New share trading platform lets Australians invest from as little as one cent

New Zealand investment platform Sharesies has expanded to Australia. It offers a low-cost sliding commission structure to trade companies listed in NZ, the USA and Australia.

The platform is set on making investing both more accessible and more affordable; there is no minimum investment barrier so people can start investing with as little as one cent.

“The majority of people aspire to be an investor but a lot of people feel like they can’t be for three key reasons,” co-founder Brooke Roberts told Business Insider Australia.

“The first is they feel priced out as they think you need heaps of money to get started and secondly, they feel ‘jargoned-out’ because the whole industry is made to seem quite complex. The third is that they feel left out because financial institutions have really only targeted and catered for the wealthy few and not everyone else.”

But Ms Roberts is hopeful that she and the five co-founders of Sharesies can bust these myths.

The formula is, at least in theory, a simple one. Provide a sliding commission-fee structure that encourages regular investment, no matter how small.

“We’ve made sure that the minimum investment barrier is completely removed, so you can literally start investing with one cent,” says Ms Roberts.

“Our ethos is we want people to be able to build their portfolio one day at a time with amounts they can afford.”

Read more: Why investing for retirement is different

Ms Roberts said younger investors were not as unsophisticated or naive as they were made out to be. They just lack access to information and options.

Sharesies lets users invest across companies, exchange-traded funds and managed funds through the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and the New Zealand Stock Exchange, and, most recently, the Australian Securities Exchange. It now has $1 billion in funds under management.

Investors manage their portfolio via the Sharesies website and/or the app.

The start
Sharesies was conceived in Wellington, NZ, in 2016 by six friends who are all still part of the business.

They include the company’s current chief technology officer (CTO), product engineer, and chief designer, as well as Ms Roberts, her husband Leighton Roberts, and Sonya Williams, the CEOs at the helm of the business.

“The six of us had a range of experience in finance and design, and we all rallied around this ethos that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to build wealth, whether they have $5 or $5 million.”

With the excitement around the share market reaching new highs, investment platforms such as Sharesies are in demand. Especially considering many younger people are being priced out of the housing market.

Read more: House prices tipped to jump 16 per cent over next two years

The platform has 320,000 customers, 70 per cent of whom are under the age of 40, but Ms Roberts said Sharesies aimed to appeal to all age groups and genders.

Almost half of Sharesies investors are women, which is fantastic considering there’s an industry average that is closer to a third.

“We just use everyday language, and we’ve really worked on creating a platform that feels accessible for everyone and means that people do become investors and feel like they can start growing their wealth,” Ms Roberts said.

A new type of investing
According to Ms Roberts, Sharesies will be the first platform on the ASX to offer trades from as low as one cent. They also have more of a focus on financial literacy and education than other low-cost brokers.

“What we’ve built Sharesies for is to enable people to build a portfolio with amounts they can afford and that’s what we always go back to,” she said. “It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme, it’s not timing the market, it’s about time in the market.”

How much does it cost?
There is a small subscription fee to use the service, which is based on the size of your portfolio. Those with portfolios of $50 to $3000 will pay $1.50 per month. Portfolios of more than $3000 will incur a fee of $3 per month. The choice to pay an annual fee of $30 is also available and is the best value if you’re looking to have more than $3000 in Sharesies for a year or more.

You are also charged a percentage of each trade. For example, a $30 trade would incur a 15-cent commission on Sharesies. Compare that to Australia’s largest platform CommSec, where you’d pay a flat $10 brokerage fee, and the selling point is clear.

Read more: Noel Whittaker reveals his investing rules

More than just a low-cost broker
There are apps and websites out there that offer free share trading or commission-free trading of exchange-traded funds, but low cost is just one appeal of Sharesies.

They are focusing on informing and educating their users through articles, podcasts and webinars to financially empower them.

“We’re really focused on building confident and motivated investors, which is a big difference compared to what I see out there,” says Ms Roberts.

As rising property prices keep plenty of Australians out of real estate, more and more might be ready for an alternative.

Are you tempted to start investing? If so, does a share trading platform such as Sharesies appeal to you?

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Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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