You may ask what exactly is it about this Saxo Bank review that alarms our Brokercritic researchers. Firstly, how did this once small & unknown Nordic brokerage firm become a large, trusted multi-currency bank in only 10 years? Secondly how exactly did the founders transition from the coarse & unpronounceable company name “Midas Fondsmæglerselskab”, to become a pan-European broker giant, using the smooth sounding “Saxo Bank” as its new brand? We’ll explore both the good and the bad, so that you can see the bigger picture.
Saxo Bank is an online investment bank and brokerage firm founded in Denmark in 1992 by Mr Lars Seier Christensen, Kim Fournais and Marc Hauschildt. The company’s banking license was obtained in 2001. Saxo has received multiple awards, while increasing its employees to 1,600 people. Having such a reputation, the broker has secured White Label partnerships with huge banking institutions across the world. Old Mutual Wealth, Standard Bank, Banco Carregosa and Banco Best are examples of these.
Aside from its headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark, they also have offices in global financial centers such as Paris, Zurich, London, Singapore, Dubai, India, and Tokyo, serving clients in 180 countries with a daily average turnover of approximately $12 billion.
A privately owned company, the majority of its shares are owned by Geely Financials Denmark A/S, which is a subsidiary of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd while its founder and CEO Kim Fournais own 25.71% of shares. Another major shareholder is a leading Nordic financial services group Samplo Plc, they own 19.9% of shares and the rest of the shares are owned by minority shareholders including the bank’s former and current employees.
In 2012, just two days after they announced plans to develop online trading in Australia, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) reprimanded Saxo Bank because of its risk management practices. Such an inspection of Saxo Bank pushed the regulator to impose extra licensing conditions, requiring the broker to employ an expert to address client, credit and compliance risks. According to ASIC, the conditions were important measures to restore investor confidence in the broader brokerage area. This happened after the Director of Saxo’s white label partner (Sonray Capital Markets) was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for A$76 million of unpaid debt.
In 2019 the company made its largest acquisition, buying dutch stockbroker BinckBank – gaining a 500 000 strong user-base.
Advantages of using Saxo Bank
- Licensed investment banking company, regulated by top tier financial authorities. Good banking history and access to liquidity in times of crisis. Considered one of the safest brokers in the world.
- Did you know: Saxo Bank is such a successful broker, that in 2015 they were approved their very own TLD: “.saxo”. Their old domain, saxobank.com was dropped in 2016. Upfront costs were US$185 000, with an extra US$25 000 each year.
- Investor Protection of up to 100,000.00 Euros for cash deposits and 20,000.00 Euros for securities in most European countries.
- Top of the class customer service. When I had a registration issue, they called me before I even initiated contact. Fast email and telephone replies. Available in several local languages.
- Serious traders will adore the dark themed account area. No late night glare
- Brokercrtic award for “best search function” goes to Saxo. I also love how customizable the interface is. We’ll be following progress each semester.
- One of the broadest product portfolios of all the European brokers.
- Advanced charting and research features embedded in the platforms.
- Accurate analyst recommendations for stocks, bonds, CFDs, etc. and an excellent set of analytical tools.
- Extremely transparent fee structure. No withdrawal fee. Lowest fees for VIP and Platinum clients.
- 100% digital account opening, which means fast processing, no hassle, and accessible to digital nomads.
- Available for residents of almost any country. A big advantage compared to country-restrictive US-brokers like Robinhood or Tastyworks.
- Demo Account, Webinars, tutorial videos and educational videos are on-par with competitors.
Disadvantages of using Saxo Bank
- High financing rate compared to Pepperstone or InteractiveBrokers. Has the highest fees on forex, bonds, options, and futures relative to other legacy giants like Degiro.
- I don’t like that Saxo charges a bi-annual fee for inactivity (no trades made in 6 months). For example, Merrill Edge and Firstrade have no inactivity fees – sadly, they only accpect USA customers.
- Where is the Chat Support guys – seriously, this is 2019. Some introverted traders like me don’t like to voice-chat with company representatives.
- To finalize the account opening a minimum account balance of $500 is required. In comparison: Etoro, Swissquote, Tastyworks, and Ameritrade have no minimum deposit.
- Many brokers cited that they have a unusually pushy sales team. However I found them to be very efficient, helpful, and professional when opening my account.
- In 2015, the main founder called it quits & left the brokerage firm. I always get paranoid when founders jump ships or move away.
- Research feature charges for most fundamental data. Tradingfloor.com, a separate site operated by Saxo Bank provides detailed stock fundamental data, but only certain tickers are free. For other stocks, traders must subscribe.
- Saxo is not listed on a stock exchange. This broker does indeed have a banking license, which brings much reputability. This is still not as transparent as its competitor Swissquote, which is listed on the stock exchange, and therefore must publish full details related to their financial situation.
- Spreads are more advantageous on XTB or Markets.com. They also have no spread betting.
Trustworthiness of the Broker
An vital part of my analysis of Saxo Bank was spent digging up important past & present trust factors. Established in 1992 and having secured a banking license in 2001, they have established themselves as a trustworthy leader in the online brokerage industry. They have a brokerage license (#551422) through the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). They also operate globally in 10 different countries with different protection amounts per entity. Up to 50,000 GBP basic default protection is provided through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The means that were Saxo to go under, the UK government would step in and pay you back up to 50 thousand british pounds (providing that you reside in the UK). There are similar protection schemes for each country (see table below).
Though they are not listed in stock exchanges, they regularly and proactively disclose financials. Transparency data is easy to access through their websites.
|Country of clients||Protection Amount||Regulator||Legal Entity|
|European countries except..||€100,000 for cash,
€20,000 for securities
|Danish FSA||Various legal entities|
|UK||£85,000||Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)||Saxo Capital Markets UK|
|France||€100,000||Bank of France||Saxo Banque (FR) SAS|
|Switzerland||CHF 100,000||Swiss Federal Banking Commission||Saxo Bank (SW) AG|
|Singapore||No protection||Monetary Authority of Singapore. Co.||Saxo Capital Markets Pte Ltd|
|United Arab Emirates||No protection||Central Bank of the UAE||Saxo Bank Abu Dhabi A/S|
|Japan||No protection||Japanese Financial Services Agency||Saxo Bank FX K.K.|
|South Africa||No protection||Financial Services Board.||Saxo Capital Markets South Africa (PTY) Ltd|
|Hong Kong||HKD 150,000 for exchange-traded products in HK||Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong||Saxo Capital Markets Hong Kong Ltd.|
|Australia||No protection||Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)||Saxo Capital Markets (AU) Pty. Ltd|
Being regulated by global financial authorities as UK, France, Switzerland, Singapore, UAE, Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong, one can be assured that Saxo Bank is one of the safest brokers.
Currently operating in more than 180 offices in the world, each country accepting customer visits (in person representative).
Trading Products Available
The range of trading instruments litterally surpases any other European Broker. Take a look:
- Stocks (see major markets list)
- ETFs (3,100)
- Forex (182 currency pairs)
- Bonds (38,000)
- Options (5)
- Futures (25)
- Stock CFDs (8,900)
- ETF CFDs (700)
- Commodity CFDs (19)
- Stock Index CFDs (29)
- Bond CFDs (3)
- Cryptocurrency is offered through investing into Bitcoins through ETN instruments which are traded on the Swedish Stock Exchange.
Despite not having withdrawal fees and lower fees for Platinum and VIP clients, this Saxo Bank review must emphasize how the broker is known to have some of the highest fees in forex, bonds, options and futures trading. They also have high financing rates and inactivity fees. I prefer to pay a fee premium, in return for reputation and security.
They have high US Stock Fee which is charged $0.01/share; a minimum of $9.90; but $3.00 for VIP clients. In comparison, Swissquote is the highest at $35, while DEGIRO is the cheapest at $0.60.
Their EUR/USD Fees are also high (built into spread) at 0.6 pips as the spread cost. Tho I like how VIP pricing can be as low as 0.4 pips. Their Inactivity Fee is also among the highest at $25 per quarter.
As for Forex fees, Saxo’s are even higher than Swissquote’s with $59 for EUR/USD Benchmark fee while Swissquote only charges $17; They charge $28 for EUR/GBP Benchmark fee while Swissquote charges $42.
Overall, Saxo Bank’s trading fees for non-VIP clients are the highest among competitors.
Fully digitized account opening process which is one of the fastest of all brokers: it only takes 3-4 days to get your account approved. They have a minimum deposit of $2,000.00 that can be done through bank and credit card deposits. Should you like to compare how long it takes to open an account with competitor brokers, go back to the Brokercritic home page, and use the “account opening” column in the main table.
- Support: 8/10. Very efficient phone and email support. Available in all supported local languages. The broker currently has no live chat support, and is only available mon-fri.
- Research: 10/10. By far the best in research – especially among the european brokers. Their research tools and insights are concise yet cover many topics such as Brexit or upcoming Bakkt cryptocurrency futures. They have outstanding in-house analysts who provide regular market updates, ratings and accurate commentaries. Despite the good research materials, I find that the archives are somewhat difficult to search.
- Web Platform: 8/10. In my opinion the Saxo trading interface feels like using MetaTrader 5. Customers can customize their trading page, letting them organize news, research, charts and watch lists. Traders can also customize time management and able to link between platform windows. Saxo has developed expansive HTML5 charting and technical indicators.
- App (mobile/desktop): 7/10. The best thing about their 4.2 star SaxoTraderGo mobile app is how the features from the desktop and web versions are fully synched thru all platforms. Despite having a shorter indicator list, the mobile app comprehensively allows traders to read real-time news and research in just a few swipes. However, the mobile app has confusing and contradictory fee disclosures. I foudn the commission schedules listed in their product details were different from the website’s fine print and marketing materials (i emailed them about this). A big downer is the lack of 2-factor login [edit: 2FA login is now available in the account settings], meaning that accounts are at higher risk of theft and hacking.
Saxo Bank’s web traffic is relatively high, with 1,067,768 visitors of which 288,904 are from China. The broker ranks #6,207 in the Similarweb Finance>Investing category.
Comparing it to Swissquote and DEGIRO, Saxo has the highest average monthly visits of the 3 with Degiro’s 280,326 of which 19,442 is from the United Kingdom; Swissquote’s 327,910 total visits of which 49.59% are from Switzerland. Note that these two brokers have multiple TLDs per country.
Alternatives to Saxo Bank
Swissquote is the best European-based alternative to Saxo Bank. It is a highly reputed, publicly traded company. Similarly, it is regulated by top tiered financial regulatory agencies in both major and emerging markets.
For Forex and CFDs, Saxo Bank ranks superior to Swissquote, as it has 182 currency pairs and 32,999 CFDs offered – compared to Swissquote’s 78 and 57 respectively. It is said that at Swissquote 74-89% of its retail CFD accounts are losing money, while at Saxo Bank only 69% of its retail CFDs are losing money.
For minimum Initial deposits, Swissquote is lower at US$500 – compared to Saxo’s EUR 2,000.
When it comes to fees, Degiro comes as an excellent alternative. Price-sensitive, or buy & hold investors may prefer such savings.
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