More shocks than stocks as brokers take a belting and the phones stop ringing
June 28, 2011
Bill Shorten and some key federal politicians are about to be lobbied hard and loud by Australia's retail brokers who are fighting for their lives against a backdrop of depressed trading volumes, falling commissions and tougher regulation.
The latest body blow relates to a set of recommendations in the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) reforms which came about following the collapse of some financial planning companies, notably Storm Financial.
Industry submissions recently closed, but some blue-chip stockbrokers and their lobby group, the Stockbrokers' Association of Australia, will go direct to politicians to try to overturn a set of proposals before they are put to the Parliament….
In the past few years, more than 20 brokers have either collapsed, nearly collapsed or merged.
Most have culled staff or instigated hiring freezes. More recently, BBY bought Stonebridge Group, formerly known as Tricom Securities.
Most brokers remain unlisted and out of the public gaze, but the few that decided to list on the ASX have found the experience humbling.
Austock Asset Management's shares trade at 12¢ which is a far cry from the high of $2.10 in December 2007. Wilson HTM is at 67¢ a share after trading above $4 in June 2007 and Bell Financial Group is at 78.5¢ after trading at more than double that in 2007.
With thin volumes on the ASX, it is becoming a war of attrition in stockbroker land, with questions over who can survive the longest under the strain.
There are three parts to a traditional retail business: retail advisory, institutional brokerage and corporate finance. In the current climate, retail advisory has fallen severely, institutional has been butchered, and with few floats and even fewer equity raisings, corporate finance is on life support.
This is not being helped by some tougher regulatory requirements, including the increase in the minimum core capital requirement - from $2 million to $5 million, and going up to $10 million in 2013 - for stockbrokers who clear their own trades. This is a big increase considering the requirement was $100,000 a few years ago.
It is no surprise then that some smaller brokers have already moved to third party clearing while others will need to consolidate.
Times are certainly tough, particularly for the smaller full service retail brokers, with some complaining the phones hardly ring. With more investors going for cheaper online trading and the ASX focused on turnover and speed of transactions, many more will fall by the wayside.
The above is an article in Brisbane
Times on I Jul 11.
The Stock Market has been transformed in the last few years to an animal that is beyond recognition. It is no longer a stock market in the traditional sense where companies list their shares to raise funds for growth and expansion, where investors made profits from long term investments and riding on the growth of profitable companies. And where brokers and broking houses were able to service their clients and earn a commission to support their operation.
Today, the big funds are trying to make money from the fictitious stock market by being faster than the next guy by 1 micro sec or by placing a micro bit of 0.01c. And big funds are able to take full advantage of an unlevel playing field, using their big financial muscles, technology and hardware to squeeze every cent out of the small investors.
Stock exchanges used to take it as their main responsibility, to provide a fair and level trading platform to all players. Today they unashamingly embraced the big funds and accommodate their unfair trading methodologies with no sense of guilt or crime. Small investors thus became victims to the big funds and lost their pants without knowing why, and on one willing to own up for the fiasco in the stock exchanges around the world.
The phones have stop ringging. Soon the brokers will hand up their phones too, and so will be the broking houses. Retrenchment and cost cutting will not do when there is no income to sustain the high overheads. Neither will cutting the razor thin commission make any sense or do any good. The gimmicks of continuous trading with no lunch breaks will not bring in additional business as the small investors will still not have any chance in an unfair trading system. It only benefits the big funds that operate cross boundaries to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities and their sophisticated computer system to scalp every cent there is from the small investors.
Yes, it cannot go on forever as the small investors will not be able to keep paying for their losses. The Brisbane Stock Brokers are barking up the wrong tree like brokers around the world. The key issue is to return to the basics of what a stock exchange is supposed to be, and when trading is fair and level for everyone, and where companies can raise funds and grow, while small investors can invest and grow with the companies.
Making money by being 1 micro second faster is not stock investing. Applying huge funds and technology to win bets in the stock exchange is not stock investing either, but manipulation of the stock market system, cornering of the market, buying and selling without change of ownership which are against the rules and regulations of stock exchanges.
When will the phone go dead for good? The new regulations that the Australian brokers are to put up with are plain stupidity that will do no good to their business. It is shadow fighting, grasping at strawmen. When are they going to open their eyes to see what is going wrong?