Interactive Investors (ex-TD direct) offer multi-currency account for their normal trading accounts and SIPP, except ISA of course as GBP is the only currency allowed. So, if you want your service offering to be if not always disruptive, at least competitive, you must offer at the very least the same. As a result, in a world of Interactive Investors and Revolut, not offering multi-currency accounts makes you an uncompetitive disrupted, not a disruptor…and the same goes for your 0.5% FX spread compared to Revolut.
Also, I already pay a 0.5% FX spread at Interactive Investors (I print big tickets) and this FX spread is 95% of my yearly overall account costs. Keeping the currencies we want in the account (multi-currency account), avoids multiple unnecessary FX trades and being able to keep one’s cash in the currency of one’s choice, thus not offering this means FreeTrade overall yearly costs being a multiple of II’s. If we cannot have this facility, there is no reason for II customers to move to FreeTrade.
Just as an illustration, I once made a mistake and chose the wrong settlement currency for my stock trade and, without any currency move, it cost me £5,000 to get in and out. This means that for every return trip on a trade, FreeTrade will cost me £5,000, the same as if I messed up on every trade at II.
30/01/2021 update: the Barclays/Currency Cloud issue would not have happened with USD accounts for every customer.
This has been indirectly mentioned before, and the easy answer is:
The full quote is here.
The Team has quite often emphasised they support long-term investing, not day-trading. For long-term, FX is of no essence if it is 0.5%. You would only suffer if you buy/sell every day as you would need at least 1% growth to be in black, and for the target market, it is a rather minor issue.
The other things is, whilst that FX levy is there now, no one is saying that it will stay there forever. Once the rollout starts and more customers will be getting on board, it may be feasible to alter the pricing structure. Potentially lowering the FX spread to 0.25% or removing it completely to Alpha users (hypothetically).
Heard of Robert Taylor’s story about soap bottle pumps? He bought the entire yearly supply in the US to get leverage over other firms. This could be something Freetrade could also potentially pursue in order to raise the user base, as long as there are other revenue sources (Alpha / instant trades / ISAs / SIPPs / etc.).
Whilst not certain, I would definitely expect smoother USD investing at some point as I have absolutely no interest in the UK’s stagnated market. But it would be too hasty to conduct judgement on a product that is yet to be launched and monetised to fund its further growth and development.
P.S. @tommy/@Cgwinning, would you not mind annexing FX related stuff into a more relevant topic (e.g. “FX charge discussion”)? Cheers!
FreeTrade cannot detain/buy the entire supply of anything related to their business so your analogy does not work; neither on FX or any other service/product offering.
Joining a broker on the hope they’ll decrease their charges later…lol, been there, done that. I was not born yesterday: retail brokers never decrease their charges, ever. They keep milking their captive customer base. FreeTrade will be hooked on their 0.5% FX spread from the start and removing it will be like taking a vegetative patient off life support.
Freetrade uses the interbank rate for comparison (see below or full quote here), it might be best to check what II are using, I’d be surprised if they use this - they used to charge 1.5-2% when I was with them! I’ve seen they upped their quarterly fee as well recently.
It’s also worth pointing out than Revolut charges this same 0.5% above the interbank rate when someone exchanges over £5k worth of transactions in a month.
“To clarify, we are not charging a 0.5% commission - we are saying that you will get the interbank rate+0.5%. The rates you’ve quoted are the amount that the other brokers charge on top of the rate they get. The two are not straightforward to compare, as they do not typically state the benchmark they use. We felt it was important to be transparent on the FX rate you get against a recognised benchmark.”
II use interbank + spread and on my size of trade ot is 0.5% (their charges are on their public website).
Why should not we care about a 1% round trip FX charge when we should care about a £20 round trip execution commission? The reasoning makes no sense as the 1% FX spread is 50 times as much as the share execution commission.
You are quite vocal about this concern. If the 0.5% FX is 50 times higher than a £20 commission (both ways I guess), I believe the trade you are talking about is £200,000 in one transaction (e.g. buy at £80,000 and sell at £120,000).
If these are your figures, you might be better off with another broker, Barclays or HL if there is no FX charge maybe?
Freetrade have made it clear numerous times that they are not running after people with £1m portfolios, they are here to allow entry into investing with a £1. With that amount 0.5% charge is negligible, nor it is with £1,000.
0.5% also does not concern consumers as much as a huge flat fee that makes investing unreasonable without £20,000 to start with. And if people amass such a portfolio, Freetrade will not hold them in chains, they will be free to transfer to any other broker they wish. In your case, you might even be better off remaining with your current provider given your negativity about the pricing schedule - at least it is concise and transparent, everyone will be able to make decisions for themselves.
Although it seems like you are quite unhappy with the service your broker provides, which is why you devote your time opening our eyes on this “issue”. Because if you were, you could have more interesting things to discuss.
In the digital age network effects bring strength and value, hence the power of Facebook and AirBnB. Who would have cared about a 1-country social network? Who cares about a 1-country payment app, bank or broker, unless you’re a not well-travelled American?
My friends and I send funds via “Revolut” instantaneously to people I’ve never met in quite a few countries in the EU. Going back to FreeTrade, fewer and fewer people care about a 1-2 market broker charging 0.5% FX spread.
By the way in FX, only interbank matters, this is the only “benchmark” everyone cares about, unless you’re a clueless corporate looking to get some once a day FX fix that we know who squeeze when suits them (cf. FX fix scandals).
I never expected I’d see these two companies in the same sentence! But I guess you are right, it’s quite a world we live in - full of disruptors.
@Vlad and @Rob14 did a stellar job explaining how our exchange rates work and how they align with our customers’ needs.
I’d be also surprised if II used the interbank rate (can everybody please link source when they make such claims), but if they do, you get a fantastic 0.25% if you buy £600,000 worth of stocks:
Now, if that’s the dimension you look at, my friend, more power to you. II could be a fantastic product for your needs! And to be sure, I think some traditional brokers e.g. HL, fintechs e.g. Revolut and a lot of other companies built great products for their audience, but they are not all things for all people, and neither is Freetrade.
I know it is interbank because I check the rate whenever I trade FX through them for my SIPP and their FX rate is live (near live). I don’t have a choice on my SIPP but to do the FX through them. Otherwise, I’d Revolut the FX.
II + Revolut:
Indeed, not a single broker does everything but to gain market share quickly you have to disrupt the incumbents, a major one is II. To attract customers, you need to target the mobile ones who are always on the lookout for a good deal. Those usually trade non-UK markets and know that FX is the big cost. You need to at least offer multi-currency account as a basic service if not interbank FX like Revolut.
On the fee schedule, everything is great but the 0.5%. On the service offering it’s the lack of multi-currency account. II are indeed the best at the moment for someone like me (trade size, market access).
As for the rest you are right, I’d like FreeTrade to improve so I can move my account and tell all my friends to do the same. Attracting big accounts would be a big earner for FreeTrade just from the cash balances…
I think the thing that got me to part with my money and invest in freetrade was the indipendant sustainability of the business model. I want the company to be able to make a profit quickly and sustainably whilst offering something that people want. The FX charges are a big part of that sustainability and personally I see the early years of freetrade needing to be independent of big partners as core elements of the business model so they have the negotiating power in the future.
If, through a competitive and transparent FX charge, they are able to grow stronger as an indipendant company and wipe out most of the other charges associated with investment they sound like a credible long term disrupter to me. Not an exciting flavour of the month trying to do too much too quickly…
Totally agree, Freetrade needs to smash its target market first whilst proving the sustainability of its business model. After that it can branch out to meet the needs of its evolving user base.
If they did tier the FX as II do for wealth clients, it wouldn’t take much for them to be lower as it’s already a third of the price for the everyday user.
With the early June Revolut announcement, it’s no longer about the £1m-portfolio people. It’s about everyone having access to interbank FX on their brokerage account.
I guess with the early June Revolut annnouncement (the elephant in this room), everything changes…does not it?
With the early June Revolut announcement, FreeTrade, Revolut and II now share the same target market, same audience: “everyone” because Revolut had 2 miilion users in June, maybe 3 million end of this year.
“Built”: applies to dead companies or companies with a static offering as in not expanding their features, services, market access, etc. “Have been building” is more appropriate for Revolut with new features every other month, scary.
I’m not sure I agree, Revolut subside the cost of their rate with revenue from charges likes card delivery & the premium subscriptions so this benefit isn’t as free as it appears at first glance.
A 0.5% fee on FX is already competitive and at least the fee is directly linked to us choosing to purchase something (or not). Freetrade have to make money one way or another and this is simply one of the ways that they’ve decided to do it.
Hopefully Freetrade will add value in other ways too, through things like offering a sophisticated product & quality support etc. which will make using the service worthwhile despite this fee.
You’re absolutely right that they’re developing their product quickly, however I could be wrong but I seriously doubt that you’ll see Revolut focusing enough attention on their trading service to deliver new features for it every other month.
Well, the founder being an ex-trader (ex-Credit Suisse), you could not be more wrong because offering trading services has probably been his first intention from the start and at the beginning he found the best way to attract the widest customer base possible through payments and spot FX; very smart move.
Spot FX being also part of financial markets and trading because it is the No1 market in trading and by a big margin, Revolut is de facto a spot FX trading platform…and the June announcement just expands the choice of asset classes to equities on top of crypto (small market). In effect Revolut have just kept on focusing on the expansion of their trading service. They will only miss commodities derivatives and interest rates; maybe their next steps.
As far as I know Revolut aren’t trading currencies, they’ve simply plugged into Currency Cloud which enables them to offer the interbank rate (after they’ve absorbed a fairly small fee) to their users, just like Starling (who use them for international transfers), Monese & several other FinTech companies.