The founder of Sanford Securities, Steven Goh, has teamed up with Melbourne-based financial services company Bell Group to launch a new, low-cost online stockbroking service.
Mr Goh is executive chairman of Bell Direct, which will undecut its competitors by offering share trades for just $15 and will also introduce a range of new features and services.
Investors in the group include Wyllie Group executive Craig Coleman, whose previous roles have included being a director of the ANZ Bank's online broking arm E*Trade.
Bell Direct also includea a group of executives from rival online broking firm IWL Limited, which bought Sanford in 2003 and has itself recently been acquired by market leader Commonwealth Bank.
A Bell Direct statement is pasted below:
AUSTRALIA'S LARGEST PRIVATE CLIENT STOCKBROKER LAUNCHES NEW ONLINE TRADING PLATFORM
Offers Market Trades for just $15
A brand new era in securities investing begins today with the launch of Australia's most innovative and competitively-priced online share trading and wealth creation platform: Bell Direct.
The result of a collaboration of some of Australia's most prominent pioneers in the online share trading arena, Bell Direct will introduce a blend of discount pricing and first-rate, user-friendly client service that the market has not seen to date.
And in a bold challenge to existing online share trading providers, Bell Direct will for the first time in Australia introduce share trades for just $15, undercutting its rivals by at least a third.
Bell Direct has been built, and is backed by, a group of people whose experience in financial services in Australia, and in particular in full-service and online stockbroking, is unparalleled.
The Executive Chairman and principal architect of Bell Direct is Steven Goh, a true innovator in the online share trading industry, evidenced by his formation in 1997 of Australia's first online stockbroker, Sanford Securities.
"After the launch of Sanford, a lot of online brokers appeared - too many in fact," Mr Goh said. "And as a result, in the past year or so, the market has become too comfortable. The technology is now old and unreliable. Price competition and great client service have virtually disappeared.
"That's why Bell Direct has been created as a premium discount online share trading platform, and our aim is to become one of the top three players in our space within three to five years."
Cutting-edge, proprietary technology developed from the ground up and designed to enhance the customer experience has been at the core of the formation of Bell Direct. The result is a completely new trading platform for the investment community that will effectively "reinvent investing".
Bell Direct is Australian-owned and operated and will bring to customers the best possible standards of speed, accuracy and reliability, and will be a leader in price and value.
Backing for Bell Direct has come from the Bell Group of companies. Following the expected listing on the ASX of Bell Financial by the end of 2007, Bell Financial will have a 25% shareholding in Bell Direct. Bell Direct Holdings Pty Ltd holds a 25% interest while directors and employees of Bell Direct hold 33.75%, with the remaining 16.25% held by Bell Commodities, Colin Bell, Alastair Provan, Craig Coleman and Lionel McFadyen.
The founder of Bell Commodities and its Chief Executive, Colin Bell, said Bell Direct, with the backing of the Bell Group, would offer a very serious challenge to the big, established bank-owned participants in the online market.
"One of the main reasons we became involved with Steven Goh and his team was the tremendous opportunity he identified to provide online investors with genuine innovation and, importantly, an independent player in a market which has become complacent about customers and what they should be offered," Mr Bell said.
Significantly enhancing the retail financial services and online share trading experience of the Bell Direct team is Director Craig Coleman. Mr Coleman held a number of senior executive positions at ANZ Bank between 1994 and 2004, including Managing Director Banking Products, and has been a director of E*Trade Australia.
Meanwhile, Bell Direct Chief Operating Officer, Lee Muco, brings tremendous online broking experience and a flair for innovation and ingenuity in the development of online share trading platforms in Australia.
Until a year ago, Mr Muco was a General Manager at IWL Limited, the share trading business now owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Mr Muco now leads an experienced development team, many of whom are also formerly of IWL, bringing with them an extensive and successful track record in online broking enabling the creation of the new Bell Direct platform.
The team's track record includes the delivery of broking services to multiple retail brands and wholesale services to 150 financial planning groups and more than 1,000 financial advisers.
"Our team at Bell Direct have already built online share trading platforms twice over, so it's extremely exciting to be able to bring this level of skill and innovative thinking to create a unique new resource for the investment community," Mr Muco said.
By effectively re-inventing online share trading, Bell Direct has been able to bypass many of the costs associated with share broking via the internet, and the result is the $15 trade.
Among a raft of other innovations that Bell Direct will bring to the market is a dedicated call centre using VOIP technology to interface with customers.
Unlike other online share trading platforms, the Bell Direct platform will utilise the latest technologies, unavailable when rival platforms were developed. Bell Direct customers will enjoy a rich and engaging user experience, enabled by Web 2.0 style tools and widgets which will deliver up-to-the-minute streaming financial news, live quotes and ASX announcements as well as consensus research from one of Australia's leading research providers, Aspect Huntley.
Other key features of Bell Direct include:
Subscribers can choose either Bell Direct's standard "Silver" service which is ideal for the casual trader, or upgrade to the premium "Gold" level, which will provide resources such as live company announcements and price alerts
No minimum balance is required to open a Bell Direct trading account.
Mr Goh said: "Bell Direct is a non-bank aligned, independent broker offering excellent service delivery and, very importantly, a fantastic experience for the customer."
He added that Bell Direct intended to deliver a top-flight solution to financial planners because it is "truly a platform for the 21st century".
"With Bell Direct, financial planners and accountants will have access to a share trading solution that is not only new, it will also dramatically cut their costs," Mr Goh said.