An honest and critical review

tl:dr
Lot’s of innovation, still low fee but very very worrying trends fee wise, intransparent on the direction and still bad at pr. Reliability is reasonable but needs improvement. Still lacks basic functions like transfer and corp actions. Dividends still arrive late.

This is all from my personal experience so other people definitely have had other experiences
I only use Invest
I have been with T212 for some time now and feel like its time to write something, especially after all the recent changes.

First I would like to say that T212 has really allowed me as a person to invest in a way that fits me which I couldn’t have done at any other broker due to their high fees. T212 was far ahead and still is ahead feature-wise to a lot of its competition (just mention fractional shares or pies).

Seeing all this new stuff coming out has been very exciting and has helped a lot of people but problems in more basic parts still exist like the dividend payments arriving late (personal record was 4 weeks late this january for my second largest position), intransparency on the direction of the company and very bad pr (just think of the GME saga as a recent example). A very important lacking thing is corporate actions (personal example: I own Engie shares and each December you can register them through your broker so you’ll receive a bonus dividend if you hold continually for two years, I didn’t receive any message so I forgot)

T212 has experienced explosive growth and this has brought a multitude of problems (and opportunities) to the platform. I have noticed that on high volatility days the platform becomes slow and sometimes even inaccessible for short periods of time, this has been a reoccurring problem and I don’t have confidence that its solved now. But for me, that’s a minor thing as I don’t really care if my orders are executed 1 hour later or not (although it throws a wrench at the reliability of the platform).

What I do care about are some of the more recent changes. It all started with the introduction of securities lending for invest (first there was no securities lending and now there is and T212 takes 100% of that) to have invest profitably on its own (and also compensating for ISA). This in itself isn’t a problem for me as it would have been a negligible amount on a yearly basis and for me, nothing really changes. T212 told us that because of this the Invest/Isa part became profitable on its own.

The rise of the fees
Great, then we shouldn’t expect any fees or anything right? Well, that’s where you’re wrong kiddo. The explosive growth made securities lending income bigger but also brought along increases in other costs among other problems. T212 decided to remove the referral programme for new users (they can only get a free share once but can’t refer friends for free shares). Minor for me as I’m already on the platform but annoying for new people. Then we got the 0.7% deposit fee, but that was avoidable for me by going through bank transfer (although it does take 2+ weeks now for the deposited money to arrive, seems to be improving) and now we got a 0.15% forex fee which really changes things.

Personal example:
I still have 50+ years until retirement, a large part of my portfolio is in other currencies.
Let’s say I have 10k invested in other currencies. Assuming a growth rate of 8% then we can see the large difference a 0.15% makes.

(this is an illustration, not entirely what happens at T212)
10000x1.08^50 = 469016 (rounded)
10000x1.0785^50 = 437529 (rounded)

So 437529/469016 = 0.93. So I would have 7% less (in this case ~30k or 300% of initial) in the end which is quite a significant difference from a 0.15% yearly fee.

The above example is not exactly what happens at T212 as it’s not a yearly fee but for each transaction (so could be higher or lower but this is an illustrative example). So it really depends on what you do, but for example when you receive dividends and reinvest you lose an additional 1-0.9985^2 = 0.299775%. So depending on if you have a dividend portfolio or a lot of transactions and sales you could get out with more costs

Multi-currency could partially soothe the pain (especially for the currently forced dividend conversions) but for me personally would complicate taxes a lot in combination with a fx fee.

This is especially worrying as was pointed out in the Introduction to FX conversion Fee thread

Very bad pr, no clear transparency in which direction T212 is going (will we end up with transaction fees as well, the FX fee already is a transaction fee in a way). What are the new features that are promised? We haven’t really heard anything about anything related to the pie in pies (and with the €/$1 etc minimum it’s use also is reduced), API (if a good API is released for me personally it would compensate for most of the stated things), late dividends, corporate actions and additional markets.

All in all, I’m very happy with what T212 has helped me achieve but I’m very worried about the direction we’re going in and the recent fee introductions among other restrictions show the growth pains T212 is having.

56 Likes

Couldn’t agree more with the OP and post. Trading and purely related features should always be free to even call T212 a free broker. It’s now becoming a discount broker instead!

Feels like betrayal honestly, especially after all the fake unfulfilled promises of not bringing any fees or costs. Then we are given 0.7% fees, 1$/€/£ minium, no new referrals for new accounts, and now 0.15% FX fee. Some of them might be reasonable but very poorly communicated and executed and without any solid alternatives given to a vast majority of users.

18 Likes

This. I understand that they need to make money somewhere and am personally okay with some things having costs but I want the option to still invest for free, the 0.7% is (for most) easily avoidable the 0.15% is not (even when investing in ETFs a lot of them are LSE traded and not in €).

They say no fees and then add fees, would rather have them say upfront that their plan is to have fees so I can plan accordingly

8 Likes

100% agree.

It’s not the fee per se that scares me, it’s the direction.

In the post about reaching profitability they claimed “…while remaining completely free” and, even though that was correct at time of posting, it’s not anymore true (will that post be amended?). And it really feels like they have waited to introduce the FX fee so to be able to claim that point, while already planning to add more fees in the future (this doesn’t want to be an accusation, it is just what these action look like from an user point of view).

That however doesn’t change the fact Trading212 is still the broker that better fits my requirements.
But with the direction it has taken, I don’t have anymore the confidence I previously had to always put a good word towards T212 with friends and family.

9 Likes

I transferred to IBKR. I am struggling navigating their platform and am paying for live market data but I know it is best for me moving forward. T212 fees will not stop here imo {even if they claim this is not the way forward} lol. They could very much offer live data/change current set-up to delayed for subscription model, withdrawal fees, etc. Just watch.

2 Likes

Good honest review. Thank you.

Just a thought, but could you consider Dividend reinvestment fees end to end to be 0.45% ?

0.15% FX on repatriating the dividend to your portfolio’s base working currency.
0.15% to FX back and reinvest.
0.15% when you eventually sell a security.

An ‘auto reinvest’ option for the same stock could be one solution. I expect they have probably thought all this through, but it seems to be a case of solving one problem, and creating another.

Myself I am currently reviewing my platform choice for 2021/2022, both ISA and non ISA. I was considering using 212 as my ISA for ETFs and Investment Trusts - the no platform or trading charge is a no brainer, although would restrict further ISA inflows into mutual funds.

That being said, I wouldn’t want to lock in my 2021/2022 ISA, only to find out in say 3 months time, a platform fee will be added in a month.

2 Likes

I think this is a grey area, I believe T212 will continue advertising free trading because the trading cost is technically still free, the Fx fee is ‘something else’ not a Trading fee they will say. Its like when a bank says “free” banking. Oh but there’s an admin cost. Etc. I’m sure there are other analogies too.

You can’t just add percentages but that’s a minor thing, it would be lower in your scenario:
1 x 0.0015 + (1x(1-0.0015) x div amount fractionx0.0015) +div amount fraction*(1-0.0015)*0.0015 + 1x(1-0.0015)x0.0015 =
(intial investement) + dividend received + dividend reinvested + final sale.
so it depends on how many dividend payements and the div yield

Example:
Invested amount: 1
Div y: 10%
No div tax.
So:
Total fees of buying, receiving and reinvesting one payment and then selling would be (assuming no price changes):
1x0.0015 + 1x(1-0.0015)x0.1x0.0015+1x(1-0.0015)x0.1x(1-0.0015)x0.0015+(1x(1-0.0015)x0.1x(1-0.0015)x(1-0.0015)+1x(1-0.0015)x0.9)x0.0015 = 0.00329662634

So 0.33% (assuming 10% div yield) and not 0.45% because the fee on the dividend is not a fee on the entire amount but only on the dividend amount and the fee on the dividend reinvestement is only on the dividend-first fx fee on div (after the fx fee was already substraced from the intial amount so the dividend won’t be 10% of the initial investement in this case).

So without adding the fee of course cascedes downwards as the amount gets smaller on which the fee substracted. (most importantly the dividend was only paid once, if you have multiple years its gonna be higher)

But you could also calculate it as an additional fee (in above example it was substracted from the invested amount as well while that might not be the case if it’s just substracted from free cash) but I’m not gonna bore you

This is Dougal you’re talking to. Need to teach him the basics first:

3 Likes

The 0.45% would only be applicable to the dividend element unless it was a 100% dividend, sorry I thought that would be a given. The diminishing value is moot, it would be slightly less than 0.45% lost on each dividend reinvested. 1 x 0.9985 x 0.9985 x 0.9985 or 0.4493% of the dividend lost from repatriation, reinvestment and sale.

I’ve had a few drinks now, so someone might need to check the math.

I tend to agree with @Etypsyno. Initially, I was relatively nonplussed by the new forex fee. Although not the cheapest, it has been set at a reasonable level. However, the more I think about it, the more uncomfortable it makes me.

As others have said, trust is the No 1 issue. I’d like to ‘set and forget’ my portfolio insofar as is possible but fee changes like this move the goalposts. Suddenly, I’m having to consider whether I should sell my stocks and move into ETFs and investment trusts. Changes like this undermine long-term confidence in the platform.

12 Likes

What surprising is there has not really been an response for anyone in T212 to really eliminate concerns as fast as they grown they can go there other way if they become less competitive, trust is massive thing when people are investing long term, looks like they running a loss to get people in and now hitting them with fees.

3 Likes
1 Like

Thanks. Interesting that a lot of the wording is opinion from a competitor.

Even then, the Stake website claims 0.5% on currency transfers, a minimum $2 fee on transfers and $2 withdrawal fee.

Really it’s just rearranging deckchairs. If I converted £1000 to USD, and turned over my holdings once a quarter, then withdrew £1500 equivalent profit say end of year, I would pay (£1000 + £1500) x 0.5% plus $2 so £12.5 plus $2 or say £14.

With 212 new fees, say a£1250 average balance over the year x 0.3% x 4 quarters is £15

Your choice of broker depends on trade volume/turnover.

2 Likes

Stake also seems to have some more unusual fees:
image
image

They also have a tiny SEC fee and TAF fee. Is this only for USA brokers?
I´d never heard of them, but as they are very small maybe I just haven’t realised.

The whole list:

1 Like

All brokers pass on those SEC fees. Because they are small you only see them when selling a large position. They are charged on Trading 212 also.

1 Like

The only one that’s doesn’t is the green one that begins with an e- they pay all of the clients fees and taxes.

I’ve never understood why?

2 Likes

I feel exactly the same. I used to do trades based on one of my algos which would mean to hold a position for 3 weeks. My account is in Eur but I trade mostly in US so all is USD. This was not an issue but now it complicates things. I could have chosen to have my account in USD from the start but with free forez that didn’t matter, now it’s late

2 Likes

So we need that Trading 212 adds more diversification on their offer. → Ask Trading 212 to add more EUR-denominated stocks/ETFs,

I already sold all my GBP stocks, they already have a 0.5% tax on every buy transaction, with the introduction of FX fees of 0,15%, we will loose 0.65% per buy transaction. It is -0.80% on total buy and sold. → So goodbye British stocks.

And I suppose the British investors will buy less EUR (although no 0.5% tax) and perhaps USD stocks to cut the fees expenses.

For Trading 212, it will end up to have less transactions as people will reduce the number of transactions they will do.

EDIT: Corrected an error.

Oddly, you can generate non GBP dividends on GBP denominated funds, yes.

You can ‘elect’ a dividend currency in these cases with the particular Registrar.

Example form to elect on Vanguard ETFs - you can choose EUR or GBP

https://www-uk.computershare.com/Content/download.asp?docId={2188B125-C684-42E2-A2B5-32311F832C4C}&cc=IE&lang=en&bhjs=1&fla=1&theme=cpu

Yet… because T212 use IB as a custodian I’m not sure of the flow. Since dividend delays are often blamed on IB I’m unclear how T212 assets are identified. If T212 have their own Nominee then they can elect using a form like the above. If IB are on the Register then IB have to do it.

Worth looking at as I’ve ended up with strange default dividend currency elections before without realising.

Also worth looking how the dividend comes to you - Crest, cheque (yes, cheque!!!) or bank transfer