I am very intrigued by the new investment model started by LOYAL3. In sum, you can buy certain stocks - currently only Fifth&Pacific (FNT) - directly from the public company using a Customer Stock Ownership Plan.
No minimum investments. Full share purchases are not required.
No brokerage fees. All fees are covered by the offering company.
With their emphasis on featuring companies most people know ("buy what you know"), lowering the entry costs to investing and ease of user interface, it's an attractive model if other public companies sign up.
It will certainly be interesting to see if companies view this model as a way to further promote customer loyalty ("buy what you own").
I opened an account, linked a checking account and put in a small order for FNT (who doesn't like Kate Spade's simple designs). The purchase is pending the bank linkage, so we will see how it goes. So far it have been simple, easy and fun.
This isn't on pace to replace brokerage accounts anytime soon, but it is worth a look and a follow.