E-FILES: Trading easier with e-brokers

Stock broker Access Brokerage predicts it could be doing more than half its business over the Internet within the next two to three years

www.access-brokerage.co.nz

Access Brokerage could be doing more than half of its business over the Internet within the next two to three years, predicts the man at the helm of its Web site, Pete Hansen.

A member of the New Zealand Stock Exchange, Access Brokerage has been trading since 1986, following the abolition of fixed-rate brokerage and restrictive advertising rules. Its Web site offers fully integrated Internet trading and comprehensive real-time and historical NZSE market information. The market information includes quotes, charts, announcements, market summaries, fundamental data, international indices and personal portfolio functions.

Revenue figures for the site aren’t yet unavailable as the online trading arm has only just been introduced.

Access Brokerage currently receives 95% of its business through phone bookings. However, Hansen expects this to change rapidly in the coming years as investors become comfortable with the concept of trading online.

“It is quite conceivable that we will be doing more than 50% of our business over the Internet with in the next two to three years,” says Hansen.

“Online broking is revolutionising the industry internationally and eventually New Zealand will experience a similar transformation.”

He says his company regards the Web presence as a fundamental part of its business plan.

“Our Web site allows us to provide a wide range of market information efficiently and at low cost to a large number of clients and potential clients.” says Hansen. “This information is a major driver of investor behaviour and the ability to trade online enables us to better cater to this behaviour. Trading shares has traditionally been daunting for many investors.

“E-broking sites make the market far more accessible by making information freely available and by providing low-cost transactions.”

Marketing the site is a matter of combining existing promotional material with specialist campaigns in print and broadcast. Forming alliances with complementary Web sites is also part of the mix.

“Our online promotion is focused on sponsorship arrangements with several key business sites,” says Hansen. “We complement that with ongoing advertising in the traditional media — predominantly the major daily papers, the main business publications and industry publications ... all other marketing we do makes reference to our Web presence.”

Ironically, the increasing acceptance of online trading in New Zealand and Australia is exposing the company to competition it might not otherwise have had to contend with. In addition to other retail brokerages in New Zealand, Access is facing the threat of companies in Australia using the Net to offer services to New Zealand investors.

“While traditionally it has been the discount end of the retail broking market, this distinction is becoming less relevant. We are head to head with the rest of the New Zealand retail brokers and increasingly with Australian online brokers.”

Hansen says there are only two other New Zealand brokers who provide Internet trading.

Setting your objectives is the key to success in developing an e-commerce initiative, according to Hansen. “Don’t charge blindly in. Like any other business initiative you need clear objectives, a vision for what you are trying to achieve and you need to be able to justify the cost,” he says.

Access Brokerage employs 35 staff and has offices in Auckland and Wellington.

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