Capturing the Active Investor Segment: A Case Study of Charles Schwab

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7 September 2011
Alexander Camargo and Isabella Fonseca

Abstract

Although the brokerage industry has recovered from the economic doldrums of 2008-2009, growth in terms of client assets and daily average revenue remains very fragile. Amid an unsteady economic recovery and decreasing commissions, active investors and active traders present a significant opportunity.

A new report, Capturing the Active Investor Segment: A Case Study of Charles Schwab, examines how the Charles Schwab Corporation, a publicly traded financial services provider, has focused on capturing the active investor customer segment. Traditionally, Charles Schwab has gone after this segment by emphasizing its size and breadth of products. Thus, Schwab has focused on capturing assets across different types of banking and brokerage accounts. However, over the past 12 months, Schwab has also taken several steps to improve its offerings for active investors interested in solely online brokerage.

Schwab has taken the following steps to improve its online brokerage offering for active investors:

  • Launching a new flagship trading platform, StreetSmart Edge.
  • Lowering and increasing transparency around commissions.
  • Developing a multichannel strategy and enhancing its mobile offering.
  • Improving platform technology and expertise in derivatives by announcing the acquisition of optionsXpress.

“Although it’s too early to assess the results of Schwab’s launch of StreetSmart Edge and its other initiatives in the online brokerage space, these developments signal to active investors that the firm is serious about meeting its online brokerage needs,” says Alexander Camargo, Analyst with Celent’s Securities & Investments group and coauthor of the report.

Heading into 2012, competition for active investors will be fierce. “The combination of decreased trading activity, flattening assets, and long-term downward pressure on commissions will make competition in the online brokerage market increasingly intense,” says Isabella Fonseca, Research Director at Celent and coauthor of the report. “Firms like Schwab must continue to monitor the market closely to ensure that its online brokerage strategy matches the preferences of these active investors."

The case study focuses on providing an update on trends and challenges in the online brokerage market, as well as a detailed story of Charles Schwab’s retail brokerage strategy. This report will help other financial services firms understand some of factors leading to a comprehensive multichannel strategy to target the active investor market.

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Insight details

Content Type
Reports
Location
North America