(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)
In Switzerland, many people are more comfortable having a Swiss broker than having a foreign broker for their stock market investments. Swissquote is one of the most well-known Swiss brokers. Many investors are using Swissquote. But is it any good?
This is what I am going to find out in this in-depth review. We will see what Swissquote is, what you can do with it, how much it costs, and much more!
By the end of this review, you will know whether Swissquote is a good broker for you or not!
The Swissquote broker is part of the Swissquote Group Holding SA company. It is a Swiss banking group operating in many countries. The Swissquote broker was already founded in 1996, making it a very well-established company. They have 722 employees at the time of this writing.
While the group itself offers services in many countries, this review will focus on the services they offer in Switzerland. This service is regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).
Swissquote has a banking license and is listed in the stock market. This makes it very transparent since it has to reveal detailed financial reports.
At the time of this writing, Swissquote has more than 400’000 users. It offers access to stocks, bonds, funds, Contracts For Difference (CFDs), and more. They have access to 60 stock exchanges over the world. If you are a simple passive investor like me, they have much more features than you would ever need.
So, let’s delve deeper into what Swissquote offers as a broker.
Swissquote Account Types
Swissquote has four different account types:
- Trading. This account is the one that interests us for this review since it offers access to trading in the stock market.
- Forex. An account for foreign exchange traders.
- Robo-Advisory. You can also use Swissquote as a Robo-Advisor.
- Crypto-Assets. A special account where you can trade many cryptocurrencies.
In this review, we are going to focus solely on the Trading account type. As a passive investor in the stock market, this is the only account you need.
In the long term, you need to reduce your fees. Investing fees are extremely important. Therefore, we must look at the fees of the Trading account at Swissquote.
You will pay 0.025% in custody fees for the account. This fee is charged each quarter, with a minimum fee of 15 CHF. Fortunately, there is a maximum of 50 CHF per quarter. So, the maximum fee you will pay is 200 CHF per year. As far as Swiss brokers go, this is a reasonable fee. But this is still not negligible. This custody fee is the only fee you will pay outside of trading fees. They have no extra account management fees or inactivity fees.
For trading, the fees are different for each stock exchange you are going to use.
Let’s start with Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) since they are the best instrument for passive investors in Switzerland. With most brokers, ETFs have the same trading fees as stocks since they are traded in the same way. However, with Swissquote, there is a small difference. For some ETFs, called ETF Leaders, you will pay a flat fee of 9 CHF per trade on the Swiss Stock Exchange. If the ETF is listed in USD, you will pay 9 USD (and the same logic for GBP and EUR).
In the ETF leaders, you will find many good ETFs by Vanguard, iShares, UBS, etc. So, as long as you buy your ETF on the Swiss Stock Exchange, you should be fine with the flat fee. For ETFs on other stock exchanges, the fees are going to be the same as for stocks.
For each stock exchange, you will pay a fee based on the transaction value. The fees are the same for buy and sell operations. For instance, here are the fees for the Swiss Stock Exchange (SWX):
- 0 – 500: 9 CHF
- 500.01 – 2000: 20 CHF
- 2000.01 – 10’000: 30 CHF
- 10’000.01 – 15’000: 55 CHF
- 15’000.01 – 25’000: 80 CHF
- 25’000.01 – 50’000: 135 CHF
- From 50’000.01: 190 CHF
And here are the fees for American stock exchanges (NYSE or Nasdaq):
- 0 – 500: 9 USD
- 500.01 – 2000: 25 USD
- 2000.01 – 10’000: 30 USD
- 10’000.01 – 15’000: 55 USD
- 15’000.01 – 25’000: 80 USD
- 25’000.01 – 50’000: 135 USD
- From 50’000.01: 190 USD
These fees are definitely not cheap, especially for small transactions. For instance, if you buy 1000 CHF of shares, you will pay a 2% fee! This is a huge fee, and you definitely have to be careful about it. But if you buy for 10’000 CHF, you will pay 0.3% in fees. This is still a considerable fee, but it remains in the realm of the acceptable.
And when we compare Swissquote with other Swiss brokers, these fees are actually on the low side.
We also have to consider the currency conversion fee. At Swissquote, you will pay 0.95% of the exchange value if you convert CHF to another common currency like EUR and USD. The fees may change if you use other more exotic currencies. Once again, this is a significant fee. You need to be careful about this fee. Every time you buy or sell an ETF in EUR or USD, you will have to pay this fee. Over time, this can very quickly accumulate to be a significant amount of money lost to fees.
Finally, the last fee we will look at is the Swiss Stamp Tax Duty fee. Since Swissquote is a Swiss broker, you will have to pay this fee for each stock market operation. This fee is 0.075% for Swiss shares and 0.15% for foreign shares. This fee is the same for each Swiss broker.
Overall, Swissquote is not cheap. Several of its fees are quite high, especially currency exchange fees and trading fees for small transactions. However, when we compare with other Swiss brokers, these fees are actually affordable. Most Swiss brokers are even more expensive. In fact, for transactions on the Swiss Stock exchange, Swissquote is among the cheapest Swiss brokers. The only place where it does not shine is for foreign currency exchange.
Opening an account at Swissquote
Let’s see what it takes to open an account at Swissquote.
Opening an account at Swissquote can be done entirely online. But you may have to wait until you get someone on call for the video identification, which can take a while (more than 10 minutes waiting) depending on when you call.
Other than that, the account opening process is very straightforward. You will have to give your personal information and answer questions about your financial knowledge. These are the same questions that every broker will ask you—nothing surprising here.
There is no minimum for opening an account. So, you can start trading with very little money. This is good, but be careful about the 60 CHF per year minimum custody fee if you invest with very little money, this could be expensive.
So, overall, opening an account at Swissquote should be fairly easy.
Trading with Swissquote
Swissquote offers several options to trade stocks:
- The web interface can be directly used and has all the functions you need.
- A mobile application on iOS and Android.
- A desktop application, but mostly aimed at Forex trading.
Overall, there are enough options for everybody. The web interface should work for most people. And many people will also appreciate the mobile applications that will let you do everything you need to do.
The only downside is that the web interface may be a little complicated to use because of all the features that are crammed together. But once you find the few features you actually need, you should be fine to use them.
If you want to get an idea of their platform, here is a short video by Swissquote about their eTrading platform:
Is it safe?
If you invest a significant amount of money with a broker, you need to make sure it is safe.
Swissquote is regulated in Switzerland by the FINMA. Its other entities are also regulated in other countries.
Swissquote being well-established since 1996 and turning a profit for several years in a row, the risks of it going bankrupt are slim. But it is still important to know what would happen if your broker bankrupts. Since Swissquote has a banking license, your cash will be protected by Esisuisse for up to 100’00 CHF. Your securities should be fully guaranteed since they are supposed to be held in the custodian bank account in your name. This is a good level of protection.
As for technical security, you can opt in for a second factor of authentication (2FA) for your account. I strongly recommend everybody to do that to improve the security of their account. I have not heard of any security issues that happened within Swissquote. This is a good sign.
So, overall, investing with Swissquote is safe. As for investing in general, keep in mind that investing involves risks of loss regardless of the platform.
It is essential to look at a broker’s reputation before using it to invest in the stock market.
As a source of review, I always use TrustPilot. So, let’s look at the reviews of SQ on TrustPilot. On average, users are rating SQ at 3.2 stars. This is not a great result. So, let’s see what people are saying about this broker.
First, we should take a look at people complaining about the broker. We can group the complaints into several categories:
- Very long account opening. Several people had to wait several days to get their accounts opened.
- Very high fees. This is true, but people should look at this before they open their accounts.
- Poor customer service. Many people had issues fixing their issues with the customer service.
- Poor investing platform. Some investors are not satisfied with the features offered by the platform, especially on the cryptocurrencies side.
Overall, I am a little worried about the reviews on the customer service and account opening. The other complaints do not worry me since they seem to come from people who have not done their research properly before opening an account at Swissquote. And we have to remember that most comments on the internet are coming from unsatisfied people. So, negative comments have to be taken with a pinch of salt even though they still come from some truth.
The good point is that the majority of reviews (36%) are rated at five-star. This is a good sign. Overall, positive reviews are saying:
- Simple to trade with the platform
- A very stable platform and company
Interestingly, positive reviews are very strongly focused on the platform itself and its usability. It is good that many people report that the platform is easy to use.
Overall, I would say that the user reviews of Swissquote are good but not great.
Let’s summarize the advantages of Swissquote:
- Cheap compared to other Swiss brokers
- Relatively fast account opening
- A very vast range of investments
- Long experience
- Well-established company
- Good security
- Easy to use
Let’s summarize the disadvantages of Swissquote:
- Expensive currency exchange fees
- Expensive when compared to foreign brokers
- Video identification can take a while to complete
Swissquote vs Interactive Brokers
Now, keep in mind that I do not use Swissquote. Why is that? Simply because, as soon as you look at foreign brokers, there are much better alternatives out there. In my case, I invest with Interactive Brokers. So, we can compare both platforms.
Both brokers are very well established and regulated. The protection is good on both sides, with a small advantage for Interactive Brokers protected by U.S. SIPC.
Where everything starts to differ very strongly is in the fees.
Let’s start with the custody fees. Swissquote has a 200 CHF yearly custody fee for a large portfolio. If you have a large portfolio at IB, you will pay 0 CHF in custody fees! You can save 200 CHF per year with IB. If you have a small portfolio at IB (less than 100’000 CHF), you will pay 120 CHF per year, but this 120 CHF can count towards your trading fees. So, IB will always be cheaper in terms of custody fees.
For trading on the Swiss stock exchanges, Interactive Brokers is slightly cheaper than Swissquote, but not by a large margin. Where IB shines is for American stock exchanges. For instance, if I buy 10’000 USD of Microsoft shares, I will pay about 0.40 USD on IB (yes, 40 cents!). On Swissquote, this would cost 30 USD. In this example, IB is 75 times cheaper than Swissquote!
On top of that, since IB is a foreign broker, you will not pay the Swiss Stamp tax. This means, with IB, you are saving 0.075% on each Swiss operation and 0.15% on each foreign operation.
Finally, currency exchange at IB costs about 2 USD while they cost 0.95% at Swissquote. So, unless you are converting less than 200 USD, IB will be much better at converting money.
Overall, for me, all these advantages are just too good not to use Interactive Brokers.
Overall, Swissquote is a good, well-established, and affordable Swiss broker. They offer access to many stock exchanges and many investing instruments. And they compare really well with other Swiss brokers.
So, if you are searching for a good Swiss broker, Swissquote is an excellent candidate.
Now, do I recommend Swissquote to Swiss investors? Not really. Compared to foreign brokers, Swissquote is incredibly more expensive. This is why I still recommend Interactive Brokers as the best broker for Swiss investors. But if you are only interested in Swiss brokers, then yes, I would recommend Swissquote as a good broker.
If you are interested in Swiss brokers, in particular, I compared the best brokers. This should help you choose, but you need to know the differences in costs between Swiss and foreign brokers.
What about you? What do you think of Swissquote?