The TOP of the pile

Rat­ing SA’s best stock­bro­kers for 2015

Financial Mail - Investors Monthly - - Front Page -

GT247.com is the Top Stock­bro­ker of the Year, surg­ing from a tie for third last year to dis­place Stan­dard Online Share Trad­ing/ Stock­broking from the top spot. The for­mat of the sur­vey, con­ducted by In­tel­lidex, changed sub­stan­tially this year, with more em­pha­sis placed on spe­cific of­fer­ings to clients and client sat­is­fac­tion rat­ings, and less em­pha­sis on how stock­bro­kers would cater to dif­fer­ent client archetypes.

While that did in­flu­ence the fi­nal stand­ings, GT247 — known for its in­no­va­tion in at­tempt­ing to im­prove the client trad­ing ex­pe­ri­ence — has been im­prov­ing dra­mat­i­cally re­cently. It fin­ished tied third in last year’s sur­vey, hav­ing not been in the top 10 in 2013. Be­ing the cheap­est of the dis­count bro­kers while of­fer­ing a wide ar­ray of value-added ser­vices, along with high cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion lev­els, sealed its po­si­tion.

Stan­dard OST/Stock­broking takes sec­ond place with an in­cred­i­ble all-round of­fer­ing. It held off PSG Wealth, which also ex­cels in ev­ery cat­e­gory.

An im­por­tant facet of this year’s sur­vey was to pro­vide more recog­ni­tion to tele­phone bro­kers, those that still give old-fash­ioned in­vest­ment ad­vice to clients and who fo­cus on build­ing long-term re­la­tion­ships.

San­lam Pri­vate Wealth/iTrade Online wins our inau­gu­ral award for best tele­phone-based bro­ker, with Vu­nani sec­ond and Afrifo­cus third. It is the San­lam Pri­vate Wealth unit that of­fers the high-touch, per­son­alised ser­vice though its in­te­gra­tion with San­lam iTrade, which runs the online trad­ing unit. To­gether they pro­vide a full-ser­vice of­fer­ing.

IG South Africa is the win­ner of the best online bro­ker spot, fol­lowed by Stan­dard and PSG Wealth. The qual­ity of IG’s trad­ing plat­form and its ease of use was rated highly by clients, nearly half of whom are ac­tive day traders who typ­i­cally need the most ef­fi­cient sys­tem avail­able.

The Peo­ple’s Choice award goes to DWT Se­cu­ri­ties — some­thing of a sur­prise but only be­cause it is the first time that enough of its clients have com­pleted our client sur­vey for it to be a can­di­date. In that sur­vey clients rate their stock­bro­kers on var­i­ous cat­e­gories of qual­ity and ser­vice. DWT, which also caters pri­mar­ily to ac­tive day traders, was ranked highly on ev­ery mea­sure. 28E Cap­i­tal was ranked sec­ond and GT247 third. (See page 22.)

Vu­nani Pri­vate Clients wins the Top CFD award, ahead of Stan­dard OST/Stock­broking, with San­lam Pri­vate Wealth/iTrade Online third. In our as­sess­ment of tax-free sav­ings ac­counts (TFSAs), GT247 comes out tops fol­lowed by Stan­dard and Afrifo­cus. These are dis­cussed on page 20. GT247.com A strik­ing fea­ture of GT247 is that it never stops in­no­vat­ing in its quest to add value for clients, while re­main­ing a cut-price bro­ker. And it is not afraid to try orig­i­nal things. The latest, for ex­am­ple, is to of­fer a gift voucher to trade on its highly rated EasyE­quities plat­form, which is suit­able for the small-scale in­vestor. That serves to at­tract new clients and to get more peo­ple to in­vest in the stock mar­ket.

GT247 started out purely as a dis­count bro­ker but through its evo­lu­tion it now of­fers a

high-ser­vice model through GT Pri­vate Broking as well as full-scale wealth man­age­ment ser­vices through its Em­peror As­set Man­age­ment di­vi­sion. The firm now caters to the full range of client seg­ments.

But it is its EasyE­quities web-based plat­form, geared specif­i­cally to­wards novice in­vestors with ex­tremely low rates, that is par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive. It does not charge monthly fees or min­i­mum bro­ker­age and its bro­ker­age com­mis­sion is only 0,25%, the low­est in the mar­ket.

Nei­ther has it cut back on its ser­vice and prod­uct of­fer­ings — quite the op­po­site. There is an ar­ray of novel fea­tures, in­clud­ing the in­tel­li­gent use of so­cial media, to en­rich the trad­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Clients can see other trades, track pro­fes­sional traders, dis­cuss trade ideas and even fol­low “guru” port­fo­lios that are struc­tured ac­cord­ing to the in­vest­ment prin­ci­ples of some of history’s most suc­cess­ful traders, in­clud­ing War­ren Buf­fett, Peter Lynch and Ben­jamin Graham.

The range of re­search and ed­u­ca­tion as­sis­tance for clients is im­pres­sive. Ed­u­ca­tional work­shops and a video li­brary, cov­er­ing things as ba­sic as open­ing an ac­count to fun­da­men­tal anal­y­sis, are sup­ple­mented by blogs, we­bi­nars and demo in­vest­ment ac­counts.

The self-as­sess­ment tool is handy. Not only does it es­tab­lish a client’s risk and needs pro­file but pro­vides in­sight into trad­ing per­son­al­ity and knowl­edge of in­vest­ment prod­ucts. It even pro­vides a rec­om­mended port­fo­lio.

Stan­dard OST/Stock­broking must be com­mended for its ex­cel­lent all-round per­for­mance. Though last year’s win­ner won’t be happy with sec­ond place, it is no­table that it con­tested for top hon­ours in just about ev­ery cat­e­gory. It fin­ished sec­ond over­all and sec­ond in the online, CFD and TFSA cat­e­gories. What held it back was slightly lower rank­ings than last year from clients in the Peo­ple’s Choice sur­vey, but cer­tainly the firm ex­cels in all ar­eas.

Sim­i­larly, third-placed PSG Wealth is strong across nu­mer­ous cat­e­gories. The firm has im­pressed us with con­stant in­no­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment over the years. Its latest move is to con­sol­i­date its Lisp plat­form with its bro­ker­age ac­counts, so it may be the first in the South African mar­ket to in­te­grate its stock and fund trad­ing plat­forms, an in­no­va­tion that has done very well in the UK.

One new de­vel­op­ment from PSG is a new off­shore eq­uity provider en­abling re­duced fees for clients, and off­shore funds will be avail­able soon. It has also de­vel­oped a new front-end web­site that is re­spon­sive to mo­bile or desk­top ac­cess.

Tele­bro­kers

One of the main aims of ad­vice-based bro­kers is to build long-term re­la­tion­ships with clients, and San­lam Pri­vate Wealth does that by pro­vid­ing highly per­son­alised ser­vices. More than 70% of clients have been with it for five years or more, show­ing that it is clearly suc­ceed­ing in that goal. Fur­ther­more, 71% of clients say they have a ded­i­cated bro­ker to as­sist them.

San­lam’s all-round of­fer­ing is ex­cel­lent. Clients were es­pe­cially im­pressed with the qual­ity of its re­search. A re­cent web­site up­grade has added a range of fea­tures in­clud­ing tech­ni­cal anal­y­sis re­search and a stock screen­ing tool on fun­da­men­tal data. Clients can now also see all their San­lam prod­ucts, in­clud­ing life poli­cies and unit trusts, from their stock­broking ac­count. Global online trad­ing will launch in Oc­to­ber.

San­lam Pri­vate Wealth/iTrade Online is part of a big, re­source­ful or­gan­i­sa­tion and that

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