Web Brokers for the Masses
Financial Service Online (10/00) Vol. 5, No. 10 p.48; Hill, Sidney

BuyandHold Inc. and Netstock Direct are two online brokers following similar strategies, which differ from those of other mainstream online brokers, in an attempt to level the field for small investors. Both companies were launched in November 1999 and allow individual investors to set up automatic investing programs by which designated dollar amounts are regularly invested in a stock or stocks chosen by the customer. The amount invested can be $20 a month, or less in some cases, and if a stock trades for more than a customer wants to invest, he or she may receive fractional shares. Mainstream online brokers tend to avoid such dollar-based investing to focus on more active investors with large account minimums. BuyandHold says it has opened more than 100,000 new accounts since its launch, and it was named the fastest growing online brokerage in the second quarter of 2000 by Chase H&Q. Netstock's site, called Sharebuilder.com, is expected to have a similar number of accounts. Opening an account with BuyandHold.com requires a $20 minimum deposit, while at Sharebuilder.com, there is no minimum. Sharebuilder.com assesses a $2 fee per security for transactions made by customers who agree to an automatic investment plan in which funds are transferred directly to the broker through payroll deductions or a financial institution. Both services give customers the opportunity to invest in a list of about 3,000 stocks, and the list corresponds fairly well with the 3,000 top listed companies according to market capitalization.

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