Full(er) Service and DIY Investing: Investor Fork in the Road
There is no doubt we are witnessing a wholesale exodus of assets out of full-service brokers like Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney. These assets seem to be finding two very different types of homes:
- boutique investment advisory houses: Built by brokers/advisors who themselves have defected from the large wirehouses, these firms take service and advice very seriously. In some sense, they’re a further move into full-service. They are competing head-on with traditional brokerages by upping the ante on technology, service and investment advice. Investors who feel slighted by their advisor and want the extra hand-holding find this model really attractive. It’s interesting to note that many of these firms are being founded/built by traditional brokers evolving to this model.
- online brokerages: Firms like E*Trade and Ameritrade are taking the bulk of this business. In the wake of the financial tsunami, some investors are looking to take back investment decisions and don’t want to pay someone else for underperformance. Proof of this is in capital flowing to online brokerages. E*Trade reported that it had net new accounts of almost 30,000 in the first quarter of 2009 with $3.5 billion in net new customer assets.
I’ve written about the emergent trend towards high end investment advisors and how traditional stock brokers are resurrecting themselves and building smaller, nimbler firms with their billion-dollar books of business. I’ve spent less time discussing how online brokers are luring assets.
I had the opportunity last night to have a guided demo of a recently-launched E*Trade product, Online Advisor, with E*Trade’s Liat Rorer, VP of Investment Products. Online Advisor, developed as part of E*Trade’s newly-minted Investor Resource Center, is a nifty little financial planner-in-a-box.
In a quick and easy 4-step process, Online Advisor: Continue reading