Why Freetrade can't win me over, yet. A german perspective

#1

Now I live in the UK since 8 years and I wanted to start investing into ETFs in the UK.

I always looked jealously to my peers in Germany who are able to invest with German banks from a huge variety of ETFs and Stocks low fee with monthly ETF/Stock saving plans for as little as 25€/month.

Or new fintechs like Trade Republic who offers 6000 stocks and 500 ETFs for 1€/trade at launch.

Then Freetrade came along and I thought great this might be the solution to get started in the UK. Then I realise the variety of ETFs is not there. No accumulating world ETFs, No ETFs with IMI. No sector ETFs.

Why is germany so far ahead? I do not understand that a finance service focused country like the UK does not offer cheap options for saving into ETFs or stocks before freetrade.

I am now considering opening a bank account in Germany with comdirect bank to being able to save monthly into the ETF I want rather than waiting for Freetrade to one day offer more ETFs.

I guess I am just annoyed that I cannot trade in the UK for under 10pds a trade into an ETF I want but rather am very limited while my peers in germany have big options.

I assume this all has to do with EU market and maybe Brexit? That EU banks have better and more access to more markets? Or is it the german lust for saving and passive ETF investing?

I am glad Freetrade is here but atm it’s not worth it to me.

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(Emma) #2

One thing Brexit isnt responsible for. They’ll be able to have thousands when the new investment platform is finished, as mentioned in this blog

#3

Yeah whenever that will be. Freetrade seems at least a year behind. Not hating on Freetrade it’s great but I should not wait a year or two if I can invest right now with comdirect bank in germany from the UK.

Robinhood in the US miles ahead, German market atm miles ahead to the UK. I hope this gap can be closed soon by freetrade but my money I have waiting to be invested I probably cant invest with Freetrade as much as I would like to.

Just does not make sense. I probably will use Freetrade for monthly saving in GBP once there are more offerings.

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#4

I do think freetrade need to prioritise this investment platform.

I can only imagine how difficult it must be for them to build a new platform from scratch, hire highly competent and fairly salaried engineers and developers whilst maintaining their current business.

But I will say from a consumer / investor standpoint… these 3000 stocks are a must and as soon as is feasibly possible - even if it means de-prioritising other features.

There are too many incumbents posing a threat, and whilst experience, brand, proposition are all highly important… variety of stocks is up there if not higher.

I assume the team is doing all they can so kudos to them, I just want those extra stocks soon lol.

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#5

Freetrade have only been live for ~6months and the US is always ahead with tech.

Lack of stocks and ETFs is also my biggest frustration but they are on their road map.

In NZ I can also buy a much larger range of stocks, etc. via bank apps but they also charge ~30 a month, crap ux and crap customer experience. Also destroy you on fx conversions.

Freetrade is still very much a startup but with a bright future.

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#6

The fintech Trade Republic in Germany just went live very recently. They have 6000 Stocks and 500 ETFs. They basically do what freetrade does.
How did they pull it off?
Yes they work with a bank and they take £1 a trade but their variety is staggering.

If Freetrade cannot up the amount quick enough people will not use them. The only advantage is the lack of competition in the UK. Others have been sleeping even longer :slight_smile:

#7

Looking forward to all this completion!

There must be hundreds of traditional brokers around the globe, so more than enough space for a handful of startup disrupters.

U.K. seems behind but so are most counties. NZ and Aus could do with some help (Robinhood said they would go to Aus years ago but never did)

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(Emma) #8

And that’s exactly how they do it, by linking with an existing provider (HSBC?) who have been trading for years

(Rob N) #9

I don’t know trade republic but there could be differences under the hood, market differences or maybe just different priorities.

FT could have opened up to many stocks but prioritised the platform instead. I think the platform was mentioned should be ready in Q2 (correct me if wrong), then they would add 3,000 stocks straight away.

This would be a dramatic change for users, but the bigger change is behind the scenes with the platform. Every future innovation will be built from this e.g. fractional shares, autopilot, analytics etc (See Roadmap)

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#10

Yeah Trade Republic have 3 partners. HSBC, some exchange and solarbank.

This might limit them in the future but they only take 1€ per trade atm. Just from a consumer standpoint it’s not a bad deal considering the options.

And online banks like comdirect and cortalconsors in Germany have ETF and Stock saving plans. Here with my bank I do not get the offer. Not for 0 fee the first 2 years then small fee thereafter.

Yes Freetrade seems an even better premise for the future since they promise commission free trading in the future however they need to be cautious. Variety in stocks/ETFs is the main thing for most unless you just wanna play around a little and lose some money.

Not anything for serious long term investing atm.

And revolut is not even a competitor to me since they are just too risky to hold money in atm unlike monzo.

I definitely keep an eye on freetrade it’s the most interesting platform in the UK. I wish them well and hope to be investing on it in the near future when more options are available.

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(#18 414) #11

Hello @reiro
thanks for sharing your perspective.
Please allow me a diversion. I’m ignorant and curious.
Is there any tax wrap instruments like ISAs in Germany? And SIPPs? Something else maybe? How much do incumbents charge for these?
How much does Trade Republic charges for them?
Generally speaking what’s the public opinion on Trade Republic in Germany?
Thanks

#12

Well in that regard the UK is better :slightly_smiling_face:
As far as I know there are no ISAs or SIPPs and there is a “Quellensteuer” = withholding tax, which you do not have to pay here. Further the Capital gains tax allowance in Germany is lower. From that perspective the UK is the best place to be.

I just feel that there is more of a savings culture in Germany so I guess it’s easier to sell saving plans and ETFs.

Living in the UK for that long I do not know the general perception of Trade Republic other than the media attention and interviews I ve read in the media.

Also the taxation law on stocks etfs recently changed in Germany. Tax law in Germany is way more complicated anyway. They love their indirect taxes :slight_smile:

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(#18 414) #13

That’s sad to know. I thought Germany had a strong culture on the savings and investment side of life

#14

Saving yes but investing is still often seen as gambling. Germans love to invest in gold, which seems silly. They also do rent and dont buy property.

So I would say people in the UK are more risk taking. They understand that you have to take risks to gain. Germans usually are always afraid and wanna do it all perfect. That leads to only 10% of germans owning stocks. Its changing with the ETFs wave now.

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#15

Maybe someone can correct me, but I assume the reason that Freetrade’s available stocks is so limited is because they require a certain volume of trading for a stock to make economic sense.

For basic trades, Freetrade aggregates the buy orders from various users within the day and makes a single buy transaction which means they only pay the stock exchange for one trade, which is how they are able to offer trading with no commission. I assume they need a certain number of users or amount of funds in user’s accounts to justify increasing the number of stocks offered.

As an example if I bought £2 of some obscure stock every day and I was the only person buying, it would probably cost Freetrade. But if there are £10k of buy orders for Apple stock everyday, then these users are probably covering the cost of the buy order.

So there is probably a distinct correlation between number of users and stocks available and it may be a while before Freetrade offers thousands of stocks/ETFs.

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#16

That would make sense I guess.
I personally just hope for more ETF variety since I am not interested in single stocks for the moment.

I just hope for an accumulating and dividend ETF option of each (Global, EM, Asia, Euro, US, UK etc.) Then maybe some sector ETFs (water, tech ones) That’s all I would need personally for the moment.

I am sure I am not the only one. Having obscure stocks under 1% of ppl buy is nice to have but I would like to see priority on some more ETFs since a lot of people use them for long term investing.

(#18 414) #17

You mentioned

Are these not like stocks ISAs? How are they then? Is there anything written in English explaining it that you could share?

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#18

As far as I understand you have to pay 15% tax on dividends on ETFs now even on local ones.
800€ are tax free.

Capital Gains similar to here.

So you pick the amount you wanna invest in a month from 25€ and up, pick the stock or ETF, that’s it

Also it’s “only” 170 ETFs (iShares, Lyxor, Vanguard, Amundi - big variety including sector ETFs) that are fee free on the order. The other 350 ETFs and stocks you have to pay 1.5% on each order.
So Germany just taxes way more aggressively without any tax wrapper.

It’s a big downside I guess to not have an ISA or SIPP in Germany.

Do not quote me on it exactly. I have to read up about it in more in depth if I wanna invest through comdirect. To see if that’s worth it as a non resident and how much more costs that would mean exactly.

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#19

The fintech Trade Republic in Germany just went live very recently. They have 6000 Stocks and 500 ETFs. They basically do what freetrade does.
How did they pull it off?

They were founded in 2015? Freetrade in 2016. They’re one year ahead. I think that’s how they pulled it off. Had it been the same year, I feel that FT would have been equal at least with their offerings or even better considering what FT has achieved as a startup.

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(Vladislav Kozub) #20

Bear in mind Freetrade hired their first [non-founder] employee in November 2017, so it’s not like they had 10 engineers creating the product for two year by then :sweat_smile:

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