Known as the crossroads of trade between the East and the West, Malaysia’s expanding economy and educated population make it a relatively favorable environment for foreign and domestic investment. Malaysia’s strong financial sector offers ample opportunities for trading and investing in local stocks.
In order to operate in the Malaysian stock market, you need to pick a competent stockbroker. Keep in mind, however, that not all brokerages are created equal, so make sure to carefully consider your needs before you open an account.
Quick Look: Best Online Stock Brokers in Malaysia
- Hong Leong Broking
- Rakuten Trade
- UOB Kay Hian
- Macquarie Group Limited
- Honorable Mention: Interactive Brokers – Open an account
Overview: Trading Stocks in Malaysia
The country’s main stock exchange, formerly called the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, became the Bursa Malaysia Exchange in 2004. Bursa Malaysia consists of a fully integrated financial marketplace and exchange that offers a comprehensive array of financial products including stocks, derivatives, options and futures.
This Malaysian exchange provides a venue for the trading, listing, clearing and settlement of equities. It is also well-known for its offshore and Islamic asset offerings, and the exchange allows you to trade exchange-traded funds (ETFs), real estate investment trusts (REITs), Sukuk and business trusts (ETBS) and exchange-traded bonds as well.
Bursa Malaysia introduced Bursa Malaysia-i, the world’s first complete Shariah investment platform in September of 2016, to provide a platform for faith-based investors and to mainstream Shariah investing.
How It Works
The Bursa Malaysia exchange has a two-tiered market with smaller capitalized stocks of emerging companies listed on the ACE Market, while well-established large capitalization stocks trade on the main exchange.
The Bursa Malaysia exchange’s main stock index is the FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (FBM KLCI). This capitalization-weighted headline index is composed of the 30 largest companies listed on the Bursa Malaysia that meet the listing requirements for the index.
The Bursa Malaysia exchange is part of a collaboration among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that includes exchanges from Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, in addition to Malaysia.
The regulating agency for the stock market and all brokers doing business in Malaysia is the Securities Commission Malaysia (SCM). It was founded in March of 1993 under the authority of the Securities Commission Act of 1993 (SCA).
The agency, which is a self-funded statutory body, answers to the Malaysian Minister of Finance and has the responsibility for developing and regulating the capital markets in Malaysia. This includes overseeing people and businesses that hold licenses under Malaysia’s Capital Markets and Services Act of 2007.
How to Start Trading in Malaysia
In order to make a stock trade on the Bursa Malaysia, you need to open a trading account with a participating organization. In addition, you have to open another account with the Central Depository System (CDS).
The CDS account consists of an electronic book-entry system used to record, maintain and keep track of share ownership and stock transfers. The two accounts are then presented to a licensed broker/dealer so you can open an account to trade through. The broker can then enter orders for you on the exchange’s Automated Trading System (ATS).
Our Picks for the Best Stock Brokers in Malaysia
Remember to consider your needs as an investor or trader before you decide on a broker.
What to Look for in an Online Brokerage
Before opening an account from Malaysia to trade stocks online, several things should be taken into consideration. These items include:
Regulation and Exchange Membership
Brokers doing business on the Bursa Malaysia must be registered with the SCM and have authority to operate on the Malaysia Bursa for the broker to execute trades on the exchange. Also, all financial companies, including stockbrokers, must be registered and regulated by the SCM.
A broker’s online trading platform should let you enter orders and receive confirmations on your stock orders, in addition to providing access to accurate stock quotes. This trading software needs to be easy to access, use and customize. Many platforms also provide news feeds and technical analysis tools.
International and Malaysian full-service brokers generally provide advisory services and research. A full-service broker makes sense for you need advice on making investments. Otherwise, you may be better off with a discount broker.
Commissions and Fees
Depending on your trading style, commissions could make a big difference in your bottom line, especially if you trade actively. Even if you trade infrequently, commission costs matter and discount brokers typically charge less.
An online broker with a responsive customer service department is a big plus. You can access most stockbrokers in Malaysia via phone and email.
Best Overall: Hong Leong Broking
Hong Leong Investment Bank Berhad or Hong Leong Broking (HLeBroking) is our number one pick as a domestic stock broker for Bursa, Malaysia. The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Leong Capital Berhad, which is a public company listed on the main board of Bursa Malaysia.
The broker’s operations are split between stockbroking and investment banking. The stockbroking division offers retail and institutional stockbroking services, equity research, margin accounts and financing, custody services, and broking services for futures and options. HLeBroking offers all the services of a conventional stockbroker and provides customers with information to make better and faster market decisions.
The firm’s investment banking division includes debt and equity funding, private debt securities (PDS) issuances, initial public offerings (IPOs), syndicated loans, mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring, debt and equity underwriting, takeovers and privatizations, fixed deposits and trading and distribution of fixed income instruments.
HLeBroking’s web-based trading platform is also available for Android and iOS devices and features charting, real live=streaming quotes, an equity tracker and a mobile trading app. Commissions are competitive at a low minimum of 8.48 RM per transaction and 0.106% of the value of the shares traded.
In addition to Bursa Malaysia shares, HLeBroking allows you to trade stocks listed on exchanges in the United States, the U.K., Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Australia and Thailand with competitive rates and real-time quotes. Customer service is available via telephone, email and fax.
Best for Beginners: Rakuten Trade
Our pick for beginners is Rakuten Trade, which consists of a joint venture between Malaysia’s leading investment bank, Kenanga Investment Bank Berhad and Japanese company Rakuten Card Co., Ltd. In addition to Malaysian shares, Rakuten gives clients access to trade exchange-traded funds (ETFs), REITs, company warrants and structured warrants.
Rakuten opened for business in May of 2017 to become Malaysia’s first digital equity broker. It was named FinTech Company of the Year 2018 by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
Rakuten’s web-based trading platform features live market feeds, execution and settlement of trades and it gives users access to research reports and investment ideas. A Japanese app called iSpeed.my is also available for mobile trading.
The broker’s educational resources include a series of self-produced YouTube videos on trading and investment ideas in both Malay and English. Rakuten also offers a blog and extensive research on Malaysian shares, as well as gives clients access to extensive market analysis and research reports by its parent company, Kenanga Investment Bank.
Commissions for Malaysian shares are a reasonable minimum of 7 RM per transaction and 0.106% of the value of the shares traded. Customer support is available through a form on website, email, local toll-free telephone numbers, international numbers and messaging through WhatsApp.
Best for Day Traders: UOB Kay Hian
As the largest broker in Singapore and one of the largest in Asia, UOB Kay Hian makes our list of top brokers for its trading platform, a wide range of markets and competitive commissions that seem suitable for day trading and other short-term strategies. The broker’s commission is a minimum of RM 8 per trade and 0.10% of the value of securities traded.
In addition to its presence in Malaysia, UOB Kay Hian has over 80 offices throughout Asia. Other products you can trade with UOB Kay Hian include foreign securities listed on Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and American stock exchanges, in addition to ETFs, futures and structured warrants.
The broker’s web-based trading platform is known as UTRADE. It features a variety of trading tools including a stock screener, which searches for winning trades, ChartGenie charting software, a fundamental analysis tool called ShareXplorer and a TechAnalyzer that analyzes chat price patterns. UTRADE is available as a mobile app for Android and iOS devices.
UOB Kay Hian’s award-winning research on regional stocks includes market commentaries from industry experts. The broker’s research team is composed of 50 analysts that regularly suggest stock picks.
The broker offers trading seminars at its offices in Kuala Lumpur, and its customer service department can be accessed via telephone, email and through a form on its website.
Honorable Mention: Macquarie Group Limited
Australia-based Macquarie Group was founded in 1969 and has offices around the world, including in Kuala Lumpur. It meets all the Malaysian regulatory requirements and offers stock brokerage services, as well as asset management, corporate and asset finance, banking and financial services and trading in markets around the world.
You can trade a variety of assets, including stocks and warrants on Bursa Malaysia and other stock markets around the world, in addition to equity derivatives that focus on Asian, Australian and South African markets.
You can trade forex, currency options, FX forwards and swaps, fixed income securities and structured products. You can even trade agricultural, energy and metal commodity futures.
Macquarie’s Electronic Execution trading software offers over 100 liquidity venues from 50 countries via its intuitive interface. The trading platform gives you 24/6 trading access starting with the New Zealand pre-market on Sunday afternoon and ending with the New York market closes on Friday afternoon EST.
Customer service is available via email and telephone. The broker also has an extensive corporate research department that provides information coverage on a wide range of markets and sectors.
Honorable Mention: Interactive Brokers
We included it here for Malaysian traders who want access to other global markets. You can also open an Islamic account with this broker.
If you open an Integrated Investment Account, you can trade a wide range of assets that are listed on more than 120 exchanges around the world.
For example, you can trade stocks, foreign exchange, metals, futures and options, funds, ETFs, structured products and bonds through this broker.
Trading platforms include its Trader Workstation (TWS) and Client Portal platform for novice traders, plus is IBKR WebTrader web-based platform.
You can use the mobile app to access your account details on Android or iOS smartphones and tablets. You can also use its hands-free access add-on that operates with TWS, Client Portal and the IBKR app for mobile.
You can also contact its customer service department via phone, email and live chat.
Trading and investing in stocks from Malaysia can present an excellent opportunity to participate in this emerging market that includes an active Islamic investment sector for faith-based investors observing Shariah law.