PaineWebber retail executives say the firm has no plans to offer discount services like Merrill Lynch, but they might be open to offering introductory services to clients who don't yet have a PaineWebber broker.
The firm will be offering investors "new bundles of services which are not full relationships with an adviser," Marten Hoekstra, retail marketing director, told reporters in June. But plans for bare-bones online trading that eliminate the adviser are not under consideration.
"We have no plans to do that at this time," Hoekstra said. "When it comes to the affluent [target market], online trading is not something you want to be at the centerpiece of your brand."
PaineWebber retail chief Mark Sutton agreed, saying online trading was simply another tool a full-service firm needs.
The less-than-full-service option at PaineWebber could be similar to Merrill's new Core Relationship Account that, instead of an asset minimum, charges a minimum fee of $1,500 a year. The PaineWebber execs mentioned a $1,200 a year price, which could include consultations with an adviser.
The firm sought to allay fears that the online discounters will put it out of business. Three years ago, PaineWebber's Private Client Group was generating $30 million a day in net new assets, Sutton noted. That number has increased steadily. In May, the division recorded its best month ever, raking in $180 million a day in net new assets, both from existing and new clients.
"What I'm not seeing are people leaving our firm and going to other [online trading] places," Sutton said. "On the contrary. We're actually seeing more large accounts transfer into this firm from [firms that] don't provide advice."