DLJdirect has risen to the top of a widely followed quarterly ranking of Internet brokerage sites.
The on-line arm of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities avoided the computer snafus that have recently hobbled other Internet brokers and raised its standing in the survey conducted by Gomez Advisors Inc.
After two quarters at No. 2, Jersey City-based DLJdirect zoomed past E- Trade Group, which suffered multiple Web site and telephone service outages last quarter and fell to no. 3, behind Discover Brokerage Direct. E-Trade scored about half of what DLJdirect did in the category that tracks service availability, dubbed "customer confidence."
"Customer confidence has really come to the forefront, especially as it was related to recent outages and performance problems with Datek, Ameritrade, E-Trade, and Charles Schwab," said Frank Lallos, senior analyst at Gomez, an Internet research and analysis firm in Concord, Mass.
DLJdirect also earned a high score for its ease of use. The availability of institutional research from parent DLJ strengthened its standing in the category of on-site resources.
But by market share, DLJdirect ranked only seventh in the fourth quarter, according to Credit Suisse First Boston. With 3.7%, it was well behind the leaders-Schwab, with 27.4%, Waterhouse Securities, with 12.4%, and E-Trade, with 11.8%.
E-Trade was a high scorer in providing sophisticated services, such as real-time updates of account holdings and broad product lines. It also did well in on-site resources such as quotes, charts, news, and advice.
DLJdirect grabbed top honors for its ability to serve two types of customers: serious investors with large portfolios who like to use institutional research and those looking to manage their portfolios with a goal in mind, such as saving for a child's education.
"Hyperactive traders," however, may not find the Web site as appealing.
Gomez cited a "Fred Flintstone" approach to updating account holdings, which requires users to send customer service an e-mail and wait for an update.
DLJdirect spokeswoman Linda Derrick said the company provides real-time account updates to customers who use its proprietary software instead of a Web browser. She added that the Web interface soon will be reconfigured to provide real-time account updates.
DLJdirect chooses not to focus on the hyperactive segment, she said. "Our target market is the serious investor, the savvy investor."
Gomez derives its scores from questionnaires sent to representatives at the on-line brokerages, along with anonymous interviews with customer service representatives and direct observation of the Web sites.