Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – August 2, 2013

As we officially launch into August, there is a lot of “behind the scenes” action that discount brokerages are up to in order to get ready for their busy season in the fall.

This week’s roundup features some updates on current discount brokerage deals, a couple of interesting upgrades to discount brokerage websites that were spotted and reports showing that investor participation in US markets continues to increase and a transaction between the owners of two major online brokerages.

Deal me in, again.

Being the beginning of the month, we have updated the discount brokerage deals section for August.  A couple of noteworthy deal extensions were spotted including an extension of the “Refer-a-Friend” offer by Scotia iTrade until the end of August as well as the extension of the commission-free ETF trading offer by National Bank Direct Brokerage (which we cover in depth here) until the end of October.

It’s time to put on makeup; it’s time to dress up right

Two of the major bank-owned online brokerages rolled out some cosmetic improvements to their websites recently in the hopes of making their content more accessible to investors.

The first upgrade was spotted at National Bank Direct Brokerage on their homepage and in their educational sections.   The new layout includes a video by their President, Nancy Paquet, as well as improved events listings and an improved link into their education centre.  There will be an in-depth look at the improved education centre in a follow-up posting, however the new layout of the investor education center section contains much of their existing material but in a much cleaner and user friendly presentation.

Upgrades to the investor education sections at TD Direct Investing were also recently rolled out.  The in-depth feature on this improvement (available here) showcases the improved way in which investors can now find out about and connect to investor education seminars via TD Direct Investing’s website.

With both TD Direct Investing and National Bank Direct Brokerage stepping up their investor education sections, other brokerages that currently provide substantial investor education seminars or content will likely be looking to see how they improve on their offering to try and maneuver around these developments.

Investors Trickling Back In

While it’s difficult to know exactly what retail investor is like given the recent market performance in the US, the data on trading volumes from Interactive Brokers continues to signal improved participation, at least state side.  The July figures for trading volumes at Interactive Brokers paint a mixture with trading volume increasing 13% year over year but actually declining 12% compared to June.  Margin-loan balances and customer equity showed increases on both a yearly and on a monthly basis.

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