Livewire share trading from an online pioneer

The Hi-Tech Investor

DLJ Direct is among the best- known discount stockbrokers in the US. As the execution-only arm ofbroker Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, the firm has built up a leading position among Wall Street's privateinvestors. It has more than 650,000 accounts in the US.

DLJ Direct is among the best- known discount stockbrokers in the US. As the execution-only arm ofbroker Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, the firm has built up a leading position among Wall Street's privateinvestors. It has more than 650,000 accounts in the US.

The company is also a pioneer of online trading. Using a home computer to buy and sell stocks is not asnew as you might think. DLJ Direct has been in the online broking business for 10 years, initially with theonline service Prodigy and later with America On Line.

Here, DLJ Direct has just launched its internet stockbroking operation. It will be fighting for market sharewith US companies like Charles Schwab and E*Trade, and high-street names like Barclays.

DLJ Direct's service provides real-time dealing, which is emerging as the standard for internet brokers.Initially, some brokers offered trading through an email link to their offices. Real-time systems usecomputers rather than human beings to carry out trades. This happens almost immediately as long as themarkets are open. DLJ Direct also gives its account holders access to real-time stock quotes; visitors to thesite can see prices with a 20-minute delay.

DLJ Direct's website is clearly laid out and simple to navigate, and there is plenty of information for thecasual visitor as well as for internet users with trading accounts. The site provides the usual mix offinancial news, consensus forecasts from brokers, and company data from suppliers includingHemmington Scott and Standard & Poor's.

On the subject of costs, DLJ Direct is not the cheapest but it has one of the simpler charging structures.There are no standing charges, account charges or annual fees, so investors only pay when they trade.

The firm charges 1 per cent on trades up to £2,500. Commission on the next £2,500 is half aper cent and for large trades the balance is charged at 0.1 per cent.

The minimum charge is £15, and the company pays 4 per cent on cash held on account. Like theother UK online brokerages, DLJ Direct requires prior payment, or a deposit of securities, to trade. It doesnot permit margin trading.

Although DLJ Direct is an internet-only operation, it has set up a phone- based customer services helplinefor investors. These "investor service professionals" can provide technical help; thoughtfully, DLJ Directlets customers use a free 0800 number to call.

www.dljdirect.co.uk

Stephen Pritchard can be contacted at:Hi-tech-investor@dial.pipex.com

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