Schwab joins online broker crowd

After announcing a joint venture a year ago with ecorp, Charles Schwab, the world’s largest online broker, has launched its own stand-alone Australian operation. While many are sceptical whether Schwab can make inroads into an already crowded market with tight margins, the resources available to Schwab should ensure that it will be a competitive threat.

The Schwab service offers the choice of the Schwab One and Schwab Classic services, straight-through processing, online research and investing tools, a small branch network and an education centre. Assuming the Australian operation follows that of its parent we can expect to see a full online investment service backed by a growing branch network.

What are the hurdles that Schwab face? Branding, offering a differentiated service and making inroads into a market with well-established players.