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 ING Self Invest and Bolero which is owned by KBC, 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 ING Self Invest compares to Bolero for different criteria. Read on to get the full details!

ING Self Invest

✅ Pros of ING Self Invest ❌ Cons of ING Self Invest
Handles all taxes for you High fees
Easy to set up if you're an ING customer No fractional shares
You need to be an ING customer
Monthly custody fee
Not suited for monthly investing
No savings plans

Story of ING Self Invest

You can access ING Self Invest directly through ING's website and apps.

ING launched their own trading platform aimed for do it yourself investors in September 2021 called ING Self Invest. Trying to catch up to their bank rival KBC's Bolero or Belfius's Re=Bel, ING Self Invest focuses on offering an easy way to put your money to work and start trading in only a few minutes (provided you're already an ING customer). ING Self Invest makes it easy to buy stocks, ETFs, funds and bonds. You can access their service directly in your Home'Bank app or on the web. Their goal is to attract younger Belgian investors by providing an easy app to invest. Note that ING Self Invest is only available to you if you're an existing ING customer. If you wish to use ING Self Invest, you have to sign up for a bank account with ING first and then you'll be able to access the app.

Fees for ETFs

For ETFs, ING Self Invest has two prices. When buying on the Euronext Amsterdam, Euronext Brussels or Euronext Paris exchange, the transaction fee is 0.35% of the amount, with a minimum of €1.00. For the other exchanges, the fee increases to 0.5% with a minimum of €1. IWDA can be bought on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange, so buying €1,000 worth will cost €3.50. This is an average price compared to other brokers..

Convenience of ING Self Invest

TOB ✅ ING Self Invest handles it
Dividend tax ✅ ING Self Invest handles it
Reynders tax ✅ ING Self Invest handles it
Declare account to the NBB ✅ No need
Savings plan ❌ No
Customer Support ✅ Chat, contact form, phone
❌ No direct email
Fractional shares ❌ No

As ING Self Invest is a Belgian broker owned by ING and only for their own customers, they handle a lot of the heavy lifting for Belgian investors including the TOB and Reynders Tax.

Setting up an account

🕰️ Time to open an account ✅ Fast (if you're already an ING customer)
🙋 itsme ✅ Yes
📱 Mobile app ✅ Yes
💻 Web app ✅ Yes
🙂 Ease of use ⭐ 2/5
🧒 Children accounts ❌ No
💑 Joint accounts ✅ Yes
💼 Business accounts ❌ No

Unfortunately, you need an ING bank account to use ING Self Invest. Opening a bank account with them can take a few days. However, you can create a new ING account using itsme. At least this speeds up the process.

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

ING Self Invest is owned by one of Belgium's biggest banks, ING. This provides us with a sense of safety for our assets, especially if we're investing a large chunk of our life savings. They are regulated by the Belgian regulator, the FSMA. ING does not engage in securities lending or payment for order flow (PFOF).

The full review

Learn more about the pros and cons of ING Self Invest in our 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 pretty 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
💼 Business 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 but you can set up an account for your business.

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 ING Self Invest 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”.

Summary

In this article we highlighted the key differences between ING Self Invest and Bolero, two Belgian brokers. ING Self Invest is slightly cheaper to purchase ETFs. But cost is not the only factor to take in consideration when you’re putting your savings to work. Although more expensive, you don't need to be a KBC customer in order to use Bolero. 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.