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TheStreet.com CEO Tom Clarke and COO Jim Lonergan talk about online trading and financial portals on their company's Q4 conference call:

I view online trading in the consumer sector as a commodity business. The recent action of online financial services firms such, as Schwab, to reduce their costs, again confirm for me that the differentiating factor in these firms offerings down the road will revolve around content... the primary generator of the transaction is content, not tools, and I think that there will be a tremendous opportunity for us to work with these firms on the creation of whatever proprietary content they may need. We will remain agnostic about branding, so that online financial services firms can position the content as their own, if that makes their customers experience more rewarding.

I believe we are witnessing a shift in the content distribution model within the financial space. Quality financial content is critical to large distribution portals looking to attract self-directed investors. As quality financial publishers limit the amount of content to be aggregated and hosted by the distribution sites for various reasons… it will be interesting to see how distribution sites maintain content levels to attract traffic. We believe that over the longer term, this will put a premium on content creators and their syndication efforts.

(Quotes are from the CCBN StreetEvents transcript.)

Source: TheStreet.com (TSCM) on the online brokerage business and financial portals (quotes from the conf call)