Q&A Dominic Coyle

Am I foolish to move to online execution-only trading?


I am registered with AIB for onine trading and occasionally I trade through AIB in Bank of Ireland shares. Goodbody are the stockbrokers involved.

The process is straightforward but unfortunately the commission rates are high. For this reason I have just registered for online trading with TD Direct Investing and am in the process of funding my trading account with that company.

The commission rates seem nominal as compared with those charged by AIB/Goodbody. I intend to do all of my future “buys” through my TD Account.

My existing holdings of Bank of Ireland shares are with Crest some in my name and some in a Goodbody nominee account apparently.

I am thinking of transferring all my existing holding to TD Direct Investing if there is a procedure which allow for this. I think that TD invites clients to do this but I have yet to put it to the test. Would you have any observations please on the foregoing?

I would wish to continue with AIB/Goodbody being “the devil you know’’ but the high commission rates are an impediment.

Mr T C, email

Stockbroking is a service and as with all services, the choices you make are a balance between the expertise on offer and the price you pay.

Despite the recent austerity-driven hiatus, it has to be acknowledged that Irish service providers – especially in the professions – are not renowned for their price competitiveness.

Am I surprised that your Goodbody charges are not competitive in comparison with TD Direct Investing ? Not really, and I don’t imagine the other Irish brokers would show up in a much better light.

What Goodbody, and the others, will state is that they are full-service brokers, not simply online execution-only dealers? TD states early on in its terms of service that: “We will provide an execution only dealing service which means that we will not provide investment advice to you.”

This is important. TD is telling you up-front that your investment decisions are yours and yours alone: it is simply the trading platform to execute any decisions you make. Are you confident enough of your ability in this area?

Is that full service of sufficient value for you to consider paying the difference? That’s a question only you will answer.

It’s a moot point whether Irish brokers have been any more successful in protecting their clients’ assets in the financial crisis than their international peers.

You have already made the decision to go with TD Direct for future trading. I would not allow sentiment to get in the way – this is a business transaction.

As regards transfer, I understand that any account you hold with TD Direct Investing will be a nominee account. You will not have the option of holding shares through TD Direct by way of a Crest facility. As you already hold some shares via a nominee account, I assume you understand the advantages and risks of such an arrangement.

What you need to determine is whether you are happy to maintain and pay for stockbroking arrangements in shares of the same company with two different brokers. I’m not sure I see the need for that.

Beyond that, I would have no comments on such an arrangement. You simply need to weigh up how much direct access to the companies in which you invest that you want to have.

Do you want direct mailings from the company? Do you need access to a personal vote on the company’s affairs at general meetings of shareholders?

Is it important to you that you maintain control of most elements of your investment relationship with the company in which you are invested?

The general tenor of your letter leads me to believe you have already made up your mind on the best course of action for you.

Send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara St, D2, or email dcoyle@irishtimes.com. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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