If some brave 1950s futurist had predicted life beyond 2000 would consist of dating on the internet, grocery shopping online, catching up with friends online or even living an entire life in a ?virtual? reality, he or she would have been laughed out of town.
Truth being stranger than fiction has seen this prediction come true in a massive way. Australians have embraced internet use with all the fervour of a state of origin rugby league series. According to the World Bank, 84.6% of Australians use the internet. With a current population of around 23.8 million, that would put us at over 20 million internet users!
Trading more than ever
One of the beneficiaries of the “new way” of doing things has, of course, been share trading. The advances in this area are similar in impact to the introduction of the first banking ATMs which spelled an end to running out of money on a weekend.
Prior to the online boom, share trading was largely for the well-heeled who could afford to engage a broker to complete a trade on the client?s behalf. This could be quite an arduous process. Time restraints meant it could be several hours or a day even from when a trade was instigated to when it was completed. During this period the relevant stock prices could have spiked or dived, affecting the desired result. Research wasn?t readily available and investors relied upon daily newspapers for share price information.
The era of online share trading now has taken share trading to a level that would have been considered unthinkable not so long ago. We are now able to trade live, finalise a trade within minutes of deciding, use a mountain of tools to help with trading decisions and have up-to-date research sitting at our finger tips.
Shaking things up
Most importantly, share trading online has opened up the share market to the general population, allowing many more investors easy access into the market. In effect, share trading is no longer ?exclusive? to investors with their own broker. According to the ASX?s recent Australian Share Ownership Study, 58% of investors traded through an online broker compared to the 31% who traded through a full-service broker or advisor.
Investment strategies have changed, too. Previously, long-term investment was considered the norm, largely due to limited access to brokers, research and the time required to complete a trade. Online trading, however, is a whole new ball game. It caters for everyday investors with new tools available to help them keep track of market fluctuations to identify profitable trades and build diversified portfolios.
Needless to say, the popularity of online share trading continues to rise. It?s a long way from the “good old days” and the laborious methods used to buy and sell shares are now a distant memory, much like withdrawing money prior to 4pm on a Friday because there were no ATMs.