Aussie company Stake lets you trade US shares from your phone – opening up Wall Street for your trading side hustle

Tim Boyle / Getty Images
  • Australian digital brokerage company Stake allows Australians to trade US shares.
  • Founder Matthew Leibowitz told Business Insider Australia it was designed to give Aussies access to Wall Street.
  • Around 40% of its trades happen at night, between 11pm and 5am.

Trading on Wall Street isn’t just for the super rich.

Australian digital brokerage company Stake launched in 2017, designed to give Aussies access to Wall Street — home to some of the biggest financial markets in the world such as the New York Stock Exchange.

The company was founded by Matthew Leibowitz, a lawyer by trade who switched to the world of trading because of his interest in the “dynamic nature of the stock market”. After noticing how big the US market was, Leibowitz realised how complicated it was for people outside of the US to access it unless they were incredibly wealthy. And thus, Stake was born.

Stake – which has an app and a website – allows you to trade more than 3,500 stocks on the US market. It’s similar to Robinhood, which offers commission-free trades in stocks.

The US stock market is chock full of some of the biggest companies in the world such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. Leibowitz told Business Insider Australia that Stake is essentially “Commsec for US shares” – the online Aussie brokerage company – and allows Australians to “play pretty much on Wall Street.”

“It’s really aimed at people that see the world a little bit bigger than their postcode and they’re a bit more ambitious and interested in trading,” he said. “They want to be in that colosseum of the US market because that’s where pretty much the world plays.”

Leibowitz emphasised that while there has been a desire for people in Australia to invest overseas, there hasn’t been much access to the US.

“The amount of money moving through Apple each day is more than the entire Australian share market, I think it’s nearly double,” he said. “There are a lot of people that want to get into the game that haven’t been able to.”

He added that giving people access hasn’t been a big focus for Wall Street and highlighted barriers such as paperwork, fees and a complicated process.

Upon signing up to Stake, you have to answer a series of questions such as what sector you work in and whether you are employed by a stock exchange. According to Lifehacker, you add Aussie dollars into Stake using the POLI payment system, which are then converted to US dollars, and then you can start trading.

Stake has a user-friendly interface, provides you access to news and analysis for individual stock, and doesn’t charge brokerage fees when you buy or sell stocks. It does, however, charge you to transfer your Aussie dollars to US dollars and vice versa – charging 70 US cents for every A$100 you transfer, according to Finder.

Leibowitz said 23% of Stake’s customers are first time traders. “It’s a really interesting mix of people that realise that this is where the world trades [and that] there’s more opportunity here,” he said.

A platform for millennials

Stake Global Head of Marketing, Bryan Wilmot told Business Insider that the company is targeting mainly 25 – 45 year olds. “Professionals that have a little bit of disposable income to … enable a bit of having a play within the stock market,” he said.

Wilmot added that 40% of its trades happen between 11pm and 5am, with people staying up through the night and using trading as a side hustle.

“People in this age group, in this psychographic subgroup, are staying up all night to trade,” he said. “[They are] staying up all night to really tap into that sense of: ‘this is how I’m going to progress myself and I’m not just happy with the status quo of my day-to-day job but I’m always looking for new opportunities and I’m always looking to hustle as hard as I can’.”

Leibowitz said one man made $50,000 through the platform and one woman who bought shares in Berkshire Hathaway – of which billionaire Warren Buffett is CEO – took herself to the company’s annual general meeting in Omaha, US.

He added that while making money was just one aspect, being actively engaged in the market was another point of pride for customers.

“If you made a good amount of money that’s a great story,” Leibowitz said. “But even if you’ve lost it, it doesn’t really matter. The idea that you’re out there giving it a go and having a crack is sort of what I guess, is prideful for people.”

Stake is also launching in the UK so it looks like even more people will get in on the Wall Street action.

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