The first thing to ask yourself is whether investing via an online platform is right for you. If you are investing in shares, consider how much research you need to do, as well as how much time you want to spend monitoring your portfolio. It could be that perhaps other investments such as a managed fund might be a better option. You don’t need an online platform to invest in managed funds. If you want help choosing an investment, or you’re investing a lot of money or money you can’t afford to lose, consider talking to a financial adviser before investing.
Things to think about
If you decide that you want to invest via an online platform then here are some things to think about.
Different platforms offer different products. Have a think about whether you want to invest mostly in shares, bonds, managed funds, ETFs, or a mix of all of them. Also whether you want to invest in New Zealand only or overseas.
Depending on the platform, you may be able to buy shares in New Zealand companies as well as those offshore such as in Australia or the United States.
You may be able to buy fractionalised shares or full shares.
If you are registering to buy or sell full shares for the first time in New Zealand you may need to take some additional steps such as being assigned a Common Shareholder Number.
Please note: If you buy international shares there may be other requirements. For example, to trade in Australia you will need to be issued a Holder Identification Number (HIN). Make sure to check the requirements on the platform you are using.
Owning shares means you are also a company owner. This ordinarily gives you certain rights such as the right to vote on company matters. However, these rights may not be offered to fractionalised shareholders as you do not have whole shares in the company. If voting is important to you, check the platform to see what, if any, voting rights you have and in whose names the shares are issued. If the shares are not held in your name you may have no voting rights should the company put something to the vote of shareholders.
Bonds are a good way to spread the risk in your investment portfolio, as they generally offer more stable returns, and can be lower risk than growth assets such as shares, although it depends on the type of bond. For more information check out our bonds page and investor guide to bonds.
Managed Funds and Exchange Traded Funds
These can be a good way to build an investing portfolio as they allow for easy diversification of your investments across a variety of asset classes. Consider whether the platforms offer you access to international as well as New Zealand ETFs and Managed Funds. For more information see our Exchange Traded Funds and Managed Funds pages as well as our investor guide to managed funds.
What type of support is on offer? Can you easily find answers to your questions? Can you speak to someone or is communication online only?
Do you understand the information being presented to you? Is it easy to follow and in language you’re used to?
Does the platform require you to have a CSN or FIN and if so will it help you obtain them?
Can you easily complete orders? Platforms differ in the level of sophistication required to complete trades.
What are the timelines for completing an order? Orders can be time delayed for a number of reasons and this can vary according to investment type.
Platforms have different fee structures. Make sure the investing platform is clear on all the fees and costs you will be charged and whether the fee structure is suitable for your investing activity.
Ongoing fees. These apply monthly or annually, but not all providers will charge ongoing fees. This may depend on how frequently you transact, for example, inactivity fees are often charged if you don’t make any transactions within a certain period of time.
Some providers will not charge any monthly fees at all. However, some investor platforms and those that offer premium services will often charge a monthly fee. These fees can be waived if you perform more than a certain number of transactions each month.
Brokerage fees. Brokerage fees are the charges that apply to each buy and sell transaction, and they usually vary depending on the size of your buy or sell order or how often you trade.
Brokerage fees can vary between providers but typically start at around the $15 to $30 range per transaction. For large transactions, fees of around 0.3% and up usually apply. If you’re planning on making lots of transactions, you may want to look for a platform that offers low per-trade fees.
When investing offshore you will also be charged an exchange rate for converting your NZD into the currency of the country you are buying shares in.
Platforms have different minimum investment amounts. Platforms aimed at new investors tend to have lower (if any) minimum investments required.