Schwab trading accounts grow 31% after commissions drop to zero
Charles Schwab’s free trading offer is turning out to be a hit, drawing in new customers at a fast clip.
Clients opened 142,000 new trading accounts in October, a 31% jump over September’s pace. Total brokerage accounts climbed to 12.2 million and firmwide assets grew to a record $3.85 trillion.
Schwab escalated the brokerage industry’s price war on Oct. 1 when it eliminated commissions on U.S. stocks, ETFs and options. The move is likely to hit revenue but is aimed at wooing new assets to the San Francisco-based firm, which has been generating most of its income from interest earned on client cash holdings.
Average interest-earning assets were $266 billion in October, little changed from September and up about 1% from a year earlier. The gain in brokerage accounts is just 7% more than October 2018.
Other brokerages that cut commissions have reported divergent trends in October client activity:
A more detailed picture of the bottom-line impact of the fee change will be available in January, when Schwab reports fourth-quarter results.