Updated: 04/24/2024

Buy Shares Online: A Quick Guide for Beginners

understanding shares
.26 Feb 2024
author avatar image Chad Smith

Table of Contents

Embarking on a journey into the world of shares can be both exciting and daunting, with various elements to learn and understand. As a professional venturing into the realm of online share trading, it’s essential to develop a firm understanding of various aspects such as what shares are, the different types of shares, and the risk and rewards associated with share trading. The nuances of financial terminologies related to share trading also become crucial. The choice of an online broker can profoundly impact your trading experiences, and hence, one must analyse brokers based on their performance history, platform reliability, and client service. Furthermore, understanding the mechanics of setting up a brokerage account, the regulatory requirements and necessary paperwork is a vital step in becoming an independent trader. Mastering skills such as technical and fundamental market analysis, interpreting market trends and financial news, enables you to make informed and calculated decisions on buying and selling of shares.

Understanding Shares

Understanding Shares

Shares, often referred to as stocks, are units of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset. By purchasing shares, you become a shareholder or stockholder of the corporation. The primary benefit of holding shares is the prospect of earning dividends or capital gain if the company performs well. However, if the company struggles financially, this puts your investment at risk, as share value is directly tied to a company’s financial health.

Types of Shares

There are two main types of shares: common and preferred. Common shares give the shareholder voting rights in the company, whereas preferred shares generally do not, but they have a higher claim on the company’s assets and earnings. Meaning, as a preferred shareholder you are prioritised during distributions like the payment of dividends and the liquidation of assets.

Risks of Share Trading

Share trading, also known as equity trading, inherently involves risk. This risk primarily stems from the uncertainty of the future financial performance of the company you have invested in. Other risks include market volatility that may be due to macroeconomic factors, industry trends, technological changes, and political instability. Therefore, when investing in shares, it’s important to analyse these factors and prepare for possible losses.

Benefits of Share Trading

Despite the risks, share trading has several potential benefits. This includes the potential for high returns, especially when compared to traditional saving mechanisms. In addition, shares trading can help diversify your investment portfolio. It can also provide you with the opportunity to become a part-owner of a company and potentially enjoy dividends based on the company’s profitability.

Understanding Financial Terminology

When engaging in share trading, a number of terminologies come into play. Some of the common ones include:

  1. Dividend: This refers to the payout made by a company from its profits to its shareholders.
  2. Bull Market: This term is used to describe a market condition where share prices are rising or expected to rise.
  3. Bear Market: This is the opposite of a bull market, meaning that share prices are falling or expected to fall.
  4. Blue-chip Stocks: This term refers to shares in large, well-established, and financially stable companies with a history of reliable performance.
  5. Portfolio: This refers to a collection of investments held by an individual or an institution.

Understanding these terms and how they tie into share trading is crucial for making informed investment decisions.

Image illustrating the concept of understanding shares and share trading

Photo by austindistel on Unsplash

Choosing the Right Online Broker

Understanding Online Brokers

Investing in shares requires due diligence and sound judgment. The first essential step is choosing the right online broker, a platform through which you buy and sell shares. Online brokers vary significantly in terms of trade fees, platform reliability, services offered, customer service quality and maintain a varying record of customer satisfaction.

Assessing Brokerage Fees

Brokerage fees are mandatory costs attached to transactions involving shares. These fees can have a significant impact on your expected returns. Some online brokers charge flat fees per transaction, while others use a percentage-based fee structure. While inexpensive brokerage fees can be enticing, it’s crucial not to sacrifice necessary services and support for low costs. Navigate through different online brokers, compare their fee structures and consider them in conjunction with the value they offer.

Evaluating Services and Support

Most online brokers offer more than just a trading platform, they provide a range of services to support investors, which often includes research, data analysis tools, financial news updates and educational resources. Some go the extra mile by providing advanced features like automated portfolio management. Identify what services you find most useful, and ensure the online broker you choose offers those services.

Track Records and Platform Reliability

When investing online, the reliability of a broker’s platform is paramount. Issues like platform downtime or slow trade executions can result in missed investment opportunities or losses. Inquiry about the broker’s track record on platform uptime and read user and industry reviews to determine how reliable their platform is. Moreover, considering the broker’s track record in terms of successful trades executed, the reputation in the industry and whether they are regulated by financial authorities can add to the credibility assessment.

Quality of Customer Service

Exceptional customer service can make a huge difference in your investing experience, especially for beginners. The customer service should be easily reachable and capable to address account problems, answer queries about the platform and clarify doubts about investment options. The quality of customer service can often be gauged through customer reviews and ratings online.

In conclusion, to ensure a successful online share trading, the process involves scrutinizing brokerage fees, understanding the services provided, verifying the reliability and track record of the online broker platform, and considering the effectiveness of the customer service. Choose carefully, each aspect is crucial to your potential gains and satisfaction as a trader.

A magnifying glass hovering over a computer screen showing a graph representing stock market prices.

Creating a Brokerage Account

Step One: Choosing a Brokerage

The first step in buying shares online is deciding on a broker or brokerage. This is a firm that provides you with access to the stock market. Brokers offer online platforms through which you can buy and sell shares. It’s prudent to conduct research before settling on a brokerage, looking into factors such as the fees they charge, their reputation, and the resources and tools they offer to their clients.

Step Two: Creating a Brokerage Account

Once you have chosen a brokerage, you can create an account. This usually involves filling out an application form that will ask for personal information such as your full name, contact details, National Insurance number, and possibly also your employment details.

Step Three: Regulatory Requirements

In the United Kingdom, you are required to comply with certain regulatory requirements when opening a brokerage account. These might include proving your identity – usually with a passport or driving licence – and providing proof of address, such as a utility bill or bank statement. Your broker has to comply with anti-money laundering regulations, which means they’ll need to verify your identity before you can open an account.

Step Four: Fund Your Account

Once your account is open, you’ll need to fund it. You can do this through a bank transfer, debit card payment, or sometimes even a cheque. The brokerage account needs funding before you can start buying shares.

Step Five: Understand the Trading Platform

Before you begin buying shares, take some time to familiarize yourself with the trading platform. They all operate differently, so it’s essential to understand how yours works. Look out for features such as where to find your portfolio, how to place trades, how to set up watch lists for specific shares you’re interested in, and where to find important market news and reports.

Step Six: Start Trading

Once your brokerage account is set up and funded, and you’re comfortable with the trading platform, you can start buying shares. You’ll need to enter the name or ticker symbol of the share you want to purchase, specify how many shares you want to buy, and then place your order. The shares will then show up in your brokerage account. Remember, investing in shares involves a degree of risk, so you should always do your own due diligence. Understand the companies you’re investing in, their market position, and outlook. It’s also wise to have a diverse portfolio to spread the risk.
Six steps for buying shares online, from choosing a brokerage to starting trading.

Performing Market Analysis

Understanding Market Analysis

Market analysis is the process of researching and understanding the attractiveness and dynamics of a specific market. It entails evaluating the market’s size and growth rate, as well as understanding the competitive landscape. Market analysis involves two core methods: technical and fundamental analysis.

Study the Skills of Market Analysis

To begin, you need to understand both technical and fundamental analysis. Fundamental analysis investigates the intrinsic value of a company by examining related economic, financial, and other qualitative and quantitative factors. It includes studying overall economic and industry conditions, as well as company-specific factors like financial condition and management.

Technical analysis, on the other hand, forecasts future directions of prices by studying past market data, primarily price and volume. It pays attention to patterns, lines, shapes, indices, and formulas that may suggest future performance.

Interpreting Market Trends

Interpreting market trends is the next step in the process of market analysis. Market trends are the upward or downward direction of a market, or a given market’s price. Trends can vary from short term to long term, to even medium term. Understanding these trends can offer insights into how a market is going to behave, and allow you to make informed decisions regarding your investments.

Understanding Financial News

Paying attention to financial news is crucial to a successful market analysis. The economic calendar ought to be your hallmark, forecasting market-moving events that allow analysts to study market reactions. Look out for significant occurrences like monetary policy changes, inflation rates, unemployment rates, etc. As an analyst, you need to be able to isolate crucial news and the impact they could have on the market.

Analysing Company Reports

Analysing company reports or financial statements is another essential skill for conducting market analysis. These reports reveal a company’s financial health, demonstrating the firm’s strengths, weaknesses, and financial performance over time. When conducting a company performance analysis, it’s crucial to examine company reports like balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. These records will provide valuable insights into a company’s profitability, financial stability, and growth prospects, helping you make informed investment decisions.

Buying Shares Online

Once you’ve successfully conducted a market analysis, you may decide to invest in stocks. Before you start buying shares online, you must first set up a trading account with a reputable online stockbroker. After this, you deposit cash into your trading account, and you’re ready to start buying shares. However, it is essential to remember that trading shares online can involve substantial risk, and it’s always prudent to seek advice from an experienced, qualified professional before making any investment decision.

Illustration of a person analyzing market trends using a chart and graphs

Buying and Selling Shares

Buying and Selling Shares Online

Online trading platforms have made the process of buying and selling shares more accessible than ever before. This is the step-by-step process.

  1. Choose an Online Brokerage or Trading Platform: The first step is to select a reliable and reputable online trading platform. Look for one that offers a range of investment options, low fees, and excellent customer service. Research reviews and ratings before deciding.
  2. Set Up a Trading Account: Once you’ve chosen a platform, you’ll need to set up a trading account. This usually involves filling in personal details, providing identification, and linking to a bank account.
  3. Fund Your Account: Before you can buy shares, you need to deposit funds into your trading account. This typically involves a bank transfer. Ensure you are strictly following the guidelines set by the trading platform to fund your account.
  4. Research Before Buying Shares: Before buying shares in a company, it’s crucial to do some research. Look at its financial performance, dividend policy, future plans, and the overall status of the sector in which it operates.

Placing Market Orders, Limit Orders and Stop Orders

There are several types of orders you can place when buying or selling shares.

  1. Market Orders: This transaction happens at the current market price. When you place a market order, you’re buying or selling shares as per the existing conditions of the share market.
  2. Limit Orders: A limit order allows you to buy or sell shares at a specified price. For example, if you set a limit order to buy a share at £10, the transaction will trigger only when the share price drops to £10.
  3. Stop Orders: This type of order comes into force when a certain price point is reached. Details differ depending on whether it’s a stop-loss order (selling shares when they reach a certain price to prevent further losses) or a stop-limit order (buying or selling a stock once it reaches a specific price).

Understanding Transaction Confirmations

Transaction confirmations act as a receipt for your trade. Once your buy or sell order is executed, you will receive a transaction confirmation from your broker.

This confirmation will contain details like the number of shares, the price at which the trade was executed, the date and time of the transaction, and the associated charges. Check it carefully to ensure all details are correct.

Remember, buying shares always carries some risk. You can mitigate this by educating yourself about the company, the market, and by keeping an eye on trending financial news.

An image depicting a person using a laptop to trade shares online

Having delved into the complexities of understanding shares, creating a brokerage account, comprehending financial terminologies, and even acing market analysis, the knowledge about buying and selling shares online becomes power. It is a step-by-step process that ranges from placing different types of orders to understanding transaction confirmations. Therefore, as you navigate this landscape, be patient, persistent, and thorough with your learning. Keep experimenting, keep gaining exposure, and stay committed to your path of becoming an expert in online share trading. The journey may be filled with uncertainties and challenges, but with the right guidance, it can indeed be a rewarding experience. Remember that becoming an independent and successful trader is a long-term commitment requiring passion, discipline, and constancy.

author avatar image
Chad Smith

Chad Smith is the Director of Research & Analysis here at ForexBrokerListing.com. Chad previously served as an Editor for a number of websites related to finance and trading, where he authored a significant number of published articles about trading and the impact of technology in transforming investing as we know it. Overall, Chad is an active fintech and crypto industry researcher with more than 15 years of trading experience, and you can find him teaching his dog how to trade in his free time.