Setting up a brokerage account is similar to setting up a bank account. However, the world of investing is a highly regulated one and brokers are required to gather a little more information than a bank.
Before you begin, you may want to do some research on what kind of brokerage you want. Brokers differentiate themselves by offering different fee structures or services. Some will allow you to invest in foreign companies, some will only permit you to invest in U.S. listed companies. Some will allow you to set up a certain tax-efficient account like Roth IRAs.
We provide the option to set up a brokerage account through our MyWallSt Advisory service and recommend this to our users. However, the decision is entirely yours.
To set up a brokerage account, you will need certain personal information like your name, address, and date of birth. Following this, you will be required to answer some simple questions regarding your employment status, income level, and investing experience.
While some people may find these questions slightly intrusive, it's an important element of the brokerage setup process. Brokers are required by law to "know their customer", meaning they have to ensure that the products and services being offered are suitable to you.
Finally, you'll be asked to provide some documentation in order to prove who you are.
This will vary depending on where you live. A U.S. user might only be required to provide their social security number. An international user might be required to provide a photo of a government-issued ID and proof of address.
International investors must also complete a separate form called the W-8BEN, which is used to calculate what tax if any, you will have to pay in the U.S. on your gains. Many countries have a tax treaty with the US when it comes to this, but you should take the time to research your own situation.
With all that done, you'll be ready to start buying stocks. Want to know a bit more about how to do so? Check out our article on the best way to buy stocks to find out more.
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