Technology Used by CPAs Affects Online Brokerage Industry

Data mining is one of the new buzzwords in the accounting and technology industry, perpetuated by the ability to drill down into spreadsheets and general ledgers to extract information. In fact, it was named one of the AICPA's Top Ten Technologies in 1998.

The banking industry has used data mining as a means to track information on customers from data submitted by the customers themselves. Data is compiled in a computerized data warehouse for use in other areas. As a consequence of that success, online brokers now are using the same techniques to discover buying habits of its own customer base.

Profiles are built on customers, and brokers can customize communications to meet individual demands. This could include telephone calls, e-mail and other solicitation devices-a process that could be too intrusive to a customer's personal time.

One of the largest concerns from the customer point of view is that brokerage firms will "sell" their information. Some of the market leaders using data mining include Waterhouse Securities and Charles Schwab.

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