uSMART Securities, backed by Hong Kong conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Group, is here in Singapore! For traders and investors such as myself, this can only be good news as more choices may invariably lead to better features and lower fees. I was more than excited to try a new platform and take advantage of the low fees (and of course the welcome gifts) to improve the performance of my investment portfolio. After a month of trading via the uSMART mobile app, here is my review of uSMART Securities Singapore, the SMART broker.
Who is uSMART?
uSMART is a leading online brokerage company headquartered in Hong Kong. It aims to simplify and enhance trading experience via Smart Investment (Source: uSMART). This is achieved via a combination of big data-driven indicators as well as a community that encourage and learn from each other. uSMART completed a US100m series B funding in 2021 and count famous HK conglomerate Chow Tai Fook as one of their strategic investors.
uSMART Securities (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. received its Capital Markets Services Licence under the Securities and Futures Act from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in Dec 2021. Funds and securities are also kept in a segregated custodian account to ensure that they do not co-mingle with other accounts. Since most of you would probably ask, I would also like to pre-emptively state that your Singapore stocks will not be held in CDP.
A Low-cost Online Brokerage
We all know that substantial fees can eat into our returns in the long run, so ideally, we want to keep this as little as possible. Without further ado, let’s get straight to examine the most critical factor – fees levied by the brokerage.
As shown in Diagram 1, here’s an overview of the fees charged by uSMART based on the uSMART Trader account type when buying stocks. Currently, users can trade and access the Singapore, Hong Kong and U.S. equity markets along with U.S options. I find this sufficient because I currently only own shares in these 3 markets. As a new entrant, it has positioned itself with highly attractive trading fees. I will illustrate how much commissions one can save simply by using uSMART to purchase 100 shares of Tencent at HKD380 over traditional brokerages.
As shown in Diagram 2, the total commission and fees incurred on uSMART Trader is HKD 81.30, or about 0.2% of the total trade value. In comparison, the same purchase would generally cost around HKD162 on traditional full service brokerages, equivalent to 0.4% of the total transaction value. Not only does it cost twice as much, the absolute difference of S$13 is also significant. When compounded over time, these fees will have a material impact on the overall returns of our investment portfolio.
A Learning Community
Besides positioning itself as SMART brokerage platform, another value proposition of uSMART is the community that it has gradually built. It is a community which allows one to connect globally with like-minded individuals to learn and invest together. Over at the Learning tab, you can find bite-sized courses and also ask questions to investment experts – all for free!
BeeRich tab offers refreshing TikTok style short video content on financial topics which is a very interesting feature on a brokerage app.
Under the Discover tab, featured strategies, technical analysis and value screener can be found under the “Opportunity” section. These are sources of excellent suggestions or inspiration for traders and investors to consider executing. There are even exclusive investment information which can be unlocked when user upgrade to Intel Account.
Account Opening Process
The combination of low fees, educational content and generous welcome package attracted me to open an account with uSMART. The account opening process was very smooth as the platform is integrated with Myinfo. Except for the KYC process, the rest of the data was auto-populated without much fuss.
To qualify for the welcome package (more details below) and to commence trading, I deposited fresh funds into my account. I used the FAST transfer method and my funds were deposited into my account within a couple of hours. Besides FAST, there are various options to transfer funds such as eGIRO, PayNow, Telegraphic Transfer as shown in Diagram 5.
Welcome Package Promotion
As shown in Diagram 6, there are several tiers of rewards in the welcome package. Each of these rewards will be unlocked when an action is performed.
For instance, a user will find that a SGD 15 cash voucher will be deposited in the Rewards Center upon account opening. To redeem this cash voucher, complete at least 3 stocks BUY or SELL trades above S$100 within 90 days. An example of a small trade that I executed to unlock the SGD15 cash voucher is shown in Diagram 7.
I particularly like that the welcome package consists of 3 shares of BITO, which is the ticker for ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF. This is an ETF that provides exposure to Bitcoin, the grandfather of cryptocurrency. If cryptocurrency gains traction with the rest of the community and becomes even more mainstream, this ETF has the potential for significant capital returns. Remember, this welcome reward voucher, is unlocked by making a first deposit in a single transfer amounting to at least S$2,000 or its equivalent value. If user picks the BITO share voucher, he or she will need to maintain SGD2,000 AUM for 30 consecutive days in order to redeem the 3 BITO shares. Otherwise, the Investment Master Course will also be useful for uSMART users who are keen to improve their knowledge on technical analysis and ETFs.
Finally, remember that you need to head to Rewards Center to redeem these rewards after performing the various tasks or else they will simply expire worthless after their validity period.
Before penning this review, I have been using uSMART for over a month now and successfully claimed the rewards under the welcome package. I am more than happy to welcome another online brokerage to this competitive scene although it’s hard to pinpoint which is the best online brokerage amongst them. As a consumer, uSMART adds to the burgeoning options that I already have and I am definitely not complaining.
Disclaimer: This article is written in collaboration with uSMART Securities Singapore but the opinions are entirely mine. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.