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 Saxo Bank, a bank and broker based in Denmark. 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 Saxo Bank is a right broker for you to invest your savings, or if another broker suits you better.
Pros and cons of using Saxo Bank
Read on to get the full low-down of Saxo.
The story of Saxo
The story of Saxo begins with its founding in Copenhagen (Denmark) in 1992. The company was established with a vision to make global financial markets more accessible to a wide audience. By 1998, Saxo Group had launched one of the first online trading platforms in Europe, offering professional-grade tools and easy access to global financial markets for anyone interested in investing.
They've now grown massively across the globe. It serves over 1m customers and has over €100bn under management. You can pretty much open an account from anywhere. In 2018, they purchased the popular online broker BinckBank for €428m. All BinckBank customers were automatically switched over to the Saxo Bank platform for trading.
Saxo Bank gives you access to a large set of stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds as well as more sophisticated instruments for traders across 50 different exchanges.
It's free to create an account and in many countries where you use Saxo Bank, you'll pay only a transaction fee for whenever you buy or sell something.
However, in some markets like Italy, you pay different prices based on the profile you're on. There are four profiles ,which adds to the confusion. Essentially, the more you trade, the less you pay. Generally the fees are expensive though. Let's take a look at an example if you run an order from Italy:
We won't list all the countries Saxo Bank operates in so we suggest you go through their website and double-check with your country of residency.
Custody fee of 0.15%
Note that you also have to pay a custody fee in some countries. If you have any stocks, ETFs or bonds on Saxo Bank, you'll have to pay a custody fee of 0.15% per year with a monthly minimum fee of €5. However, the fee varies based on your country of residence so double-check directly on Saxo's website for the latest information.
Currency conversion fee
Saxo Bank charges up to 1% if you don't have an account in the currency of transaction. For example, if you're buying a US stock, they'll automatically convert your euros into US dollars and charge the conversion fee.
Saxo Bank will charge you an inactivity fee of $100 (or equivalent in euro) if you don't execute any trades on your account for a period of six consecutive months. This pushes you to trade and certainly isn't helpful when adopting a buy-and-hold strategy.
Fees for ETFs
Buying €1,000 worth of IWDA with the Belgian version of Saxo Bank will cost €9.75 in transaction fees. This makes Saxo Bank stand out as quite an expensive proposition. The same can be said for a lot of the other markets where they operate from.
Find out all the fees directly on Saxo Bank's website.
Convenience of Saxo
As Saxo Bank is very established, they help a lot of investors around Europe with their taxes.
Targeted for traders
Saxo Bank supports so many 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. It's clear that Saxo Bank targets the experienced trader rather than the beginning investor. It's similar to trading platforms such as eToro and MEXEM.
Automated savings plans
No, Saxo Bank 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 make the traders manually.
Similar to many brokers, Saxo Bank 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 Saxo Bank. You almost have to resort to consolidating your monthly investments into large and infrequent contributions, like every quarter or six months. The only caveat is that if you can do "fractional trading" on all Crypto FX pairs and CFD indices. However this is more suited for advanced traders.
Interest on invested cash
At the time of writing, Saxo Bank is offering up to 2.64% interest on cash for some of their customers. This is the cash which remains uninvested in your balance. However, double-check where you're based and what the local Saxo Bank offer is as it varies between countries.
You can tell that Saxo Bank is a large company. They have a very detailed help desk and you can ask them questions directly by email or through the phone. They responded to our questions by email fairly quickly.
🇮🇹 Tax regime
As an Italian investor, you can choose to operate under the administered or declaratory tax regime. This is very helpful, especially if you don't want to make the declarations yourself.
🇧🇪 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 Saxo Bank helps you with this and handles it for you.
🇧🇪 Dividend tax
Fortunately Saxo Bank helps 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.
Fortunately Saxo Bank handles this for you.
🇧🇪 Does Saxo Bank require declaring the account to the NBB?
No. As Saxo Bank offers accounts directly in Belgium (from their acquisition of BinckBank which was registered in Belgium), you don't need to declare your account to the Belgian National Bank.
Setting up an account
Let's dig into the details of setting up your Saxo Bank account for the first-time.
Saxo Bank uses itsme
Creating an account with Saxo Bank is quite smooth. If you're resident in Belgium, you can set one up using itsme.
Accounts take a few days to be approved
In Belgium it's quite fast if you use itsme. In other European markets, it can take a few days to be approved as a Saxo Bank user.
Create an account on the web and mobile
Besides a web platform, Saxo Bank is accessible through their Saxo Trader Go mobile app for both iOS and Android. From our experience, it's a bit faster to use the app rather than going through the web portal.
Ease of use: 2/5
As it's a trading app, Saxo Bank shows many details that aren't very relevant to most investors, especially for buy-and-hold index investors. It can get quite confusing and slightly daunting when using their app. That's why we've rated it a 2 out of 5!
Does Saxo Bank offer children accounts?
Unfortunately Saxo Bank does not offer children accounts. The investments will have to be in your name.
Does Saxo Bank offer joint accounts?
Yes, you can set up a joint account on Saxo Bank. This is helpful if you wish to invest alongside your partner.
Is Saxo Bank safe?
As we’re dealing with our long-term savings, safety and trust is vital.
Who is the regulator?
This is an interesting one as they adhere to 15 different jurisdictions with many in the European Union. The primary regulator for Saxo Bank is the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (DFSA) as it's headquartered in Denmark.
When Saxo Bank purchased BinckBank, they operated under a Dutch banking licence and regulated by the AFM and DNB - the Dutch regulators - and continue to do so. Again, it depends on where you'll be signing up for your Saxo Bank account.
Have they had any issues with the regulator?
Saxo Bank have had a few issues with various regulators since they started. One significant case was following the Swiss National Bank's decision to unpeg the Swiss Franc from the euro in 2015. This event led to Saxo Bank changing the filing price of orders executed on CHF currency pairs during low liquidity moments, which led to additional loses for some clients. The Danish regulator (DFSA) issued two reprimands to Saxo Bank for failing to provide adequate information to clients about limitations and difficulties in executing orders.
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 Saxo Bank account, it's protected up to €100,000.
Does Saxo Bank do securities lending?
Saxo Bank participates in securities lending. If you own stocks that are in demand in the securities lending market, Saxo Bank will borrow these stocks, deposit collateral into your account, and then lend the shares out to other investors. However, you have to opt-in for this service. You can find all the details on their website.
Because you have to explicitly opt-in to securities lending, we found the system very transparent, similar to MEXEM. In contrast, brokers like BUX or DEGIRO are not as transparent and can always lend out your shares.
Does Saxo Bank do payment for order flow?
Saxo Bank 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.
Saxo Bank vs other brokers
We have also compared Saxo Bank with other brokers, if you want to dig deeper into our best broker in Belgium guide.
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 Saxo Bank, 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.
Saxo Bank can be an overwhelming broker to use for first-time investors. It's better suited to more experienced traders as it has a variety of options. The pros of Saxo Bank is that's it's a global platform meaning you can use their service across a variety of countries and regions. It also helps by withholding taxes. However, its most important drawback is that it's expensive in comparison to other European 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
How reliable is Saxo Bank?
Saxo Bank is reliable. Saxo Bank is regulated by the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (DFSA) which means you are protected by the European Investor Protection Scheme up to €20,000. Saxo Bank has a good reputation in the industry.