Focus on Finance


Online traders returning to full-service options

 By Shelley Ridenour Flathead Business Journal

The popularity of online trading by individuals appears to have waned somewhat after the downturn and recent volatility in the stock market, according to local financial planners.
Joe Coco of Coco Enterprises in Whitefish and Marge Fisher of LPL Financial in Whitefish said they both still have clients who do some investing on their own, but not as many.
“In my experience, back in the late 1990s everyone was doing it,” Coco said, “even people who had accounts with me. Not today.”
A lot of those people were pleased with their success and often their investments showed better return than Coco’s work for that same client, he said, “because they were taking a lot of risk. But then when the stock market went way down, all those people came in to us because they didn’t want to lose all their money again.”
Fisher agreed.
“I’m not sure how many people are still doing that because they took some pretty big hits,” she said. Fisher had a client who told her a family member was determined to handle his own investments, “claiming he wanted to watch (the market) every day. But then he found out how much time it took and he wanted to quit.”
Coco said people who have an entrepreneurial bent and who “do their own thing” for just about everything are the typical online investors.
“I always tell them as long as their spouse is as good and as deft at investing as they are, so when they die their spouse will be OK, it’s OK to do your own investing,” Coco said. That comment makes a lot of people stop to think, he said. “Some of those folks realize they need to give up control and let people help them so they can help their families after they die.”
It’s critical for people to understand themselves before they delve into investing, Coco said. “People should worry less about the market and more about themselves.”
Fisher said watching investments can become all-consuming for the average investor. “It takes too much time and can overcome your life,” she said. “That’s why it’s important to have a financial adviser.”
The future for online trading remains strong, though, Leslie Mercord said. Mercord is a financial consultant with the Kalispell office of D.A. Davidson and Co. “People are doing everything online,” she said.
Like Coco and Fisher, Mercord has seen plenty of customers coming back to her full-service brokerage office since the downturn in the stock market “because of the research and the personal attention that we are able to offer them.”
Mercord says people want someone to talk to about their investments, someone to get expert opinions and advice from. “It’s a personal touch thing,” she said.

Last Updated
Jan 18, 2020
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