The year 2020 saw new challenges from the rapid spread of the Novel Corona Virus and subsequent impact on the economy in general and capital market in particular. The Thai economy suffered a decline of 6.6% while the SET Index plunged periodically, including triggering circuit breaker twice. This created abnormal volatility which impacted valuations but also resulted in a liquidity surge. The nationwide lockdown disrupted all aspects of daily activities including investments where investors spent more time online and thereby increased their online trading activities to take advantage of cheaper stock prices. This is where our strategy of transforming into a leading digital player paid off and yielded positive results in 2020. Our online trading application, HERO, coupled with an enhanced online account opening platform, efficient call center, and aggressive digital marketing campaign, were able to attract new clients in a record high number.
- Over 22,000 new client additions;
- An active proportion of 40% of total client accounts;
- A high online contribution of over 70% of total trading volume;
- An overall market share of 6% ranking 3rd in the industry.
Our robust retail client addition during the year translated into a higher market share in the Retail Investors Segment, which we believed to experience the highest growth in the industry. During 2020, our E-Business Technology Team launched a new version of HERO’s mobile application which combined a powerful real-time stock scanner with a smart trading platform capable of sophisticated auto-orders, making it the most advanced trading tool available in the industry.
Financially, the Company was therefore able to turn its performance around after 2 consecutive years of losses and registered a net profit of THB 81.9 million. The previous years were constrained by heavy IT development costs amid poor market conditions. Our brokerage income in 2020 rose to THB 1,315 million or by 43% from the year before. Our interest income and trading gains contributed marginally due to our policy to restrict lending and trading exposures. Our average debt to equity stood at 1.14x, a relatively conservative level compare to our peers. Investment Banking generated THB 75 million in fees, an increase of 28% from previous year, having underwritten 3 major IPO issues during 2020. At the same time, we continue to steadily build our institutional and wealth management businesses.
In our costs management, we trim our sales staff from 464 to 433 and reduced number of branches from 28 to 25 during the year. We have also adapted policies to allow over 80% of front office staff to work offsite, thereby reducing further costs. We hope to maintain this policy in the future.
The Board of Directors wish to thank you all shareholders for their patience and support, especially in our period of transformation, as a result of which, we are now well positioned with a technologically superior platform and a capable E-Business team to capture growth opportunity in the future.
Mr. Chatchaval Jiaravanon