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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It's That Time of Year Again

Yes, folks, it’s February, which means I am in the throes of putting together the 2007 survey of online brokers for Barron’s.  The article will run in the March 5, 2007 issue, which will be on newsstands (and online at Barrons.com) on March 3.

This is our 12th in-depth look at the industry.  This year, the stakes look incredibly high, thanks to the big uptick in online transactions.  Options trades are up 40% (2006 vs. 2005) and most brokers are looking for a piece of that action.  Some blame the upswing on baby boomers getting more active, planning for their retirement.  Others blame it on the 4-year-old bull market, but that’s a case of trying to figure out which is the tail and which is the dog, and who is wagging whom.

The surveys are out, and I’m spending my days talking to a lot of different people in the industry.  And here’s a deep, dark secret: I’m having a lot of fun.  I am not a masochist, and wouldn’t keep doing this story every year if I wasn’t enjoying the process. 

This weekend, my Barron’s column will focus on tax software for investors.  I have also set up a new computer, finally retiring the one I bought in 2002, which is 75 in dog years. 

Back to work! 

Posted by twcarey on 02/06 at 01:19 PM
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Thursday, October 26, 2006

SDForum's New Media Panel Discussion

I took part in a panel discussion entitled “Wave of the Future” at the SDForum’s Business of New Media event, which took place in Santa Clara on October 25th.  Others on the panel with me were Dylan Tweney of PC Magazine, Anil Dash of Six Apart, and Ramneek Bhasin of Mobio Networks. Our panel was ably moderated by Steve Bengston of PriceWaterhouseCooper. 

Dylan provides an excellent summary of our hour behind the mikes in his blog entry on The Tweney Review.  As he says, “It was a lively discussion that focused primarily on mobile media, and its potential to replace and/or supplement PC-based media such as the web.” Thanks, Dylan!

I was able to stick a few words in edgewise about financial technology, but that didn’t seem to be what the audience was expecting.  I attempted to provide the occasional comic relief sound bite once I realized my expertise was somewhat orthogonal to the rest of the panel. 

Posted by twcarey on 10/26 at 02:49 PM
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Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday Musings

Thanks to the publication of my most recent Electronic Investor article, From Info to Insight (currently available at Barrons.com to subscribers; I will have it posted here next week), I’ve heard from quite a few former Brown & Company customers who have been transmogrified into E*Trade customers this month. 

Overall, this transition has gone significantly more smoothly than the Harrisdirect transition, which began in January and dragged on for several weeks.  I received about 400 emails complaining about the Harris takeover, and have only (only??) received 35 about the BrownCo transition.

Harris had more customers—approximately twice as many—as BrownCo, but the 90%+ reduction in complaints tells me that E*Trade was considerably more cautious this time around.  One of the biggest mishaps I heard about had to do with a stock split that happened the day the transition was being completed.  The customer in question promptly entered an order to sell off his post-split shares, but the transaction got seriously muddled, resulting in short sales, margin calls, and a variety of other problems.

I forwarded this customer’s complaint to my contacts at E*Trade over the weekend, and I’m happy to report that an E*Trade senior vice president called the customer and fixed everything personally today. 

Another customer complained about the way E*Trade Pro displays tick-by-tick changes in stock prices, but we can chalk that one up to a preference.  The remaining complaints are relatively minor in comparison to the horror of the Harris takeover.  (For details, see “Lost in Translation,” “Conversion Trouble Part 2,” and the last three paragraphs of “Seek and It Shall Find.”

IMAGINE THIS: You’ve just come into a rather significant sum of money.  What would you do with it?  The publishers of SixWise.com have created a quiz entitled, “What kind of SUPER rich person would you be?”

The site contains ideas about health and wellness, love relationships, identity theft protection, career advice and enjoying life.  I like to read through it every now and then.  Check it out at SixWise.com

Posted by twcarey on 05/22 at 02:07 PM
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