How to start investing in stocks
Select an investment service package that meets your need
You can select between the Saver's or the Investor's service package. Both packages include the opening of a book-entry account and custody. If you already have custody at another bank, you can request its transfer to OP.
Study carefully the listed companies that interest you
You can find information on them from company websites, financial media and OP Markets' company updates, among others. You will get access to OP Markets' equity research services after opening the service package.
Decide in which companies you want to invest and start trading
Remember to diversify your investments in a sufficient number of companies, preferably from different sectors. Ideally, your stock portfolio would include shares of at least five different companies. Also, remember temporal diversification, which means buying at different times.
Why investing in stocks is a good idea
Investing in listed companies is an excellent way of making your funds grow. Stocks, also called shares and equities, have historically been the most profitable investment instrument.
However, many often think that starting stock investment is difficult. It is also a common misconception that you need a large initial capital to start investing in stocks. In reality, you can also start investing in stocks with small sums.
Stocks are ideal for investors seeking high returns but who also can tolerate market fluctuations. Return consists of a rise in the share's value and the dividends paid. Stock investments are suitable as long-term investments due to high expected returns. It is still good to be aware that stocks’ short-term value fluctuations can often be steep, especially in case you plan to re-invest the dividends paid by the companies.
Through investing in stocks investors can accumulate their wealth, diversify investments and protect themselves against inflation. In addition, publicly listed shares are, in principle, liquid, which means they can easily be converted into money, even quickly.
Stock investment – what you should know
Making good investment decisions can be a challenging task, but often investing in stocks becomes an interesting hobby. Once you have found a suitable company to invest in, it is virtually impossible to make mistakes in buying or selling, so there is no need to be anxious about trading.
Stock investment always includes the risk of falling share values. Then again, it also is an opportunity of getting very good return on your funds. Risk and expected return always go hand in hand: the greater the risk, the greater the potential return on investment, whereas a lower risk brings smaller returns.
The only way of reducing the risk without lowering returns is diversification: spreading the money across several investments. It is also a good idea to diversify investments between companies that operate in different sectors and geographic regions.
When diversifying temporally, all funds are not invested at the same time but gradually and regularly. In this way, you can avoid making all purchases at a time when share prices are at their highest.
Study the companies thoroughly
The key to investing in stocks is being interested in the markets. You can find out about interesting companies by following news, reading newspapers and browsing company websites. You can examine a company’s key figures and indicators as well as its culture and consider its future outlook.
As a user of OP Markets’ services, you get access to extensive equity research services, including analyses, recommendations and target prices of about 80 Finnish listed companies.
When buying shares, you buy a part of the company, so it is wise to select companies whose business and values correspond with your own values. It is also important to consider how a company’s business can potentially yield returns in the future.
Think over your selection criteria for potential investments. The selection criteria can include good dividend yield, credible growth plan and good growth prospects, an established brand, good products, suitable values or competent management. It is also worthwhile to examine the company’s debt-equity ratio.
Tax treatment of investments
At the end of each year you will receive an account statement of your shareholdings and the paid dividends for taxation purposes. Capital gains on the sale of shares are taxed as capital income. Tax rate on capital gains is 30% when capital income amounts to 30,000 euros per year at the most. For the share of capital income exceeding 30,000 euros, the tax rate is 34%. You can deduct acquisition expenses, such as brokerage and service fees, from the selling price of the shares.
Dividends are subject to taxes too. A private person’s dividend income is capital income that is partly subject to taxes and partly tax-exempt. From dividends paid to a private person, 85% is taxed as capital income and 15% is exempt from taxes.
Starting to invest in stocks – select a suitable service package
What costs are involved in stocks?
- encourage investing in the Finnish stock market and regular saving
- keep the threshold of starting to invest in stocks low
- enable effective diversification with small euro amounts too.