The immense uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic has been a mixed blessing for online brokers. On one hand, they have witnessed record-setting levels of trading activity, in addition to robust account growth. But on the other, their net interest revenues are feeling the sting of the low-interest-rate environment, which seems bound to persist for the foreseeable future.
Overall, changing market dynamics support future growth for online brokers, but they face some headwinds. Trading activity and account growth should remain strong, but the group’s earnings power will be constrained by low interest rates, based on third-party estimates that rates will remain flat in 2021. But 2022 and beyond could be a different story, if interest rates pick up and online brokers are able to retain the new clients they’ve been attracting during this period of above-average volatility.
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