Most of the trading in the Indian stock market takes place on its two stock exchanges: the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE). The BSE has been in existence since 1875. The NSE, was founded in 1992 and started trading in 1994. Both exchanges follow the same trading mechanism, trading hours, settlement process, etc. There are 7,000 + stocks listed on the BSE which is the larger of the two exchanges in terms of number of companies listed. However, only 3,000 of these stocks are actively traded.

How to Start Stock Investing?

To start investing in the stock markets, you need 3 types of accounts – Trading Account (to place buy/sell orders), Demat Account (to hold your shares in dematerialized form), and a Bank Account (for fund transfers).

Trading Account
An account similar to a bank account, to be opened with a ‘stock exchange registered stock broker’. This account is used for placing orders in the stock exchange (i.e. to buy/sell shares).

Demat Account
An account where shares are held in a dematerialized form (i.e. electronically instead of the investor taking physical possession of certificates). The demat account is required to receive/transfer shares when you buy/sell shares through your trading account.

Bank Account
Your regular savings or current bank Account should be linked to your trading account. The Bank account is required to transfer/receive money when you buy/sell shares through your trading account.

Typically, if you sign up with a stock broker, they will guide you on not only the opening of the trading account but also the demat account and linking of your bank account. Just like banks provide you with the facility to open and maintain saving accounts, in the same way the Depositories* provide the facility to open and maintain demat accounts. In India, the government has mandated two entities –National Securities Depository (“NSDL”), and Central Depository Services (India) (“CDSL”) – to be the custodian of dematerialized securities.

Most big stock brokers register themselves as a Depository Participant (“DP”) who act as an agent of the Depositories to make its services available to the investors. Effectively both your trading account and your demat account is maintained by your stock brokers (mostly through setting up of 2 different entities). In case of some stock brokers, they use the depository services of other bigger financial institutions or custodians and only provide the front end trading account. As an investor, no one approach is better than the other for you, as typically, it takes the same amount of time for shares to be deposited and withdrawn from the demat account in either case.

To open a trading / demat account, follow the following process:

  1. Approach a BSE and NSE registered stock broker.
  2. Fill up the KYC form provided by the stock broker.
  3. Attach the required documents – (i) identity proof and (ii) address proof.
  4. Produce the original PAN card during account opening.
  5. For Derivatives segment (i.e. futures and options market), 6 months account statement of your existing bank account is required.
  6. One cancelled cheque of the bank account you want to link to your trading account.
  7. 3 passport size photographs

What you should look at before opening Demat and the trading account schemes:

  1. Account Opening Charges: This is the fee charged at the time of opening demat and trading account.
  2. Account Maintenance Charges: This is the annual fee charged to maintain demat & trading account.
  3. Brokerage Charges for Intraday transaction: If you take a position (buy) on a stock and release (sell) that position before the end of that day’s trading session, it is described as intraday trading. The brokerage charges for intraday transaction are very nominal (mostly between 0.02%-0.05 % on the total cost of transaction).
  4. Brokerage Charges for transaction requiring delivery: If you buy a share and hold it beyond that trading session (i.e. for a term longer than one day) or when you sell a share you own and do not buy it back during a single trading session, the transaction qualifies as a delivery based transaction as the name of the owner of the share is changed with the Depository. The brokerage charges are higher in this case as additional processing is required (mostly they range between 0.08%-0.55% on the total cost of transaction).
  5. Brokerage Charges for Futures and Options transaction: The Brokerage fees applied on the transaction in the Futures and Options segment (mostly varies 0.02 – 0.05% on the total cost of transaction for futures and Rs 25 – Rs 100 per lot for option contracts).
  6. Apart from the brokerage charges, you may want to consider the software/ technology provided by the stock broker for online trading and if the stock broker has a good service standard for call and trade facility (to enable you to place orders over the phone).

These days, most big commercial banks provide trading and demat account services and link it to your savings account. Although their brokerage charges are slightly higher than specialized stock brokerage firms, unless you are a regular/ heavy volume trader, you should open your trading and demat account with your bank itself. For high volume traders, there are many specialized stock brokers to choose from.

A comparison of brokerage charges for some popular ones is given below:

The big advantage of having an account with a Bank (like HDFC, ICICI etc) is that they typically provide a three-in-one-account (i.e. savings account, trading account and demat account are all linked to each other). Having all these accounts linked to each other ensure that you get a completely paperless mechanism for trading. In addition, this ensures smooth and real time transfer of money to and from your bank account. On the other hand a specialized broking firm will typically provide you with a demat account and a trading account. The trading account is then linked to your bank account for transfer of funds. In this case, the transfer of funds is not real time and can take anything between one to three days.

For heavy volume traders, it is advisable to open your account with a specialized brokerage house. Not only do they have an extremely low brokerage rate but also offer fixed monthly brokerage schemes for heavy traders. Under these plans, the brokerage firm charges you a fixed sum every month and enables unlimited trading for the whole month. If you are an F&O trader implementing advanced option trading strategies, your brokerage charges will surely rack up to an amount much higher than the fixed monthly charge plans offered  by most discount brokers. In such a case you may be well advised to switch over to an unlimited monthly brokerage plan.
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*A Depository refers to “An organization that facilitates holding of securities in the electronic form and enables DPs to provide services to investors relating to transaction in securities”.

Here you can find the account opening forms of some of the banks and brokerage houses:

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