Unlike the more unified US market, the European retail brokerage industry is characterised by geographical fragmentation. A few big players operate across the entire continent, but most firms remain within their own national boundaries or only work in a handful of countries. This is one of the reasons why European brokerage houses are nowhere near the size of their American counterparts.
In theory, most of those national brokerages are free to accept customers across Europe, but heavy bureaucracy is often what keeps them at home. From the investor’s perspective, using a local brokerage also makes things much easier. The platform handles tax reporting for you, and you get to access local tax-advantaged investment and pension accounts – benefits rarely offered by pan-European brokers.
Despite the challenging landscape, a few big names manage to stand out. Interactive Brokers, Hargreaves Lansdown, Saxo Bank, and Nordnet are some of the largest brokerage firms operating in Europe in terms of customer base and the amount of assets they handle.
- The largest brokerage firm: The largest brokerage firm operating in Europe is Interactive Brokers, which is headquartered in the US but has a significant presence in Europe. It serves more European countries than any other brokerage, with its platform being available in 44 European countries. It has over 2.56 million client accounts and manages a total of USD 426 billion in assets globally.
- The largest European brokerage firm: Hargreaves Lansdown, which operates exclusively in the UK, is the largest brokerage firm originating from Europe, with GBP 134.0 billion assets under management and 1.8 million customers.
- The largest pan-European brokerage firm: Saxo Bank is the largest pan-European brokerage with roots in Europe. It’s available in most European countries, with DKK 720.7 billion in client assets and 1.01 million active customers.
- Home is a safe haven: 85% of European retail investors only use local brokerages, which may explain the smaller scale of client accounts and assets under management relative to American brokerages.1
Largest brokerage firms in Europe, ranked
1. Interactive Brokers
- Assets under management: USD 426.0 billion
- Number of client accounts: 2.56 million
Founded in 1977, Interactive Brokers is the world’s leading international brokerage. They cater to customers from over 200 countries and provide trading services in 150 global markets across 33 countries and 27 currencies. Despite being based in the US, most of their users reside outside the US, including its sizable European client base, which is managed through its Irish subsidiary. The firm services 44 European countries and territories and supports 9 local currencies and 54 European exchanges – more than any other brokerage.
As of December 2023, Interactive Brokers is holding USD 426.0 billion in client assets, and it has over 2.56 million client accounts.2 This makes it the largest operating brokerage firm in Europe, keeping in mind that this status reflects its global customer base and not just European users.
The size of Interactive Brokers’ client base, the total value of their clients’ equity, and its broad geographical coverage, combined with its extensive range of investment options and low prices across all asset classes, has made it a popular pick for both retail and professional investors.
2. Hargreaves Lansdown
- Assets under management: GBP 134.0 billion
- Number of client accounts: 1.8 million
Founded in 1981 from a spare bedroom in Peter Hargreaves’s Bristol flat, Hargreaves Lansdown has become the UK’s largest financial site for private investors. The company offers access to a variety of financial products and services, including stock trading, investment funds, individual retirement accounts, and savings accounts.
While Hargreaves Lansdown is only available to clients in the UK, it still manages over GBP 134.0 billion in assets and has 1.8 million client accounts as of June 2023.3 It is the largest brokerage firm originating from Europe, although it does not operate in multiple European countries like most of the other big names in this list.
Hargreaves Lansdown is known for its user-friendly platform and range of investment products tailored to UK investors, with offerings ranging from equities to ISAs, pensions (SIPP), managed investment portfolios, and savings accounts. Although it may not have the lowest fees, it remains a popular choice due to its stable reputation.
- Assets under management: EUR 116.3 billion
- Number of client accounts: 1.54 million
Launched in 1999, Fineco is Italy’s largest online brokerage and online bank. In 2014, the company went public on the Borsa Italiana, and since then, its earnings and profits have been increasing every year. Fineco entered the UK market in 2020, but as of 2024, it is phasing out its operations there.
As of September 2023, Fineco had client assets worth EUR 116.3 billion and over 1.54 million client accounts.4 Fineco doesn’t compete with other brokers for European clients as it primarily caters to Italian residents who can open an account online, while other EU residents need an in-person appointment in Milan to start their account.
Fineco offers a wide range of banking solutions, including traditional bank accounts, mortgages, loans, credit and debit cards, and multi-currency features. The firm provides various trading products such as stocks, ETFs, funds, bonds, options, and CFDs on cryptocurrencies and other instruments.
4. Saxo Bank
- Assets under management: DKK 720.7 billion
- Number of client accounts: 1.01 million
Founded in 1992 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Saxo Bank began as a forex dealer and has developed into one of the largest international brokers. The company was one of the first to launch an online platform in Europe in 1998. In 2001, the company was granted a European banking license, which allowed it to operate as a full-fledged stock brokerage. Today, it has offices in 15 countries and over 2,500 employees.
According to Saxo Bank's financial report for the first half of 2023, the company had client assets worth DKK 720.7 billion and 1.01 million active customers.5 This makes it the second-largest brokerage firm based in Europe and the third-largest with operations in Europe.
Saxo Bank clients can trade a wide range of products on the platforms, including over 23,500 stocks from 50 exchanges worldwide, 7,000 ETFs, 185 FX spot pairs, 8,800 CFDs, and various commodities instruments. The brokerage also provides over 300 futures and 3,200 listed options from 20 global exchanges for futures and options trading. Government and corporate bonds from 26 countries in 21 currencies are also available, along with over 250 mutual funds.
- Assets under management: SEK 825 billion
- Number of client accounts: 1.9 million
Founded in 1996, Nordnet is an online investment platform and bank that operates in Scandinavia exclusively, with customers in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. It was one of the first online brokerages available in the region and has seen remarkable growth, both organically and through acquisitions, since its inception. Its main competitors are other Nordic-based platforms, primarily Avanza and Saxo Bank.
As of December 2023, Nordnet had nearly 1.9 million customers and SEK 825 billion in client assets. According to the company, the average investor held SEK 444.000 in investments on the platform in 2022.6
Nordnet offers various investment and savings solutions, which, in addition to stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs, also include self-directed pension plans, portfolio loans, and mortgages and personal loans in some of the countries where it operates.
6. Interactive Investor
- Assets under management: GBP 54 billion
- Number of client accounts: 0.43 million
Interactive Investor is a UK retail brokerage firm that was established in 1994. It’s the second-largest brokerage firm in the country after Hargreaves Lansdown and is similarly only available to UK investors. In 2022, Interactive Investor was acquired by abrdn, a global investment company.
As per the company's 2023 half-year results, Interactive Investor manages assets worth GBP 54 billion and has a client base of 425,000 investors.7
Interactive Investor offers a wide range of investment options, including stocks, funds, investment trusts, and ETFs across both UK and international markets. Investors can choose from a diverse range of investment options, including over 40,000 UK and global stocks, 3,000 funds, and 1,200 investment trusts. Additionally, it provides tax-sheltered ISAs and SIPPs accounts, which are specific to the UK.
- Assets under management: CHF 56.9 billion
- Number of client accounts: 0.56 million
Started in 1996 as a platform that initially displayed Swiss Stock Exchange prices, today Swissquote is perhaps the best-known Swiss online broker. Things took off for the firm in 2000 when it obtained a Swiss banking licence, which allowed it to offer banking and brokerage services. In the following years, it launched its online trading platform and began buying up other companies, accelerating its growth.
As of the first half of 2023, Swissquote had CHF 56.9 billion in assets under custody and had 0.56 million client accounts. At that time, the average client held CHF 101,607 with the bank.8
Swissquote offers clients an all-in-one platform with integrated solutions for banking and investing. Users can access a wide range of investment options, including global stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, futures, forex, and even real cryptocurrencies. On the banking side, users are provided a linked online multi-currency banking account in euros, dollars, and other currencies and receive a linked debit card for easy access to funds. In 2021, Swissquote launched Yuh, a digital bank and investment platform in collaboration with Postfinance.
- Assets under management: EUR 51.7 billion
- Number of client accounts: 2.70 million
Founded in 2008, DEGIRO is a popular Dutch-German online brokerage platform that originally started as a hedge fund and service provider for the professional market. In 2013, it launched its brokerage platform for the Dutch retail market and expanded to the rest of Europe in 2014. In 2020, DEGIRO reached one million European clients and was acquired by Germany's largest brokerage, flatex. They merged to form flatexDEGIRO.
As of the end of 2023, flatexDEGIRO had EUR 51.7 billion in client assets and 2.70 million customer accounts.9 While it has more clients than the largest brokers in Europe by customer assets, the size of the average flatexDEGIRO client's holdings is lower.
Just like the other top European brokers, flatexDEGIRO provides access to a long list of financial products, including stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, fixed-income securities, and derivatives. Users are also automatically provided with a bank account that is protected by the German Deposit Guarantee Scheme and connected to their investment account.
- Assets under management: USD 7.5 billion
- Number of client accounts: 3.0 million
Founded in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2007, eToro is a well-known global brokerage firm with a large European client base. 73% of eToro's customer base lives in Europe, according to the company. eToro started as a social trading and copy trading platform for derivatives, but it has now expanded to be a fully-fledged brokerage for stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs on commodities, currencies, and commodities.
As of November 2023, eToro had 34.4 million registered users. Among them, 3 million accounts were funded, according to the company.10 eToro had more client accounts compared to other brokers on the list; the average user did not have a significant portfolio there, as the broker managed only USD 7.5 billion in assets.
What does “assets under management” mean?
Assets under management (AUM) refers to the total value of the investments a financial institution, like an online broker, manages or holds on behalf of its customers. These investments can include deposits, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other financial instruments. Their value also depends on the currency the broker reports in, such as dollars for US firms or euros for Euro-zone firms.
What counts as a brokerage client?
There is no fixed definition for what counts as a brokerage client. Some brokerage firms consider every user who has signed up as a client; others only consider those who are active customers or have a minimum portfolio of a specific size. As such, this metric is easily manipulated.
What is a self-directed brokerage account?
A self-directed investor is someone who makes independent decisions about their investments and executes them on their own, rather than relying on a professional. Most online brokerage accounts are self-directed. However, with this autonomy also comes full responsibility for any mistakes made.
- European Commission. “Flash Eurobarometer 509 Retail financial services and products – June 2022.”
- Interactive Brokers. “Monthly Brokerage Metrics. January 2, 2024."
- Hargreaves Lansdown. “Results for the year ended 30 June 2023."
- Fineco. “Financial results presentation 3Q23.”
- Saxo Bank. “Interim Report H1 2023.”
- Nordnet. “Monthly statistics December.”
- abrdn “Half year results 2023.” Page 9.
- Swissquote. “Financial Year 2023.”
- flatexDEGIRO. “Monthly Commercial KPI - December 2023.”
- eToro. “Investor Presentation. November 2023.”