For individual investors, shopping for an online trading account often requires doing a fair amount of research and comparison between brokerages. While commissions & fees are the most important factor investors consider when choosing an account, what it’s like to be a client of a particular brokerage is also something many investors are often curious about.
Fortunately for self-directed investors, one Canadian research firm (Dalbar Canada) measures client experience for most of the Canadian discount brokerages as part of their direct brokerage service evaluation (DBSE) program. As part of the DBSE, Dalbar Canada also recognizes the high achievers in their evaluation with their Direct Brokerage Service Award.
In our previous two-part series explaining the Dalbar Direct Brokerage Service Evaluation, we looked in detail at how the evaluation takes place including the components that go into defining ‘client experience’ at discount brokerages. Here is a brief overview of why client experience still remains an important feature to track when comparing discount brokerages.
More than Just Price
With competition amongst online brokerages increasing, many of them (especially bank-owned brokerages) have adopted very similar pricing models. Thus, comparing discount brokerages by price alone may not provide enough information for potential clients to make a decision. Going forward, shoppers will have to turn to the other features of a brokerage (such as client experiences) in order to evaluate how ‘good’ they believe the fit will be.
For those shopping for an online trading account, the only somewhat reliable ways to find out about client experiences have been through third party research/reviews and/or from other investors via investor forums or friends, family and colleagues. The Dalbar Direct Brokerage Service Award is therefore unique in its focus on client experience and tries to provide a picture of what clients can expect from a brokerage when connecting via phone or email.