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Creating Freedom Through Financial Independence


Why I Moved My Investments Over to Pearler

August 3, 2021


I’ve been recommending you use a low cost broker since the birth of this blog back in 2017.

Lots has changed since then and there are seemingly new competitors coming out all the time.

Because a brokerage account is our main weapon for investing in shares and building a portfolio, I thought it was important to share with you what I’m doing and why.

After using SelfWealth for a few years, and being pretty happy with them, I’ve decided to move all my investments over to Pearler.

There’s a few reasons for this, which I’ll explain in a minute.  But first, some context…


The background story.

I met the founders of Pearler back in 2019 at the Playing with FIRE Premiere movie screening in Sydney.

(Side note: this is also where I met Pat the Shuffler for the first time and the idea for our podcast was born!)

Since then (and even before), the guys have been working hard to build a low cost investment platform which serves everyday long term investors rather than traders.

They had some cool ideas and I liked what they were about, so I agreed to start testing the platform from the very start and providing feedback.

To their credit, Pearler was very responsive to my feedback and quick to implement suggestions (not something most companies do).

As with any new tech, it was a bit buggy and clunky at first.  But each time I used the platform it had improved.   It’s come a very long way from the early beta-testing days and is now smooth, clean, and easy to use platform.

In fact, Pearler has made it to the point where I am pleased to make it the sole broker I use and what I recommend to others.  Update: since originally writing this article, I have even become a small shareholder in the company! 

I moved my remaining portfolio across from SelfWealth not long ago and now everything is at Pearler.  Here’s why…


Why I moved to Pearler.

  • Low flat fees of $6.50 per transaction of unlimited size ($5.50 if you prepay your brokerage credits).
  • Extremely clean and easy to use.
  • No distracting features like pushing charts in your face, irrelevant news, comparing people’s performance against each other, and other ridiculous stuff to get you to trade.
  • Purpose built for long term investors, not encouraging trading.
  • Set up a goal to work towards (like financial independence) and track your progress.
  • Connect your portfolio to Sharesight in a few clicks.  This automatically tracks your purchases, sales, dividends and franking credits for tax time.
  • Autoinvest lets you fully automate your investments if you like. I’ll expand on this in a minute.
  • As of September 2021, Pearler now has instant deposits using PayID/Osko!
  • Pearler now has a competitive Micro investing option, allowing you to invest tiny dollar amounts into low cost ETFs for a low monthly fee.
  • Pearler is constantly working on rolling out new features and functionality to enhance or simplify the investing process (like above), by listening to requests from current users, which is a refreshing approach.
  • Certain ETFs are brokerage-free if held for at least 1 year (they’re working on getting more ETF providers on board with this). I like the initiative here.
  • Sign up using the code COMMUNITY for $40 free brokerage credit. (by the way, this is a generic code – not an affiliate link – and I don’t receive anything if you choose to sign up)



With Autoinvest you’re able to set up automatic deposits to invest the exact amount you want, into any investment you want, on a set schedule.

Or you can just deposit cash whenever you have it and set a trigger for Pearler to place a Buy order when your funds reach $1,000 (for example).

The functionality of Autoinvest is much more than this and has been expanded over time.  I’m told they also have plans to build on it further.

This helps you save and invest on a regular basis without even thinking about it.  It’s about as effortless and passive as it could possibly be.

And that matters because too many people are prone to over-thinking their investments:  Is it the right time to buy?  Should I tweak my portfolio?  And so on.

Related to this, some people are attracted to Vanguard’s managed fund options because you can setup automatic deposits and be completely hands-off.

Well, now you can get the same benefits with more tax efficient ETFs, or even LICs and other things you might want to invest in on a regular basis.  In fact, you can set up a ‘target portfolio’ and Pearler will automatically invest in whichever holding needs topping up according to your instructions.

This helps you while building a portfolio and then later on while living off a portfolio too.  As you want to steadily sell off some of the gains in your shares for extra income, this can automatically help keep your portfolio in balance.

I’m probably not doing it justice in my explanation but it’s a truly great innovation making things easier for the everyday Aussie investor.

Free Resource:  I created a spreadsheet to keep a running estimate of my dividend income and wealth breakdown.  I’ve used it for years as a way to help plan my finances and watch my progress over the years.  You can get it below.


Boring is sexy.

Because of its design and features, I think Pearler is the most useful platform for long term investors.  Especially if your goal is Financial Independence.

The lack of charts and slot-machine style features makes it too boring for the traders chasing fast-money.  But we know that boring investing is powerfully effective and actually creates the best long term results.

So by being a little boring it’s actually pretty sexy 😉

Apparently Pearler received a kind mention from the Barefoot Investor recently, and he’s also quite picky when it comes to financial products, so that tells you they’re doing something right.

There are other low cost brokers out there, but I like what Pearler is about and want to support what they’re doing.  In my mind, it’s much more in line with simple long term investing and financial independence than any other broker.

For more on the origins of Pearler, the company’s goals and details on how the platform is setup different from others, check out my interview with the co-founder.

And if you’re at all concerned about security, these short posts will help.


Switch or stay or both?

Some people use Pearler to automate some of their investments while keeping their previous broker account for other things like picking a few stocks.

Others (like me) try it out first to see what it’s like and then decide to move everything across so they can see their portfolio in the one spot.

Switching is actually pretty simple to do – it just involves an ID check and filling out a form with the holdings you want to move across.

There’s no right or wrong though.  Think about what you want from your broker and then choose the best fit for you.


Final thoughts.

When you think about it, our investment account usually ends up being our most valuable account (it’s where the magic happens).  So it makes sense to choose a broker who makes things easier and helps us stay focused on our long term goals.

I’m not saying you should switch just because I did.  If you’re happy with your broker, or not interested in what Pearler offers, then by all means, carry on.

But I wanted to let you know what I was doing personally and why.  So there you go!

If you would like to sign up, you can head to Pearler and use the code ‘COMMUNITY’ to get $40 brokerage credit to start using the platform.  To be clear, this is not an affiliate link and I do not receive payment if you choose to sign up.

By the way, if you’re a newbie and would like help buying your first shares, I wrote this step-by-step guide for you.  It explains the process in simple details, along with screenshots and FAQs.

And if you’re interested in the spreadsheet I use to keep track of my annual dividend income over the years, enter your email below and I’ll send it to you.  Happy investing!


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49 Replies to “Why I Moved My Investments Over to Pearler”

  1. Nice write up Dave. Good to see they are CHESS sponsored which would otherwise be a deal breaker for me, wouldn’t matter how good the rest was!

  2. Thanks for the overview Dave! Much appreciated! I have a question regarding Sharesies. What are your thoughts on using this platform? I feel like its similar to Pearler in a lot of ways, however, offers fractional share buying which Pearler does not. Thanks, Courtney

    1. Thanks Courtney 🙂

      Honestly, I don’t really see the benefit (or the point) of using Sharesies. Being able to buy fractional shares (and investing tiny $ amounts) is such a marginal benefit and comes with the downside that Sharesies holds all the shares under one HIN (it’s not your own individual account separate from other people’s ownership).

      So I don’t really like it, and wouldn’t say it’s similar to Pearler. It seems more like another variation of microinvesting apps which there’s no real need for (in my view). Unless I’m missing something, their marketing suggests there’s nothing else on offer here. And it definitely doesn’t seem to have the automation benefits Pearler has.

      Sorry to sound negative, but there’s too many of these things popping up offering little to no real world value for people who are serious about long term investing (which is anyone pursuing FI).

  3. Dave! Just want to say a huge thank you for taking the time to write this article and all the time you’ve taken to help us make our platform better over the years. The whole team here at Pearler really, really appreciates it mate. I hope we continue to delight you, your readers and all long-term investors. I love looking back at how far we’ve come since we first spoke; and I’m excited for what Pearler can grow to be over the coming years. Talk soon! KW

    1. Hey thanks for stopping by Kurt! No worries at all – happy to help 🙂 From early on I could see you guys were genuinely trying to bring something helpful to the table and make long term investing easier for people. You’ve done a great job so far and it’ll be great to see how you build on it from here. Cheers!

    2. Hi Kurt

      I applied for Pearler’s affiliate partner online about a week ago and haven’t received any response so far.

      Is there someone I can contact with?

  4. Hi Dave
    I’ve been enjoying using Pearler. Great platform and easy to use without the ‘noise’. I love the auto-invest option and low brokerage. Their recent newsletter said they were creating an app soon. Looking forward to that too.
    The customer service is fantastic. The recent mention in Barefoot resulted in an influx of new users and so the platform was slow in processing transactions and then there was a hiccup soon after when they changed provider. Another delay in deposit processing. They were proactive and prompt in letting customers know and because I was affected twice, they gave me 2 trade credits. I think there is going to be a PayID option soon too. I like that they are evolving all the time.
    Love your writing.

    1. Cheers Nic. I also enjoy the lack of ‘noise’ and the simplicity of the platform.

      I heard about the slow down with the big influx of accounts, so it’s good to hear they handled it well for anyone who was affected by that. And yeah I believe the app and a faster payment option is coming soon/in progress which is nice to know.

      1. I’m currently beta testing the iOS app. Very nice. Looking forward to the full release.

        I’ve also done a customer interview with Hayden and a few of the product team.

        Also beta testing US shares.

        I even dropped in a few bug screenshots of the current site. Fixed in a few days.

        I loves me a startup! So many great ideas and so responsive to feedback.

        Very good product and team. Interesting new ideas being discussed.

        1. Great to hear you’re diving deep into the testing and providing that valuable feedback before things roll out, very cool! Also good to hear your experience has also been a positive one, especially as you’ve gotten to talk to the team in more detail.

          They’re really doing a good job of listening to feedback (Hayden is a champion) and implementing good ideas if it aligns with the big picture or making investing easier/simpler.

  5. I am currently with SW. The negative for me about Pearler is all financial influencers that are on the platform. A lot of these people have huge followings, and a trash investment plan/target portfolio. It’s dangerous in my opinion. I just hope people are seeking your portfolio and I start seeing more broad based index portfolios their soon.

    1. Hey Leigh, fair enough. I haven’t really looked at the other profiles of people using the platform, so I’m not really sure how significant it is and whether people are actually copying them or not. But the ones I have seen at least have diversified options in their portfolio, so it’s still much better than if people are listening to the traders and ‘stock pickers’ who have been investing for 5 minutes 😉

      Funnily enough, the thing that bothered me about SW was all the focus on performance comparisons and the social side of things – it just encouraged people to chase whoever picked the best stock that week/month and other misleading and dangerous shit.

      1. Yes that makes sense, it annoys me also. I cant stand the stupid emoji character they enforce on you either haha. I wish you could turn alot of that stuff off.

        Be interesting to see where both platforms go. Im glad either way that they are competing in the same space. SW recently upgraded their layout and I think both are setting up Osko payments.

        Competition is good for us.

        1. Haha I hear you mate and completely agree! Stuff like that really makes a mockery of investing and turns it into a kind of game, which may work in keeping people addicted to the platform, following anonymous speculators and trading more, but certainly not helpful.

          Oh yeah, love the competition 😉

  6. Thanks Dave for the article. Just curious on the deposit to Pearler account. Pearler does not seem to provide direct deposit option apart from the direct debit (my annoying ING Saving Account does not allow direct debit). Do you see this as a disadvantage compared to SelfWealth?

    1. Thanks for reading Willie. I don’t really have a problem with that, since you can just set it up from Pearler’s end, rather than the bank’s end. Maybe for the money you want to put into Pearler, leave it in your everyday transaction account? You might miss a couple of cents in interest, but at least you should be able to setup the auto-deposit.

      If it’s a case of you just want to transfer cash when you have it instead of a set schedule, you can still do that. It’s also something they’re working on at the moment (making deposits faster/possibly instant). Hope that helps.

    2. I agree, I don’t love the restriction of the direct deposit option. . I’d like to have the option of doing ad-hoc payments. A BPay capability would be a great benefit

      1. Just to be clear, you can still transfer any amount of cash whenever you feel like it, but you just do it from Pearler’s end rather than your bank (their system then pulls the cash from your bank). It doesn’t have to be an ongoing deposit or anything like that.

        I’m aware they’re also working on instant deposits and estimate it should be running in November.

        1. Thanks, I understand this – the problem is also the restriction on bank account type.
          If BPay capability was introduced, I could pay from any account type.

  7. Thanks. Great info as I have been trying to sign up with Anzetrade and having trouble with getting a password. Even through we are customers and trade our SMSF through them at $29 a pop.
    I plan to use Pearler just in time before I go into the bank. I’m 60 and building a nest egg outside of super and plan to retire in 10:years.

    1. Glad it’s helpful for you Carolyn. It amazes me that big banks are still getting away with charging so much for such a simple service. All the best with your investment plans!

  8. Nice Dave, thanks so much for the explanation. I am particularly interested in the Autoinvest option because I have found myself hesitating on my monthly investments every month since February 2021. The market just keeps going up and I hate seeing my average price also going up, so find myself waiting for the ETF price to drop before investing. I think the Autoinvest option might help in this regard.

    1. No worries Adrian. Ah yes quite a few people get stuck in that trap which is why the monthly investing habit is so helpful. Definitely sounds like you could benefit from that feature, especially in terms of letting yourself relax, knowing it’s all taken care of in the background.

      Here’s a mental exercise which might help with wanting to pay a lower price all the time. Imagine where the market will be 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’ll be much higher than today (not to mention all the dividends along the way!). So it’s absolutely inevitable that your average cost will increase over time. But you’ll still look back and wish you purchased most shares at the beginning.

  9. Hi Dave – I found a thread on Reddit that states the following for Pearler:

    • $9.50 brokerage for trades up to $17,500
    • 0.055% brokerage above $17,500

    Is this an old model they have since dropped? I cannot see this on their website.

    Thanks – Scott

  10. I finally began to make the leap to Pearler yesterday. I say ‘began’ because when I went to transfer my CommSec securities over today, the Pearler website kept wiping what I had entered (and listing multiple times the same share information gets old really quickly. It seems to be an error when you minimise or change the size of the browser window.

    Obviously not your fault, but just putting it out there for those who might be considering transferring. I’ll see how I go, and if it goes well I’ll transfer my wife’s holdings over as well. If it doesn’t, I guess I’ll stick to Vanguard.

    1. Hey Rose, that’s interesting, thanks for bringing it up. I didn’t experience that issue. I’ve passed on your comment to the team to see if they can fix up that browser bug 🙂

        1. No prob! No CGT is payable either since you’re not actually selling any shares, it’s basically just an administration change. Your holdings will ‘sit’ in a new platform, that’s all 🙂

          1. Is this true regardless of the transfer method (existing HIN vs new HIN)?

            It’s the one question that stopped me from transferring over.

          2. I’m not 100% sure on that, I’d reach out to customer service and give them your scenario and they’ll be able to confirm

    1. Hey Sam. No, I don’t believe it is currently, but they do say when making a transaction the pricing then shows the live price. That wasn’t important to me so I didn’t even consider it. The 20 minute delayed prices is perfectly fine for my purposes since I’m buying boring investments with a long time horizon 😉

  11. Should you not update this article now as you are I believe a direct investor in Pearler the company now, just for full transparency

  12. Hi Dave, thank you for all your incredible content. Beyond excited for your book next month! I’m making the move to Pearlr and was wondering if the “community” code is still active or do you have any other referral codes? Thanks heaps! Marc

    1. Hey Marc, thanks for your support that’s really lovely to hear!

      Yep, I think the community code is still active… if you use this link the community code is embedded and you should get $40 free brokerage as a new customer (just to be clear, it’s not an affiliate link, I’m not being paid if you sign up) 🙂

  13. Hi Dave,
    I’m currently investing with Vanguard, so what advantages do you see with Pearler over Vanguard? I know that Vanguard doesn’t charge any fees to buy shares but has a flat $9 to sell. Let me know what you think, Cheers!

    1. Hey Zak. If you’re happy with Vanguard’s new offering (which has recently been improved and is now good), then by all means stick with what you’re doing 🙂

      The other reasons someone might consider Pearler instead is if they invest in things other than Vanguard funds (to avoid that account fee), or they use the Micro offering. Pearler is also working on some other things to be more all-encompassing, like a personal spending tracker and integrating super on the platform.

      The only issue I can think of with Vanguard is if you wanted to change brokerage accounts later its messier as it’s not CHESS sponsored like most other brokers are. So that could be annoying if Vanguard changes the fees/charges in a non-favourable way in the future, but unlikely to be a real problem.

      1. Cheers Dave, I’m attracted to Pearler due to the CHESS sponsorship and greater diversity of ETFs so I think I’ll swap over!

  14. Hi Dave, I was looking to move my shares over to Pearler but I noticed this in their T&C’s:
    We may suspend or remove access to the site at any time. We are not liable, for any reason, if the site is unavailable or any functionality of the site is restricted or impaired.

    That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in Pearler. Do you have any comments in regards to this? Thanks

    1. I would guess that kind of line is in nearly every set of Ts and Cs. For whatever reason, every company has silly blanket lines like this that effectively just safeguards them against being sued if a customer is not happy they can’t access the site or decide to shut down your account for some reason (you become a wanted criminal and they no longer want you as a customer).

      It’s worth remembering that Pearler doesn’t own your shares or your cash if you use the platform (just like other brokers). So in any case, shares are owned by you (recorded with the stock exchange), and admin functions can be transferred to another broker in an unforeseen event. Same as cash, which is held on trust by a legal third party. You can reach out to them about that particular line if you like and see what they say.

      Hope that helps.

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