TD Ameritrade Shuts Doors to Retail Clients—How to Transition to a New Broker

TD Ameritrade Shuts Doors to Retail Clients—How to Transition to a New Broker

We didn’t see that one coming. Seemingly out of nowhere, TD Ameritrade has decided to stop servicing retail clients in Singapore and focus on high-net-worth investors only.

According to a spokesperson from TD Ameritrade Singapore, the broker “has made a strategic decision to focus on meeting the needs of accredited investors” and “are committed to serving this unique market and providing these sophisticated local investors with access to the US markets”.

Whether you have an account with TD Ameritrade or not, I’m sure you have a ton of questions: How do I transfer my investments to another broker? Will my broker close too? Are my investments safe? 

Fret not. Here’s our simple guide can help you out if you need to transition to a new broker.

 

Immediate Actions for TD Ameritrade Account Holders

If you have investments with TD Ameritrade, it’s important to take action before 27 Oct 2023. Beyond that, TD Ameritrade will implement a monthly account maintenance fee of USD $50. 

But where and how does one start to take action. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

The good news is, if you act early, TD Ameritrade will waive or refund any transfer or wire fees you incur (till 31 December 2023). But this only applies to entire account transfers and/or wire withdrawals.

 

Which broker should I choose next?

Switching brokers can be annoying—trust me, I have experienced it before. That’s why we need to look at various factors before we decide.

  1. Available markets: I’ve lost count of the times I’ve opened an account with a broker only to realise they don’t offer the stocks I want to trade. Each broker usually lists their available instruments on their website or sometimes on a separate document. Scan through it first.
  2. Fees: Some brokerage accounts are riddled with hidden fees. These aren’t necessarily bad, but it can be a nasty surprise. Look out for things like platform, custody, inactivity, and maintenance fees. Try to go for brokers that offer zero fees or razor-thin spreads.
  3. Trading platform: Many people loved TD Ameritrade for their thinkorswim platform. Open a demo account first with your next broker to experience their trading platform before going live.

Besides these points, it’s also crucial to ensure your broker is reputable and here to stay.

“Retail investors should look at brokers who have a long history in Singapore, who consistently settle trades on time, who have a strong balance sheet, have no regulatory warnings or fines, high staff turnover or “fast marketing”,” says Forbes. 

“One observation is brokers promoting deals that are too good to be true, are not in the interest of retail investors, and investors should be wary of falling for false marketing. Generally speaking, these are the markers to watch out for before a broker moves from a going concern to a potential problem and retail customers should become worried.”

But of course, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take advantage of legitimate promos.

As Leong says, “retail investors should keep an eye out for any attractive promotions offered, to lower their trading fees incurred and stretch every dollar of their investments.”

 

Which brokers can I choose from?

To make your job easier, here are some top picks of brokerages available through MoneySmart—most of them offer juicy welcome bonuses too.

Tiger Brokers logo
MoneySmart Exclusive
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Min. Commission Fee US Stocks
US$1*
Min. Commission Fee SG Stocks
0.03% of Trade Value*
Min. Funding
$0
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[MoneySmart Exclusive]
Get S$160 via PayNow when you open, fund a min. of USD1,000 / S$1,350 within one deposit with Tiger Brokers. T&Cs apply.
  
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New to Tiger Brokers? Enjoy up to USD3,600 worth of rewards when you fulfill the requirements*. T&Cs apply.

Valid until 24 Apr 2024

Get an additional USD50 stock voucher from Tiger Brokers when you deposit US$10,000 OR an initial transferring stocks* (worth US$10,000).

Saxo logo
MoneySmart Exclusive
FLASH DEAL
Min. Commission Fee US Stocks
US$1
Min. Commission Fee SG Stocks
S$3
Min. Funding
S$0
MoneySmart Exclusive:

[FLASH DEAL | MoneySmart Exclusive]
Get up to S$288 via PayNow when you open, fund and trade within 14 days of account opening with Saxo. T&Cs apply.
 
[Saxo Promotion]
• Get a free upgrade to trade with our Platinum prices. Learn more
 Plus, get an additional S$750 when you refer a friend. T&Cs apply.

Valid until 24 Apr 2024

Enjoy SGD188 commission credit* when you successfully open a Saxo account. T&Cs apply. Existing TD Ameritrade clients: Transfer your securities to Saxo with no fees incurred.

CMC Markets logo
Online Promo
Commission Fee (US Stocks) After 5 Free Monthly Trades
0.04% or min. USD 4
Commission Fee (SG Stocks) After 2 Free Monthly Trades
0.05% or min. SGD 3
Min. Funding
S$0
Interactive Brokers logo
Online Promo
Newest desktop trading platform on IBKR Desktop
Min. Commission Fee US Stocks
US$1
Min. Commission Fee SG Stocks
$2.50
Min. Funding
$0
moomoo (by FUTU) logo
Online Promo
Low commission fees
Min. Commission Fee US Stocks
US$0
Min. Commission Fee SG Stocks
S$0.99
Min. Funding
$0
Sponsored
Webull logo
MoneySmart Exclusive
GIVEAWAY | No commission
Min. Commission Fee for US Stocks
USD0.50*
Min. Commission Fee for SG Stocks
S$0*
Min. Funding
S$0
MoneySmart Exclusive:

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Get up to S$150 Cash via PayNow exclusively on MoneySmart when you simply sign up and fund/transfer in*! T&Cs apply.

Be the lucky one to walk away with 2 attractive prizes on top of existing cash rewards.
Apple iPhone 15, 128GB (worth S$1,311) when you sign up, transfer-in* to Webull and trade
AND Apple AirPods Pro Gen 2 (worth S$362.35) when you sign up, fund* and trade

Increase your chances of winning when you refer friends today. T&Cs apply.

[Webull Promotion]
Enjoy 0 commission fee* up to 3 years with SG Stock Trading and FREE market data when you open a Webull account.

Plus, get up to USD3,000 NVDA shares* from Webull's Welcome Promotion. T&Cs apply.

Get up to USD10,000 NVDA shares* from Webull's Transfer-In Rewards Promotion. T&Cs apply.

Valid until 24 Apr 2024

For even more options, compare the best online investment brokerages in Singapore.

Whichever broker you choose, always ensure that liquidating your positions, making withdrawals, and transferring your assets to another broker is seamless. Send the customer support team an email and ask about the process. That way, you’ll always live to trade another day.

 

Are my investments with other brokers safe?

Unfortunately, there’s a chance that we might see more brokers shutting their doors to retail investors in Singapore, according to Christopher Forbes, Head of CMC Invest (Singapore). He predicts that other brokers are likely to quietly leave Singapore in the coming 12-18 months.

Forbes’ reason for this? No broker is 100% safe. After all, TD Ameritrade was one of the most reputable brokers in the retail investment space. And if they’re closing doors to retail investors, any broker can too.

However, not all experts believe this to be true. Mr. Ian Leong, Chief Executive Officer, Tiger Brokers (Singapore), thinks that TD Ameritrade’s decision is quite singular based on their unique business considerations and does not expect other brokerages here to follow a similar path.

Whatever happens, the key is to stay informed and know what to do in the scenario that you’re forced to switch brokers—and that’s what MoneySmart is here to help you with.

 

If you know anyone who dabbles with investing, share this article with them!