Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX: WBC), commonly called Westpac, is an Australian banking and financial services company headquartered in Sydney. It was established in 1817 as the Bank of New South Wales and was renamed Westpac following its acquisition of the Commercial Bank of Australia in 1982.
Looking to buy shares in Westpac? It's easy when you know how. Read on for more details.
About the company
Westpac is Australia’s oldest bank. It is one of the four major banks in Australia and one of the largest in New Zealand. The bank provides a broad range of banking and financial services including consumer, business and institutional banking as well as wealth management services.
Westpac subsidiaries include St.George Bank, BankSA, BT, Westpac New Zealand, Bank of Melbourne, BT Funds Management and BT Securities, among others.
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Step 1: Choose a broker
When you buy shares online, you do it through an intermediary called a broker. There are many online brokers available, offering various options.
Here are some key features to look for when choosing one.
The advent of online share trading has seen brokerage costs plunge.
If you shop around, you’ll be able to find online platforms offering very competitive brokerage rates.
Be careful to weigh up brokerage costs against other services the online trader may or may not offer.
Some online brokers will offer free trades if you sign up with them — often limited to a certain initial period or capped per month — and this may be a consideration when buying your Westpac shares.
Easy-to-use trading platform
Trading in shares needn’t be complicated, so keep an eye out for a trading platform that is straightforward to use. Other useful features for new investors include demo trading accounts so you can practise without consequence and education guides (preferably in video format).
Research and reporting
Look for a platform that has a solid research and reporting section that can give you important information about Westpac, including company overview, price history, recommendations and price forecasts.
Step 2: Fund your account
Share trading accounts need money added to them to become fully active, but in the early stages it's a good idea to be cautious about how much you add.
Step 3: Decide how much you want to invest
You should always have an investment plan, based on what you can afford. Take a look at Westpac's current share price and make a judgement, but remember you can always buy more when the price drops.
Step 4: Shares or an ETF?
One big question you'll have to answer is whether you want to invest in shares or an ETF. An ETF (Exchange-Traded Fund) is considered to be a less risky option because it invests in a group of companies or market indices rather than relying on the performance of a specific company. This means less volatility, and you win if the market wins, but it is less interesting for those looking to actively manage their investments.
ETFs with exposure to Westpac include iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF (IEFA) and Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Index Fund ETF (VEU).
Step 5: Decide your order type
Orders are your method of telling you online brokers what sort of trades you'd like to make, and how you'd like your money to behave.
A market order is an order to buy shares at the current market price. In fast-moving markets, these prices can change while you're making the trade. Let’s say you place an order for Westpac's shares at $22.13. You place an order but by the time it executes the share price has dropped to $21.30. You will get your shares at the lower price. The same situation applies if the share price goes up while your order is being executed.
With a buy limit order, your trade will only execute when the share price reaches the price, or lower, that you nominate. Let’s say you decide you only want to buy Westpac shares at $22.13 or lower. Once the price drops to $22.13, your limit order will kick in.
This is when you nominate a price range within which you are willing to buy or sell your shares. Your order will be executed if it's possible to buy or sell them at a price within your range.
For example, you decide you want to sell your Westpac shares if they drop to $22, but hang onto them if your order can't be executed before they fall below $20. Once the price reaches $22, the order executes if they can be sold at a price higher than $20.
In this case, you nominate a price at which you decide to sell your shares if the market falls. If the share price drops significantly, for example, the stop loss is aimed at allowing you to automatically sell out before your shareholding suffers too much damage.
You might decide to set a stop loss at $20. If your Westpac shares hit this price, the order executes and the broker seeks to sell them at market price. Keep in mind if the share price is plummeting, your shares may be sold for less than your specified $20.
Step 6: Place your order
Once you're happy with your strategy and with funds in place, it's time to trade. On most platforms, you can place your order with the click of a button.
Whether you invest in shares to gain from speculation of share price movements or to hold them as long term investments, you need to monitor the company performance and its share price movements.
Track Westpac’s performance
You want to keep track of Westpac’s business performance and financial fundamentals in addition to watching its share price movements. Since Westpac is a dividend stock, you have to also keep an eye on dividend payments. During the pandemic Westpac reduced its dividend payments, but is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels in the coming years.
Watch for developments in the banking and financial services sector
The banking and financial services sector is highly competitive, with traditional banks such as Westpac having to not just compete with each other online and offline, but also with financial technology (Fintech) startups that are disrupting traditional banks.
Westpac is competing with the other top banks in Australia including Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), Australian and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ), National Australian Bank (ASX: NAB), Bank of Queensland (ASX: BOQ) and Macquarie Bank (ASX: MQG), among others.
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