Tuning in to Volatility

Tuning in to Volatility

By Peter Ashton

Friday, June 29th, 2018

In this article, Peter Ashton writes about the three of the most widely used indicators.

Canadian and U.S. markets have provided a very profitable backdrop for investors over the nine-year bull market that began in 2009. However, the ride has been far from smooth, with many ups and downs in the market along the way. Although buy-and-hold remains a very solid investment strategy, today’s market volatility provides opportunities for more active investors looking to time their entry and exit points with the aim of boosting their overall returns.

Technical traders often refer to market conditions as being “overbought” or “oversold.” These terms are rooted in the idea that an individual stock (or even the market as a whole) will tend to revert to its long-term trend. In other words, stocks that have risen too far, too fast are overbought and likely to decline back towards their longer-term trend. Similarly, stocks that are oversold are likely to rise. Over the years, technical analysts have developed a number of mathematical indicators that help traders identify overbought and oversold conditions such that they can better time their entry and exit points.

Three of the most widely used indicators for this purpose are Bollinger bands, MACD and RSI.

Bollinger bands

Developed by John Bollinger in the 1980s, Bollinger bands were one of the first adaptive envelope volatility tools. Bollinger bands use standard deviation and a simple moving average to help traders identify overbought and oversold levels. When calculating Bollinger bands, you first calculate a 20-day moving average of the price data. The upper and lower Bollinger bands then typically appear two standard deviations above and below the 20-day moving average. When the price touches the upper Bollinger band, the stock is considered overbought and likely to decline back towards the 20-day moving average. When the price touches the lower Bollinger band, it is considered oversold and likely to rise.

Figure 1: Bollinger Bands


MACD is an abbreviation for Moving Average Convergence/Divergence. This indicator helps identify overbought and oversold signals by calculating the difference between two moving averages of different time periods. Typically, MACD is calculated by comparing the difference between a 26-day and 12-day exponential moving average. A 9-day exponential moving average is also plotted and called the signal line. When the MACD is rising, it indicates upward price momentum as the short-term moving average begins to pull away (diverge) from the longer-term one. When MACD crosses the signal line in the upward direction, it indicates an oversold (bullish) level. When MACD crosses the signal line in the downward direction, it indicates an overbought (bearish) condition.

Figure 2: MACD

Relative Strength Index

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) is an oscillator that measures a stock’s current relative strength compared to its own price history. RSI is plotted on a scale of 0 to 100. Leaving out the mathematical details, RSI looks at the average closing price in “up” days divided by the average closing price during “down” days over a 14-day calculation period. An RSI level below 30 implies that a stock is oversold while an RSI above 70 implies it’s overbought. The RSI moving above 30 is considered a bullish event whereas a move below 70 is considered a bearish event.

Figure 3: Relative Strength Index

If this sounds complicated, you are not alone! Technical analysis is powerful, but it can be daunting for the novice investor or trader. The good news is that automated software tools make it easier to find and research stocks displaying overbought and oversold indicators.

CIBC Investor’s Edge offers Recognia® Technical Insight™ free of charge to account holders. Technical Insight automates the standard practices of technical analysis, making it easy to identify new trade ideas or evaluate the technical perspective for a given stock or ETF. Technical Insight automatically detects the Bollinger bands, MACD and RSI indicators, as well as many other common types of technical events.

With Technical Insight, you can look up a stock or ETF and see all its active technical patterns and indicators. Featured Ideas highlights ten trade ideas per day based on what’s poised to move from a technical perspective. Use the technical event screener to search for trade ideas in a given sector or based on a specific technical indicator like MACD or RSI. Set up email alerts to stay on top of your positions and tune in to signs of weakness.

To use Technical Insight, sign on to CIBC Investor’s Edge and select Quotes and Research, Market Centre. Select the Technical Analysis tab.

The investment ideas presented here are for information only. They do not constitute advice or a recommendation by Trading Central in respect of the investment in financial instruments. Investors should conduct further research before investing.


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Technical Insight wins "Best Specialist Product"

The Technical Analyst Awards 2018, London

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Every year The Technical Analyst recognizes the very best in technical analysis and trading software and this year, that included Technical Insight.


On May 24th, Trading Central attended The Technical Analyst Awards Ceremony in London after being selected as a finalist in six categories including "Best Independent Research House for Multi-Asset Research" and "Best Specialist Product". For more information on the research that caught the attention of this year's judges, please view Trading Central's online award submission.

Surrounded by other industry leaders, CEO Alain Pellier was present to receive the award for 2018's "Best Specialist Product". "At Trading Central, we're proud to offer analytics that enable investors to enjoy running their own portfolios and we're thrilled to be recognized within the industry for this initiative," said Trading Central CEO, Alain Pellier.

This award follows the recent wave of improvements to the flagship product which has been trusted by leading online investment platforms since 2001. These updates focused on providing responsive experiences, advanced filtering capabilities, modernized charting and idea generation fueled by popular sentiment. Collectively, these features enable investors to find new trade opportunities based on "what's trending" in their regions, to learn what different patterns mean for a stock price, the ability to find suitable investment candidates and to stay continually informed on market movement... even on the go!

Read the Technical Analyst press release for more details!










Learn why investors are loving Technical Insight: 

Learn more about our award-winning product here!

Getting Technical with TC- May 2018

Learn from our award-winning research team...

In just 20 minutes, our monthly analyst webinars help you stay informed with our global macro overview and learn to properly validate investment opportunities with the principles of technical analysis.

What's new this month?

This month we're focusing on the S&P 500, Ftse Mib, Currencies (EUR/USD, GBP/USD, USD/JPY) and Commodities (Crude oil, gold).

Who are our experts?

Our Global Research Team comprises of Senior Technical Analysts with STA, MsTA or CMT qualifications. Located in Ottawa, Paris, and Hong Kong, they’re able to provide around-the-clock coverage of equities, FX, commodities and indices, and publish hundreds of analyses every market day! This award-winning team of independent advisers help a broad swath of investors with services such as custom-watchlist reporting, directional opinions, multi-factor trade recommendations and entry/exit timing. Learn more about our research team and award-winning methodologies on our research page.

Markets Never Sleep®, and with offices around the world, Trading Central is always there to support your investment decisions with actionable research in the moments that matter.


Or watch from our Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/Y-0NRaoGmyA

The trends shaping today’s online investing space.

Insights from Market Trends panel at the 2017 Online Broker Summit.

By TC Marketing

Leaders of the online brokerage industry gathered at Trading Central’s Online Broker Summit in Montreal to tune into an annual favourite— the Market Trends panel. Each year, TC gathers a handful of expert and unbiased critics from the front line of the financial industry to offer an insightful glimpse at how recent events are driving change.  Key topics on the minds of today’s investors and online brokers include data security, regulation changes, ethically responsible portfolios and global investing.

This year’s discussion was moderated by John See, a seasoned financial service professional and the present Vice-Chair at TD Wealth. He led a lively discussion with:

  • Keith VanOrden, Managing Director at Blackrock
  • Som Seif, Co-founder of Wealth Simple, President of Purpose Investing
  • Theresa Carey, Author of Barron’s Annual Review of Online Brokers
  • Rob Carrick, Columnist for Globe and MailRead more

The evolution of the financial industry

Insights from J.D. Power Keynote at the 2017 Online Broker Summit.

By TC Marketing


Every fall, North American brokers look forward to reading the Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction Study published annually by J.D. Power. Considering themselves to be the voice of the consumer, J.D. Power’s survey tracks broker performance year over year, using customer satisfaction as its key metric. The study identifies broad changes in investor needs, market conditions and the competitive landscape to guide brokers to deliver superior value.

Attendees of this  month’s Trading Central Online Broker Summit had the pleasure of hearing Mike Foy, head of the North American Wealth Management Practice speak on recent shifts in the industry from the perspective of today’s investors. Leveraging data from last month’s Canadian survey, Mike offered insight on how brokers can improve the experience for their customers and better differentiate their platforms. He reviewed how today’s disruptors are shaping the industry, the new segment forming and what brokers can do to leverage these as new opportunities.


The top three industry disruptors

  1. Mobile: There’s a common misconception that investors are only comparing your platform with other investment platforms, but their expectations are being set by absolutely all their online experiences. This includes the interactive and communicative platforms typical in social media and the powerful, personalized suggestions from Amazon. Look outside the brokerage industry for inspiration on how you can best meet the needs of your account holders.
  2. Robo-advisors: Not only have most already experimented with robo-advisors, but many are reporting positive experiences. Approximately 50% of investors rated robo as equal or better than their self-directed experiences. These individuals often view it as a low-cost alternative to full service portfolio management. Unsurprisingly, this is  drawing younger investors, whose smaller capital doesn’t yet rationalize the cost of traditional services. Mike believed the high satisfaction score to mainly reflect the user experience of their modern user experience, rather than through actual portfolio returns.
  3. Regulation: Recent changes in fiduciary legislation such as CRM2 and DOL, have pushed the need for an increase in disclosure and transparency… but has this been successful in helping investors? Mike said there’s been little evidence to support the premise that this is achieving the desired outcome. “Disclosure doesn’t automatically translate into transparency”, he says, because the bulk of investors still aren’t truly understanding the materials provided to them. Almost 56% of your investors still don’t understand their fees, however with those who do, J.D. Power saw a significant increase in satisfaction. Use your on-boarding procedures, he suggested. “It is a trigger moment where investors compare the value proposition to what they’re paying.”

Emerging Investor Segments

Recently, there’s been a rise in online brokerage customers who do not match the traditional profile. It’s important to understand these new segments, and the extent to which their needs and expectations may differ.



Traditionally, millennials haven’t been a large focus for brokers because they don’t yet have the level of wealth to warrant the attention, however the upcoming transfer of baby boomer wealth could greatly affect this space over the next few decades. It’s estimated that 30 trillion dollars will change hands over the next 30 of years in the US alone.

But are millennials really that different? There’s insufficient data to suggest that our younger generation won’t be investing similar to their elder counterparts once they reach the same age. That being said, brokers should prepare for the characteristics that will persevere such as comfortability with technology and a hybrid service approach.



Long considered a male domain, the investment space has seen a massive upswing in female participation. Women presently control 33 to 40 percent of all  investable assets within North America,  a figure that poised to swell given the growth rate of female owned firms. This trend is further supported by inheritance and longevity statistics.

Both genders are similar in terms of overall satisfaction in their investment experiences, however Mike suggested there appear to be different drivers. Despite the research suggesting equal levels of financial literacy, women appear less confident in their skillset. This fuels a greater need for disclosure, open conversation and accessible educational materials.


The “Validator”

The traditional assumption was that investors were interested in either a full service or a self-directed experience, however these lines are blurring. Today’s investors are looking for the best of both worlds— on demand access to advice and guidance, in a way that empowers them to make their own decisions. J.D. Power tokened this broad trend as the “rise of the validator”.

Seeking Success in a Competitive & Undifferentiated Sector

J.D. Power’s annual survey, which ranks brokers on a 1,000 point scale in terms of overall satisfaction, demonstrated very little differentiation amongst online brokers. Where other industries saw gaps as large as 200, the online trading world experienced only 33 points separating today’s leaders from those at the bottom of the rankings. This indicates a feeling of “sameness” across the board from the perspective of investors.

In an era of ever evolving technology, Mike looked to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for inspiration, advising that brokers build their business strategy around things stable in time.

Success in differentiation will be dictated by who is able to best leverage technology to accommodate core customer needs. Mike shared the five he found to be universal:

  1. Convenience: Your customer’s perception of convenience is constantly evolving, however today’s key components are the ability to accomplish all their investment needs with a single provider, and to easily verify portfolio performance or execute a trade on the go. (efficient & flexible)
  2. Recognition: How well you recognize each customer’s unique needs and goals, and offer an intuitive experience tailored to this.
  3. Advice: The ability to recognize when an investor needs assistance and connect them with suitable support.  Most investors aren’t aware of the resources available to them, meaning more effort needs to be allocated to connecting them with what already exists.
  4. Trust: Your customers need to have confidence you’ll deliver on your promises. Make it easy for them to review their portfolio performance, be transparent with any fees and be careful to only set realistic expectations.
  5. Value: Make your platform a worthy investment of each customer’s time and capital. Self-directed investors are less interested in finding the lowest possible fee, than they are in achieving the highest perceived value. Mike estimated on they’re own, that fees accounted for less than 20% of overall satisfaction.

Onboarding is a critical moment for delivering value, as newly acquired customers are forming both initial and lasting impressions of your brand. This is your golden opportunity to show the full range of resources available and ensure they are satisfied with their choice of you as a provider. Less than 50% of those surveyed felt all the boxes were checked during their onboarding process, but the majority remembered the experience.


Mike Foy is Senior Director of the Wealth Management Practice at J.D. Power. He is responsible for the company’s syndicated research studies on both investors and financial advisors. He is also responsible for developing research-based solutions that drive measurable results for clients within the wealth management industry in North America.


Download the full whitepaper here.

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Big Data: Insights from a digital publisher

Insights from Investopedia keynote at the 2016 Online Broker Summit.

By TC Marketing


At the Online Broker Summit in Chicago, Ronnie Jansson of Investopedia kicked off the morning with his Keynote on Big Data. Ronnie shared insights on investor behavior discovered by big data and how these insights can help online brokers activate accounts, and build digital client relationships through personalized experiences for investors.


As the Director of Data Science at IAC Publishing with a focus on Investopedia, Ronnie is responsible for capitalizing on the publisher’s big data to discover insights leading to new services and business transformation. His experience as a quantitative analyst on Wall Street, findings at Investopedia and a PhD in Physics fueled a unique view point on the financial industry, that was well enjoyed by Online Broker Summit guests.

Data Science Skill Set


What is data science?

Data science is fundamentally about understanding your user base to offer insights you can’t ask your business intelligence team to pull out for you.


A helpful use for data science is to create algorithms for recirculation. It allows you to provide users with content links relevant to what they are already reading, This keeps users “circulating” your site longer. It can also identify gaps in content, which is no small task for companies like Investopedia, whose site already has over 100,000 articles on finance and economics.

Analyzing user interest can help drive sales or inform new products. For example, it can identify a co-occurrence between users reading on multiple different topics, meaning if a person is interested in topic x, they’ll also be interested in topic y. This allows publishers to create content for an intent-driven audience.


Demographics affect how people consume content

Many insights gained from data science can benefit online brokerage firms, such as how market performance affects content consumption. For example, in a low-interest-rate environment, tutorials demonstrating how to invest in stocks became much more popular compared to those about bonds.

Location and reader demographics have an effect on content consumption as well. For example, New York-based consumers read more content on advanced topics such as structured products, while North American tech centres can be identified by looking at where those interested in stock options are.

Does the stock market affect what people are reading on Investopedia? Yes. In line with the saying, “Bad News Is Good News”, Investopedia’s readership increased during times of volatility and declined on habitual positive topics such as “Guide to Buying a Car”.‍

The Investopedia Anxiety Index

Setting out to create an economic indicator that could represent investor anxiety, Jansson began by pulling together highly trafficked articles and dictionary terms that tend to be anxiety-inducing. These included inflation/deflation, bankruptcy, default, default risk and short-selling. He then used specific signals, like September 2008, the Lehman Brothers collapse and the Greek debt bailout, to check whether consumption of anxiety-inducing content is correlated to market turbulence. It appears that it is.


Encouragingly, the one period where the Investopedia Anxiety Index was relatively neutral was when there was an extended period of long-term growth in the S&P 500 Index, which indicates that the Investopedia Anxiety Index is truly tracking something. Jansson then went on to see whether the Index could be a leading indicator of the CBOE Volatility Index. Using the entire time series, the answer, once again, appears to be yes.


Jansson noted the compelling example of the lead-up to the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Looking back at the Investopedia Anxiety Index before that period, the Index had been sounding an alarm for a year and a half prior to the crisis.


Although it’s still a work-in-progress, the applications of the Investopedia Anxiety Index could be significant. It could be used to predict severe market downturns, to isolate regional concerns or as a trading filter.

Diamonds in the rough

Look for diamonds in the rough, Jansson advises. “The Investopedia Anxiety Index is just looking at very old, mundane data lying around. That’s our traffic data. It’s our most boring term. But if we turn it into something that’s actually useful, then it’s a product that we will have and sell.”

Building Client Relationships ~ A View from Trading Central

Online Brokers are knee-deep in their digital transformation projects as the industry recognizes the need to improve the customer experience. Consumers have come to expect easy online services and are frustrated or simply disengaged when this is not delivered. A key component of easy online service is "personalization" to deliver the right information in the moments investors need it. Think about those moments when an application has surprised you with delightfully useful information. What better way to build trust with our clients than to detect their anxieties and to proactively reach out with relevant offerings so that we can be there for them in those moments that matter.

Find out how we’re helping online brokers solve for a personalized flow of information. Reach out to us at info@tradingcentral.com.


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Market Trends: View from the critics & research community

Insights from Market Trends panel at the 2016 Online Broker Summit.

By TC Marketing


At the 2016 Chicago Online Broker Summit, we began the panel discussions with the return of a crowd favourite; Market Trends. The panel explored the retail investor landscape and what opportunities exist for firms to deepen their client experience. What are the key trends in North America? How can online brokers remove friction for investors and provide a smooth user experience?


Jamie McClelland, a former board member at Recognia moderated the star studded panel which featured columnists Rob Carrick from Globe and Mail and Theresa Carey from Barron's, as well as industry expert Ryan Szakacs of BlackRock. Their combined insight on current market trends and investor needs, provided an actionable analysis which online broker guests found to be directly relevant to their business.

Worry and the generational divide

Investors are thinking conservatively. They’re worried about interest rates and risk, but still want decent returns. This is leading them into dividend funds and low-volatility products.

There are two primary cohorts affecting investor trends right now; Millennials and Baby Boomers– each with drastically different wants and needs.


  • Millennials (born 1980-1996): High levels of student debt and low financial sophistication create a barrier to entry. Many are unaware of most of the options available to them. To attract millennials, online broker’s should offer simple and quick, mobile-based solutions.
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964): These investors are keenly interested in retirement and are looking for information on how to protect what they have. This provides an opportunity for brokers to get this information into their boomer clients’ hands.

The concerns of today’s digital investor

Despite its’ recent growth in popularity, many investors are still hesitant about online investing. According to a reader survey Carey conducted, the largest concern remains with security. “They were sure somebody was going to jump in and steal their portfolio out from under them,” she said. “And given recent data breaches at major credit card companies, I can understand their anxiety.”


Online brokers need to combat this misinformation. Many Canadian brokers have security guarantees, added Carrick, and investor assets are often held at third parties covered by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Brokers should emphasize these points to help their clients feel more secure about investing online.

The key to success

After 15 years of studying the market, Carey believes the brokers who outperform are the ones offering the most customization. For example, successful websites are often tailored to respond to each client using them, making things more accessible. “Figure out which tools I’m using and keep them available, so I don’t have to dig and find them again.”


Simplicity is also important to today’s investors. “I’m tired of the jargon,” Carrick expressed. “Look at the way robo-advisors are tracking this. When you want to find out what the fees are, they use the word pricing. Not fees. Pricing. Because people simply want to know the price.”

ETFs and liquidity

Szakacs noted that investors have voiced concern with the lack of liquidity in certain ETFs. “Never be afraid of liquidity,” he explained. “Every ETF has it, even municipal bond ETFs. For the notional amount that you’re generally going to be putting into any of these ETFs, there shouldn’t be an issue.”


He also noted that many improvements have been made to the ETF market since the mini-flash crash of August 2015. Stock exchanges, issuers and market makers have implemented solutions to make sure the market structure doesn’t break down the way that it did last August. Auction collars have been expanded, imbalances have been pushed out further and stop orders have been eliminated from the New York Stock Exchange.

To Jargon or Not to Jargon - A View from Recognia

Online broker platforms are filled with research and education that uses investing jargon, and the critics say it's time to simplify like the robo-advisors are doing. The debate is on: to jargon, or not to jargon, as we compete to help consumers at large manage their own investments.


Online trading platforms shot up out of the 90's as more brokers took advantage of the rise of the PC and internet to develop software that connects the public directly to the markets. Initially, content and tools were crafted by industry experts to serve the niche of traders who enjoyed the intellectual challenge of digging into the textbooks and learning the craft.  With self-directed investing expanding faster than non self-directed investing, the demographics are expanding as well. Should online brokers follow the path of robo-advisors by reducing their use of industry jargon? Perhaps the best answer is: "sometimes".


Online brokers have a mission to empower people to take direct control of their financial futures. Certainly, if we are to invite people in and get them involved, we will get further with simple clear language that drops the jargon and uses colorful stories to illustrate the possibilities and to show we care. But along with this comes the duty to invite people into a long-established body of knowledge from which other market participants already benefit. We have a responsibility to introduce consumers to the relevant investing terms so they can participate to the extent that they desire.


Here at Trading Central, we're focused on building products that provide computational assistance to people as they perform their own investing research. We reach into the bodies of  knowledge around "technical" and "fundamental" analysis (there's the jargon!) to do the heavy lifting for retail investors. Meanwhile we explore ways to educate about analysis while striking a balance with simpler explanations and stories and UX design practices that allow more and more people to wade in... to the depth that suits them.


There's no black-and-white answer to jargon or not to jargon. The winners will make the right choice in the right moments for the investors they serve.

Using UX design to build client relationships

Insights from UX panel at the 2016 Online Broker Summit.

By TC Marketing

A great user experience reduces attrition while increasing client loyalty and share of wallet. Meaning it’s important to get it right. Moderated by Amelia Young, this expert panel features Adam Hulnick, Andrew Turnbull, Brett Calzada and Eric Lennert. The discussion looked beyond theory to provide practical takeaways you can implement in your business.

Your clients’ mental model

The problem many brokers face is today’s investor has a high expectations. They enter your platform with a “mental model” of how things should work and expect it to function flawlessly every time. To increase the difficulty, these expectations differ from user to user. Those trying to manage their management expense ration will have very different needs than active traders.


Cultivating trust

The financial services industry has no shortage of tools, but trust comes from giving people the right tool for the right job. For example, an investor who uses their broker’s site to rebalance their individual retirement account (IRA) every quarter doesn’t need a real-time stock screener.

Effective UX should be personalized. Rather than giving investors a junk drawer full of tools and letting them figure out what they need, show them that you know why they’re coming to you. Provide them with only the tools they need and suggest how to best use them so they can accomplish what they need efficiently. Done properly, you’re no longer just building trust; you’re saving them valuable time.

Investors have come to expect this level of service. They know their brokers have plenty of data on them, but they want that data used in a way that benefits them. They don’t want to be treated like every other client.

Crossing the line

While personalization is important, it must be managed appropriately. Clients understand their broker knows personal information about them based on the content they are provided, but often underestimate how much is publicly available. For example, a broker could easily discover a client’s divorce or new child through Facebook. Although it allows brokers to offer customized solutions, clients become uncomfortable when you use the information they don’t know you have. This discomfort grows when their information is used to sell them something rather than to help them.

Another concern is privacy within a client’s personal environment. For example, brokers should be careful when personalizing a client’s home screen, because the client might not be the only person who can see that home screen. Be aware of the level of sensitivity of the information you’re leveraging, and weigh that against the benefits of personalization.

Implementation challenges

Finding user experience experts with strong financial backgrounds can pose a significant challenge. UX is a competitive field and the financial industry is at a disadvantage; there are regulations dictating what can and can’t be done, and finance isn’t perceived as ‘exciting’.

Brokerage firms may need to get creative about how they harvest their design talent. Consider recruiting from other industries. The key is to find individuals with great ideas and UX experience, as well as those who can deliver on client expectations. Finding this combination means you may need to train on the brokerage side of things.

Another challenge facing the industry is technology. Firms are moving toward application program interfaces (APIs) with a service layer, which is critical to good UX design. However, many are also trying to develop these with legacy technologies, which simply isn’t working.

To succeed, brokerage firms must separate their user-interface layer from the legacy systems that provide their actual brokerage services. Otherwise, a firm could have the greatest ideas, but won’t be able to execute on them.

A View from Trading Central ~ Capitalizing on Micro-Moments

As we lead the transformation of online brokerage user experiences, we often focus on big-picture concepts like personalization and mobile. That's a great starting point but the details matter. The best user experiences will leverage each micro-moment as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship with the client. With open observation and empathy for users, we can discover those moments which are our opportunities. At Recognia, we are helping our clients with transformation by opening up our kit of insightful investing analytics, and placing them in the investor's path at the moment it might be useful to them. Traditional sitemap organization is still widespread and expected, where online broker websites have distinct sections for accounts, for education, and for research on stocks, ETFs and options. But now we are being deliberate to curate relevant content to the investor as they might need it, rather than teaching them about the sitemap and asking them to navigate it. Ask us about the following three initiatives and others we have on the go.

Proactively notifying investors when there are significant changes in the overall technical or fundamental picture for stocks they own. Offering trading tactics with options as the investor goes to place an order, to help them reduce net cost or control risk. Giving a top-down view of sector and market analysis alongside the stock search as a helpful insight in the moment of decision making.


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A Global Perspective: The needs of consumers in a world of volatile markets

Insights from Investment Trends Keynote at the 2016 Online Broker Summit.

By TC Marketing

November 8, 2016



Each year, online broker executives look forward to the Investment Trends annual global survey for lessons learned across the globe about the online investing business and client experience. At the 2016 Online Broker Summit, they enjoyed a preview of the survey findings, presented by Investment Trends CEO, Michael Blomfield along with his firm’s interpretation of the retail investing landscape.


The overarching mood from the survey, according to Mr. Blomfield, is that investors around the world have serious concerns right now. They’re worried about domestic economies, the U.S. economy and high debt levels. Because of this, they’ve become frozen with fear. They’re holdings positions too long or staying out of the market too long, and this relates to both investors and brokers.


To fix this, brokers need a proper understanding current investor needs and concerns.

Getting investors to turn to brokers first

“When we ask people where they go for help, the first thing they tell us is Google,” Blomfield noted. This isn’t good, since each of these investors has a broker or wealth manager. But it seems investors aren’t getting what they need from their brokers.


What is it investors need? Blomfield has asked that question, too, and the answer is invariably that they need someone to tell them what to do in this environment of uncertainty. Blomfield stressed that investors don’t say they want more education or more research. They want specific trading ideas and strategies, and brokers who can connect with investors and provide those things will see their client satisfaction levels improve.

Today’s indicators of fear

Two growing trends highlight investor fear of not knowing what to do:

  • ‍Exchange-traded funds (ETFs): Investors appear to be thinking, “If you can’t tell me what stock to buy, I’ll just buy a whole bunch of them. This approach may be better than doing nothing, but it won’t lead to a drastically better outcome, and it’s not in investors’ best interests.”
  • ‍Robo-advice: Robo is based on an understanding of our inability to efficiently make decisions, particularly in high-pressure environments. This rise in popularity is problematic, because each investor has a different financial situation and a different set of remuneration targets.

Sometimes we, as an industry, make the mistake of thinking that personalization equals the timely delivery of generic information. Investors want trading ideas, but they want it contextually. - Michael Blomfield

“Stop being brokers and start being solution providers”

Generally, brokers aren’t looking at an investor‘s portfolio in real-time, while the investor is looking at alternatives and trying to decide what to do next. This means brokers aren’t there to say, “If you did the following, the risk profile of your portfolio would change in the following ways.” As a result, investors are looking at their portfolios, they’re reaching the buy screen and then getting stuck at the execute button. This is where brokers can help by suggesting specific and personalized investment ideas and strategies.


Blomfield reiterated that it’s not an unwillingness to invest that’s holding investors back. It’s an inability to find that one thing they want to buy. Brokers must try to put that one thing in front of investors. “Stop being brokers and start being solution providers,” he said.

Improving client satisfaction

The level of client satisfaction is low across the globe. Regardless of what innovations, your company has achieved in the past year, when Mr. Blomfield surveyed clients on what their broker has done- 60-70% said “Nothing”.


Blomfield presented a case study of a client who achieved the first place position in satisfaction within the industry. How did they do it?

The recipe for satisfaction

Investors Seek Prescriptive Decision Support~ A View from Trading Central

While online brokers offer a range of investment research tools and education to their clients, we can learn something from the rise of robo-advisors and thematic portfolio brokers such as Motif Investing. Investors are looking for the next level of decision support beyond access to information and education, which is "prescriptive" support. This demand is elevated during times of heightened anxiety as investors are uncertain how to proceed and sit on cash instead. Brokers are discovering they can re-engage clients as they initiate a dialog that proactively addresses what's on the minds of investors. This often starts with soft marketing around topics of interest in the news to demonstrate empathy. And now we’re helping online brokers make that dialog actionable. Find out how our clients are using our Strategy Builder product to deliver relevant thematic portfolios as a "way forward" for investors while maintaining their decision autonomy which is necessary in our space. Reach out to us at info@tradingcentral.com

Online Broker Summit, Montreal

Trading Central's Online Broker Summit brings together leaders and experts of the retail online brokerage industry to discuss emerging trends and to share experiences. Through a series of keynotes, diverse panel discussions and networking opportunities, the event sparks discussion among senior leadership, who are mutual advocates and influencers for retail brokerage and for the interests of self-directed investors.

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