Opening an account with COL Financial is actually simple. It’s just like opening a bank account. Whether you are living in the country or an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), this article will guide you through the step by step procedure so that you can start investing in Philippine Stock Market in no time.
In order to start buying and selling stocks, you first need to open an account with a stock brokerage firm. A stock broker is someone or a firm who is licensed or authorised by the Philippine Stock Exchange to buy and sell shares for someone else. It serves as the middleman which allows you to have direct access to the stock market. The stock broker has a list of all the stocks available in the market, and you can purchase the stocks through them. So if you want to buy and sell shares of the company, the stock broker will do the transactions in your behalf. By doing so, you need to pay the broker a small commission or service fee.
In old times, the stock brokers are real people who actually do the trading for you. Imagine how tough it is for the stock brokers to do their job especially if there are thousands or even millions of investors who want to buy and sell securities at the same time. That’s why nowadays most of the brokers are online-based, allowing the transactions to be streamlined, automated and fast.
Why COL Financial?
There are many other stock brokers in the Philippines but COL Financial made it to the top in just few years. How come? I think the company did well on their marketing strategies. They were able to reach out to many Filipino investors by allowing them to open an account simply and easily. Before, people had this notion that the stock market is only for the tycoons and wealthy people. But COL Financial made the stock market accessible to every ordinary citizen of the country. With just PHP 5000, you can already start investing in the money market, i.e. Philippine Stock Exchange.
What else? COL Financial also guides the new investors. This online stock broker conducts thorough research about the financial status of the companies and the economics of the country, and they provide recommendations on which stocks are good to buy and sell. So even without a prior knowledge on investing, you have a fair confidence of making good decisions when picking stocks.
What type of account you should open?
First, they will ask you to choose which type of account you want to open. There are three types of account that they offer:
1. COL Starter. The minimum deposit is only P5,000. This is mainly for beginner investors. In this type of account, you have access to all the basic features of the online trading platform including the COL Financial’s portfolio manager, latest research reports, investment guides, news, etc. The only drawback for this type account is that you only have access to the end-of-day charting data. You will not be able to see the live chart and real-time changes of stock prices.
2. COL Plus. The minimum deposit is P25,000. This is mainly for active traders. Same as COL Starter, you have access to the basic functionalities of the online platform. However, it offers more flexibility and the advantage is that you will be provided with a more comprehensive latest reports of various companies listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange. In addition, you also have access to the live chart data and real-time quotes of prices. This allows you to watch and monitor the real-time movement of stocks. Therefore, you will be able to trade more effectively and quickly.
3. COL Premium. The minimum deposit is P1 Million. This is for big time investors with a lot of money to start with. If you’re not yet a millionaire, this type of trading account is not for you, but don’t worry, you will reach there eventually. This type of account has all the feature and functionalities that the COL Financial’s online platform has to offer. The main benefit of this account over the others is that you will have a personal relationship manager who will provide you with assistance and support for your investments.
What are the steps to open an account?
STEP 1 : Fill out forms
To be able to open an account, you have to fill out completely the account opening forms which can be downloaded from COL Financial's official website. Follow this link to download the the form.
There are two forms that you need to complete:
1. Customer Account Information Form (CAIF) - This contains your basic information such as your full name, address, date of birth, citizenship, contact no., occupation or employment, bank account details, etc. In this form, you will also specify the type of account you want to open as mentioned in the section above.
Note that in this form you are required to enter your Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). It is mandatory as per Article VII of the Capital Markets Integrity Corporation (CMIC) Rules and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Revenue Regulations No. 1, series of 2014. Why do you need this? Everytime you trade (buy or sell) stocks, you automatically pay tax to the government. This payment is incorporated in the fees that you pay to your stock broker for every transaction you do. So the TIN allows the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to record how much tax you’ve been paying for all your income including dividends you receive from the company you invest in.
If you don’t have a TIN yet, you may download the TIN application form from this link and follow the instructions on how to obtain a TIN #.
2. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) - FATCA was enacted by the United States to require US citizens (whether living in the US or abroad) to report all their foreign financial assets to the US financial crimes agency. It also requires non-US financial institutions such as COL Financial to inspect their records and to disclose the assets of the suspected US citizens to the US Treasury. This is actually something which you are not directly concerned with, but for compliance purposes you still have to complete this form.
Update: I have emailed Ms. Camille Concepcion of COL Financial to clarify this, and this is what she said:
The FATCA form is part of the application that we must fill up as well. If you are not from US, you just need to tick on “No” and sign on it.
STEP 2 : Prepare your ID
The following are the supporting identification documents that you may choose from. You need to prepare one of these alongside your application form: Clear photocopy of one valid ID issued by the Philippine government. You may submit any of the following: Passport, Driver’s License, Social Security System (SSS) ID, TIN, Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) ID, and Philhealth.
Update: The billing statement used to be one of the requirements when submitting the application form. But with the new policy, this is no longer needed. A representative from COL Financial will just contact you through skype for verification of your identity.
STEP 3 : Submit your application
There are three ways on how to submit your application documents:
1. In person. This is the fastest way of course, but only if you have the convenience to go to their office directly. If you live in Manila or nearby, perhaps it’s better to just visit the main office and personally submit your application. I’m sure they are more than happy to welcome you and entertain any questions you’ve got.
The address is:
COL Financial Business Center
2403-B East Tower, PSE Center
Exchange Road, Ortigas Center
Pasig City 1605 Philippines
2. By post. If you are an OFW like me or if you live far from Manila, you may send you application through any courier (DHL, FedEx, LBC). You may even use just the ordinary mail like what I did, although it may take a couple of weeks depending on your location before it arrives the COL Financial office. Mine took about three weeks when I sent it from the UK. But before you send the hard copies of the originally signed application forms and documents, you must first scan and email all the forms and requirements for pre-approval. You may email [email protected], she replies really quickly.
Note: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) implemented a new policy mandating everyone who is opening an account with COL Financial or with other stock brokers to personally appear before the COL Sales officer for identity check. If you are abroad or far from Manila, then this is almost impossible. Fortunately, COL Financial offers a solution to overcome this inconvenience, SKYPE! Yes, once your application has been pre-approved, the sales officer will contact you via email for further instruction and to schedule a Skype Video Conference Call with you. Don’t be shy! Just prepare your ID/s and application forms with you during the call. Once this is done, the sales officer will give you a go-signal to send the hard copies of your application documents via courier or by post.
3. Through iRemit. COL Financial has partnered with iRemit so you may personally submit your application documents and present your ID at any iRemit branch near you. This is considered as a personal appearance, therefore there is no need for a Skype conference call with a COL sales officer. iRemit will conduct the identity check with you on COL's behalf. For a list of their branch offices, visit the iRemit website or click here.
STEP 4 : Fund your account
Viola! Once you receive a confirmation that your application has been approved, you may start funding your COL account. There are several ways on how to fund your account:
1. Online Bills Payment - This is the recommended and most convenient way because you can perform all transactions online. If you do online banking, you can easily transfer money from your bank through the 'online bills payment’ feature. For more details, kindly visit the following links:
2. Over-the-counter. You may visit any of the above-mentioned banks located near you. To fund your COL account, you just need to simply fill-out the deposit/payment slip and specify COL Financial Group, Inc as the merchant/company name; your COL Account No as the reference/account number; and your name as the planholder/subscriber’s name. The money will be credited to your account within 24 hours. For a sample payment slip, click here.
If you wish, you may also want to directly fund your account by visiting personally the COL Financial Business center at the address mentioned above.
3. Remittance. This facility is dedicated mainly for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). You just need to visit any iRemit branch in your host country and fill-out the remittance form to fund your COL account. For instruction, click here.
What is COL Easy Investment Program (EIP)?
If you are new to stock market, this is recommended for you. It provides you a simple and convenient way of investing. It basically follows the cost-averaging strategy. COL Financial will give you a walkthrough about this system, they will provide you with a schedule and reminders which allows you to monitor your portfolio a lot more. The basic concept of the Easy Investment Program is that every month you will invest a fixed amount of money on a regular basis. The goal is that you acquire shares of the recommended companies over a period of time at various price levels (whether the market is at bullish or bearish condition) with the objective of accumulating shares in the long term at a good average price. Watch this video for more information.