Corona and the meme shares
Trading in stocks is back in vogue, even in the land of passbooks and growth certificates. Germany experienced last year a stock market boom not seen since the days of the Neuer Markt at the beginning of the new millennium. Compared to 2019, around 2.7 million more people invested in equities, equity funds or equity-based ETFs. Around 17.5% of Germans over the age of 14, which corresponds to around 12.4 million of the German population, accordingly own at least one securities account. Younger investors under the age of 30, in particular, grew disproportionately, with 600,000 new shareholders, an increase of almost 70% YOY according to the Deutsches Aktieninstitut. 1
The reason for the discovery of stock market trading by "Generation Z" was, on the one hand, boredom due to all the free time caused by the week-long lockdowns. On the other hand, the wave of "meme stocks " spilled over the big pond. Stock trading suddenly became "fame." On the community platform Reddit, youthful investors banded together in stock market forums like "wallstreetbets" to shoot stocks "to the moon" with concerted buys and bet against the powerful hedge funds, which in turn bet on falling prices. The phenomenon was first practiced at game retailer GameStop in early 2021, with further action following in shares of AMC Entertainment, Nokia and Blackberry. Due to the high volatility of the stocks and the growing trading of meme stocks in general, especially the online brokers also benefited.
Unique cross-selling effects
In particular, the new generation of online traders, the neobrokers, were showered with investor money and multiplied their company valuations within a very short time. The US neo Robinhood, made famous by meme shares, is currently listed with a market capitalization of EUR 21.25 billion. German counterpart Trade Republic completed a capital increase this year with a valuation of EUR 4.3 billion.
|Number of customers||Assets under management||Securities account volume per customer||Valuation|
|Smartbroker||190,000||EUR 6.8 billion||EUR 30,000||EUR 320.72 million|
|Trade Republic||>1,000,000||EUR >6.0 billion||EUR 6,000||EUR 4.30 billion|
|Scalable Capital||200,000||EUR 2.5 billion||EUR 12,000||EUR 1.24 billion|
Hardly anyone knows his way around the financial communities industry better than the founder, supervisory board member and, via his vehicle AKD Private Equity GmbH, largest shareholder of the wallstreet:online group with over 56.5%, André Kolbinger. Kolbinger recently used the discrepancy in the company's valuation to increase shares in the company he founded in 1998 by the equivalent of EUR 818,000. Kolbinger's life's work has been in the hands of the new CEO Matthias Hach since March.
page impressions reached the wallstreet:online group in the first half of 2021, making it the largest financial community in the DACH region.
With him, wallstreet:online AG got one of the heads of the scene, who in recent years has held management positions at Comdirect, Flatex, Onvista Bank and E-Trade, among others, and is expected to lift the group to a new level. In addition to being CEO at wallstreet:online, Hach also took over the management role at the smart broker operating company wallstreet:online capital AG, in which wallstreet:online AG now holds more than 95%.
The conditions for continued rapid growth could not be better in terms of the cross-selling effects between the "Social & Media" and "Transactions " segments. With the portals wallstreet-online.de, boersenNews.de, FinanzNachrichten.de and ARIVA.de, which have been growing for years, more than 830,000 registered users are ready to trade via the Smartbroker in the future. In the first half of the year, 376 million page impressions were recorded per month, an increase of 37% over the same period last year. The revenue share of the Social & Media segment was responsible for 55% of the wallstreet:online group's total revenues in the first six months of the current year and grew organically by around 40% YOY with an EBITDA margin of around 36%**. Thus, wallstreet:online AG once again underscored its position as the largest publisher-independent financial portal operator in the German-speaking world and the largest financial community.
Currently, the share of revenues in the transaction business is still at 45%. With the expected continued strong growth of the Smartbroker - in the first half of 2021, revenues almost doubled - , this should expand rapidly in the coming years. Client assets under management increased to EUR 6.8 billion as of 30.06.2021, more than tripling compared to the same time last year. In total, the group has more than 187,000 securities accounts as of 30.06.2021, of which more than 142,000 customers are with Smartbroker. In the entire wallstreet:online group, revenues increased by around 57% YOY to EUR 23.8 million. Operating EBITDA before new customer acquisition costs for Smartbroker rose to EUR 9.0 million.2
For the full year, the Berlin-based company plans to break the customer barrier of 200,000. Due to the positive development in the first half of the year, the sales targets of between EUR 45 million and EUR 50 million and an EBITDA of EUR 4 million to EUR 6 million after marketing costs also remain in place.
Convincing product mix
Smartbroker - A Neobroker Plus
Smartbroker's product mix is unique. For one thing, the fees come close to those of a neobroker. On the other hand, the selection of around 40 trading venues, including all stock exchanges in Germany, resembles that of a full-service broker. With the attached Community and approximately 830,000 users, which is an absolutely unique selling proposition, the Berliners have the reins in their hands to link information and transaction. In this way, the Smartbroker is to be integrated into articles and readers are to be able to place a stock, about which they have just read an analysis, in their securities account with just a few mouse clicks. This in turn will stimulate both trading activity and the growth of customer portfolios.
"And that's both for our users and from the investors' point of view," says CEO Matthias Hach about the synergies of the business units.
Also unusual for a neobroker is the high volume of securities accounts per customer. While a Trade Republic customer has an average of around EUR 6,000 in his or her securities account, Smartbroker has five times that amount, with over EUR 30,000. In total, the client assets under management at Smartbroker amounted to EUR 6.8 billion. This makes it the largest neobroker in Germany in terms of both key figures. As CFO Roland Nicklaus announced at the recent Deutsche Börse Equity Forum, the EUR 10 billion sound barrier is expected to fall by January of next year at the latest.3
Spirit of optimism at all levels
In addition to the goal of linking stock market portals, community and financial services even more closely and offering finance-savvy people in German-speaking countries a unique platform, CEO Matthias Hach continues to press the pace. In addition to the personnel expansion with developers, marketers and customer service staff, the management team was also strengthened in mid-September. With Stefan Fischer, Dietmar Gabor and Christian Wendrock-Prechtl, three experienced comdirect managers have moved to the Spree.
Stefan Fischer has been working as Managing Director Marketing & Sales since September 2021. He previously held comparable positions at comdirect, the ERGO insurance group and Europcar Germany and is simply regarded in the industry as a "marketing guru ". Dietmar Gabor took over as Managing Director Legal, Compliance, Anti-Money Laundering & Data Protection at the beginning of August 2021, while Christian Wendrock-Prechtl was appointed Managing Director, responsible for User Interface, User Experience and Front End Development. Wendrock-Prechtl has already won numerous awards in his career, for example the German Design Award in Gold, the German Brand Award in Gold and the Red Dot Award for high design quality of the comdirect app.
Breakthrough in perception - the app is coming
In order to finally achieve perception as a neobroker among the general public, the launch of the smartphone app should take care of that in the first half of 2022. The app, which is said to be modern, comprehensive and at the same time user-friendly, is to be equipped with a low-threshold offering in order to appeal to "stock market newcomers" and thus expand the customer base.
assets under management is what the Smartbroker wants to achieve at the beginning of next year. It is already Germany's largest new broker with EUR 6.8 billion.
The extension of the KWG license from securities trading bank to securities institution - a decision by BaFin is expected in the first quarter - will also result in a significant expansion of the business model for the operating company of the Smartbroker. In addition to the operation of the financial commission business, financial portfolio management, proprietary trading and custody business, it should also be possible in the future to further optimize the business in its current setup and to position it competitively and well for future market development. The DAB/BNP cooperation runs until 2024, but could be terminated early. With the extended license, in addition to a new app, the setup of a new platform would be given, which should lead to a significant increase in margins in the long run.
"Payment for orderflow ban"- So what?
In recent weeks, a draft by the EU Commission to ban chargeback commissions, the so-called "**Payment for Orderflow", has caused quite a stir in the fintech scene. Specifically, it is about the fact that brokers receive remuneration from their trading partners when they forward their trades to the trading partners. At Trade Republic, for example, the trades are processed via the service provider Lang & Schwarz. The latter, in turn, pays a commission to Trade Republic for the neobroker delivering the trades to Lang & Schwarz. In this example, the dependence on a trading partner could well threaten the existence of the company.
At Smartbroker, the situation is more relaxed. On the one hand, says CEO Matthias Hach, "it is not at all clear whether there will be a ban at all. The EU Commission has presented a draft, but the discussion is far from over. We offer our customers around 40 trading venues, including all stock exchanges in Germany. Our customers have full choice and can select the trading venue with the best prices." But the company is also prepared for the event of a ban, he said. "If there really is a ban, we could think about raising order fees slightly to compensate for the missing kickbacks. I think the vast majority of our customers would understand that. Even if a trade would cost EUR 5 or EUR 6, we would still be incredibly affordable. Just last week, we were named the cheapest provider in a comparison test by "Finanztest" - mind you, in all sample portfolios," Hach told researchanalyst.com.
SWOT- A brief overview
- Combination of financial community and online broker unique
- Decades of expertise in community building
- Management with many years of experience in online brokerage
- Enormous cross-selling opportunities
- Due to financing purely from operating cash flow, weaker financial position vs. Peer Group
- Lack of perception as a neobroker
- Stock market listing as a drag on valuation
- Further expansion in social & media through technical innovations leads to increased reach and higher advertising revenues
- Launch of Smartbroker app paves way for new target group
- Closer integration of "Social & Media" and "Transaction" segments increases transaction volume
- Extension of KWG license leads to independence and higher margins
- Declining advertising revenues in portal business due to economic recessionary trends
- Sustained negative stock market environment leads to reduction in trading activities
- Temporary failures of trading systems in peaks can lead to financial losses
- Strong competition with better financial resources
The course is set
wallstreet:online AG is ideally equipped for the future. With the combination of community and financial services, the Berlin-based company has a strong unique selling point. The launch of the smartphone app should significantly strengthen the perception as a neobroker. The extension of the KWG license also offers the Smartbroker, or wallstreet:online AG, great opportunities for growth. Compared to the Peer-Group, there is a clear gap in the valuation. Smartbroker is already the number one neobroker in Germany with EUR 6.8 billion in customer assets under management. However, wallstreet:online AG's market capitalization of EUR 320.72 million is just under 7.5% of Trade Republic's valuation.