Even when the world appears irrational, markets still move to beat of their own drum. Against a backdrop of turbulent headlines, markets in the US have managed to hit new all-time highs. For DIY investors in Canada, however, it is an interesting moment. As stock prices move higher, this will invariably attract investors back into the mix however most Canadian discount brokerages have yet to ramp up their marketing efforts to capture investor interest. Ironically, it seems that the Canadian discount brokerages are also having trouble timing the market.
In this week’s roundup we take a look at the clues about current DIY investor sentiment that were revealed by one US online brokerage and what that might mean for brokerages heading into earnings season. Next we take a look at one major bank-owned discount brokerage that took a bold move forward in the social media space. From there we’ll recap what investors were talking about on Twitter and in the investor forums.
It takes two to tango and also to make a market. In the case of the latter, it’s an ongoing debate between those who think buying is smarter and those who think selling is. One US-based online brokerage, E*TRADE Financial, released the results of its regular survey of ‘experienced investors’ which showed that there many shades of grey between the lines separating buyer from seller.
While not the most scientific of approaches, there was an interesting portrait of the DIY investor that could be painted based on looking at the ‘big picture’ of the data.
For example, it appears that when it comes to trading and markets, most investors associate their sentiment about the markets with the movie title “Dazed and Confused”. Although this number surged to 40% for Q3 of 2016 (up from 31% in Q2 of 2016), the fact that it has consistently been the top answer since Q3 2015 implies that a fair portion of experienced investors feel this way most of the time.
Another interesting observation is that most of these experienced investors would recommend individual stocks as the best option for friends/family thinking of getting into the markets at this moment. Remarkably, after stocks, equity mutual funds were the most popular recommendation rather than their lower priced counterparts, ETFs. That said, there has been a growing number of investors who seem to think that bonds would make a good investment to get into. When lined up against what’s been happening in the world and with a US election coming in November, this seems to imply that traders have been positioning for the “fear trade” for quite some time.
On the business side for discount brokerages, whether this forecast translates into more or less trading has real consequences. Next week, another US-based online brokerage, Interactive Brokers, will report its quarterly earnings. With markets hitting new all-time highs, volatility from the Brexit vote as well as other election related uncertainty, it will be interesting to see whether the fear of missing out trumps the fear of loss at least for another quarter.
For those who still think that social media is all hype, selfies and food pics, any recent footage from major news events or articles writing about them probably contain or are based on content from social media. Donald Trump also took to Twitter to announce his running mate for Vice President for what it’s worth.
This past week, TD Direct Investing took the bold step of launching a DIY investing Q&A on Twitter that went reasonably well. It was a definite gamble from the big green given the amount of flack it has been catching from the intermittent (but unfortunately too frequent) outages from its flagship trading platform WebBroker. Nonetheless the social experiment was a success in that there were a number of influential Canadian personal finance bloggers/personalities fielding interesting questions about investing (and also because TD emerged relatively unscathed).
We’ve captured the 350+ tweets that were exchanged over the course of the session and presented them below for anyone interested in reviewing the conversation.
Here are the 10 topics that were covered:
- Why should someone tackle DIY investing? Is the juice worth the squeeze?
- What mistakes did everyone make when they first started DIY investing? What should 1st timers be aware of?
- Honestly, how hard is it really to DIY invest? How much reading and math do you have to do?
- Where should you get started when it comes to making your first trade?
- When is the best time to buy stocks and then sell them?
- If you have debt, should you be investing?
- How are you investing? In an RRSP, TFSA or other?
- Any tips on what to invest in if you want to grow a housing down payment ASAP?
- If the market is down in Canada, should you wait to invest until times are better?
- What tools do you use to make it easier to build your confidence as an investor?
Overall the chat was an informative session that offered bite-sized pieces of insight into the world of DIY investing. Thematically it appeared that “slow and steady” was the central message of the talk.
It was clear that there were lots of opinions from the various financial bloggers in attendance and it was encouraging to see that at least some individual investors were participating in the conversation too. With most things personal finance, however, keeping the responses brief but informative was a challenge, especially when some of the questions take some length to explain fully. Nonetheless, there were lots of thanks being passed around for the useful information and for the opportunity to bounce questions off the Canadian personal finance community.
At one point, the #DIYInvesting hashtag was noted as “trending” in Canada indicating that this topic floated to upper layers of what was being discussed in Canada at the time the Twitter chat was happening.
Strategically, this was also a very interesting move for TD Direct Investing for several reasons. First, they were able to score some air time by having multiple participants providing answers and participating in the conversation. In fact, this was a great move by TD Direct Investing to change the conversation away from the issues plaguing WebBroker into something more positive and controlled that scores points with prospective and existing customers.
Another reason this was such a strategic win for TD Direct Investing is because they managed to dominate the conversation on the hashtag #DIYInvesting. One of TD Direct Investing’s direct competitors, Scotia iTRADE has also been using this hashtag as part of their marketing efforts however as was clearly seen over the course of the Twitter chat, there were no references to Scotia iTRADE (or any other brokerages). This is not to say that other brokerages can’t or won’t piggy back on the greater awareness of the #DIYInvesting handle, but there is definitely some ground that TD Direct Investing managed to gain at the expense of other brokerages’ attempts to create a conversation around DIY investing.
TD Direct Investing has come a long way on Twitter despite them having their own handle for a relatively short amount of time. For other Canadian discount brokerages who are contemplating how to compete in the digital landscape, this latest move by TD Direct Investing should raise some eyebrows and force everyone else to step up their game. #ShouldBeFun
Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week
Technology on the fritz seemed to be yet another theme of why DIY investors reach out to online brokerages via Twitter. Could be the massive heat wave in Toronto that got tempers a little shorter than usual. Mentioned this week were Qtrade Investor, Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE, TD Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers.
From the Forums
Getting to Know You
For anyone signing up for an online trading account, one of the questions that inevitably comes up is how much trading experience you might have. In this post from reddit’s Personal Finance Canada section, one user was curious as to why that happens.
Transferring from one brokerage to another involves quite a bit of paperwork, a bunch of patience and a whole lot of trust that things will go smoothly. Unfortunately for one reddit user, their experience in transferring an RRSP account into Questrade did not go as planned. In this post, find out what happened and how Questrade attempted to help get things back on track.
Into the Close
That’s a wrap on another crazy week. With all of the heavy news here’s something a little more uplifting to close out on. Whatever you happen to get up to this weekend, have some summer fun, stay cool and see you for a fun earnings-filled week next week!
Oh my God… pic.twitter.com/If507fxar5
— Kroony (@DeKroonCat) July 15, 2016