Choosing a broker is an important step when starting to invest. There are many different options available, so picking the right one for you is challenging. We take a closer look at Re=Bel, a broker based in Belgium and started by Belfius. We'll look at the pros and cons, the fees, convenience of setting up an account and safety. By the end, you'll be able to decide if Re=Bel is a right broker for you to invest your savings, or if another broker suits you better.
Pros and cons of using Re=Bel
Read on to get the full low-down of Re=Bel.
The story of Re=Bel
Belfius launched their own trading platform aimed for do it yourself investors in 2021 called Re=Bel. Trying to catch up to their bank rival KBC's Bolero, Re=Bel differentiation is to focus on promoting sustainable investing. Re=Bel stands for Resolute Belfius.
Re=Bel makes it easy to buy stocks and ETFs. They claim to have over 40,000 stocks available to purchase through their platform. They also heavily focus on themes such as AI investing and have "experts" provide stock tips. The sustainability principles of Re=Bel are brought to light when you're making a purchase on their app, you may encounter a "sustainability" warning.
Note that Belfius Re=Bel is only available to you if you're a Belfius customer. If you wish to use Re=Bel, you have to sign up for a bank account with Belfius first and then you'll be able to access the app.
It's free to create an account. Also, there's no membership fee. So in most cases, you'll only pay a transaction fee for whenever you buy or sell something.
Re=Bel charges higher transaction fees for higher transaction amounts, and different fees per exchange. This fee structure is fairly standard for a broker but makes it hard to know in advance what fee you'll be paying for your transaction. Their pricing is quite competitive for the market of Belgian brokers, but it's still more expensive than most foreign brokers.
Here are some examples of transaction fees:
High costs for currency conversion
Re=Bel charges a maximum 1% fee if you don't have an account in the currency of the security you're purchasing. For example, they'll automatically convert your euros into US dollars if you're buying a US stock. This is one of the highest conversion fees we've found amongst brokers!
Fees for ETFs
As seen above, the price is €6 up to €2,500 when buying an ETF on the right exchange. For example, buying €1,000 worth of IWDA costs €6.00 in fees, and increases as you invest higher amounts. This is a difference with other brokers where there's little to no transaction fee. This makes Re=Bel stand out as quite an expensive proposition for Belgian investors:
Find out all the fees on Re=Bel's website.
Convenience of Re=Bel
As Re=Bel is a Belgian broker owned by Belfius and only for their own customers, they handle a lot of the heavy lifting for Belgian investors.
TOB ("beurstaks" / "taxe boursière")
There’s a tax on the transaction every time you buy or sell a security in Belgium. The rules concerning the tax rate are complicated, also for ETFs. Depending on the characteristics of the ETF, the transaction tax varies between 0.12% and 1.32%.
Fortunately, Re=Bel handles the payment and declaration of the TOB for you.
There’s a 30% tax on dividends that you perceive through shares that you hold. This tax is applicable to individual stocks but also to distributing funds.
As Re=Bel is registered in Belgium, they automatically withhold and declare the dividend tax for you.
For ETFs that consist of at least 10% bonds, there is a 30% tax on the profits made when selling. For example, if you bought a bond ETF at €100 and end up selling it later for €130, your net profit will only be €21. The other €9 will go to the Belgian state through this tax.
Again, Re=Bel handles the Reynders tax for you so you don't have to worry.
Does Re=Bel require declaring the account to the NBB?
No need, as they are Belgian and part of the Belfius bank.
Automated savings plans
Re=Bel doesn't offer any saving plans or any type of automation for their customers. You'll have to manually send money towards your account to top it up.
Re=Bel isn't known as a very customer-friendly broker. They have a chat function but it's not the smoothest way to speak with them. As is common for big banks, they have a chat bot system so you have to pass through hoops to get through to them. You're unable to send them an email, fill out a form or even call them. Not specifically Re=Bel, but Belfius as a bank has 1.3/5 on Trustpilot, with the main complaints linked to the fact that their customer service is really poor.
Similar to many brokers in Belgium, Re=Bel does not offer fractional shares. You're forced to buy whole units of shares. Combined with the high fees, it becomes very impractical to invest on a monthly basis when using Re=Bel. You almost have to resort to consolidating your monthly investments into large and infrequent contributions, like every quarter or six months.
Setting up an account
Let's dig into the details of setting up your Re=Bel account for the first-time.
Belfius uses itsme
Unfortunately with Re=Bel, you need a Belfius bank account to use their service. Creating a bank account with them can take a few days to approved. You can create a new Belfius account using itsme. At least this speeds up the process of creating an account.
Accounts are approved quickly
The account creation on Re=Bel is very smooth as it takes all your Belfius account data. The issue as stated above is that you need to be a Belfius customer to use the app.
Create an account on the web and mobile
Besides a web platform, Re=Bel is accessible through the Belfius mobile app for both iOS and Android.
Ease of use: 2/5
As it's a trading app, Re=Bel shows many details that aren't very relevant to most investors, especially for buy-and-hold index investors. The app itself is pretty smooth and it's easy to find a specific stock or ETF you wish to purchase. However, being only able to create a Re=Bel account through your Belfius account means it's quite limited. That's why we've rated it a 2 out of 5!
Does Re=Bel offer children accounts?
Unfortunately Re=Bel does not offer children account. The investments will have to be in your name.
Does Re=Bel offer joint accounts?
Yes, you can set up a joint account on Re=Bel if you already have a joint account on Belfius.
Is Re=Bel safe?
As we’re dealing with our long-term savings, safety and trust is vital.
Who is the regulator?
Re=Bel is owned by one of Belgium's biggest banks, Belfius. This provides us with a sense of safety for our assets, especially if we're investing a large chunk of our life savings. Belfius is regulated by the FSMA and the Belgian National Bank.
Have they had any issues with the regulator?
Based on our research, we can't find any information that Re=Bel has had any issues with any regulator. Having said that, the history of Belfius the bank isn't all that rosy. It was created following the collapse of the Dexia group in 2011. The Belgian government bailed out Dexia and bought them for €4bn. Belfius then became 100% owned by the Belgian government.
How much of your assets are protected by the investor protection scheme?
Your assets are protected up to €20,000.
Is your cash protected by the deposit guarantee scheme?
Yes, if you have a cash balance on your Re=Bel account, it's protected up to €100,000.
Does Re=Bel do securities lending?
They do not do securities lending. This means you don't risk certain types of counterparty risk.
Does Re=Bel do payment for order flow?
Re=Bel does not do payment for order flow. PFOF is a notable source of income for many new brokers, including Trade Republic. This practice involves routing your orders to certain market makers, who then pay the broker for the right of executing these orders. PFOF can work at your detriment, as brokers may prioritise payment over executing the best possible trade for you.
Belfius Re=Bel vs other brokers
All brokers offer more or less the same service. So for most investors, the broker fees and handling of taxes have become the most important criteria to make a choice. The table below shows how Re=Bel ranks, using the example of buying €1,000 of the IWDA ETF:
We have also compared Re=Bel with other brokers, if you want to dig deeper into our best broker in Belgium guide.
The easier way: Curvo
Brokers push you to trade and to pick individual companies to invest in. Rather than picking individual stocks such as Amazon or Tesla, index funds are a way to buy the whole market, across all sectors and regions of the world. Essentially, you own a small portion of thousands of companies throughout the world. Instead of betting on a particular company, you are placing a bet on the global economy.
Rather than having to pick the right stocks or ETFs among the thousands available through a broker like Re=Bel, you invest in a portfolio that is tailored to you and your goals. These portfolios are composed of globally diversified index funds, meaning you earn a piece of the growth of the global economy, and they're best suited to make the most of your savings long term. And they're secure, as they're managed by NNEK, a Dutch investment firm under supervision of the regulator in the Netherlands (AFM).
We believe that investing is an important tool for our generation to improve our financial well-being and to prepare for our future. We are building Curvo to fulfil that vision, by making good investing easy and accessible to all:
- Diversified portfolio set up for you: The best portfolio for you is built by NNEK based on your time horizon and financial goals. Simply answer a short questionnaire and you’ll get everything set up for you.
- Automated savings plans: Through Curvo’s app you can set up a monthly contribution from €50. That means that money is automatically invested for you in your portfolio. Put your savings on autopilot!
- Fractional shares: All the money you send towards your portfolio is fully invested by NNEK. No cash is left on the side.
- No TOB: Significant savings as the portfolios aren’t liable for the Belgian transaction tax (or "TOB"). This saves you between 0.12% and 1.32% for every time you buy or sell!
- Sustainable investments: Your investments focus on one guiding principle: don’t invest in companies that are considered destructive to the planet. This means that sectors like non-renewable energy, vice products, weapons and controversial companies are all excluded.
- Project yourself into the future: Through Curvo you can see how much your portfolio is expected to be worth in the future. You can answer questions like “how will increasing my monthly contribution by €50, €100 or €200 affect my long-term savings?” to give a concrete idea for the “future you”.
Learn more on how it compares to investing through a broker.
Re=Bel is a new player for the Belgian market having only launched a couple of years ago. Considering you can only create an account on Re=Bel by being a Belfius customer is quite a significant barrier to entry. The ease of use of Re=Bel being integrated into the Belfius app (if you're a customer) is convenient especially as they handles all the taxes and administration for you.
However, its most important drawback is that it's expensive in comparison to other brokers. The fees add up and negatively impact your returns, especially if you're trying to invest on a monthly basis.
Questions you may have
What is the best broker in Belgium?
The answer is: it depends on your expectations! Brokers vary in terms of convenience, safety and price. We suggest you go through our list of best brokers in Belgium.