E-Trade goes for broke as money comes in

E-Trade Australia has announced plans to expand its retail investment portfolio to include margin lending facilities, managed funds, insurance, financial planning services, and spread its online suite into New Zealand and the US.

Bill Wileman, E-Trade Australia's general manager of marketing, declined to say when E-Trade would release the new product line, hinting it would be "just around the corner".

The news coincides with the online broker's annual earnings figures. It hit record net revenues of $1.55 billion in the last financial year, and registered 500 per cent growth in trading volume over last year.

E-Trade placed over one million customer orders in 1999, executing $4.75 billion in trades from the orders. This year, trading volume increased fivefold, exceeding a 50,000 customer account target, according to the company.

Wileman attributed E-Trade's record performance for the year to a strong brand presence in the retail online investment market, and for "staying above (brokerage) price wars".

"We're trying not to demean our position by marketing to price," Wileman said. "Sometimes you don't have to be the cheapest."

The speed at which the broker's online products updated and processed financial data was also a core driver of business growth, Wileman believed. "Within four seconds, investors see their order being processed online," he said.

Wileman also believed an online, real-time banking alliance formed with ANZ in September 1999 spurred record growth figures. In the three months to June 30, ANZ/E-Trade customers accounted for 16 per cent of all trades executed by E-Trade Australia, according to the company.

Meanwhile, Michael Deleray has been appointed E-Trade Australia's CEO, effective immediately, replacing Kerry Roxburgh who had been in the position for two years. Roxburgh will remain with the company as an executive director and in "special assignment" capacity, said E-Trade's chairman, Malcolm Spry.

Wileman said investors should not expect a "radical change" in management under Deleray, saying he was appointed for being "known to the board" and for his financial and online services expertise.

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