SAN FRANCISCO — Change is an important part of the Charles Schwab & Co. business model, and has been since Charles Schwab bought out his partners in First Commander Corp., San Francisco, and tacked his name on the firm in 1973.
Mr. Schwab exploited the 1975 decision by the Securities and Exchange Commission to deregulate brokerage commissions and set up one of the first discount brokerage firms. He saw commission deregulation as a way to undercut big Wall Street brokers and allow individual investors to buy and sell stocks without pressure from Wall Street.
The company since has expanded to become the fourth-largest brokerage firm. It also diversified into mortgages and financial planning, and has become a force in the retirement business through Schwab Corporate Services, which includes Schwab Retirement Services Inc. Schwab now employs 16,000 people and has a market capitalization of about $15 billion.
"We don't spend too much time resting on laurels here," said David Pottruck, the outspoken Schwab chief executive officer who has been with the company since 1984. "Anniversaries provide a moment to pause and reflect. But they are primarily an opportunity to confirm our mission and commitment to serving our clients, who, unlike 30 years ago, are no longer just individual investors, but also corporations, institutions and investment managers."