Charles Schwab Case Essay

Charles Schwab Case Essay

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Charles Schwab, a Stanford MBA, founded Charles Schwab & Company in 1971 in California. The company quickly established itself as an innovator. A defining moment came with the 1975 “May Day,” when Schwab took advantage of the new opportunities deregulation offered. Schwab would not provide advice on which securities to buy and when to sell as the full-service brokerage firms did. Instead, it gave self-directed investors low-cost access to securities transactions. From the late 80s to the early 90s, before the commercial use of the Internet, Schwab used technology to increase efficiency and quality and expand its services. Schwab’s innovations harnessed technology to the solution of business problem. As Schwab’s President and co-CEO David Pottruck put it, “we are a technology company in the brokerage business.”

Schwab introduced TeleBroker, a fully automated telephone system that allowed customers to retrieve real-time stock quotes and place orders. Schwab also leveraged its back-office operations with SchwabLink, a service to provide fee-based financial advisors with back-office custodial services and the capability for RIAs to plug into Schwab’s computers to trade. The RIA market became an important source of revenue for Schwab. By 2000, Schwab had 5,900 affiliated RIAs, who controlled about 30% of Schwab's assets, up from zero in 1987. Merrill Lynch viewed these RIA’s as a “virtual sales force” for Schwab: “We don’t compete with the discounters. We do compete with Schwab. They have essentially built a Merrill Lynch by proxy.” Schwab introduced the Mutual Fund OneSource program in 1992, enabling customers to purchase no-load mutual funds without paying commissions. The vast majority of OneSource assets were in non-Schwab funds, except the SchwabFunds money market, the only money market fund offered to OneSource customers. Funds were ranked and presented to Schwab customers based on objective characteristics (e.g., sector, investment style, or management fees) and performance. Customers could use their Schwab account to buy or sell more than 1,100 mutual funds from about 200 third-party fund families without paying any fees, and the transactions were integrated into their Schwab account statements and reports. Schwab serviced these accounts, aggregating all OneSource trades into a single daily transaction that was communicated electronically to the pa...


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...s value proposition. Schwab customers could trade through Schwab’s branch offices, through representatives at call centers, via automated telephone services, over the Internet, and over wireless devices. Schwab sought to take advantage of synergies between the Internet and its traditional channels. For example, Schwab planned to hold over 13,600 online investing seminars in 2000 in its branches for those not comfortable with Internet technology. Looking at the market share in Figure. 1 below, Schwab was the leader in 1999. However, in today’s world competition has gotten even more competitive. Fidelity and Vanguard have become household names in today’s market. Fidelity with their proven customer service, range of mutual funds, stocks, and
Retirement plans is well balanced diversified credible firm with a proven track record. Vanguard is one of the newer but fast growing firms. Vanguard trademark is for low commission and expense ratios fees. Vanguard has the lowest fees in the industry and makes a big difference if one is a long-term investor. In conclusion, Fidelity and Vanguard are the tier 1 firms in the industry with Vanguard having the potential to be #1 in the near future.

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