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Account openings and online investment sites

Updated January  9, 2020

This article will review some of the best investment platforms in 2019, and get into the whole DIY vs advsior debate.

 Best investment platforms UK in 2020

  • Hargreaves Lansdown – A FTSE100 company, Hargreaves Lansdown charges a 0.45% fee for the first £250,000 invested, 0.25% for investments between £250,000 and £1 million and 0.1% charge for investment in excess of £1 million. They have access to numerous fund, ETFs and other options.  
  • Vanguard Online – charges 0.15% fee, capped at £375 a year.  They focus on passive investments, whereas Hargreaves Lansdown has both active and passive investments.
  • Charles Stanley Direct – similar to Hargreaves Lansdown.    Charges 0.35% on smaller accounts per year.

Best expat investment platforms in 2020

  • Interactive Brokers – A cheap option, however, they are based in the US, so US estate taxes may apply.
  • Saxo Bank – Cheaper than Internaxx on smaller accounts, but more expensive on larger accounts.
  • Internaxx (formerly TD Direct) – The flat fees are `a killer` on smaller accounts, but a steal on larger accounts.

Best investment platforms USA in 2020

  • Vanguard Online – Just like the UK, Vanguard has a platform for US residents. 
  • Fidelity and TD Ameritrade- two other low-cost investment platforms.
  • Living in mainland Europe 
  • Degiro fees are low, often less than $1 to trade.


Are there other options out there?

Yes. It isn’t an extensive list. There are hundreds out there which could also be put on the list, but you won’t go wrong with the above.

I was reading on best investing platforms on Reddit – should I get advice on there?

A lot of readers have asked me about answers they have read on Reddit, Quora and Medium, and ask if they should trust those answers.

It depends on the author, of course. There are some great answers online, but some awful answers as well!

Do the fees matter?

They do, but the fund selection also matters. Bare in mind flat fees vs percentage fees.  Internaxx is more competitive on fees than Saxo Bank on larger accounts, but less competitive on smaller amounts and maybe up to $60,000, as the fees are flat.  If you have a small amount to start with, check out what the flat fees are.

Does DIY investing for beginners work?

DIY investing can be brilliant for those who have the self-control to manage their own finances. But a surprising few people seem to be able to steer away from fear, greed and egoism and end up speculating. Perhaps good old human nature is too powerful to stop.

Academic research has shown the average DIY investor only gets 4% when markets have averaged 10% per year, and countless investors panicked during 2008-2009 and other crashes. 

How can I know if I can be a good DIY investor?

By asking yourself questions such as these

  • Do I always invest when I have money, or try to market time`?
  • Have I ever tried to get rich?
  • Did I panic during the last financial crisis, Trump’s election or Brexit?
  • Have I ever stock picked?
  • Have I read investment books on subjects like index funds? 
  • Do I always read the financial media and panic?
  • Do I know that nobody can predict markets, stock price direction and so on?
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Account openings and online investment sites 2

DIY investing vs advisor – what are the positives and negatives?

Do it yourself investing is cheaper IF you do two things; a).  Buy index funds – avoid all stock picking and the time and money that takes.  b). Buy and hold for 40-50 years.

Using an advisor will be more expensive, but a good advisor can act as a `coach` as well as an advisor.

Or put it another way, would you have panic sold in 2008-2009 if you had an advisor breathing down your neck, showing you academic evidence about why market timing doesn’t work?

Often in investing, knowledge isn’t enough. We all know how to get a 6 pack at the gym, but how many of us have one?

The same with investing. Having knowledge is only one part of the process.  Implementing the knowledge is 10x more important.

Can American expats invest in expat platforms?

It depends.  Some accept Americans and some don’t. 

Can American overseas invest in Vanguard?

Typically not, but rules are always changing.

Does Vanguard accept expats?

It depends where you live.  They do in some locations, but not in others. 

Does It Matter Which Index Fund You Use?

Typically not.  iShares, Vanguard, BlackRock , HSBC and many other providers have virtually identical index funds, tracking the same indexes. 

Vanguard was just the first provider of index funds, so they had first mover status. 

Investment portfolios in UK, America or Singapore – should they be different?

How you should invest shouldn’t differ radically. Everybody should have some allocation to global markets, whereas you live. Avoid only investing in your home country – called `home country bias`. 

Does past performance matter in investment manager selection?

No, at least not the past 5-10 years. Over 50 years, however, lower cost funds outperform higher cost funds.

Do you offer investment help?

Yes, I can help people step up an online account.  Minimums are $75,000 on the lump sum side, and $600 on the regular savings side.

 will try to keep the minimum as low as possible for as long as possible, because I do want to help people who aren’t super wealthy, but I may have to incrementally raise the minimum depending on the demand.

The accounts are:

•Low cost, access to global markets from 0.02% or similar low flat fees on the platform

•Well-regulated funds from developed countries like US and UK Territory, which means strong investor protections.

•All accounts are linked to the academic evidence in the book I wrote in 2018.

•Available to all except people living in America.  Americans living overseas are a possibility but it is a little more complicated than other nationalities due to regulations.

For expats exploring account opening options and online investment sites, the Utmost International Managed Capital Account Review provides valuable insights into managing investments internationally.

30 Responses

  1. What would you do with a small (25k) Fidelity Account? Goal is to get out of debt, buy a home and start(!!) investing for retirement. I am soon to be 65.
    Thanks in advance,

    1. The total size of the account is 25K? Are you in the US or outside the US? It is hard to know without the full picture but the same principles applied in the book apply. Look out for the fees, asset allocation and so on.

      1. Hi, I’m from Nigeria do you help people from Nigeria to invest in us or UK or any other developed nation?

    1. Hi Fritz – not currently unfortunately. Not out of personal choice. It is the regulatory environment although I am looking for a solution.

    2. Also I am able to take Americans living overseas. But people living in America (Americans and non Americans) are currently off limits but I hope that will change soon.

  2. Hi Adam!

    I am from South Africa, I am looking to invest my money in the future. Can you maybe assist me in investing my money?

    Thanks in advance for your time and effort!

  3. Hello Adam,
    I am looking to invest in Philippine Stocks. Is this something you handle too? Im in the US but wants to invest and retire in the Philippines. What should I do?

    1. Hi John – unfortunately not. Taking clients from the US is tough unless they are just there for a short-term assignment

  4. Hi, am from nigeria, is there any platform or bank where i can invest my money for short time. Thank if i can get an answer

    1. Many of the platforms on here allow short-term investments, but it is always best to invest for the long-term

  5. Hello Adam,

    I’m a resident of UAE and I am interested in opening an international brokerage account preferably allowing for exposure to the US market. The only brokerage accepting UAE residents I found was Charles Schwab. I would like to invest close to USD 40,000 to start with along with regular monthly payments. I am a citizen of India at present and moving to Canada in 1-2 years . thanks!

  6. Hi Adam,

    I have been following your thoughts on investing for a while now. I am an Indian citizen working as an expat in South Korea. I would like to invest in a low cost index fund tracking S&P 500. Can you suggest some options and the process about setting it up?

    Thanks for your help!

  7. Hello Adams,

    I’m a Nigerian expat in uae. I’m interested in US stocks. How do I go about it. I need your advise please

  8. Nice article!
    I am a Nigerian who’s new to stock.
    How can I invest in foreign trade like US or UK?

  9. Hello Adam,
    I am an expat in Dubai and i am looking for a simple cheap platform to start investing in ETFs (all world VCITS ETFs) with small regular amounts per month (1000-1500 AED). Planning to increase the investment amount with time.
    I am with European passport if it matters. What would you recommend?

  10. Looking for an option to invest in stocks worldwide, starting with UK and US. I am from India, living in UAE. Need to know about platforms that are reliable, governed, safe and charge less brokerage.

  11. Hi Adam
    I recently moved to China – Chengdu in Sichuan province. Cost of living is very low and I am making more money here than I did in UK. I’m a British citizen with a Chinese wife and daughter. I would like to invest in UK and American stocks and shares, but have been told it is difficult as HMRC could ask questions. Also there will be charged levied from Chinese bank, if I send it to my UK bank.

    I’m wondering what the best course of action would be. Are there outlets for me to invest in? Chinese stocks are volatile and unproven so I would prefer the developed countries. I have thought about buying real estate here but I don’t know if I would be able get much back with regard to renting out.

    Please get in touch when you can.

  12. Hi Adam,
    I am from Turkmenistan, could you help me invest in U.S.? i am particularly interested in buying ETFs.
    My bank accounts from which i will fund the investment are in countries like Turkey and UAE. before i start doing something just need to be sure that i can actually invest in U.S.

  13. Hello,
    My name is Rania and I am a resident in Qatar. Back in August, I open an account in IBKR to do passive investing. My idea was to buy index funds and hold them for a long time. However, whenever I am trying to buy any S&P 500 index funds the platform gives me an error saying (No Trading Permission, Residency Restriction). I was trying to google why this is happening but could not find a solution. Also when I was trying to see whether we can buy US index funds from outside the US many replied that we can, we just have to open an account in discounted broker such as IBKR.

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This website is not designed for American resident readers, or for people from any country where buying investments or distributing such information is illegal. This website is not a solicitation to invest, nor tax, legal, financial or investment advice. We only deal with investors who are expats or high-net-worth/self-certified  individuals, on a non-solicitation basis. Not for the retail market.



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