Best Stock Trading Platforms in Oz
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Day trading doesn’t require an insane trading rig with 20 screens. 👉
It does, however, require a secure online trading platform that allows you to segment data more effectively.
Over the last 3 years, I’ve tried a number of online trading platforms. Some based in Australia and some based overseas.
I’ve had some great experiences and also some pretty bad ones. From trading crypto to trading small caps on the ASX I’ve put together a list of my top recommendations.
But before we get into my top picks. You’re probably wondering what a website about digital security is doing writing about online trading platforms. As you can probably imagine there is quite a lot of overlap between online finance and digital security, enough so that over the last few years of writing this blog I’ve worked with a number of small Australian financial firms to help secure their client information.
Digital security is extremely important when it comes to trading online.
Compromised accounts are a big issue that is rarely talked about. Just like you need to be careful when using your credit card online, you need to make sure you get all of the protection you need. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the other considerations you’ll need to be mindful of when trying to find a day trading platform.
🇦🇺 Australian Trading Platform Buying Guide 🇦🇺
While all trading platforms are not created equal, they have enough overlapping features that a fair assessment of their comparative strengths and liabilities can be made.
To save you the trouble, we have researched and assessed their suitability through the various lenses a typical investor might use to gauge them, such as by comparing fees, the range of diverse offerings they provide (whether discount or full service), their features and trading tools.
- What you are permitted to trade ✅: While some trading platforms only allow access to Australian shares, others are more encompassing, permitting both international trades and more sophisticated instruments currencies, CFDs, forex, indices and much more.
- Fees charged ✅: Virtually all online trading platforms charge fees for the use of their platform. For larger trades, some are calculated as a percentage of the transaction amount. These fees are also priced depending on how often the trades are placed.
- Accessibility to market data and research ✅: A trading platform that offers dynamic, up-to-date, real-time data that investors can avail for actionable information is invaluable.
- Ease of use ✅: User-friendliness is important, whether you’re a grizzled investment veteran, but more so if you are still wet-behind-the-ears trader. Share market trading is complicated enough as it is without the task being made more cumbersome and difficult by the peculiarities of the trading platform.
- Reporting ✅: The next important thing to making effective trades is tracking those trades effectively. A reporting tool keeps
- Margin loans ✅: Just as in business, having access to
Other factors to consider are security, education, customer support, among others.
Summary of Best Stock Trading Platforms in Australia
|Online Broker||Best For||Mobile App||Intl. Trading||Costs||Our Bottom Line|
|eToro||Best Social Trading Platform||Yes||Yes||$8||Social learning by following others with profitable track records, along with cryptocurrency trading.|
|CMC Markets||Best Overall||Yes||Yes||$11||Robust, versatile, with strong support from local and international trading.|
|IG Share Trading||Best Trading Platform||Yes||Yes||$8||Reliable, affordable, and established platform provider|
|CommSec||Best Bank for Share Trading||Yes||Yes||$10||No inactivity fee on Australian shares, with cheap brokerage along with the convenience of linking to CommBank accounts.|
|SelfWealth||Best Fixed-Share Trading/Cheapest Online Broker||Yes||No||$0||Zero on-going costs and flat, low-cost brokerage fees.|
1. Best Social Trading Platform — eToro
eToro is a social trading platform designed for beginner investors with limited time. With more than five million active members, it the largest social trading network in the world.
Although it is not listed on any stock exchange, eToro provides its services to Australians through an entity regulated by Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).
Even though it doesn’t have a parent bank and does not disclose its annual report, eToro is regarded as safe because its Australia and UK arms are regulated by top-tier financial authorities such as ASIC.
Introducing Social Trading With eToro
Social trading is relatively new in the investment landscape. It is a concept that allows online investors to follow the lead of leading investors by learning from them and imitating their actions.
This unique niche it has carved out for itself with its narrow focus on social and copy trading has spurred rapid growth. The distinguishing feature of eToro’s proprietary platform is the ease with which it allows a single investor to implement its copy trading.
Its model hinges on the willingness of many traders, especially the successful ones who follow risk-control rules, to be copied. It then provides accessibility and proximity to retail account traders to mimic and imitate these trading strategies, and even the trades of the most successful investors on the platform, both automatically and in real-time.
This isn’t an entirely unique concept as other brokerages have implemented copy-trading to varying degrees. However, what distinguishes eToro from the pack is how it has deftly integrated social media communication with its concept.
On the plus side, eToro makes it super easy and convenient to trade CFDs, commodities, forex, and cryptocurrency by providing investors with the ability to follow others with a profitable track record.
However, while you can leverage its patented CopyTrader™ technology to connect with other traders to discuss trading strategies, and automatically copy their trading portfolio performance, it is no guarantee of your own ensuing success. It is reported that 75% of retail CFD accounts lose money when trading with eToro.
That might not be totally eToro fault as there is enough blame to go around, as CFDs are complex instruments that come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.
Nevertheless, the opportunity eToro provides to filter down granularly to the best traders, learn from them while honing your own skills is invaluable.
eToro Australia provides a lot of range and versatility to its subscribers, with 47 currency pairs/quotations on worldwide forex markets, including major currencies such as EUR/USD, along with a wide variety of exotics.
Apart from its stellar reputation for social communications, its cryptocurrency impact hasn’t gone unnoticed, with eToro being recognized as Best broker for cryptos for 2020.
- Delivers effective copy trading feature
- World’s largest social trading network
- Lack of variety in currency denomination, as only USD is currently supported
- Great educational opportunities through copy trading, market data and news
Best Overall — CMC Markets
CMC has been in the market for quite a while — 30-years and counting — and in the process has solidified its position as a trading services powerhouse. This derivatives dealer has offices in major financial centers, and provides Australians with a wide range of offerings through its CMC Markets Stockbroking Account and Next Generation trading platform.
Australia’s best value online broker is packed with innovative tools at excellent pricing. It is both versatile and unique, providing Australian’s with the ability to trade both locally and internationally, whether it be on shares, bonds, commodities, indices, or Exchange Trade Options (ETOs).
Great for Trading Both on ASX and Overseas Markets
Even if you’re outside the boundaries of Australia, it has a truly sophisticated international bent and reach. CMC provides online trading to foreign exchange across world markets, in addition to provide complex instruments such as spread betting, contracts for differences (CFD) for the more advanced traders.
As a result, CMC enables the average Australian investors to access a much broader range of investment products, both locally and overseas.
These broad range of useful features is one of the reasons CMC has been crowned as Canstar’s Broker of the Year for the past eight years. Further burnishing its reputation as undisputed overall leader is the fact that it has also won other multiple industry awards for customer satisfaction and overall value for money.
That being said, our reviews caught some areas of customer discontent, especially surrounding the provision of certain amenities a trading platform of its caliber ought to have. As at the time of this article, it lacks a feature that allows users to pull up capital gains loss/tax at the end of the fiscal year.
Other frustrations boiled over concerning their turnaround time for handling paperwork. On the flip side, users commend the fact that it is the cheapest per trade and happily note that the price is further discounted when you trade on it more often.
If speed is a competitive advantage, CMC Markets has it in spades. It offers traders the ability to execute fast trades with low brokerage, coupled with a range of integrated research tools.
CMC should perhaps also be considered for a Casual Trader Award for its CMC Classics account. Designated for investors who trade less than 10 times a month, it only costs $11 or 0.1% per trade, whichever amount is greater.
If you fall within this category of trading frequency, you will also appreciate its substantial reservoir of educational resources like videos, ebooks, podcasts, and articles.
Apart from its impressive suite of resources, CMC’s Active Investor account also provides a deeper level of market-leading service with the addition of an expert local support centre. This account comes with the Pro version of the CMC platform, and is tailored for those who do 30 trades each month at a cost of $9.90 or 0.08% for each trade, whichever one is greater.
Key Features and Takeaways
- Market data that is up to date
- Multiple channel trading
- Order types to help hedge risk
- Its 3 membership options diversify account types into Classic, Active Investor and Premium Trader to hedge your risks.
- Classic – This is CMC Market’s standard platform that comprises primarily of low brokerage fees but with a host of useful features on a world-class platform.
- Active Investor – All Classic features, plus free access to daily emails providing technical analysis and data, in addition to eScreener research reports.
- Premium Trader – All Active Investor features in addition to exclusive access to CMC Premium Client events and educational resources, free tax and portfolio reporting.
- An award winning provider with a wide range of trading options with a full suite of investment options from shares to managed funds.
Best Trading Platform — IG Share Trading
Why deal shares with IG?
Well, it has a lot of things going for it, namely: it is an established provider, founded in 1974 and boasts of an excellent trading platform that is able to go toe-to-toe with any industry leader, especially its mobile app that has one of the most comprehensive charting packages among all the brokers.
This global online share trading provider has built a solid reputation by charging some of the lowest brokerage fees for Australian share trading: $8.00 or 0.1% per trade, whichever figure is greater.
In addition to a monthly fee waiver, unlike most trading platforms, it also sweetens the pot by incentivizing traders with free Qantas points with each trade.
IG’s share trading through its intuitive platforms and apps allow you to buy and sell shares for much less, and from a wide range of international markets. It’s breadth is far-reaching, offering its users access to Australian shares, along with the opportunity to trade more than 11,000 international shares at $10 USD per trade and a foreign exchange rate of just 0.3%.
Great UX and Design for Day Trading
While affordability and reliability are primarily what it is known for, its sharing dealing experience is remarkable, deftly combined with excellent trading tools.
IG provides a consistent and seamless user-friendly experience on its trading platform which extends to its mobile app. These include excellent technical analysis features, along with mechanisms for screening and charting.
This trading platform mixes fundamental research with third-party features and tools which are high-quality, like Trading Central and Auto Chartist. These aim to give traders invaluable actionable insights to place better trades, especially for beginners.
Speaking of new, beginner traders, IG also includes an exceptional education segment that provides weekly webinars, trading courses, and live sessions. Its IG Academy can be accessed through either the website or mobile app.
IG Academy is filled with trading courses that can be easily accessed online, covering all levels of trading. There are weekly webinars, along with live sessions which are provided every weekday. These courses are designed to save time and can be digested in convenient time spans, usually taking between 20-85 minutes to complete.
IG enables investors to trade over 9,000 shares across 19 international exchanges, ETFs, investment trusts, and funds.
- Cheap FX and brokerage rate
- An established, respected provider
- Offers Qantas Points as incentives
- Providers both Australian and international share trading
Best Bank for Share Trading – CommSec.
One of the largest online brokers in Australia, CommSec is wholly owned by the Commonwealth Bank, serving as its trading arm. However, you don’t have to be a customer of Commonwealth Bank in order to open a CommSec Share Trading Account.
This trusted brand provides trading exposure to international markets with access to 25 exchanges throughout the world. Its has a simple sign-up mechanism that allows you to be up-and-running as quickly as possible, perhaps trading in as little as 5 minutes from sign-up inception.
While its shares trading fees are expensive, CommSEC attempts to balance this by providing traders a valuable variety of trading tools and market research, including news and data monitoring tools. Moreover, it charges no inactivity fee.
With the launch of CommSec Pocket, a new micro-investing app which turns saving into investments, CommSec is signalling innovation leadership,.
Touting itself as a product that provides simplified investing anywhere and at anytime, CommSec Pocket allows you to start investing with as little as $50. This micro-investing mainly targets new investors with very competitive brokerage fees, in addition to its low minimum investment requirement.
CommSec Pocket’s brokerage fees start at just $2, which favorably compares to the normal minimum first investment of $500 offered by most trading platforms for share trading and brokerage fees of around $10-$25. Because it is focused on savers who have not yet made the leap into investing, it provides a list of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in an easy-to-understand format.
However, its disadvantages include having no live chat support and charging for WebIRESS charting services. which can be paired and unified with a Commonwealth Direct Investment Account (CDIA),
Up-to-date market prices and data is made possible by the CommSec Share Trading Account, which provides these as they occur in real-time. It also permits you to access videos, reports, and analysis from CommSec analysts directly inside its platform.
These hub of insights are designed to support all skill levels through comprehensive analysis from by a team of market analysts and economists.
These educational insights allow investors to develop and hone their skills along the way. Speaking of trading along the way, the free CommSec Equities App allows you to stay on top of the market wherever you are, and whenever you like.
- Single Commonwealth Bank Login – This single login provides a unified interface which eases switching between CommSec and NetBank that helps to integrate all your finances in one place. You will need to set up a Commonwealth Direct Investment Account (CDIA) transaction account.
- It accommodates both novice and advanced investors through a robust set of features that are simultaneously simple for both categorizes to grasp.
- Prices, news, and research provided in real-time: Good effort made to keep investors up to date with daily updates and live commentary from industry experts with the latest news from Australian investment markets.
- No minimum trading requirement is imposed standard Australian shares account.
- No inactivity fee is charged.
- Brokerage fees for trades over $1,000 tend to be high.
- CommSec Pocket app provides 7 simplified investment options to choose from, namely: Aussie Top 200, Global 100, Emerging Markets, Aussie Dividends, Tech Savvy, Sustainability Leaders, and Health Wise
Best Fixed-Share Trading/Cheapest Online Broker – SelfWealth
SelfWealth touts itself as Australia’s cheapest online broker, and it has the awards to back up its claim. Apart from its award winning pedigree, (Money Magazine has crowned it with the Best of the Best Awards for Cheapest Online Broker for three years in a row) it has established an exceptional online and mobile trading tools that provide investors with value for money.
Its other accolades over the years include being named as Finder’s Best Share Trading Account for Australian equities (2019), Fintech Business of the Year award (2016) for the ease of their online platform, and several for Software Innovation at the Australian Business awards (2016 and 2017).
SelfWealth allows investors to buy and sell shares for a flat brokerage fee of $9.50 per trade. However, their clarion call is to help their members get returns without the downside of paying commissions.
The transparency of transaction costs they provide, with no hidden commissions is a huge part of SelfWealth’s appeal. Another refreshing fallout of this policy is that investors can readily predict their trading cost even before taking a position.
This is designed to let the users of their platform to make an informed decision upfront as to whether or not SelfWealth is a good-fit for their particular circumstance.
Sharing some similarity with eToro’s copy trading feature, SelfWealth was conceptualized at its inception allow individual investors build a target portfolio by benchmarking their own portfolio against those regarded as like-minded investors in order to mirror how they trade.
Investors seeking out ideas from other investors and monitoring their peers’ performance is meant to remove the roadblock of doubt regarding the quality of stock ideas presented to investors.
SelfWealth offers two products namely, SelfWealth INTELLIGENCE and SelfWealth TRADING.
The aforementioned copy trading is facilitated by SelfWealth INTELLIGENCE, which provides a suite of tools to facilitate the benchmarking of an account against the performance of similar-minded investors. It includes features that allow the measurement of comparative performance and risk of a portfolio, along with the ability to review featured stocks.
On the other hand, SelfWealth TRADING grants investors the ability to trade shares at a price that is competitive. It applies a flat fee of $9.50, regardless of the trade size, thereby providing clear benefits to all investors, but especially those who are trading large parcels of shares.
Unfortunately, those at SelfWealth who want to broaden their portfolio with more global fare are stymied because there isn’t any international share trading available.
However, the breadth of informative materials is a breath of fresh air, as SelfWealth allows viewing of your daily performance and estimated earnings, in addition to the top stocks of the day.
The platform also issues a SafetyRating and WealthScore. The SafetyRating score enables you know how diverse your portfolio is, while the WealthScor represents the health of the portfolio.
- Transparency of costs through a clear, fixed, flat-fee brokerage: Unlike platforms like CommSec where any trade above $1,000 will usually cost you around $20. Moreover, you own your shares directly without them being held under custody on your behalf.
- Cheapest in Australia with no hidden account fees and costs: SelfWealth doesn’t charge monthly account fees, dormancy fees, and hidden commissions. This guarantees that you the bulk of your trading effort accrues to you.
- Access to free live market data available to members
- Stock research tools along with powerful community data that you can benchmark and learn from
- No minimum balance required.
- No commissions charged
Australian Stock Trading Laws
Every country has rules and regulations regarding financial transactions, especially with regard to high-risk and volatile activities such as online trading. Australia is no exception, with the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) maintaining operating rules designed to protect investors and maintain good faith and confidence in the market.
Much of Australia’s securities law and regulation revolves around mandatory disclosure and conduct. These are largely established to prevent improper practices connected with fraudulent dealing, false trading, and insider trading.
Most of what we have presented is a summarized and heavily abridged version. To gain a comprehensive look at the full body of ASX rules, click here.
ASX Operating Rules
There are several guidelines and regulations codified in the ASX Operating Rules manual, but because of time and space we will only focus on a handful that are fundamental to accessing the Australian market, and provide general and trading rules stipulations.
Access to the Australian Market
The three broad categories ASX uses to delineate market actors or participants with regard to ASX market products are either to designate them as a Market Participant, Principal Trader, or Market Maker.
With regard to trading platforms, messages are only allowed to be entered into a platform by someone designated as a Trading Participant.
In order to legitimately gain access to the Australian market as a Market Participant, a potential investor must first lodge an application on a “form prescribed by ASX and satisfy ASX that it” meets any of the following criteria (this is an abridged listing, so for the full conditions and stipulations, go here):
- Possess an Australian Financial Services Licence which authorises the holder to carry on business as a Market Participant.
- Possess the adequate and requisite resources to comply and adhere to the obligations required under ASX rules.
- Have sufficient resources and adequate processes to prevent any occurrence, whether by action or inaction that results in a Product not being fair and orderly.
- Be a person of high business integrity.
The way the stature is written, it becomes obvious that the criteria for Trading Partner/Participant subsumes the role of Market Participant.
Those aspiring to become a Trading Participant under ASX’s trading platform have to demonstrate to the body that the applicant has the ability to maintain the knowledge and technical capacity required to execute the trading permission being sought.
Trading rules are necessary to ensure the smooth and orderly operations of ASX market. These rules covers things such as how to maintain fair and orderly markets, handle requests for trade cancellations, communications with the platform, and so on.
A few trading rules are listed below:
- Fair and Orderly Markets: All trading messages must reflect accuracy of details. It is the Trading Participant that is responsible for maintaining the integrity and bona fides of the communication.
- If a trading message embedded with a Trading Participant’s unique identifier is submitted, the Trading Participant is responsible for that message because the system will assume it was submitted by the Trading Participant.
- ASX may take any necessary action to ensure that a market for one of more products is fair, equitable, orderly and transparent including, but not limited to the following:
- Cancelling or modifying a transaction
- Suspending or halting trading in one or more Products for any period of time deemed necessary to rectify the underlying problem
- Instructing a market participant to take – or not take – a particular course of action in connection with the affected markets.
- Directing that Products be settled at a price other than provided by the Rules, under such conditions that ASX determines.
- A Market Participant may not:
- Take advantage or exploit a malfunction or breakdown in ASX trading systems or procedures.
- Do anything or take any action that will result in a Market for a Product not being fair or orderly.
- Technical Failure: In the situation that access to a Trading Platform is impaired or affected due to system or communication failure, then ASX may decide to
- Impose restrictions such as Session states that it considers appropriate in regard to the Product
- Suspend or restrict the trading in one or more of the affected Products.
- ASX will take any other steps that deems necessary to ameliorate the situation.
Finding The Top Trading Platform
Stock trading is one of the most remarkable inventions of capitalism, allowing investors especially active traders, to take and dispense of ownership stakes in other businesses. The best stock trading platforms in Australia allow you to do so seamlessly, with minimal hassles while providing you with the resources to make the most informed decisions along the way.
If you want to buy shares, especially by doing your own trading, then you need to have a stock trading platform that provides the flexibility and tools you need to succeed.
If you are already an active investor, you probably have a good idea of what you want in a brokerage platform, such as “low costs, premium research, innovative strategy tools and a comprehensive trading platform.”
The growth of mobile adoption in the financial arena also means that you can now trade your brokerage account from an online platform.
While this has increased benefits such as providing more educational experiences, comprehensive charting tools for day traders and a wider variety of order types for option traders, it has nevertheless added another layer of complexity by spurring a variety of different product categories.
So, while there are several trading platforms available for Australians looking to trade shares, with this abundance comes the challenge of finding the right trading platform based on individual priorities.
This is especially important if you are a new investor, where the correct brokerage account is much more than just a platform for placing trades.
The best trading platforms provide a solid investing foundation and are built to function as a lifelong portfolio co-pilot.
They are an integrated investment and analysis platforms that provide opportunities to teach, and advise even as your skills, strategy mature and evolve.
The best ones emphasise the importance of having the right tools to make an informed decision, so they incorporate features that provide traders with both a high-level and granular view of market operations.
In summary, there are plenty of things to consider when comparing trading platforms and we have distilled them in our categorization of the best stock trading platforms in Australia.
Stock trading has come along way since the era when the only way to invest in stocks was through licensed stock brokers, who were the only intermediaries permitted to place trades on your behalf. But this progress has brought along with it the urgency of finding the platform that provides the best strategic advantage for your type of trading.
While there are a lot of things to consider when choosing an online trading, it all boils down to how you intend to eventually use the platform. To pierce the fog of confusion and provide clarity, especially for beginners just starting out, there are several questions that you need to ask.
In terms of the diversity of your portfolio, are you just buying local Australian shares or global ones too? Are you a savvy, advanced investor, or are you a beginner just tipping your feet into the water?
Clearcut answers to these questions will help clarify your needs and determine the type of share trading platform that will be the most beneficial in supporting them.
Investing in shares is regarded as an integral part of every traders overall strategy of wealth creation. For active traders trying to beat the market, it is important to have a clear idea of the features you desire in a brokerage, such as innovative strategy, comprehensive tools, premium research, and low cost.
There are tradeoffs to be made in choosing an online brokerage, but the best of the breed manage to provide vital competitive advantages for the type of trader they cater to.