What makes TheBull's annual Stockies awards so prestigious are independence and fairness. It’s the one award, among many, that online brokers want to win. Spokespeople for the winning firms invariably refer to the “public vote” from thousands cast to highlight the achievement.
Australia’s 2013 Stockies awards have been decided after two months of voting on TheBull.com.au. We are proud to announce the winners and finalists across CFDs, forex, share trading, options, warrants, margin lending as well the top stock forum. TheBull Stockies Awards are set firmly in the tradition that traders and investors are the best judge of the top online firms to deal with in Australia. So it’s you, the very people who use the products and services of online brokers in Australia, who decide the winners. We asked each winner to tell us what puts them ahead of the crowd. You will find a full list of category winners and finalists at the end of this story.
Winner: Best Online Broker
Winner: Best Margin Lender
Winner: Best Warrants Broker
Finalist: Best CFD Broker
CommSec again dominated the Stockies by winning three categories, while it was a finalist in another. CommSec Managing Director Stephen Karpin says: “We’re thrilled to have received these awards, especially because the winners were chosen by a public vote. We place the utmost importance on our customers’ opinions and earning their recognition is particularly meaningful for us.”
Karpin says that in the past 12 months CommSec launched Twitter and YouTube channels, making it easier to access timely market information. It also upgraded its iPhone and Android mobile apps, as well as creating an iPad app. He says CommSec was also the first online broker to connect to Chi-X. “Our best execution policy means CommSec customers get access to some of the best possible prices available in the market,” he says. “We also continue to focus on the things we have always done well, like having a reliable, easy-to-use website, excellent customer service, great research and content and the tools to help customers make the best investment decisions.”
Winner: Best CFD Broker
Winner: Best Forex Broker
IG head of Asia Pacific Tamas Szabo began by thanking voters. “This award is special for IG as it’s based on the public vote – people that interact with IG on a daily basis, and who are happy enough with our service to take time out and approve of us in a public forum,” he says.
Szabo says 2012 was a significant year in terms of innovation and consolidating industry leadership. “A major milestone for us was the transition to a single identity – IG,” he says, adding that a better website design and trading platform were also significant. “Client feedback was very much appreciated during this time, and we are proud of how IG is moving forward. Our free insight news and analysis centre was released, which has become a powerful resource for our clients and complements any trading strategy. We also expanded our mobile apps to include the iPad, and have improved our Android offering.”
Szabo says IG plans to continue investing in mobile apps, “as technology expands and more people trade on-the-go”. He says the issue of client funds was heightened in December when the Australian Securities & Investments Commission released a review of the Australian over-the-counter derivatives market, with a focus on client money controls.
“We were proud to be given a clean bill of health by ASIC, and we welcomed the particular focus on client money, as we have always been an advocate for full segregation of client funds,” Szabo says.
He says that in 2012, Investment Trends, a market research organisation, found that 43 per cent of active CFD traders have an account with IG and 37 per cent of traders chose it as their main provider. “This cemented our position at the forefront of the industry, and we will continue to innovate and invest in technology that offers the best support for your trading,” he says.
“A good provider innovates to stay ahead, and gives traders the very best tools to react to the markets, including platforms, education and market information. This must be backed up by excellent customer service, optimum protection for client funds and low trading rates and commissions.”
Winner: Best Options Broker
Finalist: Best Online Broker
Finalist: Best Warrants Broker
Finalist: Best Margin Lender (BT)
“Fantastic,” was the response from James Staltari, head of Westpac's online investing, after winning the award. “It’s great to be recognised for the services we provide.” Staltari says this award confirms the positive feedback customers have been leaving on the Westpac website during the past 12 months. He says Westpac has invested heavily in online platforms.
“We are one of the few brokers offering online multi-leg strategies,” he says. “Our online options strategy locator helps clients tailor their online trading strategies. We upgraded our mobile app in early 2012 and usage has grown exponentially. Over 50 per cent of our active traders have downloaded the new Westpac online investing app.”
He says fully featured platforms for trading equities and options appeal to traders. “We have found the cost of brokerage isn’t the top priority in attracting new customers,” he says. “The breadth and quality of service appeal more.”
Winner: Best Stock Forum
For the second consecutive year, HotCopper has won this category. A proud managing director Greg D’Arcy was delighted to hear the good news. “It’s good to know all the hard work that goes into running the site is appreciated by the share traders of Australia,” he says. “We’ve been flat out trying to create the new HotCopper site for the past 12 months. This should finally be rolled out within the coming weeks.” D’Arcy says the old site couldn’t cope with growing traffic and had simply outlived its usefulness.
“It also lacked the ability to be mobile friendly,” he says. “By their very nature, people don’t like change so we are anticipating an initial disillusionment with our member base. However, once they begin to discover the new features available on the site, we believe users will be delighted with the upgrade.”
Finalist: Best Forex Broker
Finalist: Best CFD Broker
A finalist in both CFDs and Forex, GFT Markets plans to go one better next year. Gary Tilkin, chief executive and founder of GFT Markets, says: “Like many brokers, we see the Stockies as a prestigious set of awards that, in turn, provide a sound insight into the thoughts of the Australian trading community. We are delighted to have been ranked as finalists in this year’s awards and will be aiming to build on this success in (calendar year) 2013.”
FULL LIST OF WINNERS & FINALISTS – The Stockies 2013
Best Online Broker – CommSec
Finalists – Westpac, E*TRADE
Best CFD Broker – IG
Finalists – GFT, CommSec, FXCM
Best Forex Broker – IG
Finalists – GFT, FXCM, Forex.com
Best Margin Lender – CommSec
Finalists – BT Financial Group, Suncorp, ANZ
Best Warrants Broker – CommSec
Finalists – Westpac, Macquarie
Best Options Broker – Westpac
Finalists – OptionsXpress, E*TRADE, Saxo
Best Stock Forum – HotCopper
Finalists – AussieStockForums, TopStocks