Malaysian Traders Guide
Malaysia is often described as a crossroads between the East and the West, particularly with regard to trading and the financial sector. The Malaysian population has shown an increased interest in day trading since the lightening of restrictions on Forex and CFDs in 2007. Malaysia has its own stock exchange, the Bursa Malaysia, but does not operate a licensing system for retail brokers in the country.
Whilst day trading can prove a lucrative part-time or full-time occupation, it is important to have an understanding of how this type of trading works and be fully aware of the implications of using leverage. Equally important is selecting a good broker to trade with and one which fulfils the recommendations of the Malaysian Bank Negara, which we will explain in more detail in this guide.
Our part in helping you to become successful is to provide you with some basic information about day trading in Malaysia, to define some of regulations and recommendations for your country and to provide you with a list of brokers that we have extensively reviewed and are able to provide a good all-round experience for you.
In this article, you will learn:
- The types of assets available for day traders
- Any tax implications for day traders in Malaysia
- Why some brokers are recommended over others
Traders in Malaysia
Due to the lack of restrictions in place, retail traders in Malaysia are quite heavily targeted by hundreds of offshore brokers eager to attract a new client base. While a percentage of these may be completely legitimate and genuine, there are many unsuited to the needs of Malaysian residents and the remainder are best avoided altogether. We will cover more of that later, but here are a few of the things we believe are important for any day trader.
You definitely will not spend every trading hour at your desk. Trading continues 24 hours per day for six days every week, meaning that there are going to be periods where you need to use a mobile device to continue your activities. Internet services are very good in Malaysia, so you can choose from the broker that provides the best online platform, rather than worrying if you will be able to connect to it. The majority of brokers opt for downloadable apps for Android and iOS, but a few offer a mobile-optimised trading website as an alternative, so the choice is yours.
Deals And Incentives
We always advise day traders to be wary of deals and incentives offered by brokers, particularly so those that are offered to encourage you to open an account and are promoted as ‘limited time only’ or ‘limited availability’. These are pressure selling techniques and best avoided. Genuine brokers tend to take the approach of providing better spreads, or lower commissions across their range of assets and rewarding loyal clients with additional offers.
Diverse Asset Types
As you are legally allowed to take part in any form of trading, you are in a great position to look at brokers from the angle of the assets and derivatives they have available. For those of you who are at the start of your trading career a broker that offers a ‘bit of everything’ from stocks to crypto currency pairs is a good choice and a great way to enter trading. If you are more advanced, you will already know what you are looking for and seek the broker that offers the best deals for those assets.
Good Customer Support
There are always occasions when you need a question answering very quickly or may need urgent software help. Whatever the reason, having the knowledge that you can contact someone who knows what they are talking about very quickly will definitely give you peace of mind. Of course, there is far more to customer support than this. A broker that is open and provides easy access to its T&Cs as well as offering support in other ways like FAQs and plenty of help guides is the type of thing you should look for.
Broker Fees And Tax
Standard broker fees, that is the amount for each trade you make, are usually presented in one of two ways, either a fixed fee per trade or a percentage commission, which will vary depending on the amount traded and the asset itself. In addition, the broker may charge fees for other services like account administration, currency exchange (to local currency), withdrawal of funds and for any extra software you opt to use, additional analytics or automated systems, for example.
Under the terms of Malaysian law, all traders are required to pay income tax on trading profits. The amount you pay will vary according to your total income in any given financial year. To comply with the law, you will need to keep accounts relating to all trading profit or loss in a format available for auditing at any time. If you are at all unsure about your ability to comply with this, then you can refer to the Bank Negara website, which has a whole section on preparing accounts for tax purposes.
We will start by explaining that there is no licensing process within Malaysia for investment brokers who service retail (individual) traders. There is also nothing legally stopping you as an investor from trading with any offshore broker you wish.
However, the guidelines issued by Bank Negara, which is Malaysia’s main banking authority, recommend that you ensure any broker you intend to use:
There are very good reasons for these guidelines, which we will run through briefly. CySEC is a licensing authority based in Cyprus which is trusted across the world to regulate and monitor brokers stringently. Secondly, client funds should never be a part of a broker’s own business accounts, in the event that the broker suffers a financial breakdown, your funds are retrievable. Malaysian citizens who have strong religious beliefs, but also wish to be traders can do so with an Islamic account, without compromising Shariah laws. Lastly, it is recommended that you trade in your local currency to help maintain Malaysia’s financial stability and to avoid paying extra fees for currency exchange.
Even if you do ultimately decide to opt for a broker operating under another offshore jurisdiction, we strongly advise that you do some research into the licensing processes and regulation applying to it before signing up. In this way you can avoid one of two main issues traders often find out about when it is too late. Firstly, that your broker holds a license issued by a less-than-scrupulous authority, leaving you with little protection, or worse still, finding that your broker is not actually licensed at all, meaning that you have no comeback whatsoever.
We believe that Bank Negara has offered good advice for Malaysian residents, so our broker recommendations would begin by looking at those points.
How we Recommend Brokers
We believe that Bank Negara has offered good advice for Malaysian residents, so our broker recommendations would begin by looking at those points. Our reviews check that licensing is current, but also that the broker is seen to be adhering to regulations. Next, we check that it is able to offer appropriate services to its Malaysian clients and that the website can easily be accessed and used whether you are operating from a fixed or mobile device.
We review the assets and derivatives the broker has available and check that the spreads are competitive. We also like to see a selection of different account types suited to a variety of traders and the same goes for trading platforms. We also verify that the website as a whole operates smoothly and quickly, using https:// for every page and a good level of encryption where personal data is held and for financial transactions (128-bit or above).
We then review the overall feel of the broker, thinking from the perspective of you as a day trader. At this point, we are looking for plenty of helpful information, extensive FAQs and advice as to the best type of account for your experience and trading style. Last, but definitely not least, we check out the availability and competence of the customer support team. The ideal we look for is a toll-free phone number available at all times throughout the weekly trading period and an easy-to-use webform for less urgent queries.
Is day trading in Malaysia legal and safe?
Day trading is totally legal and by adhering to the guidelines issued by your country’s banking authority, you will be trading with a reputable broker and your investment will be kept safely.
Do I need to pay fees and taxes on my profits?
Yes, you will incur broker fees for every trade, as well as for certain services your broker undertakes. All profits are liable for income tax in Malaysia and you will be required to keep accounts detailing your trading activities.
Can I test brokers before trading with real money?
Almost every reputable online broker will have a free demo account available for you to try out its platform. This is also a great opportunity to test out new strategies without risking your own money.
Is it easy to make deposits and withdrawals?
All brokers offer multiple methods to fund your account and the process is very quick and simple. However, if you intend trading in your local currency, the process may take slightly longer and you may incur additional fees.
Can I trade using my mobile or tablet device?
Almost certainly your broker will have either an app or suitably optimised website available. You will need a suitable mobile device, with an up-to-date operating system and reliable Wi-Fi connectivity for the best results.
Charles has worked at brokers since he finished his studies at university. Starting as a Junior Trading assistant and progressing into a Business Development we’re delighted that he’s been part of the team since 2015.