Interactive Brokers Epic Guide 2024

Last updated: April 14, 2024


Logo Interactive Brokers


Are you looking to achieve financial independence so you want to invest your money successfully? And so now you’re looking for the best online broker as a Swiss investor to make all your savings grow?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

Since 2016, Interactive Brokers (IB or IBKR for short) has been my favorite online brokerage platform. If that alone convinces you, then you can create your own account by following this link:

» Create my Interactive Brokers account now «

If, on the other hand, you’re more of a person who wants to understand all the ins and outs, then keep reading my Interactive Brokers guide. The platform will have no more secrets for you after that!

My goal with this complete 9-part guide is to help you from the time you open your account until you see your savings grow and your first dividends fall.

Ready?

Can you remind me what an online broker is, please?

Concretely, by opening your account on Interactive Brokers, which is an online brokerage company, you can buy stocks, ETFs, bonds, or even exchange money on FOREX.

And once you’ve done your shopping, you can use the platform’s various reporting tools to see how your wealth grows through your stocks that increase in value as well as through the dividends you’ll receive.

What is Interactive Brokers?

Interactive Brokers is an American brokerage firm founded in 1978 by Thomas Peterffy. Over the years, it has become one of the largest online brokerage companies in the world (it has offices in the following countries: USA, Switzerland, Canada, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Australia, Hungary, Russia, Japan, India, China and Estonia).

Thomas Peterffy, founder and CEO of Interactive Brokers, which almost invented digital trading (credits: forbes.com)

Thomas Peterffy, founder and CEO of Interactive Brokers, which almost invented digital trading (credits: forbes.com)

By reading the story of the birth of Interactive Brokers on Wikipedia (it is really worth the detour), we understand that its founder was nothing less than the pioneer of computerized trading since 1977. And that IB is “only” the fruit of its creativity and perseverance during 15 years to convince the markets that IT was the future :)

In 2018, Interactive Brokers was still the leading American online broker in terms of the number of orders executed each day (purchase or sale of securities), reaching 695'000.

How I invested successfully with Interactive Brokers

I started with Interactive Brokers in September 2016 with CHF 0 on my account.

My account with CHF 0 in September 2016... you have to start somewhere!

My account with CHF 0 in September 2016... you have to start somewhere!

Then I transferred my first CHF 10'000 in savings, and then CHF 12'270, and then another CHF 16'680.

Slowly but surely, I transfer about every quarter (to invest a larger package of cash at once compared to monthly, and thus pay less fees) all our savings set aside in our Interactive Brokers account

Slowly but surely, I transfer about every quarter (to invest a larger package of cash at once compared to monthly, and thus pay less fees) all our savings set aside in our Interactive Brokers account

And then one thing led to another, this whole stash of cash began to grow in stock market value. When I say “increase in market value”, it means that if, for example, you buy an ETF or share for CHF 100 today, and in 2 years it’s worth CHF 150, then you can sell it and the additional CHF 50 corresponds to your gain in market value.

As a reference, this is what it can look like with the example of my account between the beginning of 2017 and mid-2019.

Market value increase of my ETFs and shares in 2017

Market value increase of my ETFs and shares in 2017

Loss of market value of my ETFs and shares in 2018 — we said long-term vision, it's not for nothing :)

Loss of market value of my ETFs and shares in 2018 — we said long-term vision, it's not for nothing :)

Market value increase of my ETFs and shares from January to July 2019

Market value increase of my ETFs and shares from January to July 2019

The increase in the market value of my securities (a security can be an ETF, a share, or a bond for example) is in the “Unrealized” column as I didn’t sell anything but IB calculates everything automatically as if I had sold at the end of the period to know if I made or lost money.

If I had really sold my shares and ETFs at the end of the period, the figures would be the same except that they would be in the “Realized” column (aka “in my pocket!”).

And that’s not to mention the dividends that companies pay you when you own their shares. Ditto, the screenshots of my Interactive Brokers account from 2017 to 2019:

Dividends from my ETFs and shares in 2017

Dividends from my ETFs and shares in 2017

Dividends from my ETFs and shares in 2018

Dividends from my ETFs and shares in 2018

Dividends from my ETFs and shares from January to July 2019 (as you can see, it goes fast because I won in 6 months what took me 1 year in 2018)

Dividends from my ETFs and shares from January to July 2019 (as you can see, it goes fast because I won in 6 months what took me 1 year in 2018)

You too can invest with Interactive Brokers — and I’ll show you how

I’ll admit, Interactive Brokers isn’t the easiest platform to start investing, I’ll give you that.

And even though since 2017-2018, their strategy has been to simplify their tools more and more so that they are more accessible for the average person… So you can imagine what I experienced in 2016…

Anyway, once I show you the basics, you’ll find your way very quickly. To tell you the truth, buying an ETF or a share in a foreign currency takes me less than 3 minutes now.

Throughout the 9 chapters of this complete guide, I will explain you step by step:

I went through the same difficult moment as you to decide to open this account (argh this long form with lots of financial jargon…) and buy my first ETF (“Uh, it flashes everywhere, I close everything I’m afraid to make a mistake!”).

Believe me, I know how not so easy it is, and how I would have liked someone to take me by the hand and put me on the right path from the beginning of my life as an investor.

That’s why I created this guide.

This is the guide is something I dreamt of having when I started investing in the stock market in 2014 (unfortunately not with Interactive Brokers at the time…).

Still motivated? So here’s what’s in store for you:

Chapter 1: Why choose Interactive Brokers?

Interactive Brokers is my favorite and one of the best online broker for a Swiss Mustachian investor. But before we explore how it works in detail, it is important that you understand why I chose this online brokerage platform over another.

Chapter 2: How to open an Interactive Brokers account

Once I have explained to you the details of why Interactive Brokers is the best solution for a Swiss investor, it will be time to take action and open your account. The purpose of this chapter will be to review each screen to de-dramatize this important step.

Chapter 3: Securing my Interactive Brokers account (and therefore all my money!)

This is the important chapter not to skip. If you’re like me, you only want one thing: to transfer cash and buy your first ETF or share. But imagine if someone hacked into your account and stole all your savings… not cool, huh? So we’ll see how to make your Interactive Brokers account 100% secure.

Chapter 4: Making my first CHF transfer to Interactive Brokers

We will finally start talking seriously in this chapter, with the first key step in your investment journey: having cash in your Interactive Brokers account. I will explain you every detail, with screenshots, on how to transfer your hard-earned CHF to your IB account.

Chapter 5: Which Interactive Brokers software to use?

As I explained in the preamble, Interactive Brokers may seem complicated at first glance. The typical example is that you have 4 different ways to access your account. But once we go through them together, you’ll understand why and how. And there’s really nothing hard about it!

Chapter 6: Convert foreign currencies on Interactive Brokers

The ETFs or shares I buy are often in currencies other than the Swiss franc. So you have to change your CHF. The good news is that Interactive Brokers is one of the cheapest places in the world to exchange currencies. And it takes you less than a minute!

Chapter 7: How to buy your first ETF on Interactive Brokers?

TADAA! It took time until chapter 7 to touch the grail that will one day allow you to achieve financial independence: buy an ETF or an action from any country in the world. And you’ll know how do it in just a few clicks on Interactive Brokers after reading this chapter.

Chapter 8: How to check the money you make in the stock market on Interactive Brokers

Personally, that’s what I prefer to look at on Interactive Brokers when I do my accounting work every month: how much my savings made me earn while I was sleeping, playing with my children, or at work. I bet you’re looking forward to reading this chapter too, aren’t you?

Chapter 9: Where can I find information about my taxes on Interactive Brokers?

The not so pleasant chapter, but well we don’t want to have any problems with taxes so we have to be careful to declare all the securities and earnings you own on Interactive Brokers. In this chapter I show you how I use their reporting tool to complete my Swiss tax return.

Bonus: How to forecast future dividends on Interactive Brokers

Ah, now that’s a feature I really like! It lets you forecast future dividends from your Interactive Brokers portfolio, thanks to the income projection functionality.

Bonus: Interactive Brokers vs DEGIRO for a Swiss investor

I have been asked so many times the question “which online platform to choose between DEGIRO or Interactive Brokers”, that I have made a dedicated article about it :)

Bonus: How to transfer DEGIRO to Interactive Brokers (portfolio of ETFs)

And to follow on from this, I’ve also described in a separate article how to transfer your ETFs from DEGIRO to Interactive Brokers.

Bonus: How to open a margin account IBKR (Interactive Brokers)

Chapter reserved for seasoned investors! Here’s how I invest leveraged money by borrowing from my broker — carefully and thoughtfully.

Bonus: Testing the Interactive Brokers Stock Yield Enhancement Program

Just like with the margin account, this chapter is reserved for seasoned Mustachian investors. Here you will learn how to lend your securities in exchange for a higher return.

Bonus: Interactive Brokers Switzerland: GlobalTrader or IBKR Mobile?

IBRK offers two mobile applications: GlobalTrader and IBKR Mobile. Here’s which one I recommend depending on your situation.

Bonus: Interview with Thomas Peterffy, founder of Interactive Brokers

I was lucky to interview Mr Peterffy during half an hour! A source of inspiration for any self-respecting entrepreneur (and investor).


So much for the program. I hope it will help you to start investing in the stock market to ensure a bright financial future for yourself.

Anyway, if you use this link to open your Interactive Brokers account, I thank you because it will help finance the blog and allow me to spend even more time on it to create other guides like this one.


As usual, I only write and review things that I use in my personal daily life, or that I trust.

Thank you for reading!