Charles Schwab is a leading US-based brokerage firm. Founder Chuck Schwab originally set up in the 1960s as an independent investment advisor and established a general retail brokerage firm in 1971. For a few years in the 1980s the business was owned by BankAmerica Corp, but it was bought out by Schwab and his management team in 1987, and has remained independent ever since. The company is best-known now for its online share trading services, the #1 in its sector ahead of rivals TD Ameritrade and E*Trade, but this serves primarily as a loss leader for advisory services. It continues to operate a chain of around 350 retail branches spread across the US offering brokerage as well as investment products, banking and other services. It also opened its doors to independent franchised financial advisors who bank their own clients' assets with Schwab in return for technology support and full access to research. In 2011 it acquired options specialist OptionsXpress, which continues to operate under its existing name. By mid 2019, the group managed some 12.2m brokerage accounts with combined client assets of almost $3.9 trillion, a figure more than $1 trillion higher than main wealth management rivals Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch. Indeed, currently Schwab is attracting investors' cash at record levels, averaging $624m of net new money every day in 2018, or a total over the year of $228bn, more than its three biggest US rivals combined. Revenues dipped sharply in the 2008 recession but have been steadily rising since then, hitting a new high in 2018 of $10.1bn, while net income soared by 49% to $3.5bn. The key strategy is to keep advisory fees as low as possible to attract new investors; instead the majority of income is generated by interest earned on managed cash, followed by advisory fees. Trading commission accounted for less than 10% of revenues in 2018; the following year, the company dropped trading fees altogether. Walt Bettinger is CEO, but founder Charles Schwab remains chairman.
Capsule checked 14th March 2019
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Adbrands Daily Update 25th Nov 2019: Charles Schwab has agreed a deal to acquire online trading rival TD Ameritrade. The two companies have apparently been involved in on-off negotiations for several months. The all-stock deal values the smaller company at $26bn. It will combine America's two largest discount brokers, putting considerable pressure on their smaller joint rival E*Trade. Canada's Toronto-Dominion Bank still owns 40% of TD Ameritrade, which was formed in 2005 from a merger of the Canadian group's TD Waterhouse with US broker Ameritrade. A merger with Schwab would increase the number of client accounts at the combined company to around 33m, with combined assets of almost $5 trillion. However, the merger is likely to undergo close scrutiny from regulators.
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