This article is mainly for stock brokers. Stock broking business in general is going through a very difficult time, and hence it becomes very important to understand what your customer needs from you.
Let us first divide customers into two categories (experienced & novice) and look at them individually.
These customers are key to your success. Most of these customers collectively form a major part of your revenue. Together they have the strength to make or break the reputation of a broker. These people are connected to many traders and investors. So it is utterly important to create trust & solid image in their minds. Once you manage to do that, then these people automatically end up advertising your services.
There could old veteran traders or someone from younger generation. Obviously they have different needs, so it is important for a broker strike a right balance. Let’s go through some of the expectations of this category:
It is utterly important to have top quality customer service. This is the primary reason why people change stock brokers. I know quite a few day traders, and they all say that if the brokers are ready to give us quality service; we are more than happy to pay a premium for it.
Some major issues in this area are:
- Dumb helpdesk people (I have experienced the frustrations myself so many times)
- Helpdesk failing to understand the priority of an issue (Me…”I have 2 naked NIFTY futures open, and your trading platform has crashed. Market is going against me, please square off.” And the response I get…”Please try to restart your computer”. I felt like punching the helpdesk guy in the face, I had already tried restarting the platform twice before I called helpdesk.)
- For big volume/regular intraday traders, there must be a special team of helpdesk people who are good at their job
Brokerage & Other charges
A broker must have different types of flexible brokerage plans. The plans must be competitive (if now lowest). Brokerage plans must cater to high volume traders, high order count traders, derivatives traders, intraday traders & big investors.
If you have any charges other than brokerage, be open and clear about it. Do not hide anything.
This is another reason why people switch brokers. I know the risks involved in giving high leverage.
But to be competitive, you must have flexible leverage plans. As of now, in Indian market leverage is a factor of mainly 2 things:
- Stock liquidity
- Type of order (Bracket, Cover orders)
This can be easily extended to say (a maximum allowed loss in a given day, diversification etc.). Based on factors like these, you can give higher leverage and yet manage your risk.
Trading Platforms & Infrastructure
Provide robust trading platforms. As big traders, we do not expect a lot of features (like technical analysis) from the trading platform. The job of a trading platform is to place orders, square off portfolio, display prices, positions mtm etc. If it is not good at these things, then regardless of how many features you have…your platform is useless. You must support at least one platform to trade from web, desktop & mobile.
Monitor your trading platforms for crashes, outages and any other errors. Have these issues rectified if possible, otherwise note them down with a possible solution/workaround.
In today’s competitive world, latency is important. Slow platforms or slow backend infrastructure is going to hurt you as broker.
Losing a premium customer
Every time an experienced customer closes an account, try to know the reason behind it. They will most likely point to a weakness in your services. Treat them even better than new customers, because this is the time you may lose a customer but you have a last chance to create a nice impression about you in that customer’s mind. Help them with closing formalities.
These customers may not much of an idea about the markets in general, so they expect you to be their guide. Broker can provide things like:
- Tutorials & help material about the basics of stocks market
- A detailed trading platform guide
- Customer service representatives who can handle beginners
- A guide to back-office and various reports
- Genuine research based stock recommendations based on customer’s risk appetite
- A guide on some core concepts in investment, portfolio and risk management