With the vast selection of online brokerages available, anyone with an internet connection can quickly and conveniently start trading stocks.
However, newcomers may be bewildered by the wide range of platforms, products, asset classes and choices they will likely encounter, and would likely create opportunities from first gaining an understanding of how to trade stocks online.
Overview of online stock trading
Let’s start with an overview of the process involved when trading stocks online; this can be summed up in a 5-step plan.
- Shortlist your preferred online brokerage
- Open your trading account
- Choose your stocks and trading strategies
- Fund your account
- Make your first trade
Step 1: Shortlist your preferred online brokerage
The first thing to do is to look up different online brokerages and shortlist the ones you will use. Online brokerages may differ in several ways, ranging from fee structure, to assets offered and legal requirements.
Pay attention to the following when deciding which online brokerages to add to your shortlist.
Commissions and fees
All brokerages – online ones included – make money by charging a fee or commission on your trades. This is a common arrangement and widely accepted.
Besides trading commissions and fees, brokerages should also clearly display all other charges or fees that may be involved, such as inactivity fee, minimum deposit required, fees for withdrawals and deposits.
Stocks and products offered
Check to see if the brokerage offers the types of stocks, markets and assets you want to trade. While highly popular asset classes such as indices and mutual funds are offered virtually by all brokers, more specialised markets or instruments may be less commonly found.
You should also look for investment products that suit your goal and preferences.
Or perhaps you’re looking to trade stocks and take advantage of short-term market movements. In that case, you’ll want to have access to products that help you do just that, such as Contracts-for-Difference (CFDs) or options.
Trading tools and educational resources
Online brokerages do not trade on your behalf; instead, you’ll be offered trading tools, apps and platforms for you to carry out your own stock trades. These can range from in-house or proprietary software that are only available to members, to popular apps and platforms widely used by investors and traders.
It’s worthwhile checking to see what types of trading platforms are being offered, and whether they suit your preferences and skill level. Also, note that trading tools that aid analysis, or help you test out your trades are likely to be helpful.
Also useful are educational resources, such as news reports on global events, tips and guides on investing, and explanations of different trading strategies and tools. All these contents will build your skill and knowledge and help your trading journey
Step 2: Open your trading account
Once you’ve selected a suitable online brokerage, the next step is to sign up for a trading account.
You can follow these steps to open a trading account with Vantage.
- Click on “Live Account” at the top right of the page
- Fill in your personal details and click “Open Live Account Now”. Choose either “Individual” or “Company” under Account Type, as applicable
- Follow the on-screen prompts to set up your trading account in minutes.
Alternatively, you can also sign up for a Demo Account instead, if you prefer to get a feel of how stock trading works with Vantage before starting a Live Account.
To do so, just click the Demo Account button in the top-right of the screen and follow the on-screen instructions. Note that for Demo Accounts, you might even be able to sign up using Facebook.
Step 3: Choose your stocks and trading strategies
Now that your trading account has been set up, it’s time to choose your stocks, assets markets, and what type of trades you want to make.
Vantage offers share CFDs, which are derivatives that allow you to trade some of the biggest listed companies around the world, without having to take direct ownership of the underlying stocks.
CFDs also allow you to open both long and short positions in the stock market, which means you can potentially benefit whether share prices go up or down – provided the right trade is made.
You can also choose to trade CFDs on stocks using leverage, enabling you to start investing even with low starting capital. Leveraged trades will amplify your outcomes.
However, it’s important to note that should the trade go against you, your losses will also be similarly magnified, and could exceed your initial investment capital.
In addition to share CFDs, Vantage also offers several other popular markets for trade, including precious metals like gold and silver, commodities and energy, indices and forex.
Step 4: Fund your trading account
Before you can enter into a trade, you will have to first fund your trading account. This simply means depositing the amount you want to invest into your Vantage account.
Vantage provides several methods to deposit funds into your accounts conveniently, securely and speedily.
Deposits made using credit and debit cards, are processed immediately, as are funds transfers via selected digital payment and bank networks. Other methods such as broker transfers and international funds transfers may take up to five days.
Do note that some funding methods will incur a service fee, which varies according to the method used. These fees are charged and paid directly to the payment network provider.
Step 5: Make your first trade
After determining which stocks you want to trade, and depositing funds into your account, the final step is to set up your trading platforms.
Start by looking up how to use MetaTrader 4 and Meta Trader 5 – the trading platforms you will use to execute your trades – and download and install them to your devices. Alternatively, you can also download the Vantage app to trade using your mobile phone.
Additionally, you may also wish to explore the recommended suite of trading tools that integrate with and upgrade the MT4 and MT5 platforms to boost your trading capabilities.
Once you’ve set up your MT4 or MT5 trading platform, you’re ready to make your first stock trade!
Your first stock trade represents the very first step in what is hopefully a long and fruitful journey as an investor. Expect to find plenty to learn and discover, and remember that investing is a journey, not the destination.
Given the myriad complexities and nuances of trading, it is important to explore and educate yourself as much as you can.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different trading strategies to find the ones that work for you, and make it a point to continually evolve and optimise your portfolio as you go.