Bonds, Bonds, Bonds
More advice on fixed-income securities online, a
radically different duck
Theresa W. Carey
Edited by Randall W. Forsyth
. . .FMSbonds.com, a site that specializes
in municipal bonds operated by First Miami Securities, sells bonds
only from its own inventory. The site offers original commentary
and analyses nicely tailored to the individual municipal bond buyer.
Visitors can browse their offerings and content without registering
or paying a fee.
FMSbonds.com has developed the Muni-Trac
that gathers the information about a client’s bonds in a single
report. It is especially useful for Florida residents preparing
their Intangible Tax return. The downside: you have to fill out
an online form and then wait for a snail-mail response.
To access FMSbonds inventory, you search
for bonds of interest to you and then click on “Buy” when you find
one you like. You can open an account online if you don’t have one
yet, but it must be funded within three days. Vice President and
Internet administrator Michelle Parker will telephone you and make
sure the account is properly set up. You can do all your FMSbonds
transactions online, or call a representative if you prefer. . .
Excerpted from Barrons, August 5, 2002
No Stock Answers
Here’s a look at Websites for muni bonds and currencies
By Theresa W. Carey
Edited by Randall W. Forsyth
MUNICIPAL BONDS MAY NOT BE as
exciting as technology stocks, but they are the fixed-income investment of
choice for almost any individual’s taxable portfolio. For instance, a
triple-A 10-year muni yielding 4.05% is equivalent to a 5.88% taxable bond
to an investor in a 31% federal bracket, substantially more than the 4.61%
yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury last week. No wonder households own
$640 billion of munis, according to recent Federal Reserve data.
Among the various spots to research munis is FMSbonds
(www.FMSbonds.com), which recently underwent a subtle facelift. You can search the
firm’s inventory for prospective bond purchases, and also participate in a
fairly busy interactive forum. “The response to our bond forum has been
overwhelming,” says FMSbonds, Inc.’ president James Klotz. “We get dozens of
e-mails a week that are quite interesting and we’ll post the message, and
our response, if we think the subject matter might help somebody else.” The
messages don’t get posted immediately, but go up after the topic is
reviewed and answered. Most responses are written by Klotz, who says he’s
found that the forum prompts interest from other investors.
The site lets you search through the dealer’s current holdings, and buy
directly from its inventory. FMSbonds, Inc. is heavily involved in the secondary
market, buying bonds from investors and then reselling them.
You won’t find new issues here, but Klotz assures us that the company’s
staff of tax-free bond specialists strives to offer only bonds that would
work for individual investors. “Since we own the bonds we sell, we do
extensive research before we buy them for our inventory,” Klotz asserts.
“When a bond dealer is carrying bonds from an aggregator such as
BondsExpress, he can’t answer many questions since most bonds in their
inventory are actually held by other brokers.”
Klotz remarked that the profile of his site’s customers is changing
dramatically. In the past three years, FMSbonds, Inc. has attracted younger
customers who have had experience trading equities. “Most of the questions
on our forum are coming from people who haven’t had much bond-buying
experience,” he says. “Our new customers got a rude lesson and now
understand risk. They know that some portion of their portfolios should be
in fixed-income. If they have any kind of tax-bracket considerations, then
they understand why they should hold munis.”
When you first navigate the site, you’ll find several featured bonds,
plus a menu-listing on the left that gives you access to the current
inventory, industry commentary, and investing strategies. You can sign up
for e-mail updates for FMSbonds, Inc. inventory holdings, or click on
“Bondfinder” and search what’s currently available. . . .
Excerpted from Barrons, September 8, 2003