It seems that nowhere was safe from the bears this week. Not stock markets or commodities or even swimming pools. While the bears are out having a pool party, Canadian online brokerages are racing to see who’ll be the ‘last one into the pool’ when it comes to upgrading their website.
In this week’s roundup, technology dominates as we take a look at the latest brokerage to release a new trading. Next we take a look at new platform features being launched by an independent brokerage. Finally we take a look at the commentary about brokerages on Twitter, check out the upcoming investor education events and finally close out with some interesting forum threads for some leisurely reading.
Credential Direct Launches New Trading Website
This past week Credential Direct joined the growing number of Canadian online brokerages undertaking website refreshes and redesigns. Specifically Credential Direct has overhauled their website back end – the area where users would log in to make trades, manage their account and conduct research.
As with many newer websites, Credential Direct has redesigned the back end to be more responsive and adjust to different screen sizes. While the majority of ‘trading’ users will be on a desktop, those who are occasional investors will increasingly find themselves checking in to their accounts on either a mobile phone or a tablet.
Credential Direct already has a dedicated mobile-friendly site so it was interesting to see them style their primary site back end as if it were a mobile-friendly site. While the ‘responsive’ functionality looked promising, when tested on an iPhone 4s safari browser their newest design was substantially less mobile-friendly than their dedicated mobile site which does render well on mobile.
Nonetheless the design refresh has resulted in a less cluttered appearance and new left-of-screen navigation menu. Information within the site appears easier to find and view, especially on a larger monitor. Below is a promotional video by Credential Direct on their new website back end.
The design choice to keep things simple means that users get a functional experience. That said there are some features that indicate the website is still a work in progress, especially from a user experience point of view.
Items in the Plan sub-menu, for example, contain various handy calculators however when clicking on the links users get taken out of the website to a third-party set of tools. Similarly, clicking on the education section takes users back to the front end of the website.
While it’s not a make-or-break feature, from a user experience perspective it is a bit jarring to move from one set of design layouts and navigation to another.
For DIY investors, getting used to different technologies, websites and trading interfaces comes with the territory. More and more, however, the transition between devices using online software is being made to feel ‘seamless’ (amiright Netflix?) so brokerages undergoing redesigns now have the added challenge to get this right.
As online trading platform user comments from across social media this past week have suggested, however, there’s a fine line between form and function that discount brokerages need to pay attention to. Trading online comes down to performance and good looking websites that can’t do what DIY investors need or want are sure to earn ire instead of inspiring awe.
Overall, it is interesting to see how Credential Direct has tackled the multi-screen world that DIY investors now expect to function in. Specifically, the fact that their latest redesign does not offer a truly multi-device responsiveness means that users are exposed to different ways of navigating depending on the device they choose to access.
Fortunately, smaller screens may be on their way out and for now Credential Direct has a mobile site that works well for those screens. That said, the look, feel and organization of the new full site and the mobile site are just different enough to make navigating between devices feel fragmented.
With a busy fall season filled with new brokerage website releases, we’ll certainly be glued to all of our screens to see what the other discount brokerages come up with next.
Questrade Livin’ on the Edge
In keeping with the platform and technology upgrades theme, Questrade also officially announced a number of interesting upgrades to their online trading platform IQ Edge.
Designed for power users and those that want the equities ‘trader’ feel, IQ Edge is the most feature-rich of the entire suite of Questrade’s platform family which consists of four platforms: IQ Essential, IQ Web, IQ Edge and IQ Mobile.
With the latest features, however, Questrade’s platform offering has gotten even more powerful and will start to make other discount brokerages scramble to deploy some upgraded bells and whistles.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the new features:
- Integration with StockTwits
- Order management directly from charts
- New categories and filters in the market movers window (great for active traders)
- Cross zero orders
- Options rollovers (apparently coming soon)
For the xylophone loving crowd, Questrade has put together a video that shows some of the new features being integrated into their IQ trading platform. For more details on the release, Questrade’s blog post explains it further.
The integration of social media streams into the trading platform and the category filters are certainly getting some folks excited. That said, with any technology change or upgrade there are bound to be hiccups (we saw a few Twitter users chime in on this in our tweets of the week below).
Overall, Questrade appears to be firing on all cylinders when it comes to technology upgrades. Just a few weeks ago they also announced a soon-to-be released revamp of their trading platforms into a new ‘trading experience.’
Questrade has clearly recognized that one of their biggest user bases, younger investors, are on different screens all the time and creating a seamless experience in a trading platform is a priority. Whether or not Questrade succeeds will be seen over time, however the early reveal shows that they’re up for the challenge.
Clearly technology upgrades and user experience upgrades are high on the list of what Canadian discount brokerages are concerned about – and with good reason. Websites, screens, devices and technology that four or even two years ago were passable are now deemed to be antiquated.
With technology moving as fast as it is, one of the metrics DIY investors will certainly be factoring in is not only how responsive websites are but how responsive to change their online brokerage is or isn’t.
Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week
This week on Twitter it was interesting to observe what happened when both Questrade and Credential Direct released some shiny new bells and whistles.
In the case of Questrade, the reaction from their user base was generally positive, unprompted and noticeable. They also let people know that the changes were there which might have helped things along.
For Credential Direct, on the other hand, the reaction was more subdued. Perhaps the most interesting part, however, was that they elected not to broadcast the new release via their social media account – at least not yet.
Mentions this week were at a minimum however tweets from and about Credential Direct, Questrade and Scotia iTRADE still make for some colourful reading.
Heading into the end of August there’s still more than a few interesting investor education events to check out. Topics include options, ETFs as well as fundamental and technical analysis. Click below for more info.
From the Forums
Ask and Ye Shall Re-See
As any IT or tech support operator knows, sometimes folks ask for help only to find out the answer themselves. In this post from the reddit Personal Finance Canada thread, it was interesting to see one user ask about transferring funds from one institution into their online brokerage account only to find an answer on their own. The lesson, however, is one in modern human behaviour: having access to forums and a community to ask is a preferred way for some people to navigate the world.
Give them a Toe
As they don’t often get much conversation time or coverage, it is interesting to see what folks have to say about Qtrade. In this post from RedFlagDeals, one user was curious about getting started with ETFs via Qtrade. Naturally those that can buy ETFs for free wondered aloud what was worth more than the commissions.
Into the Close
That does it for this week’s roundup. Heading into one the last weekends of the summer, there are folks that are looking for pools filled with water and pools filled with NFL football talent. Yes, in addition to da Bears, there will also be Giants, Packers, Seahawks and more on the minds of some. In the meantime, here’s some fun footage of actual bears enjoying the summer.