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Nowadays it seems that everybody is trading shares and I strongly suspect this is largely due to the ease with which it is now possible to track information on the internet. When I took a look through my late fathers portfolio a couple of years ago I was amazed to find that he was simply making sell decisions based on how much the share had increased in value since he bought it.
It was a case of checking The Times each day to see what was up and what was down – that may sound OK but anybody who has taken even a mild interest in trading will tell you that it is simply not the way to go. What matters is what is GOING to happen to the share, not what already has happened.
No such problems for Kirsty1. Oh no. You may know me as the sad specimen who has severally but not exclusively been addicted to Ciao, The Sims, Fame Academy, Benefit cosmetics and nicotine up until now. But there is more. I am also addicted to the Stock Exchange.
Enough already. What is SelfTrade?
Well it is quite simply an online stock broker. SelfTrade is part of the DAB group and allows you to buy any quantity of a share for £12.50, sell any quantity of a share for £12.50 and to trade through ISAs. The website is an easy-on-the-eye pale green and seems thoroughly logical in lay-out – the three main groupings are:
Accounts – covering opening and maintaining your account Trading - buying and tracking specific shares Reseach – who is saying what about shares you are interested in, a calendar of upcoming weekly events, tips, company news and of course quotes.
REGISTRATION and CASH
Registration seems reasonably well-organised to me, but somewhat time consuming, but hey, there is money involved here so I am more than happy to make sure things are safe and secure before committing my hard-earned dosh. Click on “open an account” and you will see all the rules for successful application - the highlights of which are that you need to be over 18, have a bank account, send them your National Insurance number and spend what they tell you is 10 minutes filling in all sorts of details. I seem to remember it took me at least 20 minutes but hey-ho.
Oh, and then you’ll need to send them your money. This isn’t one of those systems clever enough to pull directly from your bank account – it is a bank account in its own right except you won’t receive any interest on your balance under £5,000. From there upwards there is an increasing % interest rate starting at the heady sum of 0.25% gross for a balance of £5,000 - £10,000 and reaching 2.5% gross for balances over £20,000. So there is little point in keeping any considerable money NOT invested in shares. Wobetide anybody who accidentally gets their maths wrong and invests more in shares than they have in cash – you will be charged at a whopping 5% over the Bank of Scotland base rate on any overdrawn balance.
BROKER AND SHARE TIPS
So your first million in cleared and ready for you to play with. You need to start making some buy decisions (actually you need to read a book on strategy really, but that’s another op!) so why not start with Brokers Tips? Here you can see a table of which strategists are backing which companies shares and at what price, and a selection of comments like today’s offering:
“UBS Warburg has cut speciality drugs firm Galen to hold from buy and kept a 535p share price target.” Damn that’s one of mine!
There is also a free of charge option to get the tips sent in a weekly round-up in an e:mail which I find useful.
So undaunted by the USB Warburg note of caution you have cunningly discovered that Kirsty1 is in Galen shares so you are going to put your million on the nose? Well it couldn’t be easier really – go to the quote section, determine that the code for Galen on the Stock Exchange is GAL, type it in and a quote will appear. The offer price as I write is 535.00 (that means £5.35 per share TO BUY) and the bid price is 525.00 (£5.25 per share TO SELL). You are also going to see the opening and closing prices of the day, and the last transaction by volume and price. The quotes are live with a fifteen minute delay, so watch out: things can change very fast during trading hours so phone the lovely people at SelfTrade for an instant quote if you have any misgivings. Simple.
Now all you need to do is press the buy key.
Of the £1,000,000 you have it’s going to cost you £12.50 for this investment and then you are going to be charged stamp duty – so you need to keep some cash back for that. I have never really understood how this works so lets keep £20,000 back for it. That means you want 183,000 shares in Galen at the quoted 535.00. Good for you.
The buy info tells you that you can buy AT BEST or AT QUOTE. Make sure you know what this means. AT BEST means that the man at the stock market will buy you your requested 183,000 shares whatever happens to the share price between your request and him managing to make the transaction on your behalf. Yikes. The safer option is AT QUOTE where he will buy for you at an agreed price. Well, I know which I prefer!
TRACKING YOUR PORTFOLIO
Tracking your portfolio will be a doddle for you because it rather riskily includes only one company. But you can see details of all shares you own in YOUR PORTFOLIO and/or you can create up to 15 WATCH LISTS which is my preferred route. This simply lists out all the relevant information about a selection of shares at the going rate. I have one for companies I currently own, one for companies I am currently researching and rather sickly, one for companies that I once owned. (Damn those early sales!)
Well I’ve racked my brains and have only come up with two problems. But they are big ones. Firstly, unlike Yahoo Finance, SelfTrade is not good at doing averaging of all the tips that current week on any given share which does slow down your research. This is because hearing that on average out of 5 a share is tipped at 2 is rather dramatic, I for one would be unlikely to touch it. Unfortuately all that you are likely to see is a couple of sentences about particular tips and have no way of knowing how many people are currently tipping and how positive they are about the share.
Secondly they only trade in UK shares, so if Euro, Japanese or US shares are your thing then SelfTrade is not for you.
Sorry SelfTrade, as much as I like you that moves my original 5/5 star rating down to 4/5.
There are various bits and bobs that I haven’t gone into detail about for fear of boring you and because I tend not to bother with them but overall I think this site is a good comprehensive tool for the private investor. Sure there are fancier sites out there but this one is efficient and simple to use and it is worth saying that £12.50 per trade is still a great price. The website has occasionally had problems but I was impressed that telephone charging was immediately waived until the problem had been resolved, so nobody was out of pocket or made the mistake of holding onto plummeting shares because they were waiting for the website to revitalise.
It’s taken ages for me to write this op. So long in fact that I notice that the Galen bid price has fallen to 515.00 – so if you sell now I reckon you’ll have lost another £18,300. Sorry about that.
AFTER THE AFTERWORD
Just in case there is anybody who doesn’t “get” my reason for using absurd figures I’ll spell it out:
hi kirsty,thanks for reminding me of my biasedness about your op. have duly re-read it,and found it to be an excellent well written informational review.(even though stocks and shares still isn't my subject,I wasn't supposed to be biased.) Sorry that I was rotten! VH.deserved!!:)) xchrissie xx