Last Updated on November 20, 2020 by Chin Yi Xuan

Buying your first US, Singapore, or Hong Kong shares can be an intimidating experience.

Generally, the platform by foreign brokers are more sophisticated with information than local brokers, and that could be confusing for unfamiliar investors.

In this article, I am going to guide you step-by-step on how to navigate and buy your first overseas shares, be it from the US, Singapore, or Hong Kong stock market.

For this, I am going to demonstrate the process using Tiger Brokers, a broker that I am personally using to invest in the overseas market as a Malaysian. If you haven’t done it yet, definitely check out my Tiger Brokers review HERE for more info on fees, user experience, and how to open and fund your account.

Likewise, you can also open a Tiger Brokers account using my referral link HERE and get account opening rewards like 5x commission-free trades, up to SGD100 stock voucher, and more!

Alright, are you ready?

Let’s get started:

Step-by-Step Guide to Buy a Stock on Tiger Brokers (US, Singapore & Hong Kong Stocks)

Read this before proceeding:

  • For this guide, I’ll be using the desktop app (Tiger Trade) from Tiger Brokers. Call me old school or whatever, but I feel things like investing money in a stock deserves a proper execution on desktop.

You can download and install the Tiger Trade desktop app HERE.

  • For the sake of simplicity, I WILL NOT go over trading on margin/leverage and shorting shares in this guide. Please read them up on your own if you are into these. For most people, I’d recommend investing with only the cash you have in your brokerage account.

Step 1: Log in to your Tiger Trade desktop app. Under ‘Assets’, proceed to check out your fund balance so you know how much you have to invest.

  • Your fund balance should be reflected after successful funding. If you have not funded your Tiger Brokers account, click HERE for a comprehensive funding guide.
  • If you fund your account with SGD, your fund balance will be reflected in SGD. If you fund your account with USD, that fund will be reflected under USD.

 

Step 2: Under the search bar, search for the stock that you want to invest in.

As an example, search for ‘Apple’ if you want to invest in Apple.

Step 3: Click ‘Buy/Long’

 

Step 3 (i): Familiarize Yourself with the Buy/Sell Interface in Tiger Brokers

  • 1: Current market value of the share.

 

  • 2: Depth of market – shows you the order flow from buyers and sellers. (will write about how it works soon)

 

  • 3: Order direction – if you are buying a stock, then retain the direction at ‘Buy’.

 

  • 4: Order types – There 4 order types: Limit order, Market order, Stop-Loss Order & Stop Limit order. (more below)

 

  • 5: Decide the Quantity/Size of your order – Generally, a Full-size position implies that you are buying at a full unit of a share. For most stocks, a full unit of a share could mean 1 unit or 100 units of shares, which is normally the minimum size you have to buy.

    There are some stocks that allow investors to buy at ½ and even ¼ of units, but generally, I’d not recommend it since the market doesn’t usually transact at odd units like these.

  • 6i: Validity Period – If you are putting a limit order on a US or Hong Kong stock, you get to decide how long the order gets to stay in the market.

As an example, if Apple is at $110.44 now you want to buy an Apple share at a lower price of $110.25, you can either set the order validity at ‘Day’ where the $110.25 order will be deleted IF the order is not fulfilled by the end of market close of that day.

If you set the order validity at ‘GTC’ (Good-Till-Cancel) instead, your $110.25 order will stay valid either until your order is fulfilled, OR after 90 days, whichever comes first.

  • 6ii: Fill outside RTH hour – RTH stands for Regular Trading Hours. If you allow an order to be filled outside RTH hour, this means that your order can be fulfilled before market opens. For most people, just keep the setting at ‘Not Allowed’ as liquidity can be low before RTH hour, potentially leading to high volatility.

 

  • 7: After you decide your order types and position size, click ‘Submit’. You’ll be required to key in your trade password and your order should go into the system after that.

Step 4: Check Your Orders.

  • Limit order: If you are putting in a limit order, your order will go under the ‘Pending’ section and will stay submitted until it is fulfilled by the market or canceled.

  • Market Order: If you are buying under market order, your order will very likely be fulfilled almost instantly at market price, and will be recorded under the ‘Filled’ section. Check the ‘Details’ tab to find out the fees involved in your stock transaction.

And that’s it! You are done with your first overseas stock purchase!

For selling, the process is pretty much the same – except you click ‘Sell’ instead of ‘Buy’.


Order Types + Setting Stop Loss in Tiger Brokers

There are 4 order types in Tiger Brokers, namely, Limit Order, Market Order, Stop Loss Order, and Stop Limit Order.

As shown in the table below, Limit Order and Market Order are available to all markets. On the other hand, Stop Loss and Stop Limit orders are only available in the US, Hong Kong, and China market.

What do all these orders mean, exactly?

Source: Tiger Brokers official site.

 

  • a. Market Order: Market order is the most straightforward and simple to understand. Essentially, buying a share at market order means you are buying it at the current market price.

    Unless there is any liquidity issue, a market order would normally be fulfilled almost instantly.

  • b. Limit Order: Limit order is also quite simple. Simply put, buying a share at a limit order means you are planning to enter at a lower price than the market price. As an example, if Apple costs $110.44/share and you only plan to invest when the price drops to $110.25/share, then you can set a limit order at $110.25.The downside of a limit order is that your order at $110.25 may never get fulfilled until the market price goes in your favor.
Limit order transaction interface.
  • c. Setting Stop Loss via Stop Order (Stop-Loss Order) or Stop Limit Order

If you are day-trading short term in the US, Hong Kong and China stock market, there is an option for you to set a stop loss to your trades.

A caveat to remember here: both Stop-Loss Order AND Stop Limit Order only have ‘Day’ validity. This means that these orders will expire by day end and hence they are more useful to intraday traders than for long-term investors.

    • I. Stop-Loss Order (or Stop order)

Stop-loss order is one way you can set stop loss to your trades. In essence, a stop-loss order will help protect your downside by triggering an opposite order of your trade at the best market price once it hits a certain price level.

As an example, let’s say I went into a buy (or long) position at $100/share and set a sell stop-loss order at $90. Suddenly, the market price gapped down to $86 and triggered my stop-loss order.

Since $86 is the best market price after my $90 Stop-loss level is triggered, then the system will stop me out at $86/share.

The downside of Stop-Loss order is if the price goes back up to $89 after I am stopped at $86, I’m actually being stopped at a less ideal price level.

In short, Stop-Loss order ensures that you are being stopped out, BUT it does not ensure that you’ll get the best price while you are being stopped.

How a Stop-Loss Order work in real life.
    • II. Stop-Limit Order

A stop-limit order helps in mitigating the issue brought up by a stop-loss order. How exactly does it work?

When you set a stop-limit order, you are needed to set 2 things: a stop-loss price (just like above) AND a stop-limit order.

Using the example above, if you set your stop-loss price similarly at $90, AND also a stop-limit order at $87, then your stop-loss will only be triggered when the price breaches below $90, and is within the range of $87 and above (eg. $88).

Using a stop-limit order ensures that you are stopped at a price that is equal or better than your stop limit price ($87 – $90).

The downside is, if the price breaches $90 and sits at a market price of $86 and keeps going lower ($85, $84…), your stop-limit order WILL NOT be triggered since it is a worse price than $87.

Simply put, a Stop-Limit order ensures that you are stopped at a better price, but it does not guarantee that it’ll be fulfilled.

Hopefully this explains how each order types work and feel free to let me know if you have any questions!


Can I Buy a Stock using a Different Currency?

Say that you fund your Tiger Brokers account with SGD, can you still invest in US stocks (or vice versa)?

Yes, you can.

This is because Tiger Brokers offer a built-in loaning facility that allows you to invest in the shares that are different from your funded currency.

This is how it works:

  • Step 1: If you fund your Tiger Brokers account with SGD and you want to invest in a stock denominated in USD, it will inform you that this particular transaction will incur a loan with daily interest.

  • Step 2: Suppose you went ahead with the transaction, and want to settle your loan right away so you’ll not be charged interest. Head over to Assets àCash and you will see an option for ‘Repayment’. Click on the ‘Repayment’ button to proceed.

  • Step 3: A window will appear explaining the exchange rate and how much will be converted out of your main funded currency. In this case, I am repaying my USD transaction with SGD, hence the details below. Just click on the ‘Repayment’ button and you are done.

 


Is Tiger Brokers’ currency exchange facility a good idea for Malaysian investors?

The question is, should you use this function in Tiger Brokers? Is the currency exchange rate worth it?

Let’s address the first question: Should you use this facility in Tiger Brokers?

If you are only using Tiger Brokers to invest in a single market (eg. the US stock market), then you probably should fund your account with just USD. Thus, this facility may not be super useful to you. However, if you are investing in multiple markets like I do (eg. SG and US market), then Tiger Brokers’ currency exchange facility may come in handy when you are short of a particular currency while investing.

For example, if I have 1000 SGD and 200 USD deposited in my Tiger Brokers account. I can exchange my 1000 SGD into USD if I ever need more capital to invest in USD denominated stocks.

In terms of the exchange rates, I find that if you are in need of a quick currency change to invest in stocks, the difference in cost is negligible:

  • Scenario A: I fund my account in USD to invest in the US market. Here’s the rate of my transfer:

Maybank FTT (MYR) -> Tiger Brokers (USD)

RM4.22 -> 1 USD (equivalent to RM3.098 (exchange rate)* -> 0.7342 USD)

  • Scenario B: I have SGD deposited in Tiger Brokers via Maybank, and now I need some USD to invest. So, I opt to use Tiger Brokers Exchange Facility to exchange my existing SGD to USD:

Maybank FTT (MYR) -> Tiger Brokers (SGD) -> Tiger Brokers Exchange Facility (USD)

RM3.099 (exchange cost)* -> 1 SGD -> 0.7342 USD

*Maybank forex rate as of the time of writing.

In short, for me, I do not mind doing my currency exchange within Tiger Brokers if I am in need of quick exchange.


Market Open Hours (Malaysia Time GMT +8)

· Singapore Stock Exchange: 9am – 5pm (Mid-Day Break 12pm – 1pm)

· US Stock Exchange: 9:30pm – 4am (Daylight-Saving), 10:30pm – 5am (Non-Daylight Saving)

· Hong Kong Stock Exchange: 9am – 4pm (Mid-Day Break 12pm – 1pm)


No Money Lah’s Verdict

So here you go: a comprehensive Tiger Brokers’ step-by-step guide for you to invest in your first overseas stock, be it the US, Singapore, or Hong Kong stock market!

Hopefully this guide has been useful in helping you to make your first overseas stock investment!

Have any questions? Just purchased your first stock? Feel free to let me know in the comment section below so we can address your question or celebrate your progress together!


Keen to open a Tiger Brokers account?

If you find this guide useful and is planning to open an account, definitely consider using my referral link by clicking the button below!

Doing so will help support this blog, while entitling you to all the account-opening rewards like 5x commission-free trades, up to SGD 100 worth of stock voucher, and free level 2 market depth data on the US stock market!

(Note: referral code & rewards WILL BE automatically applied when you click on my link.)

p

Read more: Tiger Brokers Review

p.s. This post contains affiliate link(s). As always, I’d only recommend tools and financial solutions that I personally use AND/OR are interesting & provide unique value to my readers. Every article takes a long time and effort to write and when it comes to financial solutions, I’ll only invest time in writing about good and relevant products.