Learn the sharemarket ropes with DFM Trade

One of the aims of DFM Trade's Web site is to allow people who know nothing about share trading to educate themselves and perform online trading.

One of the aims of DFM Trade’s Web site is to allow people who know nothing about share trading to educate themselves and perform online trading.

DFM Trade is the online trading arm of DF Mainland and the site is tied into the traditional stock-broking business.

The site is not DF Mainland’s first foray into online trading.

Back in 1996 it launched an application that ran on people’s desktops and, through the Internet, found the company’s IP address. “But it wasn’t living up to the standards that we wanted to set, so we developed the Web site,” says DFM IT systems development manager Mike Frost.

Benefits

Launched last October, the site allows clients to trade shares online — without having to telephone a broker. Frost says one aim of the site was to attract people who wanted to invest in the stock market, but who weren’t keen to talk to a broker over the phone.

“They don’t want to be seen to not know what they’re talking about. This is the way around that — they can invest in what they like, when they like, and for how much they want.”

The site also provides information on various companies to help clients make investment decisions.

The site is a 24x7 operation, but people can only trade when the stockmarket is open — they can put orders in out of hours, but they won’t go into the market until the next day.

Since the site has gone live, DFM Trade is coming close to tripling the number of clients it had with its old system.

“We had about 500 to 600 and we’re now pushing 1500 to 1600 clients. It’s really taken off as well as we’d hoped — if not more so,” says Frost.

Frost is not sure how important the existing DF Mainland business is to the success of the site.

“I’d like to think we attracted clients because of the services we offer.

“Obviously DF Mainland is a very reputable company in the stock broking industry but how many people out there in the public know that, I wouldn’t hazard a guess.”

The site has a number of overseas clients. Frost says the ability to attract overseas clients expands the client base enormously.

The site

The database backend was done in-house using SQL Server and the Web pages were written by Clearview with Cold Fusion. The site is hosted at Clearview on an NT box.

To use the site, people have to register, but registration is free, although DFM Trade charges a brokerage fee on any trades conducted.

Before you can start trading, DFM Trade has to register you with the stock market as a share trader and this usually takes about a day.

The company has an account that clients pay money into using a client code to identify them.

Individuals are recognised when they visit the site with distinct portfolios and watch lists.

The site is updated every 60 to 90 seconds.

Challenges

Frost says that the entire site development fell into place very well.

“The only real hurdles we had were the clients who rang up and said: ‘can we do this, can we do that’ and you realise their suggestions are obvious when you think about it.”

Frost says the back-end part of the site wasn’t difficult to do.

“We just based it on the NZSE codes and we get a feed which feeds into the database and is pulled off and published on to the site.”

Marketing

In December DF Trade held a campaign where it waived the brokerage fee for any orders that were “at market”.

“That means that any order that you place that went active straight away — buying at the price that someone was selling for — we didn’t charge a brokerage for.”

He says that was successful and another campaign starts in a week or so. He says marketing is important because it’s a hidden service.

“People don’t really know it’s there until you show them what you do.”

Advice

Make sure you know what you want to do before you start and make sure you have all the components that you need — such as the database and the Web developer.

“It needs to be well-thought out and all the parts need to be in place before you start. Don’t think you can just cross that bridge when you come it.”

Future initiatives

Frost says DF Trade are building a banking section for the site.

“You will be able to see how much money you owe or how much money you’ve got and, if you’ve got some money in your account, you can request some and we’ll pay it out to you.”

The site is also looking to provide access to the Australian Stock Market in the near future. Australia is the obvious choice for expansion.

The Dow is another possibility but Frost says the American market is saturated with online traders.

“We may just provide real-time prices or something like that, but whether we do execution, I don’t know.”

Developer: Back end in-house Web pages Clearview

Technology: SQL Server, Cold Fusion

Hosting: Clearview

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