Mar 082013

As mentioned by users of this site and elsewhere, TD Direct Investing UK has informed non-residents in a number of countries that it will be closing their accounts. Japanese residents seem to be the most commonly affected, but some clients in the Middle East have apparently been told the same.

I had been expecting that the firm might start to steer non-residents towards TD Direct Investing International in Luxembourg (formerly known as Internaxx) instead of the UK arm, but it seems that some of the users who are having their accounts closed have been told that TDDII won’t accept them either.

Exactly what lies behind this isn’t clear – areas such as complying with money laundering regulations are an obvious possibility, but the underlying reason could be a wider drive to simply admin and cut costs. Regardless, the extremely short notice period means that many affected clients are understandably not very satisfied.

There’s a discussion on the UK stock broker accounts for non-residents post about alternative providers, although the choice among UK-domiciled brokers is likely to be slim.

Aug 122012

Long-term historical data on price/earning ratios, price/book ratios and dividend yields for stockmarket indices is extremely valuable in looking at long-term returns – but it can be very difficult to obtain. While price data is available for many major markets stretching back decades or more, valuation data typically hasn’t been recorded so carefully.

The figures that are available have usually been reconstructed from old earnings reports and are proprietary data sets that are expensive to access. For those who are willing to pay, Global Financial Data is probably the most comprehensive source for very long-term financial data of all kinds.

For those who can’t justify the cost of paid-for data, there are a few freely downloadable data series for some of the major indices around the world, although they are often hard to find and there is no consistency about which markets are available. The following links will take you to the ones I’ve found that are still updated  – if you’re aware of any others, please let me know in the comments below or by email. Continue reading »

Feb 142012

While writing the update on Boom Securities being taken over by Monex, I found a Monex press release that adds some more background to my earlier posts about the estimated stock broker market share in various countries (US, UK, Singapore):

In Japan, Monex, Inc. is an online brokerage firm with a client base of 1.2 million. There are only 8 online brokerage firms around the world that have a client base of over 1 million: TDAmeritrade, Charles Schwab, E*TRADE, and Fidelity in the United States, Cortal Consors in Europe, and SBI Securities, Rakuten Securities, and Monex, Inc. in Japan.

It’s no surprise to see the four US heavyweights on that list (in fact, I think there’s an omission – according to Reuters, Scottrade has 2.5 million accounts) and given the size of the Japanese market, the major players there must also have a significant user base. I’m a little surprised to realise that Cortal Consors has so many clients. Continue reading »

Nov 112011

Japanese optics group Olympus (JP:7733) has finally admitted that more than US$1bn in payments for acquisitions were not what they appeared to be. The twist in the tail is that these weren’t bribes or payments to cronies, but rather an attempt to cover up losses on investments dating back to the 1990s.

The revelation didn’t surprise me as much as most. That’s not because I have inside knowledge on Japanese corporate malfeasance, but because I’d seen an excellent analysis of the Olympus scandal on the Nihon Cassandra blog that anticipated exactly this development. (Add this blog to your reading list – it’s infrequently updated, but one of the best out there.)

I almost wrote about this last week, but decided it was of too limited interest. But with the stock still in freefall (it’s down 80% since mid October), I’m starting to wonder if this is a good opportunity to invest – or whether it risks being an effort to catch a falling knife. Continue reading »