Every year, TheBull’s annual Stockies awards generate much anticipation and excitement among Australia’s top online brokers.
After the winners are declared from thousands of votes cast, thebull.com.au contacts each broking firm for a response. Invariably, company spokespeople say the Stockies is the one award they want to win because voters decide the outcome as opposed to a panel of judges.
thebull.com.au Stockies awards are set firmly in the tradition that traders and investors are the best judge of the top online firms to deal with in Australia. So it’s you, the very people who use the products and services of online brokers in Australia, who decide the winners.
We’re proud to announce the 2015 winners and finalists across CFDs, forex, share trading, options, warrants, margin lending as well as the top stock forum.
Winners share their recipe for success.
Winner: Best Online Broker
Winner: Best Options Broker
Winner: Best Margin Lender
This online broker has made it an annual habit of featuring prominently in the Stockies awards and this year is no exception.
A delighted Brian Phelps, CommSec general manager of retail distribution, says winning three Stockies awards “reaffirms customers are seeing value in what we’re delivering”.
Phelps likes how the Stockies awards are structured for openness, fairness and independence. “It’s good to know these awards are voted by our customers,” he says.
In the online broker category, CommSec chalked up 35.51 per cent of the vote, followed by Westpac with 16.36 per cent and E*Trade with 14.49 per cent. CommSec won the margin lender category with 45.45 per cent of the vote. Second was BT Financial with 29.09 per cent and Suncorp came third with 10.91 per cent. CommSec was declared best options broker with 41.94 per cent of the vote, followed by Westpac with 19.35 per cent. Macquarie was third with 16.13 per cent.
Phelps says a focus on investing in technological innovation, research and putting the customer first continues to pay dividends.
Besides the offerings on its own website, Phelps says CommSec also operates a dynamic trading platform through information technology company IRESS, enabling live updates as the user works the screen.
CommSec’s mobile app now accounts for 12 per cent of daily turnover compared to 2 per cent about 18 months ago. “That’s been a massive boon for our business,” Phelps says.
He says an increasing number of commuters are not only using the app to check their positions, but also to trade. “And we believe that puts us ahead of our competitors on that front,” Phelps says.
He says an alerts capability that, among other things, sends customers a text message when a share price hits a certain level, or when a company is paying a dividend is an effective part of the tool mix and will continue to be developed during the next year.
“Customer service is at the front of everything we do,” Phelps says. “When someone signs up with CommSec, they generally receive a letter from us within the first 24 hours and a few quick tips. Within a week, we phone the customer offering a tutorial through the website, such as how to set up a watch list of stocks you might want to keep an eye on, or how to place your first trade. There’s also an online web chat capability lending a hand.”
Phelps says CommSec has almost 2 million accounts and 1.1 million customers. CommSec is attracting 2000 new customers a week. It’s committed to creating opportunities for customers.
“The Aussie market only makes up 3 per cent of global markets,” Phelps says. “So we went out and created an international capability and it’s something we want to continue developing over time.”
“We’re extremely happy to win the Stockies awards.”
Winner: Best CFD Broker
Winner: Best Forex Broker
The global broker has been a mainstay of the Stockies awards for many years, and its enviable reputation continues to attract voters in big numbers.
“We’re delighted to win the Stockies again,” says Peter Stanhope, IG’s head of sales for Australia. “We’re delighted to serve our customers for another year.”
In the CFD category, IG won with 36.8 per cent of the vote. CMC was second with 16.8 per cent and CommSec finished third with 14.4 per cent. IG won the Forex category with 36.54 per cent of the vote. Second was FXCM with 19.23 per cent and third was CMC with 17.31 per cent.
Stanhope says what appeals to clients is the “strength and security” of IG as a broker. Client trading funds aren’t part of the IG asset base. Client funds are separated and protected irrespective of IG’s performance. That, in itself, ensures confidence among traders.
Stanhope says the company invests heavily to provide clients with the latest cutting edge technology. “We’re committed to developing new tools to help traders,” he says. “Instruments are traded; what we do is democratise financial markets. We give retail traders the same access to world markets that institutions enjoy.
“We fulfil our mission by offering the best trading platforms, service and counter party to deal with.”
Stanhope says the key technology drivers for clients selecting IG include the ability to trade DMA (direct market access) equities globally and 24-hour global indices. Another technology driver is pro-orders, a wizard that gives clients the ability to program their own algorithmic trading strategies without programming knowledge. IG technology also provides guaranteed stop losses.
“IG’s mobile apps are equally as good as our browser based platform, so clients can set alerts from their mobiles and trade DMA,” Stanhope says. “Also, it’s the small touches that make traders’ lives easier, like having any technical analysis that you do on your PC, automatically appear on your charts on other devices.”
Winner: Best Warrants Broker
For the second consecutive year, Westpac has won the best warrants broker with 39.13 per cent of the vote. E*TRADE came second with 30.43 per cent of the vote and Macquarie was third with 17.39 per cent.
Darren Moglia, head of Westpac Online Investing, says: “We’re grateful to be recognised again as Australia’s best warrants broker. We attribute the recognition to our continued commitment to the warrants market along with our range of warrants, competitive pricing and easy access.”
Moglia says a highlight this year was the launch of Westpac VIEWS, a new series of warrant that enables investors to borrow at competitive rates, access tax benefits and receive dividends on their shares.
“We have seen strong growth in our warrants book over the past year and believe that warrants, particularly with interest rates at historic lows, will continue to be a simple and attractive way for investors to access the sharemarket.”
Winner: Best Stock Forum
Easily, the best stock forum, HotCopper attracted 89.89 per cent of the vote. Aussie Stock Forums was second with 5.61 per cent followed by CommSec Community with 1.7 per cent
HotCopper managing director Greg D’Arcy says: “We’re honoured to again win this important award. HotCopper’s role in life is to serve the interests of our members and this award acknowledges our commitment to that.”
D’Arcy says HotCopper enjoyed strong growth in membership and postings in the past 12 months. “With volatility and uncertainty in financial markets so high, our members are relishing the opportunity to exchange information and views and to hold companies to account,” D’Arcy says.
“As individuals, it’s difficult for shareholders to play an effective role in scrutinising and questioning companies. But when their views are brought together on the HotCopper forum, they become a real force.”
As part of HotCopper’s service to investors, it recently introduced the HotCopper Diary, which provides information and insights into the activities of companies that interest its members.
“This is part of HotCopper’s ongoing commitment to be the investor’s best friend,” D’Arcy says.
TheBull Stockies: WINNERS & FINALISTS – The Stockies 2014
Best Online Broker – CommSec
Finalists – Westpac Online Investing, E*TRADE
Best CFD Broker – IG Markets
Finalists – GFT, FXCM
Best Forex Broker – IG Markets
Finalists – FXCM, GFT
Best Margin Lender – CommSec
Finalists – BT Financial Group, ANZ
Best Warrants Broker – Westpac Online Investing
Finalists – NAB, E*TRADE
Best Options Broker – CommSec
Finalists – OptionsXpress, E*TRADE
Best Stock Forum – HotCopper
Finalists – AussieStockForums, TopStocks