For many years, I have been complacent in my investing approach in terms of geographical diversification. I always stick with investments that only require MYR and don’t intend to invest in the US market, until this year.
The reason behind my change of mind is because I just finished reading an amazing book called “Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need” by Grant Sabatier. I’ll write a review of this book in the future.
After I’ve done some research on international brokerage accounts, TD Ameritrade is what I chose. TDA is best when we only want to invest in the US.
If you are interested in investing individual US stocks or ETFs, then you come to the right place. I will share things I know about TD Ameritrade and how to register a TD Ameritrade account in Malaysia with my experience.
A little about TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade provides an online brokerage platform that allows investors to trade US stocks and ETFs. Currently, it allows worldwide investors (including Malaysians) to open its account for free.
TD Ameritrade currently has two headquarters: one in the US and another in Singapore. For Malaysians, we will be registering under TD Ameritrade Singapore.
Why TD Ameritrade?
- A reputable foreign broker as it established in 1971 and backed by Charles Schwab, an American multinational financial services company.
- Zero commission for all US stocks and ETFs
- thinkorswim is a powerful trading platform available for all TDA users, not to mention their well-designed app and desktop user interface.
- The abundance of free educational materials for beginners and veterans who interested in trading.
Prerequisite for the Trading Account Application
Before we get started, here are the documents you need in TD Ameritrade account registration:
- Your Malaysia Tax ID (Start with “SG/OG”)
- IC Document
- Document Proof of Address (Your Internet bill, phone bill, utility bill or bank statement)
- Payslip or EPF Statement
How to Register a TD Ameritrade Account
Visit the website of TD Ameritrade Singapore to open a new account.
The first step of registration starts with your username and password for TDA.
Completing User Profile
Next, we will key in our personal information such as our income tax number (as mention in the prerequisite)
After personal information is done, we will be keying in employment and financial information.
For the bank, choose “Other” and manually key in the main bank you will use for fund transfer.
If you are not sure which bank you will use for fund deposits, no worry. In the end, I use Maybank to deposit my fund, and they approve it too.
For investment objectives, you can take mine (in the image above) as references.
As usual, We need to declare any affiliations, disclosures, and trading experience during brokerage account registration.
On notification preferences, please make sure you choose electronic for both to avoid being charged every month.
Transaction Authorisation Code
The Transaction Authorisation Code is very important when you want to withdraw your money from TD Ameritrade. Hence you should write it down in your physical notebook or note it on your phone with a password.
You will have to create this code using 4 to 6 numbers. I recommend keying in 6 digits for maximum security.
For 2FA (Second Factor Authentication), I chose “No” as I prefer simplicity. But for that, I need to sacrifice security. If you enable 2FA, you need to download the TDA authentication app.
For the final step, review again all your user profile information before proceeding to the next section.
Signing Client Forms
Upon finish with personal details, you will be required to read all the disclosure statements.
For the NYSE Subscriber Agreement, choose “Yes” for the first question and just choose “No” all the way.
Submitting Account Forms
In this section, you will be required to submit a few forms such as W8 forms.
As a non-US citizen, we need to submit W8 form so we can qualify for a lower rate of tax withholding.
As a Malaysian, we do not have treaty benefits from the US. So choose “No”.
Tick on E-Sign acceptance and also other checkbox for W-8BEN form.
After submitted your W8 form, you will see a pop up above. You may click on the PDF icon to download it for viewing.
This is how W8 form looks like if you open it.
Here are some securities declarations you need to know.
If you reached this step, then congratulations! You have one more step left before you are done with the registration. Follow the instructions given above to download the required documents.
If you already closed this, don’t worry. Check your email inbox for similar instructions.
You need to print out those documents, fill them and then hand-sign them. Please do not use e-Signature via Adobe Reader.
When you completed the documents, scan and submit them. (If you have trouble submit the document, refresh the page)
You will see something as above when you have successfully submitted your documents.
The screenshot above is taken in January 2021 and may be outdated. Please don’t fret if you don’t see the “Customer Account Review”. Just proceed with the registration.
If you cannot find any document to download and upload buttons as above, refer to this comment by Angellica:
Thank you Angellica for your valuable feedback! 😀
Now all you need is to wait for the approval email from TDA, then only fund your account.
The approval email will look something like this:
- How to Fund Your TD Ameritrade Account in Malaysia
- How to Withdraw Money from TD Ameritrade Singapore
Frequently Asked Question
Q: How long do I need to wait for my account to be approved?
A: It might take at least one month or longer (up to 5 months) to have your account approved. Mine takes around 2 months 20 days.
Q: Is there any fees required to register a TD Ameritrade account?
A: Not a single cent needed. It’s free.
Q: Can I fund my TD Ameritrade account before it gets approved?
A: No. You have to wait for your account to be approved, else your transferred money may be as good as gone.
Q: Is TD Ameritrade regulated by Malaysian Security Commission?
A: Nope. However, it is regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Singapore’s Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
Q: Can I open an account without a tax number?
A: I’m not really sure, but I did not see any place that can skip this. So I think you can’t open one without it.
For more FAQs, you can check out TD Ameritrade Singapore’s FAQ.
In summary, you can consider registering a TD Ameritrade account if you:
- Only interested to invest in US Stocks/ETFs.
- Are okay to pick your own stock or ETF to invest in.
- Want the lowest brokerage fee (zero commission) for trading US Stocks/ETFs.
- Prefer a reputable foreign broker to invest for the long term (as all foreign brokerage is not regulated by Malaysian SC)
- Don’t mind a brokerage account not having fractional shares.
- Have more than RM10,000 to invest with (Check out my article on “How to Fund Your TD Ameritrade Account in Malaysia” to know why)
If you are interested to open a local brokerage account instead, these articles might help: