Full-Service Brokers Embrace Net
Financial Service Online (09/00) Vol. 5, No. 9 p.6; Mandaro, Laura

Last year, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Merrill Lynch announced that they were both launching online brokerage sites. Now that industry watchers have seen the two sites' success, other full service brokers are expected to venture into the online world. Today, the intense competition for online customers has more or less forced brokerages to add online trading. The historical notion of discount brokers versus full-service brokers is changing. Today, nearly all online-brokerages want to be considered full-service companies. Extra services offered by these companies have become a vital marketing tool. Merrill's Unlimited Advantage account enables customers to trade online--with a fee being charged based upon the assets in their account. The site also offers reports from Standard & Poor's equity research and mutual fund analysis. Additionally, Merrill's Global Investor Network provides research for worldwide-markets. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's site allows customers to trade mutual funds, stocks, options, and bonds. Financial planning, net worth and retirement calculators, and IPO research is also offered online. Finally, both companies insist that their Web sites build on their existing customer base. Merrill's Steven Bodhurtha, head of customized investments says, "We feel we can compete successfully against the discount brokers, just on the basis of the services we offer."

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