A Look At Charles Schwab's Approach To Technology
In a series examining how brokerages are managing the role technology plays in their clients’ lives, Benzinga reached out to Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW).
With a discount brokerage business dating back to 1975, the firm has thrived through myriad market and technology changes.
“At Schwab, we see that many people are increasingly engaged in their finances and investing," Director of User Experience for Mobile, Web and Desktop Applications, Eliel Johnson, told Benzinga, " and providing access to digital tools to help them stay engaged and take greater ownership is an important focus for us.”
Schwab added nearly one million brokerage accounts in 2013 for seven percent annual growth.
Schwab’s trading platform, StreetSmart Edge, was recognized in Barron’s 2014 brokerage review for its personalization and options trading strategies. The mobile app has received much acclaim for the array of data available, including a live stream of CNBC.
Related Link: Charles Schwab Q2 Profit Surges 27%
Personal Interaction Still Counts
Despite the acclaim, Schwab’s ideology on technology is unique to other brokerages Benzinga spoke to. Johnson explained, “Clients, especially those who are younger or more tech-savvy, increasingly want digital and mobile services, but we do not think these tools will replace the need for more personalized 1-1 interaction with a professional.”
Rather than having technology replace traditional interaction with a financial advisor, Johnson explained how the tools Schwab built increase the impact financial advisors have on their clients’ lives.
“Rather [than eliminate the need for a financial advisor], our digital tools deepen client engagement and provide more information, whenever, wherever they want it -- ultimately allowing clients to have richer, more informed conversations when they want to speak to their financial advisor.”
The approach looks to be highly effective. Asset management and administrative fee revenue surged by 13 percent in 2013, on top of two years of six percent annual growth. In addition, nearly $300 million was added in client assets.
Shares of Charles Schwab are up 6.7 percent year to date, versus 4.6 percent on the S&P 500.
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