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CommSec Review Australia & Test 2021: Is CommSec safe or scam?

Our CommSec review indicates that this broker focuses on the top end of the trading market, offering global share trading opportunities to retail investors at an affordable cost.

We have found throughout our review that this broker is fully legit and works hard to ensure that clients are well-serviced.  With CommSec Australia, you will find a great choice of account types and ways to manage your account, making the broker suitable for any type of investor.

Pros & Cons of CommSec
  • Long-standing and highly regulated broker
  • First-class website and mobile trading platform
  • Unique share trading opportunities
  • No demo account or platform trial
CommSec Highlights
  • Trade Australian Government bonds
  • Unlisted bonds for high net worth investors
  • Access to a wide range of charts

Security, Usability, Look and Feel – No expense spared

CommSec has excellent security measures applied to both web and mobile access to your trading account.  Standard features include multi-layer authentication, auto timeout and financial transactions protected by 128-bit SSL encryption.

As you can see in our CommSec review, Australia features heavily in this broker’s assets, which is to be expected, as only Australian residents are accepted as clients.  However, CommSec also offers clients the opportunity to trade selected shares from 25 global stock exchanges.

During our CommSec review, we found the website a pleasure to use and very responsive.  It is easy to navigate using the ‘hover over’ menu and to find the information you want without endless clicking or reversing your steps.  The colour scheme is easy on the eye, with content written in plain fonts.  We are also pleased to report that it is completely devoid of annoying features like moving images and pop-ups.

Evidently, the broker has invested heavily in native apps suited to both Android and Apple devices; you can access the appropriate version using direct links on the website.

For Apple iPhone or iPad you will need iOS 10.3 or above and for Apple Watch, OS 3.0 or later.  Android owners can use the app on any device with Android 5.0 or higher, but it is optimised for Samsung S6, S7, S8 and S9.  The apps also work on older devices, but some clients have reported slow response times and a lack of auto updating.

CommSec Highlights
  • Trade Australian Government bonds
  • Unlisted bonds for high net worth investors
  • Access to a wide range of charts

How to Trade – Quick and painless account registration

One thing we noticed whilst completing our CommSec review; Australia as a country and its mainstream companies are of prime importance to this operator; the services it offers to clients reflect that.

When opening a CommSec trading account, ensure that you have the required personal documents ready to upload; ID, proof of address, TFN (Tax File Number) and bank details; this will speed the process considerably.

If you open a CDIA account with CommSec Australia, you can fund your trading account quickly and easily and also enjoy lower trading fees – holders of a CDIA account pay $10.00 per trade versus the standard $29.95; a big saving, especially for active traders.

You can select an account suited to your budget and investment goals.  For beginners or low-level traders, the CommSec Pocket account provides a perfect start, requiring an initial investment of just $50.  Rather than trading in single shares, you are investing in themed ETFs, offering more diversity. There are no account fees and you pay just $2 per ETF unit bought or sold.  All trading is online, with a unique app provided to monitor your account.

A Standard Share Trading Account requires a higher investment amount of $500.  Thereafter you can access all of the shares and other opportunities available, including the purchase of global shares, using either a web portal or mobile app.

One other cost factor to consider is the CommSec IRESS platform; available to clients at a cost of $82.50 per month.  However, the subscription fee is waived for active traders, those with a portfolio of $500,000+ and CommSec One accounts.

Payments – Fully secured using 128-bit SSL encryption

If you have read through a few broker reviews, you are likely to be aware of the reasons for a broker to offer only one account funding option.  Clients sometimes comment that payment options are ‘inadequate’ but it is commonplace for stockbrokers to limit this functionality for clients purchasing shares.

Our SelfWealth review is another good example of the stockbroker environment.  Although that broker has a different business model, it also only accepts bank transfer for financial transactions and the movement of funds to or from a trading account.

You do need to know that CommSec Australia operates a two-day settlement policy, abbreviated as T+2.  T represents the date you buy or sell shares, verified on your trading account.

If you sell shares, financial settlement of the trade happens two days later.  Conversely, when you purchase, you are not required to settle up until 8.00am two days after the purchase date.  Always remember that the settlement period relates to working days (Monday to Friday).

Customer Service – Dedicated staff and contact details

CommSec has one of the most organised and efficient customer service set ups we have reviewed.  As well as a phone trading hotline available 24/7, other members of staff are appointed to deal with separate aspects of trading, each having a separate contact number and email address.  It is always reassuring to know that if you need to contact CommSec, you are certain to communicate with someone who has the right knowledge at their fingertips.

From our CommSec review Australia, its citizens and their wellbeing are evidently a priority to this operator.  The broker even has a dedicated team that deals with financial problems caused by unexpected trading losses.  After a brief telephone interview, you are appointed a n adviser who can help you get back on track by pausing interest payments, offering concessions and establishing an affordable repayment plan.

Customer service personnel are contactable by telephone, web form, email or via Twitter.  Different hours apply to various support sections, with all of the relevant details under the ‘Support’ tab on the broker’s website.  Tests we undertook during our CommSec review gave response times of less than a minute for phone calls and under eight hours for a written enquiry, which is excellent.

Licence and Security – Secure, multi-layer authentication processes

Security is another area we found exemplary during our CommSec review, Australia is very stringent on this subject and the broker surpassed expectations, without over-complicating the sign up process.  Having all of the necessary documents and information to hand, you are good to go in around ten minutes, less if you are already a Commonwealth Bank client.

Once registered, whether trading from your PC or mobile device, you can be certain that online security is a top priority.  Financial transactions are securely encrypted using 128-bit SSL keys and your login is subject to multi-layer authentication.

From information sourced during our CommSec review, Australia takes care to ensure that account applicants for financial products are over the age of 18.  However, suitable adults can open an account ‘in trust’ for a minor until they are of age; an excellent opportunity for parents to secure their children’s financial future.

ASIC - Australian Securities and Investments Commission

Reputation and Customer Feedback – 90% of clients gave a CommSec rating of ‘Excellent’

One area we always check is the opinion of a broker’s clients on forums and social media.  Judging from the findings of our CommSec review, Australia holds a consistently high opinion of this broker, especially in respect of customer service and speed of trade execution.

We saw a few negative comments, but we certainly found no indication of any CommSec scam activity suggested.  The only negative feedback (and there was very little to find) related to slow response times from customer service and delayed payments.

Our CommSec review process includes certain tests we complete related to broker services, one of which involves contacting customer support.  Phone lines were answered within one minute, even during busy trading periods and our email enquiry received a response in less than eight hours, so no complaints.

Regarding the delayed payment comments, we believe that these were the result of a misunderstanding about the trade settlement process, which for CommSec Australia is T+2.  The ‘2’ is working days, so a payment could take four days to reach your trading account, if the trade date fell on a Friday.  We certainly found nothing to substantiate either of the negatives raised.

CommSec Bonds

Trading Bonds

CommSec allows their customers to trade a variety of different bond options. The most common of the lot would be corporate bonds that are on public offer. As always, you will need to consider the time frame, interest rates, interest payments, diversification, and market value of these bonds before you make the decision to invest. Keep an eye out for offers.

CommSec Crypto

Crypto Trading – Everything you would expect from a broker of this status

While crypto is not yet an option at CommSec, you’ll still find plenty of trading opportunities. CommSec is a member of both the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and Chi-X Australia, authorised to participate on both stock exchanges to buy or sell shares and other financial products on behalf of clients.

This brokerage actively promotes the purchase of Australian shares by offering unique ‘Share Packs’ to clients.  There are four different bundles, each containing six shares specially selected by the Investment Management Team.  All have different characteristics designed to complement any trader’s portfolio, strategy and investment goals.

For example, the ‘Capital Growth’ pack is ideal for longer-term investors, whilst the ‘Income’ pack features shares that pay high dividends.  Share Packs are available for online and phone trading at a financially attractive cost, with a discounted fee structure.

We were suitably impressed with how reactive this broker is to economic and political changes.  A few months before we began our CommSec review, Australia tightened the laws on certain financial products, including Forex and CFDs.

The brokerage immediately withdrew provision of those products, giving clients adequate notice of impending trade closures and providing a dedicated team to deal with issues arising as a result of the decision.

Fees – Our CommSec review found brokerage fees to be competitive for this market

Although at first glance the fee structure appears complex, the broker has compiled it into a simple table on its website.  There is more about fees in the FAQ section and if you cannot find what you are looking for, then customer service staff are more than happy to assist.

CommSec does not charge monthly fees and transactions to or from your trading account are free of charge; the only costs you need to calculate are trading-related and charged on a per-share basis.

Online trading – CDIA account or Commonwealth Bank margin loan:

$10.00 (Up to $1,000)

$19.95 ($1,001 – $9,999)

$29.95 ($10,000 – $24,999)

0.12% ($25,000+)

Online trading – own bank account:

$29.95 (Up to $9,999.99)

0.31% ($10,000+)

Phone trading:

$59.95 (Up to $10,000)

0.52% ($10,001 – $24,999)

0.49% ($25,000 – $999,999)

0.11% ($1,000,000+)

CommSec Australia has a different type of fee structure to that portrayed in our Plus500 review, for example, although not directly comparable because of the different financial instruments on offer.

CommSec Highlights
  • Trade Australian Government bonds
  • Unlisted bonds for high net worth investors
  • Access to a wide range of charts

Jurisdictions and Limits – CommSec Australia operates under full ASIC regulations

The CommSec brokerage operation is wholly-owned by the Commonwealth Bank, which is one of Australia’s ‘Big Four’ institutions.  This gives the broker a huge amount of credibility but also high standards to live up to.

CommSec Australia is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.  ASIC.  Licensing conditions constrain this broker to providing services to Australian citizens only.  Our review clearly indicates it has performed impeccably under regulation and we are happy to confirm that it is fully legitimate in every aspect.

The brokerage is a member of the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and Chi-X Australia, authorising it to offer clients company shares and other financial opportunities available at those venues, including IPOs, debt securities and warrants.  Under the terms of its membership, CommSec is also permitted to provide financial advice.

It is important to know that not all brokers negotiate directly with stock exchanges and offer share trading services through a third party instead; our SunCorp review and CMC Markets review show an example of how that works.

Other Trading – Our CommSec review indicates this broker offers everything traders need to succeed

Our CommSec review revealed assets suitable for everyone, from day traders to long-term investors.  Alternative financial products include options, ETFs and warrants.  With such a broad offering, it is always best to discuss your investment plans with one of CommSec’s friendly financial advisers, a service provided free of charge for all clients.

Call and Put are stock options, traded from either a buying or selling perspective.  You can also use them in combination as part of a trading strategy, in keeping with your risk tolerance limit.

Stock warrants are similar, giving investors the right to purchase company shares at the current price on a future date.  The key difference is that warrants are offered by the company itself, whereas options are offered by third parties.

ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) are available on the stock exchange in a similar way to ordinary shares; providing an ideal way to extend your trading portfolio.  They have the advantages of managed funds, but are more cost-effective and flexible.

Fixed income securities can provide a regular income.  The most common type is Interest Rate Securities; you are effectively purchasing a debt and profiting from the interest rate levied.

CommSec ETF

Trading ETFs

There are also ETF options available which will allow customers to diversify their investment portfolio with relatively low costs. ETFs will allow any account that has been verified, the opportunity to gain easy access to a much wider variety of markets. These options are traded with a high degree of transparency on the ASX.

CommSec Stocks

Trading Stocks

CommSec makes it incredibly easy for customers to join their service and begin trading shares in the Australian Stock Exchange. You will only need $500 to get going and there are plenty of free research and analytics tools available to customer accounts. There are relatively low costs associated with the service and you will find it fairly easy to diversify your portfolio.

Overall Conclusion - High ratings in our CommSec review

CommSec is a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank, one of the oldest and most highly-respected financial corporations in Australia.  Whilst operating under rigid ASIC regulation, we consistently found CommSec safe; going above and beyond to protect client funds in its custody.

Current CommSec ranking places it third in the top five Australian stockbrokers, on a par with peer operators offering physical shares and associated assets.  If you intend diversifying your trading portfolio with other types of financial instruments, you will find our IC Markets review and our Interactive Brokers review also make interesting reading.

Throughout our CommSec review, Australia and its economy was at the forefront of the broker’s priorities, but not in a negative context.  It highlights that CommSec Australia clients have more opportunities to invest in their own country’s businesses.

Throughout the research process we completed to bring you this comprehensive CommSec review, we have only one small criticism; the lack of a demo account or trial version of the bespoke IRESS platform.  Otherwise, we found nothing but positives, bearing witness to CommSec’s extraordinary attention to even the smallest details.

Whether you are an experienced trader with a substantial portfolio looking for a change, or a complete beginner starting out on your investing career with a limited budget, we are confident that CommSec should feature high on your broker shortlist.

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