Charles Schwab’s move to eliminate commissions in October has led to a drop in trading revenue but attracted a healthy dose of new assets.
The firm had a record $66.2 billion in core net new assets during the fourth quarter and $211.7 billion during all of 2019, representing a 7% full-year organic growth rate, CEO Walt Bettinger says in a statement.
Client assets have reached a record $4.04 trillion by the end of December 2019, a 24% increase year-over-year, according to the firm’s fourth-quarter earnings release.
As of the end of December, Schwab was serving 12.3 million active brokerage accounts and 1.7 million corporate retirement plan participants, as well as 1.4 million banking accounts, the company says.
Nonetheless, Schwab’s trading revenue fell to $86 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to $206 million in the fourth quarter the prior year, according to the report. And annual trading revenue was just $617 million, or 19% lower than in 2018, the company says.
Overall, Schwab posted $2.6 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2019, a 2% drop from the fourth quarter of 2018. Its revenue for all of 2019, however, was $10.7 billion, a 6% increase over the prior year, according to the report.
Net income was $852 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, which was 9% lower than in the third quarter, but $3.7 billion for the year, which was again 6% higher than in 2018, Schwab says.
Given the elimination of commissions, the firm had a 148% jump in the fourth quarter, compared to the third, in the average number of client trades defined as “other trades,” which, along with the free ones, include Schwab Mutual Fund OneSource funds and ETFs and other proprietary products, according to the report.
However, Schwab’s average revenue per trade, in those that do generate commissions, jumped 32%, from $6.94 in the third quarter to $9.13 in the fourth, the company says