Banks continue to lag their brokerage peers in on-line trading, according to the latest quarterly scorecard from Gomez Advisors Inc.
As a group banks that have developed brokerage units in-house are "really off the mark," said Julio Gomez, president of the Boston consulting firm, which ranks on-line brokerage services based on factors such as price, ease of use, and customer confidence.
A key bank disadvantage is price, said Mr. Gomez. On the high end are those like First Chicago NBD, now part of Bank One Corp., which charged $39.44 for a 500-share transaction during the third quarter.
Citibank's brokerage unit was the cheapest at $19.95 for all trades.
Most banks are "not trying to win customers away from Schwab," the leading discount broker, Mr. Gomez conceded. Still, many that offer on-line trading are not working on the most obvious of synergies, he said.
"Banks need to work on integrating their on-line brokerage with electronic banking services," he said.
Fleet Financial Group of Boston, for one, hopes to integrate bank accounts with those at its discount brokerage unit Quick & Reilly next year, said a spokesman.
Though customers are not yet able to transfer funds between brokerage and bank accounts, they can hyperlink between the Web sites and get both statements in one mailing, the spokesman said.
Customers can also use money in a Quick & Reilly account as credit toward maintaining minimum balances in certain Fleet bank accounts, such as the Fleet One package.
Quick & Reilly and its deep discount unit, Suretrade Inc., were ranked 10th and sixth, respectively, in the Gomez survey. At $7.95 per Internet trade, Suretrade was found to be the cheapest on-line broker.
Waterhouse Investor Services, the New York discount arm of Toronto- Dominion Bank of Canada, was ranked fifth.
Both Toronto-Dominion and Fleet are clearly serious about getting into discount brokerage, having gone out and bought the capabilities, Mr. Gomez said.
"Most banks are really just looking to give their customers an additional service," he said.
E-Trade Group, the Palo Alto, Calif., discounter that is among the most aggressive on-line brokers, led the Gomez ranking.