Why I Hate Electronic Stock Trading

General Ramblings comments edit

I participate in my company’s employee stock purchase plan. You contribute to the plan a small amount every paycheck and at the end of a quarter or whatever that amount of money goes to purchasing a block of company shares at a discount rate. It’s a pretty good way to go.

The problem is that the shares automatically get dumped into an ETrade account (actually, an “OptionsLink” account - sort of like an ETrade account, owned by ETrade, but more geared toward stock options and things). Now, I’m not a big stock trader. I’m not comfortable with moving electronic sums of money around willy-nilly, particularly since I have so little money to actually move. To that end, I have an account at a stock broker that I’m comfortable with, where the service is a little more personal and the experience is generally friendlier.

Every time I get stocks through the purchase plan, I send a fax over to ETrade to have them transferred to my other account. In the past this has only taken three or four business days.

This time, I asked for the stock to be transferred over, and two business days later, the stock no longer showed up in my ETrade account. I went to the web site for my other broker and… it wasn’t there, either.

I waited a couple more business days and checked again. Still no stock anywhere.

It’s been eight business days, maybe more, since I asked for the transfer. My stock’s not been received by my other brokerage, and it’s not on ETrade’s site. I’m starting to get concerned.

I called ETrade and after navigating an impossible phone tree and sitting on hold for an interminable amount of time, it turns out that ETrade’s process is a bit more involved and lengthy than I’d like, and God forbid they tell me about it. What they end up doing is transferring the stock out of OptionsLink and into a straight ETrade brokerage account (an account that I don’t even look at, let alone use). That takes several business days. Then they initiate the transfer from the brokerage account at ETrade to the one at my regular broker. That, too, takes several business days.

We’ve gotten as far as getting the stock into the ETrade brokerage account and my other broker has been contacted to expect to receive the shares in my account there. I should have something in the next - according to the telephone help lady - five to seven business days. Which would bring this process to about 15 business days, or three Earth weeks just to get some stinking stock transferred. Why so difficult? Setting up a wire transfer between bank accounts takes no time flat compared to that. What’s the problem here? And how come I have to fax my request over to someone there and I can’t just electronically initiate the transfer through the web site?

They should make two web interfaces for electronic stock trading. One for the novice user (me) and one for the advanced user (day traders). I want to buy, sell, and transfer to another account. That’s it! I don’t need all these fancy real-time analysis madubers and high-tech tracking whatsits. Big fonts, big buttons, simple interface. Maybe I’m stock-retarded. Or maybe I just want a simple experience, the same way the users of the applications I write expect.