Last updated: 21 septembre 2023
If you are browsing this site, you are probably looking to invest in the stock market to achieve financial independence in Switzerland.
*And if you want to invest in the stock market, you will have to choose which trading platform you are going to use.
I went through this in 2013…
Does trading in Switzerland mean you must use a Swiss broker? (Nope!)
I made the same mistake as many beginner investors in Switzerland: I chose Swissquote, because it was the trading platform that everyone around me was talking about.
“Swissquote or BVC? Oh, let’s use Swissquote because they are cheaper.”
“Swissquote or UBS? Nah, I heard from my cousin that Swissquote is cheaper.”
After conducting my own research, I also came to the conclusion that Swissquote was the best solution for a Swiss investor.
Because for me, it was impossible to choose another trading platform instead of a Swiss company to invest in the stock market in Switzerland… (and yes, I was that naive!
Then I learned that you can actually buy any stock on the stock market through different brokers. As long as that online broker allows customers who are Swiss residents.
And that opened up a new realm of possibilities for me.
Almost too many possibilities even… because any trading platform in the world can be a potential candidate… knowing that there are more than twenty online trading platforms in Switzerland with trading fees from CHF 100/year to CHF 2'000/year!
Therefore I wrote this article to introduce you to the best trading platform for a Mustachian Swiss investor.
What type of investor is this article written for?
Before I start with my trading platform comparison, we need to clarify the aim of this article.
You may read on if you are going to invest like a Swiss Mustachian:
- Investment strategy “Buy and hold”
- Investment portfolio consisting of 3 ETFs using the Bogleheads method
- Investing your savings once per quarter, every time in a single ETF to avoid additional transaction costs.
If this doesn’t fit your investment strategy (e.g. if you are a day trader), then don’t waste your time reading further since this article won’t fit your case.
For the rest of us, let’s look at the relevant criteria I use to establish my comparision of the best trading platform in Switzerland - and I’ll also present you with the other more futile criteria.
What are the important criteria for choosing the best trading platform?
There are four important criteria for choosing the best online broker: the lowest fees, access to the best ETFs, the solidity (financial and governance) behind the trading platform, and finally the availability of an IBAN in CHF.
Criterion 1: Trading platform fees
Account maintenance fees, inactivity fees, custody fees, and currency exchange fees are adminstrative fees.
Since the digitalisation of trading, these fees are “fictitious” and and actually represent “easy” money for financial institutions.
Swiss online brokers (including our dear banks…) like to take advantage of such fees.
Except that for an investor, with 1% deducted here, and 1% there, your fortune is likely to melt like snow in the sun as time goes by.
But luckily for us, competition is starting to show in Helvetia, and it’s to our benefit.
Transaction fees, as the name suggests, are the fees you pay when you buy or sell a stock.
The “real” online brokers do their business mainly via these fees.
They offer you a top service, and know that by being the best on the market, they will attract a lot of capital.
And so they will start making substantial money for that reason - vs. charging you fees to generate cash in the short term, thus losing you in the long term because it’s not in line with your frugal style.
To speak with concrete numbers, here is what I am aiming for in terms of fees:
- Account maintenance fee: CHF 0
- Inactivity fee: CHF 0
- Custody fee: CHF 0
- Transaction fees: less than CHF 1 per transaction
- ETF transaction fees: ideally free of charge via a list with the best ETFs in the market
- Currency exchange fees: lowest possible
- Minimum amount to open an online trading platform: none
Any Swiss investor who buys securities on the stock market is charged an additional tax called "stamp duty" (between 0.075% and 0.15% of your transaction amount). Well, that's not entirely true: it's any Swiss investor using a Swiss broker must pay stamp duty. But if you use a foreign (i.e. non-Swiss) broker, then you are excluded from this stamp duty. This stamp duty optimisation technique allows you to save even more on your brokerage fees. Here you can find all the detailed information on this subject in this dedicated article.
Criterion 2: Financial and governance strength of your broker
As you venture down the FIRE path to financial independence, you’ll start saving and investing money.
A lot of money.
Several hundred thousand of CHF.
And the last thing you want is for those savings to vanish.
Fortunately, there are deposit protections in every country, but if you don’t mind having your money frozen while you wait for bankruptcy proceedings, that’s just as bad!
That’s why one of the 4 important criteria to look for when choosing a trading platform is to make sure that the company behind it is rock solid both financially and in terms of governance.
One of the most important signals is to look at how long the company has been in business and to search the web for any bad reviews or ratings.
Criterion 3: Trading platform with an IBAN securities account in CHF
At first, the small % fees may seem minimal when you are investing with “only” 1'000 Swiss francs.
Like: “Yeah, well MP, don’t exaggerate, we’re talking about 1.5% currency conversion fees… on CHF 1'000, that’s only CHF 15”
Except that, as I often tell you on the blog, CHF 1,000 in savings is just the beginning.
Because with the frugalist strategy you’re going to use, you’ll soon find yourself with 5-figure sums to invest in the stock market.
So for CHF 10'000, you’ll have to waste CHF 150 in fees.
And personally, I don’t know about you, but I have other things to do with 150 Swiss francs than give them to an online broker voluntarily!
So the criterion for this chapter: choose an online broker that offers you an IBAN account in CHF so that you can send your savings directly from your Swiss bank account.
This way, you can transfer your savings without having to spend money on currency exchange fees. Afterwards, if you decide to buy an ETF in USD, you can do the conversion (with the lowest fees, as mentioned in point 1 above).
Criterion 4: access to the best ETFs
Still in this “buy-and-hold” long term investment perspective, the second important criterion is to have access to the best ETFs.
What is a “best ETF”?
It is an ETF with low fees (the famous TER for “Total Expense Ratio”) and which is well diversified to mitigate the risks of loss linked to a particular industry or country.
We’ll talk about this below, but some ETFs are only available through certain online brokers due to financial regulations.
What criteria are NOT AT ALL or NOT very important when choosing your trading platform?
There are certainly more than the two below.
But these two criteria I selected to mention are often why some people decide between this or that broker.
It often comes with extra costs, which you can avoid if you wanted to.
Because you will only use your online broker once a quarter to buy an ETF!
Pointless criterion 1: complex set of analysis tools
I remember those movies from the 90’s where the traders were speculating on their five big screens side by side.
They appeared so smart and classy in their Wall Street suits.
They were looking at dashboards full of complex charts using stock picking algorithms to buy and sell stocks at the speed of light.
Fortunately, you don’t need these fancy tools to make your money work for you.
What’s “smart and classy” these days is an investment strategy that keeps you away from your online trading platform as much as possible.
Four times a year, you’ll spend thirty minutes buying new ETFs.
And once a year, you’ll rebalance your portfolio.
You have better things to do with your time.
And your investment portfolio will thank you for it when you don’t sell everything because of a panic attack during a sudden market downturn.
So no, there is no need for complex stock market analysis tools.
Pointless criterion 2: an ultra mega easy-to-use user interface
As much as I like well-designed user interfaces for the services I use often, I don’t take this criterion into account when evaluating an online broker.
Why you ask?
Because I will only use it for 15 minutes per quarter!
So the only thing I need is that it should be as cheap as possible.
And to be functional. Four times a year :)
Plus, even if it’s not on our list of needs, we’re lucky these days that all these platforms have a good website and a mobile application most of the time.
Trading platform usage scenarios: from beginner to veteran
I wanted my broker comparison to apply to beginners as well as to veterans who has been investing for decades.
Therefore, my brokerage fee simulations to find the best broker are based on the 6 scenarios below.
First, let me introduce you to the two protagonists: Adrian and Melanie.
Adrien, Swiss 22 years old, works in IT
Adrian is a 22 year old frugalist. He has completed his IT apprenticeship, and is looking to move up the ladder to properly increase his salary.
Luckily, he came across a cool blog about financial independence and how to retire early at 40 :D
During the first few years of his career, Adrian will go through the following scenarios:
|Adrian’s scenarios||Starting amount||1x investment per quarter|
|1||CHF 10'000||CHF 1'000|
|2||CHF 30'000||CHF 3'000|
|3||CHF 60'000||CHF 6'000|
Mélanie, Swiss 35 years old, product development manager in a pharmaceutical company
Melanie, meanwhile, is already well on her way to financial independence. She plans to be FIRE around her 43rd birthday.
Her biggest dream is to spend 6 months in Japan, in a small town she visited (where she could only stay a few days on holiday because… well, she had to go back to work in Switzerland…)
Here are her investment scenarios:
|Melanie’s scenarios||Starting amount||1x investment per quarter|
|1||CHF 110'000||CHF 10'000|
|2||CHF 200'000||CHF 15'000|
|3||CHF 300'000||CHF 20'000|
We will use these 6 scenarios later to compare brokerage fees.
Candidates for the Best Online Broker in 2023 (for Swiss investors)
After hours of research and compilation of brokerage fees, here are the candidates for my ranking of the best online broker:
- Interactive Brokers
- Charles Schwab
- Saxo Bank
The logos of these trading platforms look like this:
If you don’t see the trading platform you are looking for, have a look at the FAQ. You should find your answer there. And if you don’t, send me an email because maybe I’m the one who overlooked the online broker.
Brokerage fees comparison of the best trading platforms (+ broker financial strength + IBAN account in CHF)
I spent several hours researching each of the following information for all trading platforms:
- What are the account maintenance fees?
- What are the inactivity fees?
- What are the custody fees?
- What are the transaction fees to buy a US ETF?
- What are the transaction fees to buy a Swiss ETF?
- What are the stamp duty charges?
- What are the currency change fees?
- What are the exchange connection fees?
- Does the broker offer a list of free ETFs (i.e. free of transaction fees)?
- What is the minimum amount required to open a trading account?
- Does the trading platform offer a securities account with an IBAN in CHF?
- What is the amount of protection for my assets in case of bankruptcy of the online broker?
- What year was the company behind the trading platform founded?
- In which country is the company behind the trading platform located?
And I’ve consolidated and summarised all this for you in this useful table:
Now, let’s run the simulation with each of Adrian and Melanie’s 3 stock market investment scenarios.
Here is the result of their brokerage fees in great detail:
And to make it easier for you to read (for me too ^^), here’s what it looks like in a summary table of trading platform fees:
Comparison of the available ETFs for each trading platform
My selection of ETFs to achieve financial independence in Switzerland is simple, it follows a 3-fund Bogleheads strategy: 1 global stock ETF, 1 Swiss stock ETF and 1 Swiss bond ETF.
Until this day, I never had to choose a Swiss bond ETF, since my 2nd pillar money covers this role with a slightly safer investment than bonds.
For the other two ETFs, here are my choices:
- The VT ETF for global stocks (ISIN = US9220427424)
- UBS SMIM ETF for Swiss stocks (ISIN = CH0111762537)
Some brokers no longer offer the VT ETF due to financial regulation history reasons. The second best global equity ETF in this case is the VWRL ETF (ISIN = IE00B3RBWM25).
You can find all the contents of my ETF investment portfolio on this dedicated page.
The VT ETF is therefore only available via the following trading platforms: Interactive Brokers (*), Charles Schwab, and Swissquote.
These are the three best ETF-selection trading platforms - Interactive Brokers, Charles Schwab and Swissquote - They are the best due to the wide selection of ETFs they offer.
And so: Cornèrtrader, DEGIRO, Saxo Bank and FlowBank are less interesting for us Swiss Mustachian investors since these platforms do not offer US ETFs.
Which trading platform should you use in Switzerland: My Top 3 in 2023
The result is very clear: Interactive Brokers remains THE most advantageous online broker in all aspects for a Swiss Mustachian investor.
And the runner ups are Degiro (ranked second) and Cornèrtrader (ranked third).
Interactive Brokers Tutorial (for Swiss investors)
Starting to invest in the stock market is a challenge.
I went through it myself in 2013, just when I started my FIRE adventure in Switzerland.
That’s why I created a complete tutorial (account creation, ETF purchase, currency conversion, etc…) for my favourite online broker Interactive Brokers:
Complete Guide for Interactive Brokers 2023 >
DEGIRO tutorial (for Swiss investors)
Of course, I also created a detailed guide for DEGIRO just for you.
I use this trading platform to buy the ETFs that make up the investment portfolio for our two MP children.
Complete guide for DEGIRO >
To the question “what is the best trading platform?”, I always respond without without hesitation thatInteractive Brokers (*) is the best trading platform for a Swiss investor. I have been using this online broker since 2016 and I continue to recommend it to everyone I know (including you, who is reading this blog).
If you have a major issue with having a US-based broker, then the next best broker for Swiss investors would be DEGIRO (*).
Finally, if you absolutely need a Swiss-based trading platform, then I recommend you using Cornèrtrader (*) (which I used to use myself to invest for our children, before transferring to DEGIRO).
And you, do you invest in the stock market? If yes, with which platform?
FAQ trading platform in Switzerland
How do you trade stocks in Switzerland?
I don’t really like the word trading, because it implies constant daily transactions. I prefer to call it “investing for the long term” Or Bogleheads investing or even investing like a Mustachian.
For the sake of completeness, I recommend these two links if you want to get into the Swiss stock market:
- How would I invest CHF 10'000 in the stock market if I were to start today (stock market crash or not!)
- How to invest in the Swiss stock market as a beginner (paid program, 100% Swiss)
What type of trading is the most profitable?
If you don’t want to go crazy and have to spend every minute of your life in front of a screen, then the long term “buy and hold” method is the most profitable in my opinion. I would recommend reading this article in detail on how I invest in the stock market in just 30 minutes per quarter (and sleep calmly!!)
What is the most reliable trading platform?
According to my research, Interactive Brokers is the most reliable online brokerage platform to date. On the one hand because the parent company has been around since 1978 (!), and has therefore successfully survived several decades of stock market crashes, and various other crises. And on the other hand, because they go all out in terms of security (mobile app with double authentication, and via their due diligence process imposed by the American financial regulations).
Finally, one of the other elements that speaks for the reliability of a broker: Thomas Peterffy, the founder of Inveractive Brokers, is still the CEO and visionary who has been leading the company for over 45 years!
What is the best trading platform for beginners in Switzerland?
If I can convince you that DIY investing is a much simpler that it sounds, then Interactive Brokers is the best broker to start investing in the Swiss stock market.
Even simpler with their GlobalTrader mobile app specifically developed for beginners.
If on the other hand, you are too scared of the stock market, then I would recommend you to check outthe Swiss robo-advisor TrueWealth which guides you step by step and uses good quality ETFs to start investing.
Is Yuh a good choice for investing in the stock market?
Yuh is the banking and investment solution created by the alliance of PostFinance and Swissquote. Their brokerage fees of 0.50% may seem intersting for small investors (<CHF 1'000 per transaction). What makes it worse is that there are currency conversion fees of 0.95%.
Finally, what makes me reject Yuh for investing in the stock market is its list of ETFs which is far too small. Moreover, this list does not contain any US-based global ETFs (such as the Vanguard VT ETF) or my favourite Swiss ETF (the UBS SMIM ETF).
In conclusion, Yuh is not a trading platform of choice for a Swiss Mustachian investor.
DEGIRO or Interactive Brokers?
I have received this question so many times that I have created a dedicated article. You will find the answer by following this link.
What is your opinion on Selma.io?
I see Selma.io as the launching pad for a very new investor who prefers an automated trading solution, rather than investing on your own.
The only good thing about Selma.io is its autopilot function, but then it quickly becomes limiting for a Mustachian investor, because:
- The fees are too high (~0.9%) compared to the other brokers like Interactive Brokers or DEGIRO
- You can’t choose the ETFs you want, because Selma.io creates an investment strategy for you in an automated way (even if it’s tailor-made, you can’t choose which ETFs to invest in)
Is TrueWealth a cheap trading platform?
TrueWealth is a robo-advisor rather than a trading platform where you can buy and sell your ETFs and other stocks. This means, like Selma.io, it’s a good starting point for a beginner investor.
But after you pass this beginners phase, TrueWealth is still too expensive compared to the competition. TrueWealth has a total fee of 0.65% (= 0.5% global fee including transaction fees + 0.15% TER fee and of the ETFs that they use). Furthermore, their robo-advisor solution does not allow you to select exactly the ETFs you want.
Is Inyova a good solution to invest in the stock market?
Inyova is a Swiss trading platform for investing in high impact companies. From a purely theoretical point of view, I would not recommend them for a beginner investor due to lack of diversification and high fees.
Indeed, Inyova has a universe of 300 companies, and depending on your impact themes, Inyova creates an investment portfolio of only about 30-40 companies.
Inyova’s fees are high: between 0.6 and 1.2% per year. However, if I were to choose Inyova, I would be better able to pay these fees, as Inyova actually does something in return - vs. traditional banks that earn money for Porsches for their bankers via their useless fees.
Finally, I recommend you to read my article about impact investing and my opinion on who really has power to change our world.
Do I have access to Trade Republic as a Swiss resident?
I often hear great things about this German trading platform Trade Republic. Unfortunately, at the moment, you can’t create a trading account on Trade Republic as a Swiss resident.
If this changes, I will update this comparision of trading platforms.
What about Comdirect (Commerzbank) as a broker for a Swiss trader?
Comdirect is a German trading platform (so only in German…). It is accessible to Swiss residents. But its fees are too high compared to the competition with 7.90€ + 0.25% transaction fee, as well as a monthly inactivity fee of 5.85€ (and you need at least 2 transactions!)
All this is enough to not include this broker in my comparison above. And we haven’t even touched on their variable rate exchange fees ;)
What is your opinion on Lynx?
Lynx is a German based online broker, but active and available for us Swiss residents. Their transaction fees are too high for a Mustachian investor, therefore this broker is not included.
We are talking about a small percentage of 0.15%, but they charge a minimum of CHF 15 for Swiss ETFs and 5 USD for American ETFs.
Any opinion on Maxblue (Deutsche Bank) for a Swiss investor?
The trading platform Maxblue (Deutsche Bank) is way too expensive for a Swiss “buy and hold” investor. Their transaction fees are respectively 29€ + 0.25% for Swiss ETFs and 15€ + 0.25% for American ETFs.
No thank you :)
Can I open a trading account with the US broker Fidelity?
No, unfortunately, an investor residing in Switzerland cannot open a trading account with the American online broker Fidelity.
Can I open a trading account with the US broker TD Ameritrade?
Yes, an investor living in Switzerland can open a trading account with the American trading platform TD Ameritrade. But you should know that Charles Schwab has announced the acquisition of TD Ameritrade. And this merger will end in 2023. So if you are looking for an American alternative to Interactive Brokers, I advise you to go directly to Charles Schwab.
Can I open a trading account with the US broker E-Trade?
No, an investor residing in Switzerland cannot currently open a securities account with the American online broker E-Trade.
Can I open a trading account with the US broker Merrill Edge?
Also negative. An investor living in Switzerland does not have access to the American online broker Merrill Edge.
(*) This symbol indicated where my article contains affiliate links. If you click one or more of them, you won’t see any difference compared to a standard link - but the blog will earn an affiliate commission. Thank you for this. As usual, I only write about and review things that I use in my daily life, or that I trust.
Photo credits Pexels Mélanie (Tim Douglas)