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Schwab's Barry Metzger To Fintech Startups: 'Call Me!'

Schwab's Barry Metzger To Fintech Startups: 'Call Me!'

The Benzinga Fintech Summit is a gathering of the top leaders in brokerage, payments and cryptocurrencies in San Francisco Nov. 14. Ahead of the Summit, Benzinga is profiling fintech thought leaders who are speaking at the event.

For this installment, Benzinga interviewed a key speaker on our upcoming brokerage panel: Barry Metzger, senior vice president of global, trading and advice at Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW).

BZ: Tell us about your role at Charles Schwab. What does it mean to be SVP of "global," "trading" and "advice?"

Metzger: As the senior vice president of global, trading and advice at Charles Schwab, I lead a dynamic group of individuals across 13 locations — three in Asia, one in Europe and nine in the United States — who all share the same goal of putting our clients first no matter what.

Global, trading and advice is comprised of four unique businesses: Schwab’s international and global services team, Schwab trading services, Schwab futures and the planning and portfolio group, which includes Schwab’s private client offer. It is a tremendous honor to lead!

What are your biggest priorities in developing the Schwab trading experience? How do you balance reacting to trends with innovating internally?

My No. 1 priority is to make sure that we continue to provide our active trading investors with a holistic trading experience, one that is focused on what we refer to as the four Ps: price, platform, people and plan. Our commissions should be highly competitive and not a barrier to entry. Our platforms should be simple, yet powerful, allowing traders to cross channels seamlessly with a highly engaging set of tools and the right set of capabilities and data. Our people are engaging trading specialists to provide education, help, guidance and best-in-class service. Lastly, we offer robust trading plans, developed with clients by trader financial consultants, to ensure that a client’s entire wealth management portfolio and life needs are considered. 

I balance reacting to trends by working collectively with our partners across the firm to truly understand the voice of our client. That is our north star by which we prioritize our initiatives. Everything we do is about seeing things through our clients’ eyes. 

The topic of the day in brokerage is pricing: brokerage customers are asking their preferred firms to justify their costs. What makes the Schwab value proposition worth it to an investor?

Investors no longer believe they should have to compromise on either price or quality, and we agree. They shouldn’t have to make trade-offs. Our client-first, no trade-offs mindset means we don’t buy into the idea that investors need to have a lot of money and pay a high fee to get great service and access to things like personalized advice and high-quality products. Our focus is to deliver a combination of great service and a great experience — at a great value. We take great pride in championing our clients' goals with passion and integrity.

What trend in fintech are you paying the most attention to right now?

Consumers today expect the combination of a great digital experience and access to people when they need it and investing should be no different. We are living in an era where you can order your groceries online and have them delivered to your door in an hour, but if something goes wrong you want to talk to a person who can fix it. Our clients expect their financial interactions to be just as simple and seamless.

There’s a huge opportunity for technology to improve the way people invest, and we are paying attention to any trend that combines ease of use and convenience. Whatever is the easiest and the most intuitive wins, whether you are ordering dinner or opening a brokerage account. But, we won’t lose sight of the fact that technology alone isn’t enough. Access to a person for advice when you want it and service when you need it is always going to be essential.

Five years ago, what did you think would happen in fintech? What has ended up happening relative to your predictions?

I thought there would be a new client segment within millennials that would want things simpler, faster and easier. And that is exactly what’s happened.

What advice would you give to someone with an idea that could disrupt financial services who wanted to work with a brokerage like Charles Schwab?

They should call me! We’ll talk! In all seriousness, we are always interested in speaking with highly motivated and engaged individuals and, no surprise, many of them become our best and most loyal clients.

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