Springfield-based EF Hutton America launches products, website plagued

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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The Springfield company pledges to offer financial services for both individuals and families, as well as institutional investors.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

In-depth coverage

The Springfield News-Sun has provided unmatched coverage of EF Hutton America’s attempt to start a new business model based in Springfield. The paper has provided extensive coverage of the company’s background, how the firm selected Springfield, and why local officials are pinning their hopes on the company to help revitalize the city’s downtown.

By the numbers:

400 — Jobs the company has pledged to create over five years

$22 million — Amount EF Hutton has pledged to invest locally

1904 — Year original company was founded in San Francisco

2007 — Year the new company was incorporated

EF Hutton America announced a set of financial products Wednesday afternoon, including online investment and trading options, although website problems plagued the company’s launch throughout the day.

The company, which is making a big bet that its historic branding will resonate with customers, will offer investment services with a low fixed fee.

“The services are no commission investing and no commission trading,” CEO Christopher Daniels said. “There are some services that provide investing and also trading, but there are none that provide no commission trading and unlimited trades in stocks and options.”

>>RELATED: Community ‘sold’ EF Hutton America on move to Springfield

Local leaders hope that the company’s business model succeeds and can lead to new jobs and further investment in downtown Springfield. The company has pledged to invest $22 million and create at least 400 jobs over five years, and has purchased two buildings in the city’s core.

This isn’t the first attempt to revive the company’s brand. A previous attempt to reboot the brand focused on a more traditional financial services model, said Alois Pirker, research director for Aite Group’s Wealth Management practice.

EF Hutton’s America website describing its services and allowing customers to sign up had a countdown clock to a 6 a.m. Wednesday launch. It opened briefly Wednesday morning, but went offline with a new countdown a short time later.

The site returned for a few minutes about 2 p.m. Wednesday, then went down again. The countdown was reset several times throughout the day until it disappeared and a message was posted briefly citing technical difficulties.

“We are currently experiencing technical difficulties in launching our website,” the site said. “We are working hard to fix the issues and will launch once we have met our standards. Thank you for your patience and please accept our apologies.”

Pirker hadn’t seen the company’s available services late Wednesday afternoon. But he said product launches are often challenging and can affect a company’s credibility with consumers.

“If you want to be a technology savvy company and you can’t keep your website up, I’m not sure if that gives you a lot of credibility coming into the market, especially if you’re new” Pirker said.

A news release from EF Hutton said it “expects hundreds of thousands to visit” to www.efhutton.com and that the “high volume of visitors may result in slower response times, delays or error messages.”

Despite problems with the website, Daniels said the company’s services are unique in the industry and offer lower fees and a more unified approach than its competition.

>>DETAILS: Springfield’s EF Hutton; an historic brand, a new company

It will offer three levels of investment services — a standard service with low fees for self-directed customers; a premium level for investors with portfolios over $250,000 and who want guidance from an advisor; and institutional for large investors with complex needs.

“There are many investors that have a discount broker for trading and they’ve got another account with an investment adviser at a different firm,” Daniels said. “What we’re saying is investors can have the best of both worlds. They can have one account with EF Hutton that covers them on trading and investing. The fact that for one low, simple rate they can have unlimited trading, that’s a really groundbreaking development in this industry.”

The website first set a countdown clock to unveil the new products at www.efhutton.com on Monday. But the company reset that timer on the site Sunday, which it said was to avoid overlapping with Monday night's presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

“We do not want our groundbreaking launch to divert attention from Trump and Clinton. We know they’ll thank us later,” the site said.

The firm can provide services both for customers who want assistance from an investment adviser, as well as those who want to manage their own accounts, Daniels said.

“It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” he said. “In our model, we can provide both. For those that want a full-service investment adviser face-to-face, we’ll provide that. For those that are self-directed, we’ll provide that as well.”

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