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Transforming Financial Markets to Retail Investors - A Comparison of the U.S. and the German On-line Brokerage Market - Carsten Holtmann, Christoph Lattemann, Stefan Strecker, Christof Weinhardt, Information
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Transforming Financial Markets to Retail Investors - A Comparison of the U.S. and the German On-line Brokerage Market - Carsten Holtmann, Christoph Lattemann, Stefan Strecker, Christof Weinhardt, Information Systems, Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen, Germany Licher Strasse 70, D Giessen. {first name.last Abstract Fundamental changes in private investments are currently observable for the German stock market. The importance of equities as an alternative to traditional kinds of private investments has grown remarkably and technological progress provides new ways for private investors to participate actively in the capital markets in order to take advantage in securities trading. One of the latest developments in the area of investments in Germany seems to be the rise of ECNs. Since there is a rather large delay in development of the German brokerage market in comparison to the U.S., it is the aim of this contribution to determine (in a qualitative manner) possible future trends for the German retail brokerage market. Differences and parallels of the evolution of electronic brokerage systems in both countries will be analyzed by using the transaction phase model in order to systemize possible on-line brokers and ECNs strategies. 1. Introduction In recent years, the importance of equities as an alternative to traditional kinds of private investments has grown remarkably 1. American brokers adapted first to these changes by offering financial services and innovative trading systems based on new technologies like the Internet. Only since 1995, the so-called discount brokers have introduced innovative order routing systems in Germany which enable an easy, fast and cheap access to electronic exchange systems like Xetra and Sets. 2 With the increasing impact of the Internet as a new convenient access channel for the market of financial products and services, the importance of those intermediaries offering brokerage services rose. This paper focuses on the differences and parallels of the evolution of electronic brokerage systems in the U.S. and in the German stock market. Since there is a rather big delay in Germany, it is the aim of this contribution to derive (in a qualitative manner) future trends for the German brokerage retail market from the American experiences. In the U.S., Alternative Trading Systems (ATS) have been used since 1969 (Instinet) and were able to acquired a significant market share by offering integrated electronic order routing and matching services for securities trading, by providing benefits to retail and institutional investors such as better prices and lower commissions as the traditional exchanges. Thereby, they attract not only professional but also retail investors to their systems. The traditional American exchanges (e.g. NASDAQ) continued relying on the market maker principle (quote driven markets) instead of adopting fully electronic trading systems with an automated matching procedure. This is why new intermediaries were able to successfully enter the market and compete with the traditional exchanges realizing their chances by taking advantage of the prevailing (operational) inefficiencies caused by relatively low computerized exchange systems. In Germany, the automation of the financial service industry is fundamentally different, i.e., those retail banks and brokers that provide on-line services offer pure order routing systems without any price discovery and settlement functionalities and, hence base their business model on lower commissions and higher convenience to 1 E.g.: the total stock exchange turn over at all German exchanges rose from 1995 ( ) to 1999 ( ) (German Exchange[1999, p.10]) for more than 20 %. 2 German Security Trading System: Exchange electronic trading system and the London stock trading system /01 $10.00 (c) 2001 IEEE 1 their customers. Accordingly, these intermediaries do not compete with exchanges as it is the case in America but offer complementary services helping them to reach higher order flows. In this context, the question arises whether and how existing on-line brokers will be able to play an important role in the upcoming market for markets in Germany. To approach this questioning, a brief overview of the German/European brokerage market is given (chapter 2), providing an identification of current customer needs and the degree of competition. By analyzing the transaction process of securities trading, the currently implemented business models of the existing intermediaries will be described and possible future strategies for on-line brokers will be derived (chapter 3). After the description of the legal framework, developments, market models and the structure of the U.S. brokerage market, in chapter 4 parallels between the U.S. and the German financial market will be analyzed. Chapter 5 presents a case study of a German on-line broker who recently chose one of the two presented alternative strategies. Chapter 6 closes the paper with some concluding remarks. 2. The German/European stock trading market Retail investors in Germany regard equities no longer as long time investments, but increasingly as short time speculation. Thus, the historical differentiation between the needs of professional and private investors is vanishing. Not only traditional banks and on-line brokers but also exchanges have to pay close attention to this fundamental change and to the current needs of private investors. In the German market for retail securities trading, the banks and brokers play a major role by providing investors with electronic trading systems to transfer orders to the nine German exchanges (the Xetra Trading System and the eight regional exchanges). More than 90% of the trading volume in German stocks are routed and matched within the Xetra trading system or traded at the floor of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (see [1]). On-line brokers specialize on this issue by offering straight-through order routing systems via the Internet. The other exchanges offer specialized products (niches) like company issued warrants, foreign equities or other financial products A market perspective Since 1994 the year the first on-line broker entered the German market nearly 850,000 on-line brokerage accounts have been opened by private investors. Research institutes expect 2.85 million accounts to be held in 2002 (see [2], p.23). At the first glance Germany seems to be a rather small market compared to the U.S., where already more than 10 million on-line broker accounts exist (see fig. 1). A different picture is given by analyzing the orders per account ratio (see [3], p.4): Germany Number of accounts (in thousand) Executed orders (in 2,5 6 11,5 million) Orders per account 13,30 16,71 18,76 USA Number of accounts (in thousand) Executed orders (in 32,5 63,8 121,8 million) Orders per account 10,83 9,82 12,18 Figure 1: Comparative trading activity (see [3], p.30). Figure 1 shows a very high trading activity of German investors, analyzing the ratio of order per account a tremendous trading activity by private on-line investors (see [4]) is revealed. Beyond that, there is a huge potential for ongoing growth: today only 7% of German adults and approximately 12% of European inhabitants invest in shares, whereas in the U.S. nearly 36% of the U.S. adults do so (see [2], p.57). Thus, Germany must be regarded as an very interesting market. Number of on-line accounts t Number of On-line Accounts Hosts- Germany Registered Internet hosts in Germany Figure 2: Comparison of registered hosts and on-line brokerage accounts in Germany (Source: [3], p.30 and [5]). In Germany, the increasing attraction in equity trading as an alternative to traditional forms of investment (mostly saving accounts) correlates with the development of the /01 $10.00 (c) 2001 IEEE 2 on-line brokerage industry, since the relevance of stock trading and the Internet usage are growing simultaneously (see fig. 2). Hence, it is likely that the biggest part of German retail investors will bypass the full service brokerage model of traditional banking and will move directly to on-line Internet trading (see [3], p.3) Customer segmentation Considering the account volume, the number of transactions and the experience of the investors, the research institute FORIT 3 distinguishes four customer segments in the German brokerage market (see [6], pp.5): Description Loyal investor Active trader Portfolio investor Young investor Percentage of private investors Number of transactions Account volume Experience in Trading 39% Small Middlerate Very small 24% Very High Very high high 22% Small Very Small high 15% High Small High Figure 3: Customer segmentation in Germany. Traditional banks and brokers used to focus on the segments active traders and young investors. These were the first being attracted by the Internet and on-line brokerage. They execute most transactions per account. Accordingly, they generate the major part of the current revenues. Due to the importance of the groups portfolio and loyal investors (see fig. 3), on-line brokers have to elaborate specific characteristics and financial products regarding the individual needs of each customer segment. As fig. 4 demonstrates, the support of new distribution channels, customer consulting services and personalized information supply, cross-border and after-hours trading are the most relevant needs of those investors. On-line brokers will have to cope with these new requirements by creating new business strategies. In the remainder of this paper, it will be shown that German on-line brokers will have to take the retail investors needs into account by offering fully integrated services to oppose the accelerating competition in the financial market. Cross-border trading Multiple channels Advisory services Better packaged software More financial news Research information Do not know N/A Percent Figure 4: What brokers will add to their services (see [2], pp.63 and [7]) Competitive situation The competitive situation on the German/European on-line brokerage market is increasingly strong: With ConSors, ComDirect, Deutsche Bank24 and Direkt Anlage Bank (which managed about 50 % of European on-line accounts in ) four of the five biggest on-line brokers in Europe (see [3], p.5) are based in Germany (see fig.5). # accounts (5/1999) market share comdirect ,90% ConSors ,80% Schwab Europe ,80% DAB ,00% Bank ,00% Cortal ,00% SE Banken ,10% NetTrade ,20% Nordnet ,60% Fimatex ,30% Ferry ,20% Barclays Stockbrokers ,20% CPR-E*Trade ,10% Avanza ,00% Others 1% Figure 5: Market shares in European on-line brokerage accounts. With the introduction of the Euro as a common currency in most of the European countries and the ongoing harmonization of the European financial markets, competition will increase due to the fact that the international banks try to realize their chances in this new market. Hitherto, the European stock market is still fragmented. Stocks are listed at various national and/or regional exchanges, where different organizational and regulatory frameworks exist. Some big stocks in Europe are even traded in different currencies e.g., UK stocks since UK has not yet FORIT GmbH Fankfurt a.m., Germany (www.forit.de). 4 Unfortunately there is no number of trades per account available /01 $10.00 (c) 2001 IEEE 3 joined the Euro network. The national markets in Europe are therefore facing a lack of transparency and liquidity compared to the US market. American on-line brokers will penetrate the German/ European market by introducing ECNs (e.g. Charles Schwab or E*Trade) in order to offer after-hours and/or cross-border trading to their customers (see chapter 5). 3. Transaction chain and integration opportunities in stock trading In this section, the transaction phase model is presented in order to systematize the on-line brokers and ECNs strategies and to derive possible strategies for on-line brokers The market process and transaction phase models A trading process can be seen as a sequence of transaction phases as depicted in fig 6. Different phase models have been proposed to capture the semantics of trading processes ([8], pp.38; [9], pp.48; [10]). Typically, phase models for securities trading subdivide the market process into four phases: the information search, the order routing, the negotiation and the settlement phase: information search order routing negotiation and agreement clearing and settlement Figure 6: The market process of securities trading. During the information phase, an investor searches information concerning market, product and counterparties. The specification of orders and the transmission to the point of execution occurs in the order routing phase. Once placed in the market, the negotiation phase starts by bringing buy and sell side together. The negotiation phase itself consists of a set of interdependent processes (see [11], p.30): trade matching, quantity allocation and price discovery. Subsequently, in the settlement phase, the contract partners exchange money and securities Forward integration as a strategy for online brokers In the past, the business models of on-line brokers primarily focus on the reduction of transaction costs by using new technologies. 5 Especially brokers focussed on facilitating an affordable market access for mainly retail investors by the abandoning of cost intensive consulting services, 6 i.e., order routing is the core business of German on-line brokers. By supporting the order routing phase exclusively, on-line brokers developed their core competence in the discount sector and tried to realize a cost leadership position. On-line brokers quickly expanded their coverage of the transaction chain towards the information phase. Besides low transaction costs, on-line brokerage customers require information in the same quality, accuracy and speed as professional traders do. In order to meet their needs, on-line brokers were integrating professional information services to their product portfolio (see [15]). Today, they cover the information and order routing phase, but leave the negotiation and settlement phase to traditional exchanges and clearing institutions. The integration of the last two phases of the transaction chain therefore represents new possible strategies and business models. Two complementary strategies can be identified in that respect: 1. On-line brokers integrate the negotiation phase and offer price discovery procedures in an electronic trading system; 2. On-line brokers integrate the negotiation and settlement phase and create a fully integrated computer exchange (for a classification model see [16]). The implementation of both strategies can be observed on the U.S. market: the integration of the third phase leads to the emergence of the so-called ATS (respectively ECNs see [17]). 7 The two strategies will be discussed in the context of the U.S. on-line brokerage market, to derive possible future developments in the German market. 5 Transaction costs can be split up into direct and indirect costs. Direct costs involve commissions to brokers an stock exchanges and taxes and are known explicitly. Indirect costs are difficult to estimate. They include market impact costs (...), spread costs (...), and opportunity costs (...). ([12], p.36 or see [13], pp.47, [14], p.34). Transaction cost reduction nowadays is only possible because of the lower commissions of the brokers incurred, in terms of variable costs, by the brokerage through of the Internet as a distribution channel ([2], p.47). As an example: US-$ 373 Merrill Lynch via broker representative; US-$ 8 Ameritrade via the Internet (Assumes $ 10,000 trade of 200 $ 50 each (see [3] p.18)). 6 With this transformation costs dropped from more then 1 % per transaction up to 0,2 % per transaction. 7 In fact, this alternatives lead to the creation of an ECN or an exchange, depending on the legal regulations under which the emerging market operates /01 $10.00 (c) 2001 IEEE 4 4. ATS in the United States and in Germany The Security and Exchange Committee in the U.S.A. (SEC) defines ATS as automated systems that centralize, display, match, cross, or otherwise execute trading interests, but that are not currently registered with the commission as national securities exchanges or operated by registered securities association ([17], p.8, footnote). 8 Archipelago Attain Instinet Island REDIBook TradeBook Information Phase planed Order Routing Negotiation/ Agreement Clearing/ Settlement realised Figure 7: Process phases covered by selected ATS. In the U.S.A., various intermediaries ATS/ECNs and online brokers establish platforms for security trading parallel to the existing exchanges, which link financial information services, order routing, negotiation/agreement (matching) and settlement processes. ECN Target Group ECN Target Group OptiMark Institutions, Broker-dealers, Fund Managers Archipelago Institutions, Broker-dealers Instinet Strike Broker-dealers Institutional and Discount Brokers Day Traders Institutions Island TradeBook Discounters, Broker-dealers Institutions Broker-dealers, Brut Broker-dealers, NexTrade Discount Brokers, Broker-dealers, REDIBoo k Institutions, Retail Brokerage, Broker-dealers Attain Day Traders Figure 8: Target groups of ECNs. Source: Internet research. 9 8 ATS offer services similar to those of exchanges are referred to as Electronic Communication Networks (ECN). They are not inevitably subject to the regulatory and organizational conditions of exchanges ([17]) Some of these ATS cover the whole transaction chain of securities trading (see fig. 7) for a wide range of customers (see fig. 8) Development of ATS in the U.S. Three main factors led to the fast emergence of ATS in the U.S.: 1. the compared to European financial markets low degree of automation in trading processes/ market models of the traditional exchanges, (see chapter ) 2. the malpractice of market makers and brokers during the crash of 1997 at the NASDAQ and (see chapter ) 3. the growing impact of the Internet as the driver of fundamental changes for the whole financial services industry. Chapter and give a deeper insight into the development of ATS and the according regulatory framework: Structure and trading processes at American exchanges and ATS Traditional American exchanges (e.g. NASDAQ) missed the step in the evolution from computer supported (floor) trading to fully integrated electronic trading systems; i.e., the matching of orders and the process of price discovery is yet not fully automated. Price discovery is merely realized by the market maker principle and, hence, implicates in-transparency and high transaction costs. ATS typically have sophisticated IT infrastructures that have been designed from scratch to support the relevant phases in the transaction process particularly the automated matching and price discovery. This enables ATS to underbid the fees exchanges charge their customers, act more flexible to varying customer demands or market trends and establish themselves as competitors for the traditional exchanges. In the end of 1999 nine ECNs were registered in the U.S.: Archipelago, Attain, TradeBook, Brass Utility, Instinet, Island, REDIBook, Strike Technology, NexTrade. While traditional exchanges are often owned by a few and huge banks, the owner of the new trading platforms are investment banks, brokers, news agents and software companies (see [18]). This heterogeneous ownership structure guarantees a fast adaptation of the market /01 $10.00 (c) 2001 IEEE 5 models, trading features and IT-architecture to the market requirements. Typically, ATS enable cost-effective and order-driven electronic trading which circumvents the usual market makers and often focuses on specific niches like basket-, day- or after-hours trading. Private investors needs are often better satisfied by such ATS Malpractice by American market makers In the 1990s two negative trends of the NASDAQ were obser
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