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Retail Investor Trading in North America: Perspectives on Trading Preferences, Behaviors, and Technology Adoption

In today's dynamic market landscape, online brokerages continue to operate under challenging conditions. Intensive competition and thin commissions have increased pressure to continue to up the ante and meet client expectations. In this environment, it is imperative for online brokerages to possess a deep understanding of their customers' behavior, needs, and preferences.

Beginning in February 2012, Celent conducted a survey of retail investors across the United States and Canada to gauge their trading styles, product preferences, and levels of satisfaction. The landscape of retail investors participating in the survey cut across all demographics: age, gender, and affluence level. The analysis of 220 completed responses and synthesis of the data collected enabled Celent to draw major trends and developments in the online retail brokerage industry in North America in a new report, Retail Investor Trading in North America: Perspectives on Trading Preferences, Behaviors and Technology Adoption.

"Retail investors are an extremely diverse group with varying affluence levels, skills, and trading preferences," says Isabella Fonseca, Research Director at Celent and coauthor of the report. "This report will provide firms with an understanding of the retail investor landscape in the US and Canada and the latest trading and technology preferences. In addition, it will give firms ideas on potential products and services to be offered to retail investors"

"At a fundamental level, the fortunes of online trading platforms are tied to the trading activity of retail investors," says Dushyant Sahgal, Analyst at Celent and coauthor of the report. "Apart from offering well-rounded product portfolios and new features, trading platforms must also operate an effective knowledge dissemination portal to ensure that willing customers learn about various asset classes and debunk myths surrounding them."

This report begins with a definition of retail investors, outlining qualifying criteria and presenting an overview of the questions comprised in the survey. The report then provides details on the demographics and trading behavior of participants followed by an extensive presentation of retail investors' online trading platforms use, addressing a plethora of aspects related to trading such as services offered, fee structures and levels of customer satisfaction. Celent then presents a detailed analysis of the survey data collected and analyzes the relationships between retail investor behavior as well as demographics and trading preferences, among others. The report concludes with considerations about where the online retail brokerage industry is headed and how firms can unlock pockets of value to grow their book of business.