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Markets Magazine

Charles Schwab Has a $3.6 Trillion Edge on the Fintechs

The 81-year-old discount-investing pioneer is taking on a new crop of rivals.


Charles Schwab’s cheeks redden in a mixture of amusement and outrage as he recites the ways people on Wall Street make money. They take little nicks, he says, gesticulating with his left hand as if gripping a kitchen knife. High fees, fat spreads, excessive trades. “They all want to do it the old-fashioned way: Take advantage of the customer,” the white-haired chairman and founder of Charles Schwab Corp. says at his San Francisco office, a comfortable 3,000 miles or so west of the New York Stock Exchange. “Get the high commission, baby!”

His blue eyes widen behind his glasses as he describes the Schwab way: Take Wall Street’s principle of free enterprise “but minimize the friction, the cost of investing. It’s gotta be reduced down to near zero.”