First Metro Securities Brokerage Corporation (FirstMetroSec), the stock brokerage arm of the Metrobank Group, reported a significant increase in transactions in their online platform since the country was placed under preventive community quarantine due to the coronavirus outbreak in March.
FirstMetroSec president Gonzalo Ordoñez said their average daily new accounts came in more than 70% higher since the quarantine. He also said that the jump in account applications was sustained in June, even after the government eased community restrictions, as homebased consumers stayed online to manage their finances.
To cope with this sudden surge in demand, FirstMetroSec is working tirelessly to boost online capacity through system enhancements and process automation. During the ECQ, FirstMetroSec enabled a help center software solution for more efficient handling of customer inquiries online.
Mr. Ordoñez said their experience confirms the rapid shift to digital transactions within the financial sector. “Digitalization has been ongoing for a while, but the pandemic has accelerated this development dramatically,” explained Mr. Ordoñez.
“We are not only upgrading to improve customer experience, but also to adapt to the customers’ evolving behavior and preferences,” bared Mr. Ordoñez. A few weeks before the lockdown, the company launched an improved version of its mobile app, FirstMetroSec Go, designed for users who prefer to transact using their smartphones. The app, available on Android and iOS, offers all the features of its web platform and more.
There has also been an increase in the demand for webinars that FirstMetroSec offers to its clients. The online seminars include titles such as Why You Should Consider Long-term Investing in Equities, Not All Utangs are Created Equal, and Leading by Example: How to teach kids good money habits.
“We used to hold more seminars than calendar days. We have ramped up our online presence and are offering more webinars and online resources. We have conducted over 50 since March with over 8,900 participants,” Mr. Ordoñez recounted.
Aside from these webinars, FirstMetroSec also conducts a weekly stock market Spotify podcast and weekly investment education on Facebook for OFWs, which are all part of the company’s financial literacy initiatives.
Mr. Ordoñez does not see the numbers retreating post-Covid. “The increase in new clients will likely continue to expand as people become increasingly aware of the benefits of transacting online. There is also a keener appreciation of uncertainty, and of the need not only to save, but to invest and diversify. The market has become more discriminating, requiring elegantly designed platforms that are robust and intuitive. And there is a longing for community, combined with a fear of physical proximity. I believe that FirstMetroSec is responding well to this “new normal”, and that growth will be persistent.”