Buying a stock is the first step towards investing. But before you can do that, you need to open a securities account. There's quite a lot of choice between banks and securities firms – so how do you choose?
Planto will help you compare the most popular Hong Kong stock accounts, show you their fees and share some basic knowledge about Hong Kong stocks to help you get off to a good start.
How to start investing in 3 steps
Comparison of Hong Kong stock investment account fees
Trading with brokers is cheaper, opening an account can be done 100% online and the user experience of their apps is often better – there's no reason not to use them.
How much do you save by investing with a broker?
Assuming investors put HKD 20,000 each month to invest in stocks and trade on average five times a month. The mainstream banks would cost you ~ HKD 525 each month. If you use the securities brokers mentioned above, the monthly transaction fee is only about HKD 100 per month.
This difference of 425 HKD each month adds up really fast. In 10 years, it becomes HKD 51,000 in expenses (HKD 425 x 12 months x 10 years)!
In fact, if you were to invest this difference with an annual return of 6%, you'd be missing out on almost HKD 70,000!
Using a securities broker obviously reduces the fees – so even though trading with a bank offers some convenience and maybe even some extra credibility, it's hard to argue whether it's worth paying that much in fees for. Especially given these brokers are all regulated (licensed by the Securties and Futures Commission of Hong Kong) and are often successful businesses (like Futu which has even IPO'ed)!
Hong Kong stock basics
After completing the opening of the investment account and depositing funds, technically you can start investing immediately. However, it'll serve you well to know the basics of stocks before making a trading decision.
What is a stock?
A listed company issues shares to investors, and stocks are the evidence that investors own shares. After buying stocks, investors become shareholders of the company, can receive dividends, attend general meetings, and bear the risks caused by stock price fluctuations.
Hang Seng Index
The Hang Seng Index is an indicator of the performance of the Hong Kong stock market. It consists of 50 constituent stocks, mainly in the financial services, public, real estate and industrial and commercial sectors. The Hang Seng Index constituent stocks are often known as "blue chip stocks".
Hong Kong stock trading unit
Hong Kong stocks are traded on a per-lot basis – this translates to something like: "one lot of shares X share price + handling fee". As an example, the MTR Corporation (00066) has 500 shares in one lot. If the stock price is HKD 45.1, the minimum amount you'd have to invest is HKD 22,500 (1 lot x 500 shares x HKD 45.1).
Hong Kong stocks trading fees
In addition to the stock market price, the following fees must be paid to the Hong Kong Government, the Securities and Futures Commission or the Hong Kong Stock Exchange:
- Brokerage commission: Basically what the bank / securities firm is charging – securities firms generally charge less tha banks
- SFC transaction levy: 0.0027% of transaction amount
- HKEX trading fee: 0.005% of transaction amount
- Stock stamp duty: 0.1% of transaction amount
- Trading system usage fee: HKD 0.5 per transaction (most firms exempt you from this fee, or charge separately!)
- Central Clearing Shares Payment: 0.002% of the transaction amount (minimum HKD 2)
Hong Kong stock trading hours
The Hong Kong stock market trades on Mondays to Fridays (except public holidays) in the following periods:
|Opening Session||9:00am – 9:30am|
|Morning Session||9:30am – 12:00pm|
|Lunch||12:00pm – 1:00pm|
|Afternoon Trading Session||1:00pm – 4:00pm|
|Extended Hours||4:00pm – 4:10pm|
Exchange Traded Funds (ETF)
ETFs are funds that simulate an index as an investment target, such as Tracker Fund (2800) which matches the performance of the Hang Seng Index. ETF-linked indices can cover single or cross-stock markets, commodities or even different asset classes.
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
REITs are another investment vehicle that primarily invest in real estate projects in Hong Kong, Mainland China or overseas. The main source of income comes from rent and the net earnings are mandated to be distributed back to shareholders. A list of REITs can be found here.
Robot Investment Advisor (Robo Advisor)
Robo advisors use algorithms to analyze the client's investment objectives, risks and preferences, and develop a portfolio of investments. They often includes ETFs from Hong Kong, the US or around the world. The advantage of robo-advisors is that they are completely automated, so the fees and minimum investment thresholds are much lower than traditional human investment consultants.
Important information: Investment involves risks. This information is intended to be educational and is not tailored to the investment needs of any specific investor. This information does not constitute investment advice and should not be used as the basis for any investment decision nor should it be treated as a recommendation for any investment or action. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up, so you may not get back what you invest.