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 Bolero, a broker based in Belgium. 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 Bolero is a right broker for you to invest your savings, or if another broker suits you better.
Pros and cons of using Bolero
Read on to get the full low-down of Bolero.
The story of Bolero
Bolero is one of the first online brokers in Belgium and launched in 1999. The name Bolero stands for Belgian OnLine Exchange Realtime Operated. It's owned and run by KBC Bank and allows Belgians to invest in many different types of assets. Note that you don't have to be a KBC customer to use Bolero.
Bolero has a wide range of ETFs to choose from and continues to be one of the most popular brokers in Belgium although it also charges some of the highest fees.
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.
Bolero charges higher transaction fees for higher transaction amounts, and different fees per exchange. This fee structure is fairly standard for a broker but can make the whole process a bit confusing. However, there are on the pricier side among their peers. For instance, buying anything on the other European exchanges costs at least €15! This makes Bolero unattractive when investing smaller amounts.
A few examples of transaction fees:
Through Bolero you can also buy options and the transaction fee is €3 per contract.
Fees for ETFs
Although Bolero recently reduced their pricing, unfortunately it's still one of the most expensive brokers in Belgium. As part of their new pricing, they launched the Bolero ETF playlist. Essentially, it reduces the price for a specific list of ETFs. They inspired themselves from DEGIRO's core selection in order to be competitive for more Belgians.
The transaction fees for ETFs in the Bolero playlist are as follows:
So for example, buying €1,000 of the IWDA ETF will cost €5.00 in transaction fees. The fee increases as you invest higher amounts. This is still more expensive than other brokers that charge little to no transaction fee:
Find out all the fees on Bolero.
It's expensive to move investments out of Bolero
Watch out as the price can get out of hand if you want to move away from Bolero to another broker. Transfer of assets from Bolero is €50 per share for stocks and bonds. It's one way that the broker ensures that you stay with them long-term!
Convenience of Bolero
As Bolero is a Belgian broker owned by KBC, 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 TOB (or "beurstaks" or "taxe boursière"). Fortunately, Bolero handles the payment and declaration of the TOB for you.
However, you have to watch out with some ETFs. Bolero surprised everyone when in July 2021 they increased the Belgian transaction tax of VWCE, a popular ETF among Belgians, to 1.32%. This is much higher than the 0.12% rate that other brokers in Belgium are still charging. They subsequently also raised the TOB tax rate for other ETFs to 1.32%. It is strange that brokers charge a different tax rate for the same ETF. The reason seems that the law around the Belgian transaction tax is unclear, so brokers interpret it slightly differently. If you want to know the details, feel free to read our resource on the topic.
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 Bolero 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, Bolero handles the Reynders tax for you so you don't have to worry.
Does Bolero require declaring the account to the NBB?
No need, as Bolero is a Belgian broker and your account is located in Belgium.
Automated savings plans
Bolero 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 and then make the trades.
It's one of the few brokers these days that still offers a phone service. This can be helpful if you have specific questions that can't be answered through another means. There's no chat service so you have make do with their helpdesk/FAQ. Our emails were answered quite promptly in comparison to other providers.
Similar to many brokers, Bolero 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 Bolero. 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 Bolero account for the first-time.
Bolero uses itsme
You can create a new Bolero account using itsme. This speeds up the process of creating an account. However, note that you can only create a Bolero account if you have a Belgian phone number.
Accounts take a while to be approved
The account creation can take a few days to get approved. The process can be sped up if you already are a KBC customer. You're able to easily link your KBC current account as a fixed current account to your Bolero account and you can also log in and sign transactions with your KBC bank card and card reader.
Create an account on the web and mobile
Besides a web platform, Bolero also offers a mobile app for both iOS and Android. Note that if you're creating a joint account, you can only do so via a computer and not on the mobile app.
Ease of use: 3/5
As it's a trading app, Bolero shows many details that aren't very relevant to most investors, especially for buy-and-hold index investors. This makes the mobile experience quite poor and fairly difficult to find the information you need to make an investment decision. However, being able to create an account using itsme makes things a lot smoother. That's why we've rated it a 3 out of 5!
Does Bolero offer children accounts?
Unfortunately Bolero does not offer children accounts. The investments will have to be in your name.
Does Bolero offer joint accounts?
Yes, you can set up a joint account on Bolero.
Is Bolero safe?
As we’re dealing with our long-term savings, safety and trust is vital.
Who is the regulator?
Bolero is owned by Belgium's largest bank, KBC. And as far as know, they've never been in trouble with the FSMA, the Belgian regulator. This provides us with a sense of safety for our assets, especially if we're investing a large chunk of our life savings.
Have they had any issues with the regulator?
Based on our research, we can't find any information that Bolero has had any issues with any regulator.
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 Bolero account, it's protected up to €100,000.
Does Bolero do securities lending?
They do not do securities lending. This means you don't risk certain types of counterparty risk.
Does Bolero do payment for order flow?
Bolero 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.
Bolero 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 Bolero ranks, using the example of buying €1,000 of the IWDA ETF:
We have also compared Bolero with other brokers, if you want to dig deeper into a specific comparison:
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 Bolero, 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.
Bolero has established itself as steady broker for Belgians, offering a comprehensive range of services for an online broker. You also know it's a safe option for investors as it's owned by Belgium's largest bank, KBC. It's a convenient option, especially as it 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
Can Bolero be trusted?
Yes. Bolero is owned by Belgium's largest bank, KBC. And as far as know, they've never been in trouble with the FSMA, the Belgian regulator. This provides us with a sense of safety for our assets, especially if we're investing a large chunk of our life savings. They also don't do securities lending or anything dodgy like that with your investments.