Online brokerage firm TD Waterhouse has formed an alliance with Ford Motor Company to offer online financial services to Ford’s 146,000 employees in the United States, the brokerage announced last week.
Waterhouse set up a special Web site, www.ford.tdwaterhouse.com, where Ford employees can open accounts; buy and sell stocks, bonds and mutual funds; find an affiliated investment adviser in their neighborhood, and read market news and investment research from companies like Goldman Sachs.
Waterhouse also opened a retail branch near Ford’s Dearborn. Mich., headquarters.
Although the alliance could provide Waterhouse with access to an untapped audience, those new clients probably won’t be the affluent individuals wirehouse brokers typically target. Waterhouse spokeswoman Melissa Gitter tells RR that the firm lowered its minimum account requirement from $1,000 to $500 for Ford employees as an incentive.
“Nobody likes to see more competition, and this is more competition,” says Jim Wirth, a broker with A.G. Edwards in Dearborn. “And they’ll get some business. But we’ve seen lots of people come back from companies like Schwab because they just couldn’t deal with all the runaround and the phone prompts.”
In fact, Wirth says a Ford retiree with $1 million in his 401(k) account just joined him because he found it difficult to get any personal attention from Fidelity, which administers Ford’s 401(k) plan.
Next year, TD Waterhouse says it will expand its alliance with Ford beyond its employee base and into its retail customer base, offering online financial services to the 10 million customers of Ford’s automotive financing division, Ford Motor Credit.
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