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 DEGIRO and Bolero, 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 DEGIRO compares to Bolero for different criteria. Read on to get the full details!

DEGIRO

✅ Pros of DEGIRO ❌ Cons of DEGIRO
Cheap No fractional shares
Large selection of ETFs Issues with the regulator
Popular in Belgium Confusing app
Transferring shares is expensive
Doesn't help with all taxes
Connectivity costs

Story of DEGIRO 🇳🇱🇩🇪

DEGIRO emphasises the fact they are on the largest brokers in Europe.

The founders of DEGIRO were former employees of BinckBank. They founded the company originally in 2008 and originally focused on professional investors. However, they started to reach success once they launched their online trading platform in 2013. They quickly grew across the European Union and now serve more than 2.5 million customers which makes it one of the largest brokers.

DEGIRO is now part of the German Flatex bank. It has thousands of ETFs and stocks to choose from and it’s one of the brokers on the market that offers the best value. Like many brokers, they started with stocks, but you can now also trade commodities and make margin calls.

Fees for ETFs

Essentially, DEGIRO charges two types of fees:

  • transaction fees
  • connectivity fees

The transaction fee depends on the inclusion of the ETF in their core selection. For those ETFs, the transaction fee consists only of a €1.00 handling fee, instead of €3.00 for ETFs not in the core selection. There's a caveat though: you need to buy the ETF on the right exchange. ETFs are traded on stock exchanges. Famous ones are the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or Nasdaq, or Xetra and Euronext Amsterdam in Europe.

Type Transaction fee
ETFs (core selection) €1
ETFs (non core selection) €3

As an example, buying €1,000 of the popular iShares MSCI World Accumulating ETF (known as its ticker IWDA) when using the Dutch DEGIRO will cost just a €1 transaction fee when buying it Euronext Amsterdam.

A peculiarity of DEGIRO in comparison to other brokers is that they charge a connectivity fee of €2.50 per stock exchange per year. This means that you need to pay €2.50 in a given year for each stock exchange where you've purchased or sold anything.

As a Belgian investor, you have to choose between signing up to the Dutch or French version of DEGIRO. DEGIRO waives the connectivity cost for the home exchanges:

  • 🇳🇱 DEGIRO.nl: no fee for Euronext Amsterdam and Euronext Brussels
  • 🇫🇷 DEGIRO.fr: no fee for Euronext Paris and Euronext Brussels

DEGIRO's fee structure varies per country which can make it confusing.

Convenience

Savings plan ❌ No
Fractional shares ❌ No
Customer support ✅ FAQ, chat, email, phone
🇮🇹 Taxes ❌ Declaratory regime
🇧🇪 TOB ✅ DEGIRO handles it
🇧🇪 Dividend tax ❌ DEGIRO doesn't handle it
🇧🇪 Reynders tax ❌ DEGIRO doesn't handle it
🇧🇪 Declare your account to the NBB ❌ You have to do it yourself

For Belgian investors, the handling of the stock exchange transaction tax (TOB) is what DEGIRO sets apart from the other foreign brokers. However, you're still responsible for declaring any dividends yourself, as well as the Reynders tax. On top, you have to declare your DEGIRO account to the Belgian National Bank.

Setting up an account

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

Account openings for DEGIRO are quick and usually only take a day. A drawback is that DEGIRO does not use itsme, meaning that you'll have to get out your ID card or passport for identification. They also don't support children accounts nor joint accounts.

Safety

Regulator BaFin (Germany) + AFM (Netherlands)
Past issues with the regulator ❌ Yes
Protection of financial assets €20,000
Cash safeguarded by deposit guarantee €100,000
Securities lending ❌ Yes
Payment for order flow ❌ Yes

DEGIRO is one of the few brokers that have had past issues with regulators, namely the Dutch regulator (AFM). They also lend out your securities, as well as receive payment for order flow, a controversial revenue model for brokers.

The full review

Learn about all the pros and cons of investing with DEGIRO in our in-depth review.

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.

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 DEGIRO or 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).

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.