6 questions to ask your online investment platform
With so many investment platforms to choose from in South Africa, how do you pick the one that’s right for you?
To help you decide, we have created a checklist of six questions you should ask your online platform to help you separate the good from the bad and the ugly.
- What selection of investment do you offer?
- Is your platform professional and easy to use?
- What are your fees?
- If you go out of business, what happens to my money?
- What sort of information do you provide?
- Can I speak to a human?
Let us take a look at each of these questions in depth.
What selection of investment do you offer?
Diversity is key to any successful investment strategy. You’ll want an investment platform that offers multiple asset classes across various exchanges.
Check how many investment instruments they offer and what asset classes they cover. Make sure it offers more than just the local JSE and offshore exchanges.
If you have an appetite for a particular type of investment, such as unit trusts. Check with them first—because when it comes to market access, not all platforms are made equal.
Is your platform professional and easy to use?
Most professional investment platforms offer advanced functionality, with usability being the direct trade-off. Assuming you’re not a character out of Wolf of Wall Street, you’ll want a platform that strikes a balance: offering all the bells and whistles that are just as easy to use.
DMA’s TraderGo platform, for example, is a professional-grade platform that combines sophisticated tools with a flexible layout. Making it easy to surface only the tools you need.
When looking for the right investment platform for your money, you’ll also want to check if the platform makes it easy to switch between desktop, tablet and smartphone.
A good idea is to ask for a demo account, which will give you a good feel for the platform without using real money.
What are your fees?
Fees (or commissions) are what online investment platforms charge for their services. Some require an initial minimum deposit to fund your account.
All investment platforms will charge either a flat fee or a percentage for every trade you place—all of which will eat into the relative performance of your investments.
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, so you’ll need to work out what you value and how much you’re willing to pay over in fees.
If you go out of business, what happens to my money?
The safety of your assets is one of the most important factors to consider—if the investing platform goes under, your money shouldn’t go with it.
DMA uses two banks in the UK, HSBC & Crowns Agent. All transactions are recorded and held in a separate trust, so your money is always retrievable.
What sort of information do you provide?
The financial markets can be a wild and lonely place. An investment platform should do more than provide access to the market. It should educate the investor, keep them informed with up-to-the-minute news, and provide tools to help manage your risk.
Can I speak to a human?
A good investment platform isn’t just about the tech. It’s about the people and customer support behind the tech.
- Can you find a phone number on their website?
- Can you speak to someone with a name, not just an automated bot?
When timing is of the essence, knowing you have people you can trust looking after your account is essential.
Picking an investment platform or investing app that suits all your needs and ensures that your money is well looked after can be tricky. No one can make this decision but you. Using the six questions as a starting guide will make the process slightly less daunting.
(Full disclosure: This blog is paid for by DMA, whose investment platform is mentioned in this article. We believe the platform ranks right up there with the best, but you’re encouraged to do your research before deciding.)