🐧 Automating your investments as an expat

INSIDE: Save $$$ and Time With Interactive Brokers
September 17, 2023

Tired of losing out on returns due to forgetting to invest?

This is how to “set and forget” your investments using Interactive Brokers.

Today in 10 minutes or less, you’ll learn:

  • 📊 Intro to Interactive Brokers
  • 🤖 Automating Recurring Investments 101
  • ⚡️ Currency Exchange Hack in IBKR

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🤖 How to Automate Your Investments Using Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers is like the Swiss Army Knife of online brokerages.

It’s a publicly traded American multinational brokerage (Nasdaq: IBKR) with a presence in 100+ countries and offers a wide variety of products including stocks, options, futures, forex, and even bonds.

💪 Why use Interactive Brokers as an expat?

When asked about brokerages, I generally recommend Interactive Brokers for expats and people living overseas.

There’s a few reasons:

  • Low fees: Commissions start at $0 and go up to 1% per order. FX is 0.002% with $2 USD min.
  • Broad selection. Buy stocks and funds across 150+ markets.
  • Geo coverage. Available in 100+ countries. Most brokerages will shut down your account after you relocate. With IBKR, keep your account open even after you move abroad.

Depending on your country, there may be other great online brokerages as well (eg Saxo in Singapore). So if you’re an optimizer, do a comparison.

😓 What’s the downside of Interactive Brokers?

When it comes to Interactive Brokers, the main issue has been the user experience. Unfortunately, the IBKR web portal still looks like it hasn’t received any love since the early 2000’s.

🧑‍💻 Open up your Interactive Brokers account

If you’re interested in following along the below steps, then create an account here (affiliate link) and you’ll be eligible to receive up to $1,000 worth of IBKR stock.

🙌 Introducing: The IBKR Recurring Investment feature

In December 2022, Interactive Brokers rolled out this new gem of a feature.

Recurring Investment is like your autopilot. 🧑‍✈️

You set it up once with your chosen amount and frequency, and it automates your stock or ETF purchases over a scheduled time period.

Note: This requires fractional shares to be enabled in your account.

👫 Who is this for?

Recurring Investments are great for:

  • Busy professionals who don't want to manually trade
  • Expats who prefer a “set and forget” type of approach
  • Expats who Dollar Cost Average but are inconsistent, especially due to time zone differences

Yes, it’s possible to cut down maintenance to essentially zero. 🤯

🤖 Steps to setting up your first Recurring Investment

Alright let’s get started.

First, login to your Client Portal and go to the top menu → Trade → Recurring Investment:

Afterward, you’ll see the main Recurring Investment page.

This will display active recurring investments (if any are setup).

To setup a new one, click Creative Recurring Investment.

Here you can search for assets by symbol, ISIN, or CUSIP. Select the stock or ETF you want to setup the recurring investment for:

  • Note: Only stocks/ETFs which are tradable in fractions are eligible. This is because when using Recurring Investment, you’ll receive fractional shares equivalent to the cash amount specified.
  • Note: Only US and European stocks/ETFs are eligible

After you select the asset, you can choose your start date, end date, and frequency of investment.

  • Note: Trades are executed soon after the market open on the start date and continues on future dates based on the frequency you choose. If the market is closed, your order will get executed on the next market open date.

Click Continue, read the disclosures, and then click Save Investment → Done.

Boom! You’re off to the races 🏇

🤑 What’s the fee for using Recurring Investment?

Good question. As we know, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Interactive Brokers charges its standard fixed commission fees for the Recurring Investment feature. You can find them listed on the IBKR website:

  • Note: The minimum commission charge is the lesser of the stated minimums (USD 1 for the Fixed structure) or 1% of the trade value.

💱 What happens if you don’t have enough of X currency to buy the stock?

When using the Recurring Investment feature if you don't hold the currency the stock is denominated in, IBKR will auto-convert currencies to complete the trade.

💥 BONUS: Exchange currency with the lowest fees

As mentioned earlier, Interactive Brokers has one of the most cost-efficient currency exchange offerings I’ve seen:

  • Fee: 0.002% with $2 USD minimum
  • Currencies available for trade: USD, AED, AUD, CAD, CHF, CNH, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HUF, ILS, JPY, MXN, NOK, NZD, PLN, SAR, SEK, SGD, TRY, ZAR and KRW

Yes, that’s even better than Wise, Revolut, and other money transfer services.

Example:

  • You want to convert your SGD into $10,000 USD to buy USD-denominated funds
  • IBKR charges a $2 USD fee for FX
  • That’s equivalent to paying a .02% FX fee, compared to a .5% FX fee with Wise
  • That’s a 25x cheaper fee than Wise 🤯

🌐 Beyond your borders

👹 How Financial Samurai would invest $250k cash in today’s market (link)

🇮🇳 Western firms switch investments from China to India (link)

👫 A 10-year Fidelity study reports that womens’ investment accounts earned higher returns than mens’—despite taking lower investment risk (link)

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👉️ How I can help

That’s all for today!

Whenever you’re ready, here are 2 ways for us to work together:

1. Promote your business to 4,800+ tech professionals and founders by sponsoring this newsletter.

2. Schedule a
1:1 coaching session for your career and wealth goals.

Get your Free Interactive Brokers Account

By opening up your Interactive Brokers account today, you can earn up to $1,000 IBKR stock for free using my affiliate link.

Dexter Zhuang

Dexter is the founder of Money Abroad, a website and newsletter on building wealth for global professionals. Over the last 10 years, he's been a product leader, product manager, consultant and coach at companies like Dropbox, Xendit, and growth-stage startups across the US, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. His work has been featured in global publications like Business Insider, CBS, US News & World Report, and Tech in Asia. He graduated from Dartmouth College.

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