This is my review of using SelfWealth over the past three years to buy shares in Australia.
SelfWealth is an online securities brokerage company which lets you buy stocks on the Australian Stock Exchange. They are one of the cheapest and easiest to use online brokerage tools for Australians on the path to Financial Independence.
Using SelfWealth to regularly purchase low management fee index tracking ETFs such as Vanguards VTS and VEU, and the Betashares A200 fund is quite possibly the smartest and most passive thing you can do to grow your wealth to reach Financial Independence.
Plugging your data from SelfWealth into a free ShareSight account means once per year you can log in and download all of your required portfolio management accounting statements for your tax return. Hand this to your accountant and have them submit your return, removing all of the headache and drama of the usual tax time accounting shit fight.
SelfWealth Review disclaimer
I aim to be as transparent as possible and I publish my Net Worth updates every month. I also write very detailed articles explaining my investment strategy, what financial products I use, what investments I make, their performance, my spending habits, income sources, and just generally why I do what I do.
Even after that, my inbox still gets flooded with hundreds of questions about which broker I use and what I personally invest in (its all freely published in the net worth update guys!), and people asking directly for financial Advice.
I try to get back to everyone, but its important to realise that I cannot offer you financial advice and I am not a financial adviser. This blog is my efforts to document my journey to Financial Independence and explain the choices I have made for my personal circumstances, along with my reasoning and explanations, in the hope it might inspire change and better choices in everyone. For a hot stock tip – check out investing in DYOR 😉
Why I switched to SelfWealth
Of course I have mentioned this a few times, but in Australia everybody knows that one of the best discount online broker for those on the path to Financial Independence is SelfWealth. That’s because has some of the cheapest brokerage as well as one of the simplest and eaiest to use platforms.
I switched SelfWealth from ComSec after hearing about it from the Aussie Firebug, and learning just how much cheaper it was. I personally enjoy dealing with SelfWealth as they have a simple to use and eye pleasing website and phone app, but what really keeps me there is the industry beating price.
Overall I am quite satisfied with their service in general and SelfWealth offer everything I would expect from my broker. Because of all the interest and emails, I decided to take this topic out of the Frequently Asked Questions tab and expand it into a fully dedicated article all about the discount online broker SelfWealth!
Captain FI readers can even use this link to get their first 5 share purchases completely brokerage free (a value of $47.5)
An introduction to SelfWealth
So, with that out of the way, lets finally talk about SelfWealth itself. SelfWealth are my choice for a discount online stock broker, because I feel they have the best service out of all of the different brokers I have tried, and because they have one of the cheapest and simplest brokerage fee structure – a flat fee $9.50 trading!.
SelfWealth is probably the best choice for an online broker for those on the path to financial independence.
Where did SelfWealth come from
SelfWealth was established in Australia by Andrew Ward in 2012 as a FINTECH (financial technology) start up that offered a new solution to the age old investment dilemma – how do I invest smartly without losing a bunch of my cash to transaction costs and brokerage fees?.
By using modern technology and adopting modern business practices to suit today’s investors needs, SelfWealth are able to offer an industry leading flat fee brokerage cost of only $9.50, regardless of the size of the trade. Personally when I started investing, I was getting dinged for $30 bucks a month with ComSec, and now that bill has been cut by two thirds! This is because other brokers scale their brokerage fee with the trade size, to charge more for essentially exactly the same service! Because of this, Selfwealth was a powerful disruptor in the stock broker industry
SelfWealth has since even listed on the Australian Stock Exchange – you can read about it here, although I don’t know much about this and am not personally a share holder. SelfWealth works in partnership with the Australian stock broker OpenMarkets, which provide CHESS sponsorship for your Selfwealth account.
The Team that created and run SelfWealth
SelfWealth is run by a dedicated team with headquarters in Victoria, Australia. Their management team list their bios on the SelfWealth website here.
The Founder and CEO of SelfWealth is Andrew Ward. Andrew has over two decades experience working in the financial services industry. Andrew studied a Bachelor of Economics at Sydney University as well as a Diploma in Financial services (planning).
He initially worked with large financial firms, and then transitioned to working in a variety of roles around the world in management and consulting. He finished his time working as an employee for Commonwealth bank as an Executive Manager for Commonwealth Private lending, and then branched out with his knowledge and skills to launch Self Wealth!
Their staff also includes;
- Andrew Dick, the Chief Technology Officer,
- Brendan Mutton, the General Manager – Sales,
- Tania DeVincentis, the Client Service Manager, and
- Jarrod Purchase, the General Manager – Marketing.
What features do SelfWealth offer
Self Wealth offer both a conventional website client browser based login as well as a secure phone/tablet application. although, the only feature you should really care about is SelfWealth’s website. Once a month log in, buy your ETF, and then log straight back out, close the laptop and walk away!
Of course, I am a realist and I know you won’t really do that. You’ll probably do exactly what I used to do and download the application on your phone and log in every hour or two to just ‘Check how the portfolios looking’.
STOP. Stop doing that! Don’t hawk-eye your portfolio, it just encourages you to trade more frequently and as we discussed earlier, this just erodes your wealth and undermines your journey to FI. Your self worth is not linked to your net worth, just let it quietly grow in the backround. To quote Jeff Bezos…
“Don’t feel smart if your portfolio grows by 30%, because that just means if it drops by 30% then you’ll have to feel dumber.”Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon LLC, NW over USD $145 Billion.
I won’t lie, I often use the phone application to conduct my monthly trade, I find it extremely convenient especially when I am all over the world for work and often its a pain in the arse to fire up my laptop (I wouldn’t log into any financial account on a public computer or non-secure Wi-Fi). Many times I have actually even made my monthly ETF purchase on my phone using the application, whilst cruising along at 36,000ft over the ocean in international airspace. Thanks Satellite Wi-Fi!
SelfWealth offer some ‘Widgit’ like information such as a ‘Wealth check’ and a ‘Safety Rating’. Personally I don’t pay any attention to those since I know my core foundation of 100% world diversified index tracking ETFs is the best way to reach Financial Independence – that’s right, I’m not drinking the ‘Bonds’, ‘Cash’ or ‘Fixed interest’ to reduce volatility financial industry coolaid. Volatility means nothing in the long term since it all averages out, and I can even make it my friend to benefit from buying LICs that are undervalued!
Why I like SelfWealth as a broker
I like SelfWealth for a couple of reasons, but the biggest factor of all is price. Ultimately the lowest price possible is what drew me in, but I was impressed by their streamlined and easy to use platform, and customer support (naturally I had a lot of questions I wanted answering before I transferred my holdings from ComSec to SelfWealth).
SelfWealth have the lowest cost brokerage in Australia at $9.50 flat fee per trade
They are a no frills service and offer a flat fee of AUD $9.50 per trade. They don’t try and scam you by charging percentage transaction costs of your trades to claim higher fees, and there are no ongoing monthly fees or other commitments for the basic profile.
SelfWealth are CHESS sponsored through OpenMarkets
You’ve probably heard about many micro-investing companies like Raiz, Spaceship or Comsec Pocket. There are international ones too like Robinhood. I don’t know much about these companies, but what I do know is that some of them aren’t even CHESS sponsored – you can read more about micro-investing on Nicholas G. Muscat’s website The Aussie Money Man if your keen.
Being CHESS sponsored through OpenMarkets means the ASX keeps tabs on whats happening within the company, and provides the company’s customers with a unique holder identification number, or HIN. This means YOU directly own the shares, and NOT the company; ergo if the company goes bust, you do not lose your shares.
This means that even if SelfWealth go out of business, you will not be financially ruined. It will be annoying because you will have to find another (presumably more expensive) Broker, but the transfer will be fairly straightforward.
You can read more about why this is so important here
SelfWealth don’t spam my inbox
They don’t spam my inbox and they don’t try and scare me into trading more often. I know they offer a paid service for more information, but as someone on the path to financial independence, I know that keeping my fees down is crucial to maintaining a low cost of living, and achieving financial independence.
I also practice the low information diet and stick to my core investing strategy of passive index tracking ETFs for my portfolio and some old school LICs thrown in when I can buy some more stable dividends whenever they trade under market value.
Selfwealth have a great no frills account
So I don’t need any whizz bang graphs or trading information – just the basic ability to be able to buy the index funds and receive the dividends using the basic no frills free account. All of my portfolio tracking and yearly tax accounting done by ShareSight anyway (and then handed to an accountant for lodging), and you can check out my review of ShareSight here.
To keep costs down, they use an online support system where you can generate a ticket and be helped by an online consultant. This worked great and was super quick, my ticket was resolved almost instantly and gave me the information and reassurance I needed to help transfer my holdings from my previous broker (ComSec) to SelfWealth. I couldn’t get on the phone to them which annoyed me at first, but this is how they are able to keep such record low fee’s and provide such a good service.
Selfwealth compliments my journey to Financial Independence
To be honest investing in Betashares (I invest in A200) and Vanguard (I invest in VTS and VEU) ETFs bought using SelfWealth and managed with ShareSight is probably the simplest and easiest way I can think of for Australians to reach financial independence.
I wish I could go back in time and tell my 16 year old self this, instead of having to struggle through hundreds of books and thousands of hours of reading and research to figure it out for myself. Your lucky to be reading this and benefiting from my mistakes!
It is critically important to realise that you cannot control the market, you can only control the fees you pay along the way. This is why SelfWealth is so complementary to an index ETF investing style; you get all of the benefits with only a fraction of the costs!
SelfWealth is an industry leader that is changing how Australians invest, and making investing more accessible for everyone
Don’t take my word for it, go and do some of your own research. You’ll see that they didn’t win Money Magazines ‘Best of the Best Award’ for cheapest online broker for three years running for nothing.
They have also won numerous awards such as Optus business awards FINTECH business of the year, the IFA Excellence award Innovator of the year and the Australian business Awards software innovation award.
SelfWealth is now a mature FINTECH start up which has brought the fight to the big banks, and has challenged the status quo of how we as people individually invest. I for one stand with them (and their lower fees!)
SelfWealth has an easy to use integrated cash trading account that is backed by ANZ
SelfWealth users will automatically get a linked ANZ cash trading account which is easy to use. Just like any other account you receive a BSB and bank account details in order to transfer money into it. Transferring money out is just as simple, and is done using the SelfWealth online browser or app. You can transfer money out into any nominated linked external account.
Some people find this a little clunky since it takes a few days for cash to transfer in both directions, but I have personally found it only ever takes a day or two. I guess it is annoying, but by planning my purchases in advance I don’t really notice it at all. It’s worthwhile remembering the old adage ‘Haste makes Waste’ and if your really tight on cash, that’s what your emergency fund is for, bro!
Whenever you make a trade, this is where the money will come out of or go into during settlement.
How to sign up to SelfWealth
Signing up to SelfWealth is pretty straightforward. Its totally free and you don’t even have to transfer any of your holdings across if you don’t want to – you can start a completely new HIN and list of holdings – although I chose to transfer my holdings across.
Bear in mind, the process is not instant due to strict government anti money laundering regulations there process takes a few days as the required checks and balances need to be done. Personally, my SelfWealth account took 4 days to set up, and I had settled my first share purchase within the week!
Information you will need for an online SelfWealth Application
Before you start the application process, you will need to make sure you have the following personal information details ready
- Your personal details (Name, address, DOB, contact details etc)
- If you want to transfer shares from an alternate broker you will need your previous HIN (usually starts with an X)
- Your bank account details you wish linked in order to transfer cash INTO and OUT of the SelfWealth Brokerage cash account.
Types of SelfWealth account you can create
There are a few different options when completing the online application, depending on your personal circumstances. For example this table comes directly from the SelfWealth website regarding what types of SelfWealth accounts are available
Steps to open a Self Wealth account online
- Click the link here to sign up.
- Register your details; enter your contact details, create an account password and review the Terms of Conditions (and accept them).
- Verify your email by clicking the verification link sent to you by SelfWealth.
- Complete the online application.
Buying shares using SelfWealth is just about one of the easiest thing I have ever done. I will give the example of how to use SelfWealth to buy some Vanguard total US stock market index fund ETF (ASX:VTS) shares.
Step 1 – Log into your SelfWealth Account
Lets assume your using the web browser. Open up the SelfWealth homepage and click ‘login’ in the top right hand corner. Once logged in, head on over to your Dashboard on the left hand side of the page – under ‘TRADING’ select ‘Place Orders’
Step 2 – Place a buy order on SelfWealth
Clicking ‘Place Orders’ will open up a screen ‘Place Orders – Buy and Sell’. To place a trade for a specific ETF, enter the ASX ‘short code’ or the ETF name in the ‘Search Stock: Code or name’ bar.
In this case, we are going to place an order for VTS – Vanguards total US market stock fund ETF. We type ‘VTS’ into the search stock bar, and select ‘BUY’ which populates the Quote tab on the right hand side
Fill out the quantity tab (100 selected here) and then select ‘Limit’ for your Price type. The limit price ensures you don’t buy anything above this price (and similarly, when selling a stock ensures you don’t sell anything below this price).
Limit orders are the sensible price type to use – market orders will mean your cost fluctuates with supply and demand – it could cost you more or less (the ASX is obliged to give ‘everyone’ the best deal they can and settle on a fair price).
Note that now the Quote tab on the Right Hand Side is now populated – 100 shares at $220 per share now shows you a cost of $22,000 plus $9.50 brokerage (note this is about a third of the Brokerage you would expect to pay with other online brokers).
Simply play around with the ‘Quantity’ and ‘Price per unit’ tabs until you are satisfied with the deal. When your ready, click ‘Review order’ which will take you to a confirmation page. Simply then confirm the order to make it go live.
Your order will now be placed in the cue at the Australian Securities Exchange, and when a seller is matched to your buy order, the trade will be executed and the shares will transfer to your name, and the money will be deducted from your brokerage account.
Hot top – make sure you have enough money in your brokerage account to settle the trade (don’t worry, this is a self correcting error as it wont let you make the trade if you don’t have the cash).
Step 3 – Settlement of your trade on SelfWealth
The trade normally takes T+2 or 2 days to settle, by which time you will get a confirmation from the share registry that the shares are now listed in your name, and you will be asked to confirm your details, link a bank account and whether you wish to participate in any Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRP) if its available for your ETF.
Personally I dont use DRPs / DSSPs / BSPs since I love the endorphin rush when I see dividends hit my account – I get a feeling of almighty power! I suggest using your brokerage account to receive dividends since it makes it easy to keep track of everything come tax time (its all in one account and you can just print the statement).
Since VTS specifically is a cross listed fund domiciled in the US, you will need to fill out a W-8BEN-E form to send to the US internal Revenue Service. This is because Australia and America have a tax treaty; the form will stop you getting taxed at the full rate by both countries. Your share registry will facilitate this submission and many have templates that are super easy with informative guides on how to do so. Not all ETFs are cross listed, and many are changing over to get domiciled in Australia now so you won’t have to do as many of these forms.
This is optional, but it is good practice to keep a record of your trades for tax purposes – you need to be able to calculate your share cost base if you ever sell for capital gains tax purposes, otherwise the Australian Taxation Office will kick your arse.
I personally use ShareSight since its totally free if you have under ten shares (making it perfect for ETF holders) and it fully generates a complete tax statement for all of my share purchases, sales and dividends I receive. ShareSight can also import your SelfWealth data making it super easy.
You can check out the comprehensive review I did on ShareSight Here, where I even got to chat to their content manager and ask him a bunch of curly questions.
I personally use their email trade confirmation importing tool – SelfWealth send an email directly to an inbox created by Sharesight, and my share purchases automatically get added to my Sharesight account! It literally does not get any easier than this!
Still having issues using Selfwealth?
If your still having trouble buying Shares using SelfWealth, you can take advantage of their helpful support team. If you can’t get your problems fixed, leave a comment on this article and I will see if i can get to the bottom of it!
Selfwealth Review conclusion
SelfWealth in my opinion is one of the best way for Aussies to buy shares, especially Australians on the path to Financial Independence. This is because of the $9.50 flat-fee structure, and general no fuss, no frills, simple and easy to use system.
If you think SelfWealth is the right choice for you, go ahead and create an account and see what its like – you have nothing to lose. You have the option to transfer your holdings from a previous broker or create a new investment account with them and just trial how it goes.
Captain FI readers can even use this bonus sign up link to get a 90 day premium subscription trial for free ($60 value) as well as their first 5 trades completely free, ($47.50 value) saving over $100