The online discount broker JB Oxford & Co. said Monday that it has created a banking division that lets it offer brokerage and banking in a single account.
The Los Angeles-based JB Oxford is moving into online banking at a time when many analysts say that online brokers need to expand the scope of their business to compete for investors.
The firm's goal is to create an "all in one" financial service product for its clients, said Jaime Lewis, president and chief operating officer. The firm is also looking into buying a bank or savings and loan, he said. No timeline has been set for such a deal, he said, but the firm will consider opportunities as they arise.
Oxford's banking services can be combined with its brokerage services in a "seamless integration," which Mr. Lewis called the first such combination online.
The brokerage and banking account lets investors hold equity assets or cash, make trades, pay bills, earn interest on deposits, and write checks, Mr. Lewis said. The firm has developed a credit card through an affiliation with the Citibank unit of Citigroup Inc., he added.
Customers with a minimum cash balance of $2,000 are to get unlimited Internet access; others can use the banking services for $4.95 a month. Each electronic transaction costs 25 cents.
JB Oxford opened its banking division to get a jump on other online brokers. The firm said it believes customers will gravitate to the financial services provider with the widest array of services.
It is among several discount brokers working to expand their product menus in the hope that they can manage a greater share of customers' assets, said Dan Burke, an analyst at Gomez Advisors in Lincoln, Mass.
Combining banking and brokerage services in one account is expected to appeal to "lifelong planners," a growing category of investor, Mr. Burke added.
Many large firms, such as Charles Schwab & Co., E-Trade Group Inc., and Waterhouse Securities have already bought or been acquired by banks, whether online or traditional, Mr. Burke said.
Seamless accounts are the "next level" in online investing, he added, and other financial services companies are likely to move in this direction soon.
Spokesmen at E-Trade and TD Waterhouse did not return calls by press time.
At yearend, JB Oxford had 146,000 brokerage clients, with $4 billion of assets, Mr. Lewis said.