crypto, eToro also offers the feature of following other investors and their portfolios. Whilst investing is only in USD and there is a withdrawal charge that’s worth taking into account, it’s not got its global presence without reason.
So there we have it, an overview of the platforms that you can use to trade and invest when living in Australia. There are of course many more, but these are some of the names that you might stumble across in your research. All will have their own individual pros and cons, varying charges and ranges available, it’s just about working out which suits you, your budget and wants the best. Happy investing!