Whether it was tech giant Amazon cutting prices for prime day or the Bank of Canada cutting prime rates, this past week it seems that consumers’ economic engines are in need of a little priming to get them into gear. As Canadian discount brokerages know all too well, cutting prices or rates can only go so far in terms of stimulating interest. At some point, the path to growth requires getting creative.
In this edition of the roundup, we take a Pan American look at how brokerages here and south of the border are creatively approaching staying competitive despite some challenging market conditions. First we’ll take a look at the story of what seems to be powering one the largest online brokerages on the planet even higher. Next, we’ll scan through the social media banter from Canadian brokerages and then look at upcoming education events and what DIY investors were talking about in the forums. Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Pan American edition of the roundup without a questionable choice for a musical close out.
That’s Trillion, with a T (and a rillion)
One of the largest online brokerages on the planet got a little bit bigger this past quarter even against the backdrop of decreased trading activity and stagnant interest rates.
US online brokerage Charles Schwab reported their quarterly earnings this past week and the results are more than a little mind-boggling. In the quarter they managed to attract 280,000 new brokerage accounts (an increase of 16% y/y) and grow their total assets by 6% to $2.54 trillion (USD). By comparison, another popular brokerage in the US, Interactive Brokers, had a total of just over 300,000 total accounts (as of the end of April).
While most observers understand the sheer scale of the brokerage gives them quite a bit of clout in the online brokerage space, it was the recent entry of Schwab into the robo-advisor space that has gotten a lot of attention. After being launched in Q1, their robo-advisory has 39,000 accounts and $3 billion (USD) in assets.
Of course, as with most releases, a little bit of extra digging tends to turn something interesting – such as the following quote from CEO Walt Bettinger stating “we remain committed to expanding existing platforms in areas of strong client demand. We have broadened Schwab ETF OneSource™ to include over 200 commission-free ETFs as of month-end June. Investors can access a wide range of funds from 13 providers and 66 Morningstar categories with zero online commissions.”
What the latest results from Schwab show is that brokerages can get ‘creative’ with products that the investing public is clearly asking for. In this case, commission free ETFs and robo-advisor style management are what seem to be turning heads.
Within the Canadian space, there are already internal committees and groups within the larger bank-owned brokerages actively discussing a strategic opportunity to participate. These results are likely to add more fuel to the fire for the larger brokerage players and that is great news for DIY investors.
Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week
In this week’s discount brokerage tweets of the week, technology looks to be the Achilles heel for a number of DIY investors and online brokerages. The technology minions don’t seem to care whether it’s a bank-owned brokerage or not, somehow, someway they find the chance to create a bit of mayhem. Mentioned this week were BMO InvestorLine, Questrade, RBC Direct Investing and Scotia iTrade.
Also, we’ve got updated coverage of the Scotia iTrade selfie contest that’s still running. Below is an update which includes this week’s selfie action, most notably from a marketer/promoter looking to drum up more exposure for the contest.
Even though its summer and school is out, students of the market can always find time to learn. This week there are a number of interesting investor education events on margin trading, options, stock picking and more.
From the Forums
Now that summer is here, there are lots of DIY investors who want to take advantage of the break or the weather to enjoy some time away from the markets. As this post from RedFlagDeals.com’s investing forum shows, however, don’t forget to close out the open orders or bad things can happen.
No, it’s not the wild costume and crazy glow stick crowd (although trading outside of normal market hours can be equally as crazy) but after hours trading refers to trades made outside of the normal market hours. In this post also from RedFlagDeals.com’s investing forum, one member wonders aloud about the afterhours and there are a few polite acknowledgements and some strange looks given in return.
Into the Close
That does it for this edition of the roundup. As promised, here is but one of 21 creative earworms that still feel less questionable to indulge in than either Amazon prime day, yet another interest rate cut or Kanye West closing out the Pan Am games. Good luck to the Canadian athletes at the Pan Am games, and good luck keeping these tunes out of your head over the weekend.