Pearler is the new low-cost investing platform that I stumbled across a few months ago, but how does it really compare to the competition? This is our Pearler Trading Platform Review!
Pearler Review Summary:
Pearler Rating: 4/5 Pearler has released a great investment platform with excellent intentions. They are CHESS Sponsored and Low-cost. However, they have limited research and their website is a little ‘bulky‘. While Pearler still has a little way to go before delivering the same service as other top-tier brokers in this area, their low fees and easy setup make Pearler an excellent choice.
- CHESS Sponsored
- Low-Cost Trading $9.50
- Free ETF Trading*
- Easy Set-up
- AutoInvest and Autodeposit
- FIRE/Long term Focused
- Integrated Blogs
- Pearler Portfolios
- Oversimplified Website
- No International Shares
- No Research Reports
- No Mobile App
What is Pearler?
Pearler is Australia’s newest low-cost trading platform. Pearler is growing rapidly and taking on the names of Nabtrade, CommSec, ANZ, Westpac, and Selfwealth. The Pearler platform allows Investors access to Australian listed stocks and ETFs, and eventually international equities.
Pearler differentiates itself as an online brokering platform that is helping Aussies achieve financial independence via long-term investing. The owners have an interest and affiliation with the FIRE community.
“Pearler was founded in 2018 by 3 FIRE enthused friends from Sydney, after they got sick of the bland, bulky, expensive brokerage platforms. Pearler was centered around the idea of being different from these other platforms and helping people achieve their long-term financial goals”
Pearler’s Low Cost Flat Fees?
Pearler is a low-cost trading platform with flat fees of $9.50 per trade. They also have a selection of brokerage-free ETF options, meaning you pay no brokerage on your purchase if you hold them for over a year.
Here’s how Pearler’s fees compare to its competitors;
This is based on a $5000 investment. As of July 2021, they have now changed to a flat fee brokerage model of $9.50!
Are there any Hidden Fees?
There are no hidden fees from pearler. To be sure we had a read through their financial services guide. Brokerage is the only fee Pearler charges, there are no accounting opening fees, annual fees, and no hidden fees.
Here’s a snapshot from their financial services guide:
|Product||Minimum Commission||Maximum Commission|
|Equities||$9.50 per trade||$9.50 per trade|
Brokerage Free ETFs?
This is one of our major positive Pearler review points. Pearler offers free brokerage to 46 select ETFs. This is unheard of by the other major brokers at this stage. Pearler has made this possible by reaching out and partnering with ETF managers at eInvest, ETF Securities, and VanEck.
By simply buying and holding an ETF from one of these funds, for at least one year the brokerage is free. There are currently 46 options and counting. I have attached a table of these options in the appendix.
If you change your mind and end up selling within the year, you’ll only have to pay the standard buy & sell-brokerage ($19.00 total, or $9.50 per transaction).
The ETF managers will obviously still charge management fees in their funds over time.
For us, this is a big positive for Pearler. However, the current ETF list has nothing that excites us and contains no broad market Index ETFs which is what we primarily invest in.
Is Pearler CHESS Sponsored?
Yes. Pearler is CHESS sponsored meaning that shares held with pearler are as safe as shares held with Commsec, NABtrade, or any other big Australian broker – and that’s because you own your shares directly.
For most people, we only like CHESS-sponsored brokers. When buying shares through a CHESS Sponsored broker it means the ASX has a record of you owning those shares directly. When you join one of these brokers you get given a HIN (Holder Identification Number), and the shares are then attached to you, via that number. You can have multiple numbers at multiple online brokers.
There is a lot of misinformation around about CHESS-sponsored brokers with many trading platforms pretending to be CHESS sponsored. This makes it difficult to find the right platform. Here’s our complete list of all CHESS Sponsored Shares.
Pearler sign-up Process?
The Pearler sign-up process is simple and easy. It takes around 30-minutes and allows for online identification verification. The process is straightforward and Pearler walks you through it all. One thing we notice is when we are getting started we are me with the question: Are you a long-term investor? This is Pearler gearing their platform towards the FIRE and long-term investing community.
You can sign up here using our affiliate link.
Pearler’s Autoinvest and Autodeposit Feature
Pearler has introduced an autoinvest and autodeposit feature. This is a decent idea and we appreciate the thought, but personally, this isn’t a feature I see myself using. For me, this feels like a page taken from the micro-investing community. However, when we’re talking about larger investing sums I would much rather be the person pushing “BUY”.
This is optional and works in two ways if you choose to utilize it;
Your funds can be securely deposited automatically, on a recurring basis, via direct debit.
You choose how, and when you want to invest. Autoinvest direct debits from your linked bank account, then once that direct debit clears in your Pearler account they invest it in your target portfolio, according to the investment rule you’ve set. At the moment they have 4 rules:
- Single share furthest below target weight
- Single share of my choice from my portfolio
- Rebalance to target weights
- Equally across target weight
Pearler’s FIRE Focus
FIRE or Financial Independence Retire Early is a massive focus of Pearler. As we saw before you have to tell them you’re a long-term investor before even starting. We think it’s cool that Pearler has its own niche to differentiate itself from the competition.
We are fans of the FIRE movement. But for us we’re simple, we just want a good quality trading platform, we aren’t concerned about branding and niches. Thus for us, this isn’t something worth getting excited over. Although encouraging long-term investing and safe investment decisions is a big plus in our books.
Pearler has a bunch of integrated threads and blogs with again a big focus on the FIRE community. This is cool to give the FIRE Blogs other platforms to share their stories and experiences. But again, we just want a trading platform to trade shares. I couldn’t see myself actively engaged with this. So for us, it’s neutral. Although it may be fun to read other people’s thoughts and share ours.
Pearler allows you to break up your holdings into individual portfolios and lists a bunch of generic portfolios to help get people started.
We can see this being helpful for new investors looking to make good decisions into quality long-term investments. However, we are a big fan of doing your own research and growing your investment knowledge towards understanding asset allocation to build your own holdings.
We see this potentially detracting from new investors by oversimplifying the process. That being said it’s a lot better than seeing new investors losing their money to hype stocks through lack of knowledge and due-diligence.
To us, the Pearler platform feels oversimplified and like it’s missing something. When I navigate around Commsec or Nabtrade and press BUY I feel like I’m making well thought out and executed financial move. Meanwhile, Pearler just feels too minimalist so I lack that same feeling.
Here’s a look at their Dashboard;
Browsing for equities seems clunky and counter-intuitive. First, we select Invest then we are met with four options: Shares, Portfolios, Profiles, and Marketplace. I would much rather type the stock code into a search bar and be presented with information instantly like all other platforms.
Again this feeling is clouded through the entire platform. To best demonstrate this here’s a picture of the stock portfolio we see being buying VAS. The comparison we see is Nabtrade
By just glancing at these platforms side by side we see so much more research and information presented to us by Nabtrade. The oversimplified feel to me detracts from the fact that I’m about to commit to investing a large sum of money. Without even describing the features of both platforms we can see that Nabtrade presents so much more information whereas Pearler lacks some basic fundamentals.
Again when I commit to buying we see a lack of information in the Pearler Order Pad. We are presented with no option to buy via quantity, no flexibility of buying at a specified limit vs at market, and no duration options either.
No International Shares…..YET
At the time of writing, Pearler has no trading available in international equities. They’re planning on bringing it to the platform as soon as possible, but at this stage there no estimated release date. In comparison, Commsec, Nabtrade, ANZ, Westpac, and SelfWealth all offer some form of international equities.
No Research Reports
Under the Website category, I talked about the feeling that something is missing from Pearler. And I think a big part of this is research. On our other brokerage services specifically Nabtrade and Commsec we are presented with countless amounts of free quality research and information. These platforms are teamed up with massive names like Thompson Reuters, Morningstar, and Trading Central. They also present their own fundamentals, statistics, and announcements.
All of this is absent from Pearler. We don’t even see a PE multiple or trade volumes on their site. They have no stock due diligence or research. Given that it is a new low-cost trading platform this is understandable.
There is always the option to have multiple brokerage accounts with one of the big-name brokers like Commsec or Nabtarde while trading through these low-cost platforms.
No Mobile App
At the current date, Pearler has no mobile app available to its investors. They’re rumored to be releasing it later 2021, but at this stage there no estimated release date. This is disappointing as all our other favorite brokers offering some form of app support.
The future of Pearler
Pearler has a lot of work in the pipeline, at the moment they are working on bringing US shares to the platform. They are helping investors set up accounts to invest for their kids. They are also planning on bringing a whole bunch of transparency to investing by having management fees of ETFs and funds widely available and comparable across their platform.
We think in the future Pearler has the potential to be a significant competitor to the major players.
Pearler Review Conclusions: Prophet’s Take
For the age of Pearler, they have produced an excellent basis for their platform. They also have a genuine connection to their customers and encourage good financial decisions. We are a massive fan of their motives and low-cost structure. To us, it seems like they have put too much focus into blogs and portfolios rather than focusing on more important equity research and stock fundamentals.
We are giving Pearler a 4-star rating. They have a solid foundation but a little more work is needed on their website and bringing information to investors.
If you’re interested in investing with Pearler here’s our affiliate link: Pearler
Full List of Pearler’s Brokerage Free ETF’s
|ETF Ticker||ETF Name||Investment Company that manages the ETF|
|QUAL||MSCI Global Quality (ex-AUS)||VanEck|
|ACDC||Global Battery Tech & Lithium Companies||ETF Securities|
|ROBO||Global Robotics & Automation||ETF Securities|
|ESGI||MSCI Global Sustainable||VanEck|
|ESPO||MVIS Global Video Gaming and eSports ETF||VanEck|
|MVW||Aussie Large-Caps (equal weight)||VanEck|
|CLNE||S&P Global Clean Energy ETF||VanEck|
|IMPQ||Better Future Fund||eInvest|
|FANG||NYSE FANG+ Companies||ETF Securities|
|GOLD||Physical Gold||ETF Securities|
|CURE||S&P US Biotech||ETF Securities|
|TECH||Morningstar Global Tech Wide Moat||ETF Securities|
|ZTAU||S&P Aussie 300 Dividends||ETF Securities|
|QHAL||MSCI Global Quality (ex-AUS hedged)||VanEck|
|EMKT||MSCI Emerging Markets Shares||VanEck|
|MOAT||Morningstar US Wide Moat||VanEck|
|GRNV||MSCI Aussie Sustainable||VanEck|
|CETF||FTSE China Top 50||VanEck|
|CNEW||China Growth Companies||VanEck|
|MVB||Aussie Large-Cap Banks||VanEck|
|REIT||FTSE Global Property (ex-AUS hedged)||VanEck|
|GDX||Global Gold Miners||VanEck|
|GOAT||Morningstar World ex AUS ‘Wide Moat’||VanEck|
|NDIA||India Nifty 50 Large Caps||ETF Securities|
|ZYUS||S&P 500 US Dividends & Low Volatility||ETF Securities|
|ETPMPM||Physical Precious Metal Basket||ETF Securities|
|MVE||S&P Aussie 50 Mid Caps||VanEck|
|ETPMPD||Physical Palladium||ETF Securities|
|LMAS||Nasdaq 100 Long Hedge Fund||ETF Securities|
|QSML||MSCI World Small Cap Quality 150 (ex Aus)||VanEck|
|DVDY||Morningstar AUS Dividend Yield Focus ETF||VanEck|
|ESTX||Europe 50 Large Caps||ETF Securities|
|MVA||Aussie Large Cap Property||VanEck|
|MVR||Aussie Large Cap Resources||VanEck|
|MVS||Aussie Small Cap Dividends||VanEck|
|VLUE||MSCI International Value 250 (ex AUS)||VanEck|
|ETPMAG||Physical Silver||ETF Securities|
|HLTH||MarketGrader Developed Markets (ex-AUS) Health Care ETF||VanEck|
|IFRA||FTSE Global Infrastructure (50/50 hedged)||VanEck|
|SNAS||Nasdaq 100 Short Hedge Fund||ETF Securities|
|EBND||J P Morgan Emerging Markets Bonds (50/50 hedged)||VanEck|
|ETPMPT||Physical Platinum||ETF Securities|
|SUBD||Aussie Subordinated Bonds||VanEck|