Online financial services – it means so many things to so many people. Internet banking, online bill payment and check image presentment, e-statements, online loan origination, and more. But, have you thought about brokerage? With the passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 the landscape of financial services and the delivery of these services online is changing, and changing rapidly. The Internet has provided the means for anyone, even the novice investor, to conduct online trading. In addition, more and more individuals are taking advantage of the service as a means of more effectively managing their money. According to a recent Gallup 2000 Special Report by American Banker, an increasing number of consumers are trading securities on the Internet, and the number of transactions completed online has also grown considerably in the last year. Nine percent of people who responded to the survey said that they – or another household member – had an online securities account, up from 5% in 1999. The number of these account holders who trade at least weekly more than tripled, to 13%. In a recent report by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), they indicate that Jupiter Communications, a research firm based in New York, estimates by 2003, 20.3 million households will trade online and puts total online account assets at more than $3 trillion. In addition, your competitors are getting into the online brokerage business. Community banks and banks of all types across the country view online brokerage as a necessary defense. And, to top it off, discount brokerage firms are branching out and providing not just discount brokerage services, but full service financial services, as well. Among discount firms surveyed in a recent Deloitte & Touche survey of online securities trading and outlined in Microbanker, 54% of the discount brokerage said that widening their service offerings is “central to their positioning.” Fifty-five percent said they planned to form alliances within the next year to offer banking services such as cash management, certificates of deposit, mortgages, and access to automated teller machines, while 27% said they planned to form alliances to offer bill payment services. They are after your members and have likely already begun to target and market to them. The relationship you have with your members is clearly one of the most trusted in business today. A growing percentage of your members are looking at online brokerage as a means of investing and more effectively managing their money. Online brokerage from within your credit union site can satisfy your members wants and needs of conducting stock and mutual funds trading, portfolio tracking, stock quotes, research, full charting, hot stock listing, market news, company descriptions and inexpensive trades. More and more of your members want one place they can go for all their financial services, and the ability to manage their money in real-time without leaving their trusted financial institution. Imagine this: Your member is looking for investment options, but your credit union doesn’t provide online investing. What would your member do? It’s possible they may turn to one of the big name online brokerage houses to look into investment options. Before you know it, your member is transferring funds from their credit union savings account to open a trading account at a competing brokerage. There go your assets. And, with a myriad of these financial services companies vying for your member, your assets are at risk. Nevertheless, you can look to online brokerage integrated with your online branch as a means to retain members, compete on a more level playing field, and retain member assets. Looking at your online financial services delivery channel in a strategic way can help you determine what priority of products best suit the needs of your members, and the objectives of your credit union. The Internet moves very quickly, and your competition moves very quickly. So taking a strategic look at your online services on a regular basis can help you stay ahead of the competition.

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