Online trading grows despite poor sentiment

By James A. Loyola

COL Financial continues to increase its online client base at an average of about 3,000 active accounts despite the generally weak sentiment prevailing in the local stock market.

In an interview during the firm’s 20th anniversary event Road to a Richer Life, COL President Dino Bate said “we are happy with what we are seeing despite the slowdown. The net new flow is still positive.”

“We’re seeing still a steady growth number. Although in percentages it is slowing down, but the number is big because we now have a bigger base. But the numbers are still there, a little bit over 3,000 accounts every month. It’s still very good for us,” he noted.

Bate said that while some online brokerages are reporting faster growth in new accounts due to incentives and aggressive marketing, he said “I don’t think they are as engaged as our customers.”

“New accounts are just leads. Although they’ve opened an account, but to convert, consistently adding money is more important. That’s why the numbers we are looking at is customer growth and net new flows, it should be adding to volume,” he explained.

Bate said “net new flow is growth in terms of new money less withdrawal. It should be postive. So I think the number of participants could be growing much faster than today because of aggressive marketing but they are not engaged.”

He also lamented that “the online market is growing but is not growing as fast as we expect it to grow because of the fact that barrier to entry is hard.”

Bate cited the need to know the clients that they sign up, noting that “other financial institutions that are able to skirt the KYC (know your client) are growing much faster but their clients are not engaged.

He said getting clients engaged takes time “because they need to be guided along the way. And that is what COL is trying to do.”