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 Easybroker, a Dutch broker. 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 Easybroker is a right broker for you to invest your savings, or if another broker suits you better.
Pros and cons of using Easybroker
The story of Easybroker
Easybroker began it's journey in 2014 with a focus on the Belgian and Dutch markets. They formed an initial and crucial partnership with Interactive Brokers which allows them to offer a variety of investment choices. Both LYNX and MEXEM are brokers available to Belgians that also benefit from this partnership.
They claim to serve more than 15,000 customers in Belgium and the Netherlands and provide a variety of access to different exchanges and all types of securities.
Let's take a look at their offer.
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.
Easybroker have quite a standard fee structure which is based on a commission of each purchase. Let's take a closer look at the pricing:
External transfer costs are free
Easybroker doesn't charge fees to transfer funds away which is a bonus if you're looking to switch brokers down the line.
However, note that you're only able to withdraw once every 30 days, otherwise you'll pay €1 per withdrawal if you use SEPA. The price is €8 for using a bank transfer.
Fees for ETFs
Easybroker is one of the cheapest broker on the market. For instance, it costs €3.00 to buy €1,000 of the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IE00B5BMR087). Only MEXEM and the other neo-brokers on the market are cheaper.
Convenience of Easybroker
Targeted for traders
Although their branding focuses on the "ease of use", it's still a platform built for traders. In a similar vein to Interactive Brokers, they offer the "Trader Work Station". This platform is only in English but allows you to track all the market data and has a full suite of trading options. Subsequently, it can quickly get complicated for new users. Easybroker supports 100+ different types of orders. You can run complicated orders like limit, market, stop, stop limit, market if touched, limit if touched, trail, relative, etc... This means it's a powerful broker, but it also makes it a lot more complex in use. Note that they also have a full integration with TradingView which is a powerful trading analysis tool thanks to their partnership Interactive Brokers.
Automated savings plans
No. Easybroker 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.
A popular investment strategy is euro-cost averaging, where you invest periodically instead of investing large lump sums in one go. You invest at fixed times, for instance every month, regardless of how the markets are performing. Most people are paid monthly, so it makes sense for their investments to follow the same pattern. Fortunately Easybroker offers fractional shares!
Easybroker has quite good customer service in comparison to other brokers. They respond quickly to emails and answer your questions in a clear and transparent manner. Their FAQ covers most of your queries. Note that there are quite a lot of negative reviews on Trustpilot indicating that customers are not pleased with the fact that the platform is only in English and not in Dutch. However, their team is on there answering queries and being helpful.
🇧🇪 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 Easybroker handles it for you.
🇧🇪 Dividend tax
Easybroker doesn't help you with the dividend tax. In Belgium, any dividend you perceive is taxed at 30%. Accumulating funds, which directly reinvest dividends, are a way around this tax. On the other hand, distributing funds distribute their dividends, which means they're taxable.
🇧🇪 Reynders Tax
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.
Unfortunately Easybroker doesn't withhold this tax for you. You will have to calculate and declare it yourself.
🇧🇪 Does Easybroker require declaring the account to the NBB?
Yes, your Easybroker account is outside of Belgium so you have to declare it to the National Bank of Belgium as well, as on your tax returns every year.
Setting up an account
Let's dig into the details of setting up your Easybroker account for the first-time.
Time to open an account
Setting up an account through the app is possible, although it’s not very user friendly. You need to run through a series of questions concerning security, profile, education, experience, product knowledge, etc… which are easier to answer from a computer rather than on your mobile phone due to the complexity. The opening time takes a few days to be processed so it's not instantaneous.
There is no minimum deposit on Easybroker. If you do want to start investing with margin, you'll need to deposit a minimum of €2,000.
Create an account on the web
It's quite easy to register an account using Easybroker. The first step involves adding your phone number and verifying your number through a text message. You'll then have to fill in your details, upload your documents stating who you are and then you're account will be reviewed and checked. To open an account, you'll need your IBAN, a proof of address (make sure the document is not older than four months!) plus a copy of our passport or ID.
Ease of use: 2/5
As it's purely a trading app, Easybroker shows many details that aren't very relevant to most investors, especially for buy-and-hold index investors. This makes the mobile experience can get quite clunky and fairly difficult to find the information you need to make an investment decision. On the web version, there are too many options for investors on the beginning of their journey. You can use a lot of the tools which are powered by Interactive Brokers but it can quickly get a bit complicated to use. The fact that you're unable to switch the language to French or Dutch means we've rated it a 2 out of 5!
Children accounts and joint accounts
It's not clear if you're able to open a joint account using Easybroker. They suggest you contact them directly to ask. Note that you can't create children accounts so all investments have to be in your name.
You can create a business account on Easybroker but note that you have a minimum of €25 per month in fees for this service.
Is Easybroker safe?
Who is the regulator?
Easybroker is a regulated entity in the Netherlands. Therefore it's under the supervision of the AFM.
Have they had any issues with the regulator?
Based on our research, we can't find any information that Easybroker has had any issues with any regulator.
How much of your assets are protected by the investor protection scheme?
Your assets are protected by the standard €20,000 European investor protection scheme as Easybroker are based in the EU.
Is your cash protected by the deposit guarantee scheme?
No it doesn't have that protection. This is because it works directly with Interactive Brokers so operates under their Investor Protection schemes. One of them is the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which covers assets up to $500,000. They also have an extra insurance coverage from Lloyd's of London which covers up to $900,000 in cash.
Does Easybroker do securities lending?
Easybroker does participate in securities lending but you have to agree to join the "Stock Yield Enhancement Programme". You must have an account worth at least $50,000 (or € equivalent) in order to participate. If you own stocks that are in demand in the securities lending market, Easybroker will borrow these stocks, deposit collateral into the client's account, and then lend the shares out. However, you have to opt-in for this service and you can find all the details in their knowledge base.
Does Easybroker do payment for order flow?
No, They do not do payment for order flow (PFOF). It is an important source of revenue for many new brokers, including another German provider 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.
Easybroker vs other brokers
If you're Belgian, we compared Easybroker with other brokers for investing in ETFs.
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 Easybroker, 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.
Easybroker is one of the cheapest brokers on the market for Belgians. However, it's best suited to more experienced traders as it has a variety of options and can get a bit confusing at first. It feels a bit daunting to a first-time investor. The pros of Easybroker is that it allows for fractional shares and has a transparent fee structure. Unfortunately it doesn't help with all taxes as a Belgian investor. The platform is also only in English which can impact your understanding and use of the tool.