Over the course of the pandemic, interest in investing flourished among young, individual investors—and this influx of novice investors provided new perspective on the brokerage digital customer experience. As reported by JMP Securities, new individual accounts numbered a record 10 million for 2020, and these accounts have remained mostly active well into 2021.

A host of factors attracted these new users, including the industry’s move to zero-commission stock trading, extra free time during lockdowns and the GameStop frenzy earlier this year. This flood of new clients was certainly a boon for the brokerage industry, but it highlighted a relative blind spot that forced many brokerages to action: investor education.

Brokerages have now had the time to craft and publish education initiatives for these new investors. Here, we’ll review some common trends in investor education.

A focus on options

As interest in options trading grows among retail investors, so too does the need for options education. Last year, Robinhood faced strong criticism for its approach to options trading. The firm allowed many inexperienced traders to engage in risky options strategies with little guidance, disclaimers or educational assistance. Since then, Robinhood and other brokerages have gone to great lengths to ensure that clients know the risks of options trading and understand proper strategy execution.

Educational options content has expanded on both public and secure sites. Schwab provides a great example of this approach, introducing new educational resources for existing and prospective clients alike. Highlights include a useful public site options infographic and a secure site options trade ticket—the second of which has a unique, tertiary navigation menu with resources like links to the Options Strategy Finder, an Options Learning Center page and an in-ticket Getting Started tutorial for beginners, among others.

Charles Schwab secure site education options include Education and Strategy Finder links in the main navigation, as seen here.
Charles Schwab Secure Site Options Trade Ticket – Tools Dropdown


Like Schwab, many brokerages took the commendable step to integrate education within their trading platform, thus ensuring that new investors who head straight to the trade ticket are still exposed to at least some educational content.

Fidelity’s new secure site options ticket, released in July 2021, displays this kind of integration. Links to multiple educational resources are front and center, with three separate options for clients to choose from. The Options Education link is of particular note since it leads to the main public site Options Learning Center page.

Fidelity's secure site options trade ticket includes links to education directly on the page.
Fidelity Secure Site Options Trade Ticket

Building blocks

While most education initiatives focus on new investors, some firms have also scaled up educational opportunities for intermediate and advanced investors. These are largely designed to introduce content beyond the basics and help more experienced investors delve into some advanced strategies.

Merrill Edge’s revamped public site Webinars page features a unique take on this trend. The page not only provides on-demand educational webinars filtered by topic but allows users to filter videos by difficulty level. So far only Essential and Intermediate content is available, but future webinars and videos will likely include some expert or otherwise advanced content.

Merrill Edge's public site webinars page includes difficulty level options, such as this webinar rated as intermediate.
Merrill Edge Public Site Webinars Page – On-Demand Section

Managing the brokerage digital customer experience

With these new developments in investor education, retail investors can learn to avoid some serious pitfalls in their investing journey. CI’s digital brokerage research team will further review investor education, as well as research and analysis tools, in our upcoming September and October reports on Options Trading. The September report will focus on secure site options trading features and functionality, while our October report will offer findings from in-house user tests.

To learn more about developments in the brokerage space, contact us about our Online Brokerage Research Services. Corporate Insight continues to monitor the brokerage digital customer experience to provide clients with accurate and timely competitive intelligence.

Brandon Judge

Brandon Judge is an Analyst on CI's brokerage team.