Charles Schwab Corporation

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For people named Charles Schwab, including the founder of this company, see Charles Schwab (disambiguation).
Charles Schwab Corporation
Traded as NYSESCHW
S&P 500 Component
Founded April 1971 (as First Commander Corporation)[1]
Headquarters San Francisco, California, U.S.
Key people
Charles R. Schwab, Founder & Chairman
Walter W. Bettinger, CEO
Revenue Increase US$6.058 billion (FY 2014)[2]
Increase US$2.115 billion (FY 2014)[2]
Increase US$1.321 billion (FY 2014)[2]
AUM Increase US$2.464 trillion (FY 2014)[3]
Total assets Increase US$154.642 billion (FY 2014)[3]
Total equity Increase US$11.803 billion (FY 2014)[3]
Number of employees

The Charles Schwab Corporation is an American brokerage and banking company, based in San Francisco, California. It was founded in 1971 by Charles R. "Chuck" Schwab,[4] as a traditional brick and mortar brokerage firm and investment newsletter publisher.[1] In 1973, the company changed its name from First Commander Corporation to Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.[1] The company started offering discount brokerage on May 1, 1975,[4] and became one of the world's largest discount brokers.[5]

Schwab operates in four main divisions: investing, wealth management, banking, and trading. The company serves 7.9 million client brokerage accounts, with $1.65 trillion in assets (as of September 2011), from over 300 offices in the U.S, one office in Puerto Rico, and one branch in London.[4][6] Clients can also access services online and by telephone. In 2009, Chairman Charles R. Schwab received the inaugural Tiburon CEO Summit award for Maintaining a Focus on Consumer Needs.[7]


In 1963, Charles R. "Chuck" Schwab and two other partners launched Investment Indicator, an investment newsletter. At its height, the newsletter had 3,000 subscribers, each paying $84 a year to subscribe. In April 1971, the firm was incorporated in California as First Commander Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Commander Industries, Inc., for traditional, brokerage services and to publish the Schwab investment newsletter. In November of that year, Mr. Schwab and four others purchased all the stock from Commander Industries, Inc., and in 1972, Mr. Schwab bought all the stock from what was once Commander Industries. In 1973, the company name changed to Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.[1] In September 1975, Schwab opened its first branch in Sacramento, CA,[1] and started offering discount brokerage.[4] In 1977, Schwab began offering seminars to clients, and by 1978, Schwab had 45,000 client accounts total, doubling to 84,000 in 1979. In 1980, Schwab established the industry’s first 24-hour quotation service, and the total of client accounts grew to 147,000. In 1981, Schwab became a member of the NYSE, and the total of client accounts grew to 222,000. In 1982, Schwab became the first to offer 24/7 order entry and quote service, its first international office was opened in Hong Kong, and the number of client accounts totaled 374,000.[1]

U.S. Trust[edit]

In 2000, Schwab purchased U.S. Trust for $2.73 billion.[8] In 2001, less than a year after the acquisition of U.S. Trust, the U.S. Trust subsidiary was fined $10 million in a bank secrecy law case. It was ordered to pay $5 million to the New York State Banking Department and $5 million to the Federal Reserve Board.[9] On November 20, 2006, Schwab announced an agreement to sell U.S. Trust to Bank of America for $3.3 billion cash.[10] The deal closed in the second quarter of 2007.

SoundView Technology[edit]

In November 2003, Schwab announced the $345 million acquisition of SoundView Technology Group. The acquisition was intended to integrate SoundView's equity research content with Charles Schwab's trading execution capabilities, although the equity research business would come under increased regulatory scrutiny in the following years. SoundView had received a 57% premium to its market price before the announcement.[11][12]

Return of Charles R. Schwab[edit]

David S. Pottruck, who had spent the majority of his 20 years at the brokerage as Schwab's right-hand man, shared the CEO title with the company's founder from 1998 to 2003. In May 2003, Mr. Schwab stepped down, and gave Pottruck sole control as CEO. Just a year later, on July 24, 2004, the company's board fired Pottruck, replacing him with its founder and namesake. News of Pottruck's removal came as the firm had announced that overall profit had dropped 10 percent, to $113 million, for the second quarter, driven largely by a 26 percent decline in revenue from customer stock trading.

After coming back into control, Mr. Schwab conceded that the company had "lost touch with our heritage", and quickly refocused the business on providing financial advice to individual investors. He also rolled back Pottruck’s fee hikes. The company rebounded, and earnings began to turn around in 2005, as did the stock. The share price was up as high as 151% since Pottruck’s removal, ten times since the return of Charles Schwab.[13] The company’s net transfer assets, or assets that come from other firms, quadrupled from 2004 to 2008. In the fiscal year 2008, the company generated $5.1 billion in revenue and recorded a net income of $1.2 billion. For the first quarter of 2009, Charles Schwab Corp. reported $1.1 billion in revenue and $218 million in net income. Due to the company's relatively low exposure to mortgage backed securities, the company has largely been able to escape the turmoil of the 2007–2010 financial crisis that seriously damaged many competitors. It did, however, market to clients a "money market" instrument called YieldPlus that had subprime exposure, leading to massive losses for some investors.[14]

Walt Bettinger named CEO[edit]

On July 22, 2008, Walter W. Bettinger was named chief executive, succeeding the company's namesake.

Bettinger has been the heir apparent[15] since he was named president and chief operating officer in February 2007. Charles R. Schwab remained executive chairman of the company and said in a statement that he would "continue to serve as a very active chairman." Bettinger came to the company in 1995 when it acquired retirement-plan services firm Hampton Co. that he had founded at age 22.[15] Bettinger, in the company’s statement, seemed to nod to the idea that some Schwab shareholders might worry about another succession going awry: "Chuck and I have worked closely together over the years preparing for this transition," he said, "and we will continue to work closely together in our respective roles as executive chairman and CEO." [16]

"Talk to Chuck" campaign[edit]

On December 1, 2004, Euro RSCG New York announced it was chosen by Charles Schwab as its full-service advertising agency.[citation needed]

Starting in 2005, Charles Schwab launched a series of television ads. In a Slate magazine review, Ben Stuart, VP of Brand Strategy and Advertising for Schwab, said the cartoons force the viewer to focus on what he hears. The TV ads were produced by Euro RSCG and directed/animated by Bob Sabiston's Flat Black Films. "Talk to Chuck" ads appear in print media, online, billboards, and branch offices.

Registered investment adviser firms[edit]

Schwab' business model is based on independent investment adviser firms.[citation needed] The company serves 5,000 independent advisers. These firms are generally regulated by state/local government or by the federal government. Schwab also offer online solutions, through online tools, for the novice traders.[17]


Competitors in the discount brokerage industry include: E*TRADE, Fidelity Investments, Firstrade Securities, IDealing, Merrill Edge, Place Trade, Scottrade, TD Ameritrade and TradeKing.[18]

Industry Awards and Rankings[edit]

Year Grading Position Declared Best In Reference
2011 5 3rd Online Broker Review 2011[19]
2012 4 5th Banking Services Online Broker Review 2012[20]
2013 4 3rd Online Broker Review 2013[21]
2014 4.5 5th Retirement Services Online Broker Review 2014[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Schwab History". Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  2. ^ a b c Charles Schwab (SCHW) annual SEC income statement filing via Wikinvest
  3. ^ a b c Charles Schwab (SCHW) annual SEC balance sheet filing via Wikinvest
  4. ^ a b c d e "About Schwab: Corporate Fact Sheet". Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  5. ^ "A Premium Buy Among Discount Brokers?". 26 January 1997. 
  6. ^ "Charles Schwab". Forbes. 2011-03-29. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ McGeehan, Patrick (2000-01-14). "Schwab to Pay $2.73 Billion For U.S. Trust". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  9. ^ Brick, Michael (2001-07-14). "U.S. Trust Is Fined $10 Million in Bank Secrecy-Law Case". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  10. ^ "Bank of America To Buy U.S. Trust". Forbes. 2006-11-20. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  11. ^ Schwab to Acquire SoundView Technology Group. November 19, 2003
  12. ^ Schwab to buy Soundview for $321 Million. The New York Times, November 20, 2003
  13. ^ "Charles Schwab stepping down". Los Angeles Times. 
  14. ^ "At Schwab, Unkept Promise To Investors". The New York Times. 14 January 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "What a close reading of Barron's cover story on Walt Bettinger reveals". 
  16. ^ "Charles Schwab steps down as CEO of his brokerage". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  17. ^ "Schwab Reviews". Schwab Reviews. 2009-06-18. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  18. ^ " FINRA Member Firms: List of Members ", Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. May 11, 2013. Accessed May 11, 2013.
  19. ^ "2011 Online Broker Review", January 18, 2011
  20. ^ "2012 Online Broker Review", February 21, 2012
  21. ^ "2013 Online Broker Review", February 19, 2013
  22. ^ "2014 Online Broker Review", February 18, 2014

External links[edit]