Choosing a broker is an important step when investing. There are many different options available, so picking the right one for you is challenging. We compare investing in ETFs through Bolero and MeDirect, two brokers available to Belgian investors. The goal of this article is to help you find out which broker is best for you for investing in ETFs. We’ll compare the brokers based on their fees, convenience, the ease of setting up an account and importantly the safety of your assets.

The overview

The table shows an overview of how Bolero compares to MeDirect for different criteria. Read on to get the full details!

Bolero

✅ Pros of Bolero ❌ Cons of Bolero
Handles all taxes for you High fees
Integration with itsme No fractional shares
Cheaper fees for the ETF playlist Confusing interface
Not suited for monthly investing
No savings plans

Story of Bolero 🇧🇪

Bolero's website is fairly traditional for a bank!

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.

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. For example, buying €1,000 of the IWDA ETF will cost you €5.00 in transaction fees.

Convenience

Savings plan ❌ No
Fractional shares ❌ No
Customer Support ✅ FAQ, phone, email
❌ No chat
TOB ✅ Bolero handles it
Dividend tax ✅ Bolero handles it
Reynders tax ✅ Bolero handles it
Declare account to the NBB ✅ No need

Bolero handles the transaction tax (TOB). They also automatically withhold and declare the 30% dividend tax on shares and distributing funds, as well as the Reynders tax on ETF profits. However, Bolero does not offer automated savings plans or fractional shares, which, combined with high fees, makes regular investing less practical, potentially necessitating larger, less frequent investments.

Setting up an account

🕰️ Time to open an account ❌ Process can take a few days
🙋 itsme ✅ Yes
📱 Mobile app ✅ Yes
💻 Web app ✅ Yes
🙂 Ease of use ⭐ 3/5
🧒 Children accounts ❌ No
💑 Joint accounts ✅ Yes

Creating a new account with Bolero is easy with itsme, but requires a Belgian phone number, and offers both individual and joint account options, with joint accounts only creatable via computer. Account approval can take a few days, but for KBC customers, this process is faster and allows easy linking of KBC current accounts for transactions. Bolero does not provide accounts for children.

Safety

Regulator FSMA
Past issues with the regulator ✅ None
Protection of financial assets €20,000
Cash safeguarded by deposit guarantee €100,000
Securities lending ✅ No
Payment for order flow ✅ No

Bolero, owned by Belgium's largest bank KBC, is regulated by the FSMA and has not had any known regulatory issues, providing a sense of safety for investors' assets. Bolero does not engage in securities lending or payment for order flow (PFOF).

The full review

Learn more about the pros and cons of Bolero in our review.

MeDirect

✅ Pros of MeDirect ❌ Cons of MeDirect
Handles all taxes for you High fees
itsme integration No fractional shares
High-interest savings accounts Ill-suited for monthly investing
Expensive to move your investments elsewhere

Story of MeDirect 🇧🇪

MeDirect's website is easy and clear to understand.

MeDirect was originally started back in 2004 and operated under the name "Mediterrean Bank". The current form of MeDirect was created in 2013 and initially offered a new type of savings account specifically for Belgians. They have around 80,000 clients in Belgium and more than 3 billion euros under management. You can do basic investing through ETFs, funds and bonds using their brokerage service.

Fees for ETFs

Buying €1,000 of the popular IWDA ETF will cost €10 when purchasing on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange. As you pay this fee for every purchase, it will compound to a lot of money and missed returns on the long term. MeDirect is one of the most expensive brokers in Belgium.

Convenience

Savings plan ❌ (only through MeManaged)
Fractional shares ❌ No
Customer Support ✅ FAQ, phone, contact form, email
❌ No chat
TOB ✅ MeDirect handles it
Dividend tax ✅ MeDirect handles it
Reynders tax ✅ MeDirect handles it
Declare account to the NBB ✅ No need

MeDirect, a Belgian-based broker, handles the transaction tax (TOB) and automatically withholds and declares the 30% dividend tax on shares and distributing funds as well as the Reynders tax on ETF profits. They don't offer automated savings plans. MeDirect does not support fractional shares, leading to higher investment costs and potentially necessitating less frequent, larger investment contributions.

Setting up an account

🕰️ Time to open an account ✅ Fast if you use itsme
🙋 itsme ✅ Yes
📱 Mobile app ✅ Yes
💻 Web app ✅ Yes
🙂 Ease of use ⭐ 3/5
💑 Joint accounts ✅ Yes
🧒 Children accounts ❌ No

Setting up a new MeDirect account is smooth thanks to itsme, reducing the need for manual form filling and ID verification. MeDirect's recent redesign has improved clarity and user experience, yet the platform still presents complexities and excessive details for average investors, especially those focused on buy-and-hold strategies and ETF investing. While MeDirect allows the creation of joint accounts, it does not offer the option to set up accounts for children, with a possible workaround being the creation of multiple portfolios in the primary account holder's name.

Safety

Regulator FSMA
Past issues with the regulator ✅ None
Protection of financial assets €20,000
Cash safeguarded by deposit guarantee €100,000
Securities lending ✅ No
Payment for order flow ✅ No

MeDirect, regulated by the FSMA in Belgium, has no known issues with any regulator. MeDirect does not engage in securities lending or payment for order flow (PFOF), practices which can introduce counterparty risks and conflicts of interest.

The full review

Read our review to get all the details about investing through MeDirect.

Curvo: easier than a broker

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 Bolero or MeDirect, 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).

How Curvo works
Investing through Curvo is an easy way to invest well in Belgium. All portfolios are managed by NNEK, a Dutch investment firm licensed with the 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.

Summary

In this article we highlighted the key differences between DEGIRO and Bolero, two brokers accessible to Belgians. DEGIRO is clearly the most cost-effective way of investing your savings. But cost is not the only factor to take in consideration when you’re putting your savings to work. Although more expensive, Bolero can provide a greater sense of trust and safety for us, Belgians. We built Curvo to make good investing easy and accessible to all Belgians, and we explained its benefits. Feel free to explore Curvo's app if you wish to learn more.