Brokers , a common term used in the securities business in the Thai capital market, are securities companies which obtain licenses from the Ministry of Finance upon the recommendation of the Securities Exchange Commission and have been granted “membership” by the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).
Besides brokers, there are sub-brokers which, like brokers, take orders from investors. But since sub-brokers are not SET members, they have to route orders to a broker. The broker then transmits these orders to the SET trading system.
A sub-broker, like a broker, is a securities company operating in the securities business, but is not a member of the SET. As the Stock Exchange of Thailand is the center of securities trading for both local and foreign investors, if everybody were allowed to trade directly with the SET, there would be problems in practice, in order transmission, order matching, order confirmation and settlement. Moreover, the cost in securities trading would be too high.
To solve these problems and to ensure systematic securities trading with fairness and low cost, the SET has resolved to allow only member companies (brokers) to transmit orders to the SET trading system. Sub-brokers cannot send their orders to the SET trading system directly, but can route the orders to brokers first and brokers will then pass these orders to the SET trading system.
The SET places much importance on the benefits of the investors investing on the Exchange; therefore, we carefully select member companies by assessing their qualifications and their readiness to be investors’ representatives in securities trading, with the emphasis on stable financial status, readiness to operate in such business, qualified personnel, sufficient equipment and tools and effective operating systems.
Now let’s look at the difference between a broker and a sub-broker, or their pros and cons from the investor point of view. The advantage of using a broker is its direct, hence faster, transmission of orders to the SET. The advantages of using a sub-broker are, because of its small customer base, superior quality of service, closer and friendlier customer relationship, and better care of your personal interests.
In practice, sub-brokers have to send orders through their brokers, and one sub-broker may deal with as many as three brokers. If a broker’s computer system breaks down, its customers can’t trade, but the sub-broker’s customers may remain unaffected because their orders can be relayed via the other two brokers.
It is generally believed that the broker serves only as a middleman in securities trading, with commissions as his return. In fact, however, for this commission, the broker has to be responsible to their clients for accuracy, starting from opening the trading account until completing clearing and settlement. Their responsibilities include:
- Carrying out and executing securities trading efficiently, according to client’s orders.
- Delivering the securities payment to the seller and passing the scrip to the buyer (upon the client’s request) on time.
- Providing the securities depository services and ensuring that the client’s securities trading account is always correct (for clients who do not wish to keep the scrip).
In the process, if any mistake occurs, the broker has to be responsible and make sure that the buyers get their securities and the sellers get their money accordingly and within the time limit. As for any mistake or loss that might happen, i.e. in case the broker gets a counterfeit scrip, suffers a delay in receiving the scrip, or doesn’t receive all the scrips, cannot collect the money, or does not get all the money from securities selling, the broker has to accept the loss and complete any necessary legal transactions to protect the client’s benefits.
If a mistake or loss occurs as a result of the broker’s violation of laws or his failure to comply with the regulations and member’s codes of conduct, the broker will be punished by the SET. Punishment may include probation, fine, trading suspension, and membership dismissal, according to how serious the mistake is.
How to select Brokers
The broker transmits your order to the SET trading system, confirms the result of the execution, and looks after your account, tax, and matters concerning securities laws and regulations. The final decision, however, is yours. And its consequences are, of course, yours. Your broker is not accountable for the profits you make or the losses you incur. Given the important role that brokers play , be careful and thorough in selecting a broker. Here’s a checklist to help you pick a good broker or a sub-broker.
- Responsiveness to new investors’ needs. Don’t be afraid of asking what you don’t know or want to know. It’s the broker’s duty to guide you from the basics to more sophisticated investment techniques. Experience in advisory services is also crucial. You should know the profiles of the officers you will deal with: educational background, work experience, analytical skills, ability to describe market and investment situations etc.
- Extensive investment data and information. Once you’re familiar with the market, a good broker must have updated and accurate investment data and information at hand to help you make better investment decisions. For example, a long-term investor should receive research on socio-economic trends, external developments, and industry analysis. If you’re a day-trader or trade in and out within hours, you should receive up-to-the-minute news updates and analysis of exchange rates, interest rates, political developments, foreign stock market indices etc.
- Fast and accurate order execution. Every broker competes to render such service as customer satisfaction will bring more business and trading volumes. Very short-term traders should select a broker with a sufficient number of marketing officers and telephone lines to handle the orders.
- Good financial standing. The SET used to have 50 members. The closing of several brokerage firms in the aftermath of the economic crisis in 1997 caused much inconvenience and damage to a large number of investors. Sound financial standing is thus a prerequisite of a good broker. This can be assessed by studying the shareholder groups, company history, operating results, and company reputation. You should also get some information about their management team.
- Documentation and after-sales services. Documentation is vital since it represents the formal contract between you and your broker, or, as already mentioned, between you and the SET. As for after-sales services, a number of brokers are using automatic account clearing and transfer. This requires flawless, easy-to-understand documentation that can be checked at all times.
At present, the Securities Exchange Commission is the organization in charge of the surveillance of brokers’ operations. In case any investor or any person involved is not fairly treated, or would like to report on a brokers’ operation and their staff, they can contact the Market Intermediaries Supervision Department, the Securities Exchange Commission www.sec.or.th.
List of Stockbrokers
Only member companies of the SET are authorized to buy or sell securities on the SET. Companies applying for membership on the exchange must hold a securities license from the Ministry of Finance, which is approved based on a recommendation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. At present, there are 39 members.