For the report, the websites of the top 50 European, North American and Asia Pacific online brokerages were comprehensively reviewed and rated using five criteria: interactivity, content, navigation, speed and design. The maximum rating was 10 points each for design, speed and navigation, and 15 for interactivity and content, giving an overall potential total of 60 points.
Commonwealth Securities scored 49 points to take seventh place, and OUBS Online followed closely with 47 points to tie several European brokers for ninth place. The number one ranked broker with 57 points was E*Trade in the US, closely followed by Charles Schwab, Fidelity, DLJdirect, Morgan Stanley and TD Waterhouse, all also in the US.
The report put the American dominance down to the fact that many US brokers are now offering a range of financial services such as mortgages, insurance, electronic bill payment, banking and money market accounts on their websites. Acting as a one-stop-shop increases the opportunities for cross-selling and also generates enhanced customer loyalty, says the report.
Michael Lafferty, chairman of LIR publishers, the Lafferty Group comments: "Commonwealth Securities parent, the Commonwealth Bank, was the top-ranked bank in Asia-Pacific by LIR this year, so its brokerage subsidiary's performance underlines the way that the group is quickly adapting to the internet as a key channel."
The report also rated OUB Securities website highly for interactivity and content because of its personalization capabilities and the extensive information available to subscribers.
According to the research company, the report confirms that the growth in online share trading in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific continues at an explosive pace. The internet has transformed the retail stockbroking industry. To remain competitive, online brokers are being forced to offer not just low prices but also high-quality technology platforms which can deliver rapid and efficient execution of trades. In addition, online brokers must offer ancillary services such as equity research, real-time quotes, news and market data, analytical tools, and alert systems.In Asia-Pacific, online share-trading is developing rapidly, but currently internet broking activity is skewed heavily towards the more developed markets of the region, namely Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. However, Lafferty research predicts that Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, India and China will experience rapid growth in online trading in the next year.