It is no secret that Wal-Mart has an insatiable appetite for expanding the reach of the products and services it offers. But now, behold, the behemoth has ventured onto your turf: financial advice. Meet Wal-Mart Easy Investing by Sharebuilder.
Wal-Mart teamed up with the discount-brokerage platform, ShareBuilder Corp. of Bellevue, Wash., and launched the online brokerage service at the end of April. But will retail investors actually bite? Remember, this has been tried before: Sears' attempted to bundle socks and stocks together in its one-stop shopping offering in the 80s — and failed.
But who knows. With 127 million shoppers visiting Wal-Mart stores weekly, the Bentonville Ark.-based retail giant just might uncover some inexperienced investors looking for easy answers to financial problems. Some of those investors might even have hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, buried beneath the chicken coop. But ultimately, Wal-Mart's service pits it against online brokerages rather than your average financial advisor.
Anne Marie Ricard, a spokeswoman for ShareBuilder Corp., says the service is geared towards helping novice investors get started. Wal-Mart Easy Investing is a self-directed online investing service, offering a full range of account types. There are no account minimums.