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High-tech trading the way of the future

'A boom for the experienced investor'

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 11/02) - Online investing is not for the neophyte, according to financial experts.

"Because it's so easy there is a temptation to jump in and out," says Andy Wong, a Yellowknife accountant. "And then investment turns into gambling."

Wong said online investing is good for the experienced investor because it offers flexibility and control over transactions.

NNSL Photo

Ralph Ruediger, from Rankin Inlet, said online banking is for people who are hard-core investors, not for the dabbler. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

"I think it's a good idea if you are an experienced investor because you avoid the high costs of going through a stockbroker," said Wong.

A stockbroker charges around $200 per trade but costs online range between $25 and $40 per trade.

The only tool needed for online investing is a computer hooked up to the Internet.

Wong invests through the Royal Bank of Canada's Action Direct because he deals with the bank and it's easier to transfer money.

When looking around for an investment site, Wong said it's important to check out their customer service and the depth of research.

"You don't want to get caught in phone hell," said Wong.

Despite a flood of advertising to the contrary, Wong doesn't believe online investing empowers the average person interested in dabbling on the stock market.

"It's a boom for the experienced investor but for the average investor it might not be the greatest experience," said Wong.

It's good to have a sober second opinion in case an investor gets caught up in the trading frenzy, he said.

A growing part of business

Online investing has skyrocketed over the last few years.

According to Rosalyn Kent, vice-president of Royal Bank Action Direct, electronic trades makes up 80 per cent of their trade volume, up from three per cent in 1996.

Kent said online trading has forced the shelving of investment software. Before Royal Bank waded into cyber trading they sold a Windows-based software called PCAction. Launched in 1996 the software lost out to the online version which hit cyberspace in 1997.

Despite its popularity Kent said the Internet will never replace the human touch in investment.

"You can't escape the human element," said Kent. "Clients like to know they can talk to somebody."

Ralph Ruediger, a Nunavut government worker in Rankin Inlet and part-time investing dabbler, said online investing is especially precarious in his community because the Internet service is so shaky.

"If your Internet service goes down and it goes down here a lot, you could be in trouble," said Ruediger.

Ruediger tried online investing but returned to a broker.

"You need a lot of time to do it online," said Reudiger. "It's risky. You have to watch the prices move around."