Investec will launch its Clarity share trading and investing platform to the public in early 2024. It will compete head-on with Purple Group’s EasyEquities in the higher end of the market.
Clarity is currently only available to Investec’s private banking clients. However, the company has announced that it will be available to “all of South Africa early next year”.
Clarity business head Tinus Rautenbach told News24 they aim for a February 2024 launch. However, a firm date has not been announced.
It urged people who are not Investec private banking clients to sign up to be alerted when they can start using the platform.
Investec said Clarity offers investors access to local and international shares, foreign currencies, and savings products.
By launching Clarity to the public, Investec aims to make investing more accessible to South Africans and is part of the bank’s new growth strategy.
“Because Clarity is powered by Investec, one of the world’s most trusted and respected financial institutions, you can trade globally with confidence,” it said.
The Clarity platform has no admin fees, zero commission, and offers users highly competitive fees.
Rautenbach confirmed to News24 that Clarity has no monthly fee and no minimum investment other than a minimum of R25 investment into the platform.
“But the whole R25 is more administrative and goes entirely into your account – it doesn’t go towards fees or anything else,” he said.
The public launch of Clarity comes amid controversy surrounding EasyEquities’ introduction of a “platform fee” as a mandatory Thrive subscription.
All EasyEquities users who do not reach level 3 of the Thrive loyalty programme will be charged R25 per month.
Purple Group CEO Charles Savage explained that this “stick” approach is necessary to ensure their clients make the right investment decisions.
Unlike EasyEquities, which uses fractional shares for small trades, Clarity uses a derivative product called contract-for-differences (CFD).
This financial instrument allows people to invest in the price movements of an underlying asset without owning it.
“Synthetic CFDs give you access to the performance of that share, including benefitting from any gains or cash flows like dividends,” Clarity explained.
This means that, like EasyEquities, there are no minimums when investing with Clarity. Users can buy exposure to a full share or a portion of a share.
Although Rautenbach said their aim is not to be an EasyEquities competitor, Clarity is an attractive alternative to unhappy EasyEquities users.
Savage downplayed the impact of the looming Clarity launch on EasyEquities, saying competition is not new to the South African investing landscape.
“Investing is a highly competitive market already, in which we are very comfortable competing,” Savage said.
He later retweeted a comment criticising Daily Investor’s reporting, which positioned Clarity as EasyEquities competitor.
The comment suggested that Investec’s Clarity is aimed at trading while EasyEquities is an investment platform.
EasyEquities chief marketing officer Carel Nolte also weighed in on the issue, criticising News24 for its reporting on Investec’s Clarity.
He said trading on Clarity involves synthetic CFDs, which is nothing like EasyEquities as there is no share ownership, no voting rights, different tax treatment, and fewer products.
“Maybe News24 wants to do a fee comparison – or is research too much of an ask and bait-click journalism is now where they are at,” he said.
However, Rautenbach said Clarity is indeed aimed at investors. He described their target market as young, self-directed investors.
Clarity, describing itself as a trading and investing platform, targets people with “some investable wealth” who want to make investment decisions themselves.
The company added that it would be considering full share ownership in the future.