30

I'd like to buy a little amount (say, 5000 €) of stocks. I know it's risky, especially for an absolute beginner like me. Maybe you would like to persuade me to start with stuff such as such as mutual funds or ETF (btw, thanks for dissuading me from buying Bitcoins 😀).

However, I made up my mind, and I'm going to do it. I decided which stocks to buy, and I decided how long to keep them (10 years, hoping that the companies whose stock I'm buying don't go bankrupt before). The companies are all headquartered in USA.

I have no idea how to do it in practice, though. I have a bank account in a online bank, and it looks like the bank provides tools to buy stocks (I can provide the bank's name, if needed). However, in my country (Europe, but again I can provide the precise country, if strictly needed) you would never just subscribe a mortgage with your bank, because it's quite likely that by shopping online for mortages, you would find better options. The same is true for car insurance, for example.

So, I was wondering if I should look around for "online portfolio systems" (is this the right name?). However, I recently got a lot of spammy phone calls about forex (even though I never put my phone number online recently, and I also have 0 interest at all for forex). So I'd rather not expose myself online too much, searching for ways to buy stocks.

So my question is: how do I buy stocks? Since I'm going to keep them for a long time, I guess I'll need a service which has mostly low keeping fees, while buying/selling fees may be less important, since I'm not planning to buy/sell in the short term. Any suggestions on how to find it? Also, can I buy any numbers of a given stock, or are there some minimal amounts, and how do I find them? Finally, my employer gave me quite a lot of company stocks as a bonus. Is it possible to exchange part of them with the stocks I want to buy? Or the only thing I can do is to sell them (say, sell 5000 € of my company's stock) and buy an equivalent amount of the stocks I'm looking for?

closed as off-topic by Pete B., Dheer, CactusCake, Rupert Morrish, Chris W. Rea Apr 29 at 21:46

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking product or service recommendations are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve." – Pete B., CactusCake, Rupert Morrish
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 5
    Welcome back, adding a country tag will help significantly with suggestions as not all providers have operations throughout the EU. Mentioning the origin of the companies' stock you want to buy will also help since not every broker offers worldwide exposure for instance. – Leon Apr 25 at 10:43
  • 4
    Side note: you say you've identified specific companies to invest in. I don't know what your investment goals are, but be aware that choosing a few individual stocks is much riskier than buying something like an ETF or mutual fund that's properly diversified. – bta Apr 25 at 15:22
  • 1
    @DeltaIV Don't worry too much about the taxes. It's better to have tax problems than to be too poor to have tax problems! That being said, you are wise to consider the tax implications of your stock portfolio. – Brian Apr 25 at 19:44
  • 1
    @DeltaIV Actually a title that makes it clear that you are interested in buying stocks as a resident of the EU, not stocks listed under EU exchanges. Because right now the entire world wide internet will be directed to your question regardless of where they live. Minimally there needs to be a country tag and a title change. As the second person requesting a country/location tag its time to put it. – OrangeSherbet Apr 29 at 3:44
  • 1
    @OrangeSherbet better now? – DeltaIV Apr 29 at 6:41
8

What you want is a simple discount brokerage. Brand names here in the US include ETrade, Vanguard, Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and others. Some of them do business in Europe (though Fidelity US split from Fidelity Europe), and there will likely be comparable companies in Europe which do this. Features are generally

  • Buy any major stock, mutual fund, ETF, bonds etc.
  • very low trading fees, €5-20 per transaction typically
  • No maintenance fees for holding stocks
  • Very low or no annual fees for having an account
  • low minimums to start an account, e.g. under €2000
  • not really into selling annuities, whole life and other complex, high-commission investments (this is the mark of a "full service" broker who makes their money on commissions, and is driven to recommend you into products which pay them commission).
  • If they offer mutual funds at all, they are all no-load and low in expense ratios (if they offer load funds or high-expense-ratio funds, they are driven by a motivation to sell them to you).
  • you're on your own; no investing consulation or help. (because any such "help" is a red-flag for a company whose business is by getting you to buy investments which earn them the most commission).

Discount brokers earn their money by exactly what's on the tin: the open and obvious transaction fees they charge you when you buy or sell stocks.

We are not a "shopping assistance" site, so such shopping advice is off-topic for our platform. As such I can say little more than this.

Lastly, before you get too wrapped up in stocks, mind taxes. Consider the tax impacts such as how much tax paperwork a stock trade generates for you, how you report gains and losses, whether losses are deductible, how are dividends taxed (for instance if cap gains are taxed differently than dividends, or if they're taxed differently based on how long you hold them) - and then look for tax-advantaged stocks and funds.

  • 3
    €5-20 per transaction is "very low trading fees"? My ordinary retail bank charges me about €9 for a €5000 online trade (0.15% commission plus a €1.6 fixed CSD overhead). If I were to start shopping around for discount brokers I would definitely feel my time was wasted unless I could get it down to €2 at most. – Henning Makholm Apr 27 at 11:03
  • 1
    Degiro has one of the lowest fees and is a very good brokerage. For trading on NYSE/NASDAQ the fees can be as low as €0.50 per transaction. – Dharman Apr 27 at 20:15
  • @Dharman this is very interesting! I’ll have a look. – DeltaIV Apr 29 at 6:43
  • @Dharman at first glance, it looks like you’re right: there’s an extra 0.004$ for US stock, for people buying from my country, but that won’t be an issue, since I chose a budget which won’t let me buy thousands of actions. I’ll make some benchmarking. Thank you very much! – DeltaIV Apr 29 at 6:49
30

If you're just planning to buy-and-hold, it is worth considering whether the value of the time you spend on searching for a cheap brokerage will not dwarf the savings.

Around here (Denmark) banks don't generally seem to charge fees merely for holding stock for you. They charge a commission for each trade, some fractional percentage of the value which could easily eat into one's profit if one is doing frequent speculative trades. But for buy-and-hold that's a one-off expense. If it costs you 5 or 10 euros to invest your 5000 through your local bank, how much shopping-around effort is it worth to you to cut that down to 1 or 2?

Keeping it with the bank where you're already a customer will also save you the hassle of managing a set of separate credentials for a different online broker that you will use perhaps once a year (and keeping your details with them up to date if you move, etc). And, psychologically, the bank's commission percentage may help you resist the impulse to start trading speculatively.

  • I like your point about commissions preventing me from trading speculatively, but that's not a risk 🙂 I'll check with my bank if there's an holding fee. In that case, shopping around will be very likely worth it. – DeltaIV Apr 25 at 14:37
  • PS so I understand that buying a stock and keeping it for multiple years is called "buy-and-hold". Good to know! – DeltaIV Apr 25 at 14:41
  • 6
    @DeltaIV - It makes no sense whatsoever to overpay on commissions in order to dissuade you from speculatively trading. You trade when there's a reason to trade. It also makes no sense to overpay on commissions because you don't want to put in the time to find a low rate as well as the broker that best meets your needs. Sometimes, investments don't go well and it becomes Buy & Hope :-) – Bob Baerker Apr 25 at 14:45
  • 3
    Also, more expensive brokers usually offer better tools, including research information, analyst notes, and stock/fund filters. Better brokers have access to more mutual funds as well as better options for uninvested cash. You often get what you pay for. – user71659 Apr 25 at 15:44
  • 4
    It makes lots of sense to overpay on commissions if it saves you search time. Time is money, after all. – Ben Millwood Apr 27 at 7:26
9

Banks that offer brokerage services tend to charge high commissions and some charge additional account maintenance fees. Therefore, it's possible that your bank may not be the best choice.

Best broker depends on what your needs are. If all you want is the ability to buy and sell stocks occasionally, I'd suggest that you look for a reputable broker in a regulated country that has low commissions and no maintenance fees. If you need more services (research, charting, real time streaming news, etc.), you're likely to pay higher commissions. There are a number of brokers that offer trading in multiple countries. Do a Google search on "Best European Brokers" and compare them.

Whether you can sell your company stock depends on whether it has any restrictions. Speak to your employer about that.

  • Ok, so the right search is "Best European Brokers": thanks for the answer, this is exactly what I was asking for. I'll just wait a bit to see if there are new answers, but for now yours seems the most appropriate. – DeltaIV Apr 25 at 14:40
  • 1
    I can't speak to what's available in your country or its restrictions since I'm in the US. As an example of interconnection, Interactive Brokers offers trading in 200+ countries though I don't think that it applies to you since your account size might be too small and it charges fees for inactivity. Schwab and other mainstream brokers also offer trading in and from other countries. Do the Google search. Make sure to check on tax implications. – Bob Baerker Apr 25 at 14:54
  • 1
    @DeltaIV In Germany it doesn't matter which broker you use. You have to report dividends as income, and then you can get some taxes back from the US government, so to not slash your returns. I don't know about other countries, but suppose it's similar. That's why I bought ETFs, but your mind is made up :) – Christian Apr 25 at 15:05
  • 1
    @DeltaIV - Talk to your broker about taxes before you invest, they should be able to explain what you'll need to do. After all, they are likely invested in foreign stocks as well. Investing overseas is common enough that you likely won't need an accountant, but you do need to know what sorts of records you need to keep. – bta Apr 25 at 15:26
  • 1
    @Christian: though going for a US broker (as opposed to a broker with headquarters in the US but having a "branch" [if an online one] here) may create more paperwork with the taxes: A German brokerage account will supply OP with a tax declaration sheet that even gives the lines where to put the numbers they report. No such burocratic shortcut for a US account. – cbeleites Apr 25 at 17:44
9

(All slightly guessing: this is how things are in one or two European countries I know, and chances are your European country works similarly - but things do differ between countries - so please double check how it is actually for you)

I'd suggest to start with a broker that operates in your country. Once you know how things work locally, you can explore further.

In my European Country, a domestic broker will withhold the appropriate taxes for me and supply me with a tax sheet that even tells me in which lines of the income tax declaration I fill which numbers.

With a foreign account, you probably still need to do pay taxes in the country of your tax residence. But chances are

  1. there won't be any streamlined way in the tax declaration (and at least my country tends to change the forms frequently - last time I was phoning back and forth with the tax office because I couldn't find where to put such foreign income and also the tax officer at the service hotline didn't know where those lines had moved since the year before.
    This also means that you'll have to personally make sure you pay those taxes.
  2. I haven't had a brokerage account in any other EU country so this is a guesstimate but I'd ask what kind of paperwork a forein EU citizen has to provide and whether they'll do tax prepayments in the country where the account is (which means that you have more hassle to get that money back). Don't forget to ask whether they charge fees on that paperwork!

Note that

  • a domestic brokerage account can hold foreign shares
  • foreign shares may be traded at a domestic exchange (though maybe volume will be low)
  • a domestic broker can give you access to foreign exchanges (check the fees)
  • for foreign shares (regardless where they are held), you may have additional paperwork with the taxes (incl. for claiming back taxes - again: ask the broker whether they charge fees on the paperwork you need them to provide for you)
5

I can only answer from a US perspective, and you need to check if it is different in your country. You can find a traditional brokerage firm and develop a relationship with a broker in the firm, or you can go to an on-line brokerage firm. Two examples of the latter are e-Trade or Ameritrade, but there are others.

You should do a bit of research before committing to any individual firm.

One caveat: since your objective is to buy and hold, don't sign up for a "managed account". Such accounts will charge you a fee whether you trade or not, and will also charge you a fee (but a smaller fee) for the amount (if any) that you have with them in cash. A managed account will save you money in fees if you are a very active trader. An account in which you pay commissions only on trades (buy or sell) is appropriate for your current objectives, which, of course may change at some time.

My broker has both types of accounts, and I have had both kinds of accounts, but for my purposes now I prefer to pay fees only when I buy or sell.

3

I have invested in stocks since 1997.

I have never used a broker or advisor. My father in law, a doctor, taught me how to pick stocks. I started with $15,000 in 1998 and now have hundreds of thousands in stocks.

Before you invest, read Peter Lynch and Jesse Livermore. Don't risk a dollar / euro until you hear it straight from stock traders that made a fortune. Ignore commission salesmen. They don't care about your returns.

Stocks these days are extremely over-priced versus in the past when interest rates were good to savers. You need to understand and accept risk and patience to pay off. Every stock you buy is a big risk.

Open a TDQuestrade or VirtualBrokers account or other discount trader that you pay a small commission per trade. Use your email and good luck, be patient.

  • 8
    Begins "I have never used a broker", ends "Open a [broker A] or [broker B] account". I agree with not paying for an advisor/account manager, but a brokerage account will make your life much easier (the alternative is opening a separate account for every mutual fund you want to own, and holding physical stock certificates in your fireproof vault) – Ben Voigt Apr 26 at 3:10
  • 3
    Can you even buy stocks without a broker these days? – Džuris Apr 26 at 7:44
  • read Peter Lynch and Jesse Livermore - Which books? All? – MiXT4PE Apr 26 at 14:29
2

Not sure what all this secrecy about resident countries is about, so I will just answer the question for Germany on the off-chance that this applies to the OP.

I have a broker account with an online bank (DKB) with which I also have my normal debit account.

This makes buying stocks extremely easy: You just select the stock you want to buy, select some additional options like limits, execution market place, ... and that's it. Depending on what kind of execution you have chosen the order is either executed immediately (if the maket place is open) or when your limit is reached and the amount is directly taken from your debit account. Fees are 10€ per trade up to a trade volume of 10k€ (for buy or sell, simply holding stocks is free).

Of course there are a ton of other options for brokers but 10 minutes of Google should help you out there. The main difference will be that when you have a broker separate from your normal debit account, you will probably need to transfer some money to your account on the broker's website first.

Just my additional 2 cents: You seem to be lacking some very basic knowledge about brokers and trading. Read up on it. There's everything you need and more on the internet. My rule of thumb is that I like to know what I am doing when I am going to spend a couple thousand Euro ;)

Also, given your lack of knowledge I would advise against buying individual stocks. I realize that you think you are smarter than most other people but who doesn't (if this doesn't make sense to you then read up on how stocks work. The assumptions on the future value of stocks are already part of the stock prize itself. So if you are thinking "Well, Apple seems like a jolly good company to invest in" then you are not the only one who has thought the same and this is why its stock prize is as high as it is. If it turns out at some later point that those expectations were (even slightly) too high, then the stock might drop (by quite a lot)).

But hey, it's your money. So if you think you are smarter than the big players who actually trade stocks for a living then go for it ;)

1

First, have an exit strategy. Tell yourself: I'm gonna sell if:

  • my calculations were wrong and it's falling below a given price
  • specific market conditions are not met (anymore)
  • after a given profit
  • before a given time
  • anything else

Never state, I'm gonna sell this-and-that exact date if you haven't already traded for that. That's too much information you give away and you might get a suboptimal price that way. Not b/c someone is evil: it's how things work.

When you know your exit criteria, start searching for a brokerage that gives you the most information. Going cheap here is like going cheap with the windscreen washing liquid in the car: a little price compared to the rest, yet you might not identify the criteria when you need to exit or reconsider a strategy. Tooling you might get from a company might be valuable in the beginning; but human there, who listen to your needs are the most valuable. Like a trader who 'watches out' for a market where there's no stop-loss. Like someone who tells you when you can decrease the cost of a hedge.

Also be prepared to read everything about these companies now. You need to understand, you need to estimate an have a valid figure on how things are progressing. Buy-and-hope is a big no-no, you need to go from passive (ETF) to active (stock). This might sound far-fetched but you might even find yourself on a general assembly. If you're not okay with that, forget it and go for indices.

Discuss taxation with your accountant: you might, at minimum, get preferential taxes. Read and learn, you might need to fill some basic tests (MiFiD) if you want to hedge yourself (e.g. if you know when to sell but the price looks good today, to do a forward). Start in small, but not too small. Know the maximum VAR for each of your investments. Know why you buy a stock and sell when that condition doesn't hold anymore.

-5

Checkout Freetrade. It costs 0 money to trade or use their software... that's right completely commission free trading that you can use in Europe to buy, among other things, American stocks. (It's like the European version of RobinHood.)

  • 5
    Interesting offering, but OP can't use it -- "Our Services are, in addition, ONLY available to consumers who are usually resident in the United Kingdom" – Ben Voigt Apr 26 at 3:13
  • OP specifically doesn't say which European country he's in so your comment is inaccurate. – Serj Sagan Apr 26 at 3:24
  • 2
    No he doesn't specify which, but he does use Euro, which rules out UK. – Ben Voigt Apr 26 at 3:45
  • 2
    I'm not located in UK (I thought the fact that I mentioned Euros would be a dead giveaway). – DeltaIV Apr 26 at 5:47
  • 1
    @gerrit: No doubt, but UK residents would be extraordinarily unlikely to use the Euro as their default currency when asking a question. And with Brexit on the horizon, UK residents wouldn't be taking an attitude that which country doesn't matter. So it really was easy to reach the conclusion that this question is asking about Eurozone, not UK. – Ben Voigt Apr 27 at 4:47

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.