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FAQ

Brokerage services

How do I open a brokerage account with you?

Becoming a FFBH customer is easy. The FFBH team will assist you in all details and required paperwork. You  can sign a brokerage contract in person at the FFBH office or send it electronically signed. As an individual you will need the documents described here. As a legal entity, please refer to the list here. After you sign the brokerage contract, FFBH will open dedicated cash and securities sub-accounts, where your assets will be kept separately from proprietary assets.

How do I buy or sell a security?

To buy or sell a security you will need to place an order with FFBH. Our brokerage department can accept orders in person at the FFBH premises or electronically through COBOS, Bloomberg EMS, Bloomberg IB, email. Orders can also be accepted by phone. After the order is submitted FFBH brokers execute it according to the instructions, report to the client and generate a Trade Confirmation.

 

How long is the settlement cycle in Bulgaria?

The standard settlement cycle in Bulgaria for DVP transactions is T+2. That means that the change in ownership for every securities transaction actually takes place on the second day following the trade day.

How and when do I pay for the securities I would like to buy?

The funds needed for the purchase of securities should be available in the FFBH bank account on the day of the settlement, 11 a.m. the latest. 

 

I am using a custodian bank to settle my trades. How do I pay for the securities in that scenario?

If you are using a separate custodian bank, FFBH will settle your trades with the custodian bank. In that case you will need to check directly with your custodian bank what the requirements for funding the transaction are.

How and when do I receive the proceeds from the securities I would like to sell?

The funds from the sale of securities will be available at your sub-account with FFBH at the end of the settlement day. Standard settlement cycle in Bulgaria is T+2.

 

I am using a custodian bank to settle my trades. How do I receive the funds from the sale of securities in that scenario?

The funds from the sale of securities should be available at your custodian bank at the end of the settlement day. Standard settlement cycle in Bulgaria is T+2. For more details you should check with your custodian bank directly.

 

Where are my shares held?

There is one centralised settlement institution in Bulgaria that settles the securities and the money on Delivery Versus Payment (DVP) or Delivery Free of Payment (DFP) terms- this institution is the Central Depository (CD). The CD is a joint-stock company, whose shareholders are the State,  a number of investment intermediaries and banks.

The Central Depository keeps a record of all the assets of every owner of Bulgarian securities as well as registries of all trades on the stock exchange and on the Over-the-Counter (OTC) market. In general, the Central Depository is the keeper of all the securities issued and traded in Bulgaria, as long as they are in electronic form.

How are my assets protected?

The settlement of any securities transactions is done by simultaneously transferring the money and the securities within the Central Depository by using the Real Time Gross Settlement system (the RTGS). Thus for the settlement process to be completed, the trade details of any transaction should be sent to the CD by both counterparties that have executed the trade (the intermediaries of the buyer and the seller), which ensures the consistency of the transaction details and the minimization of trading errors.

Each investment intermediary has an account with the Central Depository and as many sub-accounts as its clients and the securities that they own. The legislation stipulates that the clients’ securities are kept separately from the securities of the investment intermediary, so each client has a separate sub-account with the Central Depository for each security he owns.

The money of investors is kept in bank accounts. Each investment intermediary is obliged to have at least one separate bank account exclusively designated for the money of its clients, so that the funds of the broker and its clients are held separately at all times. The law also prohibits the intermediary to access the clients’ money for purposes other than trading on the clients’ behalf and for the clients’ account and upon the clients’ explicit orders. This  guarantees that in case a broker runs into financial trouble or even goes bankrupt, the clients’ assets are separate and safe.

 

How much does it cost to trade?

This depends on the type of service you are using at FFBH. You can check our commissions here.

Are there any specific trading requirements for foreigners?

All investors on the BSE are considered equal and the requirements for registration and trading are the same for both local residents and foreigners.

You should be aware that non-residents are subject to withholding tax for the capital gains from disposal of financial assets other than shares and rights of public companies, traded on the regulated market . For all other securities and circumstances , including fixed income securities, block trades and other transactions on non-regulated markets (for example, trades with the shares of a private company), income is subject to a 10% tax. 

Can I trade shares on the BSE-Sofia through the internet?

Yes, FFBH offers the COBOS system as an electronic trading solution.

What is COBOS?

COBOS is an internet-based application for an authorised and secure access to the BSE Trading System in real time, allowing BSE-members' clients and participants on the regulated market to enter orders and to transact after receiving a confirmation from their broker. ‘Real time’ means that the COBOS application contacts the security server at BSE-Sofia and updates at least every 15 seconds.

Can I trade on foreign markets?

FFBH provides to its clients securities trading on all major foreign markets. For detailed description check the Brokerage Services section here.

Does FFBH offer research coverage?

FFBH is the leader in providing high quality extensive research coverage of the Bulgarian capital market. Our research publications are available to qualified institutional investors immediately upon release and with a few months delay to all FFBH customers.

What are the tax implications from investing on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange?

Capital gains from trading on the BSE-Sofia are tax-free. This includes trading on the regulated market in shares in public companies, negotiable rights attached to shares in public companies, and shares in and units of collective investment schemes.

Capital gains are NOT tax-free on OTC trades, fixed income securities (bonds), compensatory instruments (vouchers) and shares in non-public companies. Those are subject to the applicable corporate tax (in the case of local corporations), income tax (in the case of local individuals) and withholding tax (in the case of foreign individuals and enterprises).

Dividends to local and foreign individuals and to corporations incorporated outside the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, are taxed at 5%, withheld at source. Dividends to local corporations and corporations, based in the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, are not subject to dividend tax. Additionally, income from dividends is not subject to corporate tax. 

Interest on Bulgarian bonds is tax-free for local individuals and individuals based in the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Other foreign individuals are subject to a 10% withholding tax. Interest on any bonds for local and foreign corporations is subject to corporate tax.

Please note that the tax legislation in Bulgaria changes each year. The review process usually takes place in the second half of the year.

What should I consider before investing on the BSE?

Stock Market iquidity, despite having improved considerably, is still low compared to developed countries and to larger international markets. The liquidity issue is particularly acute when dealing with securities of small cap companies.

Good investor relation practices are still not very common, although the level of transparency and investor-friendliness is improving. Certain companies are notorious for being openly disregardful of investors.

The shareholder structure of many of the listed companies in Bulgaria is dominated by one controlling stakeholder, which contrasts to the diversified structure of most listed Western, and especially US corporations. The free float of most of the Bulgarian listed companies is low (at about 10% - 35% of the capital).

Investors should be aware that the management of many of the listed companies is directly or indirectly also the majority owner of the company;

Additionally, please be advised that:

INVESTMENTS IN EMERGING MARKETS INVOLVE HIGH RISKS.

Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.

Each potential or existing investor should consider the appropriateness of any investment decision having regard to their own circumstances, the full range of information available and appropriate professional advice, and should consult their advisors to make sure all involved risks are fully understood.

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