Many will tell you how expensive Sydney is. You should not be
surprised to find products and services with a 100% markup compared
to other developed countries. If you think $3.40 is too much to go
from one train station in the Sydney metro area, then keep in mind
that each train journey is subsidised by the the government to the
tune of $6 to $7. I.e. the true cost for hopping a single train
station is nearly $10.
It did not come as a surprise when a mid range stockbroking
agency, a client of ours, told us how the going was tough. Their
estimate of a barebones software and hardware spend for ASX and
Chi-X was well above $50,000 per month. This is just an opex cost,
and exlcudes any manual overheads and staffing costs.
With plummeting volumes, how can a lot of smaller stock broking
shops compete and survive on their own? Specially, without
investing even more in HFT and Algo trading
platforms. Perhaps, unless the market becomes a lot more
competitive, this cost base will not drastically reduce.
When we introduced our ASIC-CONNECT short sell disclosure
service, there was a lot of surprise as to the low pricing of the
software. However, we believed that with smart use of cloud
infrastructure and applying lean product development principles, we
could offer a service at a very attractive cost base without
compromising the quality.
Likewise, without disruptive innovation in technology and
pricing, the vendor side pressure on the broking industry will
remain. In absence of that, a continuing competition for market
venue share should put downward pressure on broking costs, unless
ASX and Chi-X form what Coles and Woolworths have done: a duopoly
with phony competition.