March 22, 2006

Trading Shares Online

If you have a portfolio of shares you might consider setting up an online portfolio to track their value – and while you are at it sign up to a site that lets you trade shares. The two most popular sites in Australia are CommSec and Etrade.

Both sites give you the ability to trade shares, but they also let you establish and maintain an up-to-date watch-list where you can add a listing of your shares, including the price paid, date and quantity purchased. This is a handy tool if you’d like to track the current value of your shares.

Both sites also allow you to trade shares. You’ll need to link your account to a bank account so you can transfer money in and out of your share trading account. Once your account has funds in it you can start to trade. Trading online is surprisingly easy – simply select the share you’d like to buy (you’ll need to enter the 3 character code), enter the quantity required, enter your password and submit your request.

A basic trade on CommSec costs $29.95 (up to $10,000) and Etrade charges $32.95. These rates come down the more you trade and both sites offer a discount on multiple trades purchased upfront. There are also other differences like initial opening balance required and the type of account and interest earned on the money invested. A good broker selection chart is available at here.

Trading shares online has many advantages – firstly it is cheaper then using the phone direct with a broker and secondly you can easily customise the way you trade. For example, if you buy shares and want to limit your downside you can set an automatic rule that sells your shares if they fall to a particular price. This can be based on price or percentage. The beauty of the online trade is that you don’t have to pay close attention to the market – as long as your preset the rules the site takes care of the rest. Trading online also means you can have easy access to your portfolio if you are overseas – all you need is access to the Internet.