An In-Depth Look at the Products and Services of Charles Schwab in Phoenix, Arizona
Investors searching for professional retirement planning, an outstanding customer service experience, and excellent investment advice need look no further than Charles Schwab. The company continues to be known for having the industry’s highest customer satisfaction ratings and 24 hour support, ensuring clients receive the help they need in a timely manner. The platform offers a range of robust trading tools, making it an excellent choice for all.
Charles Schwab employs professionals ready and willing to offer advice on a wide range of investment products, along with in-house analysis and third party research to ensure clients have the materials they need to make informed decisions. New clients receive a welcome call within hours of opening the account, and customer service is available at all times, even on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. The banking services found with this firm are excellent also, something many clients appreciate, simply because this makes their life easier.
One problem investors encounter when they choose to make use of this broker is an individual cannot combine their Charles Schwab and optionsXpress account, although Charles Schwab did acquire the other company. In addition, the company doesn’t encourage face to face meetings at local branch offices, as some competitors do, and the company continues to have high transaction fees, as compared to competitors, yet the fees only apply to buys. Investors wishing to sell pay no fee. Many find this broker meets their needs in every way, however, making it a company any potential investor needs to look into.
Commissions and Fees
Charles Schwab remains competitive when it comes to pricing on stock and option trades. Flat-rate stock trades cost only $8.95, coming in less than what investors with TD Ameritrade and ETRADE customers pay, yet more than the fees seen with Scottrade and Fidelity. Option trades run $8.95 also, although there is an additional $.75 cent fee for each contract.
Countless investors turn to this broker as they remain the industry leader when it comes to the variety of EFTs offered. The company currently provides 121 commission-free ETFs for investors to select from. Be aware that mutual fund transaction fees run $76 per buy, which remains the highest in the industry, but there is no charge to sell these funds, however, so keep this in mind when determining if Charles Schwab is the right choice.
Charles Schwab doesn’t require a minimum account balance to access advanced trading tools. There are no trading frequency requirements either. The same cannot be said for most brokers, and investors with limited funds find this to be very helpful. In addition, there are no inactivity or account maintenance fees, and the company doesn’t place surcharges on after-hours trading moves, large orders, or penny stocks. Unfortunately, there is a $500 stock certificate processing fee, although there is no delivery fee for the certificate once it is processed.
Charles Schwab distinguishes itself from other brokers in the amount of high quality research it provides to clients. In addition to the in-house research team, the broker offers access to a wealth of independent research from third party sources. What makes this unique is the company viewpoint remains front and center at all times.
The expert team amassed by the broker is sure to impress clients also. Individuals find they can read an interview from a person on this team one day on a major Internet site and access advice from the same person the very next day through the broker site. It provides investors with confidence when they see that others respect the individuals they are receiving advice from.
One feature many investors appreciate involves the standard charting functionality. Although it is basic, the company includes the little details investors wish to see. When an investor applies settings to one chart, the settings are carried over to all, minimizing the need for re-configuration. In addition, 34 different indicators allow investors to see the information they want and need quickly. Many appreciate being able to add notes to charts, yet the notes tend to be difficult to find once they are added.
Charles Schwab remains the overall market leader when it comes to customer service, according to the J.D. Power and Associates self-directed investor 2012 survey. The company received top marks in information resources, account information, and account offerings, and Charles Schwab focuses on providing services investors really want and need. This alone has many investors making the move to this broker. The only drawback is new account setup and funding tends to be long and complicated, but investors who make it past this stage of the process find Charles Schwab to be an excellent choice.
In addition to the online broker site, Charles Schwab maintains over 300 retail brokerage offices across the nation. Investors find they can obtain one-on-one help via one of these offices, although it isn’t encouraged or promoted, and the company provides a 24-hour telephone support line and alternative support options. This is of great importance when an investor stands to earn or lose a great deal of money in a short period of time.
Mobile Trading Capability
In the past, many investors opted to leave Charles Schwab as the company was lacking in the area of mobile technology. Thankfully, the company realized this was a problem and changes have been made to meet the needs of clients. Several Schwab Mobile applications have been released, and investors find them to be more than adequate in addressing the needs of clients. The apps allow investors to manage their account, offer real-time stock trading, and investors may now view stock holdings. Mobile deposits can be made the same day, simply by taking a picture of a check, and research can be accessed via the Charles Schwab On Investing app. This ensures investors have access to investing insights for a range of investment offerings without delay.
Platforms & Tools
The company offers three different platforms for investors to select from: StreetSmart.com, StreetSmart Edge, and StreetSmart Pro. The SmartStreet Pro application is a desktop platform, yet many find it to be outdated. In fact, experts believe this option will soon be replaced by StreetSmart Edge, therefore the review won’t focus on this platform, due to its anticipated short shelf life.
StreetSmart.com, the web-based platform, remains the preferred option of those looking for a platform which is easy to use right out of the box. Although it’s lacking in advanced features, the level II quotes, conditional orders, real-time streaming watch lists, alerts, and somewhat advanced charting functions are more than enough for many. As it is extremely easy to navigate, even those new to online investing will find they can move around easily, and the quick links available on various pages make it easy to move from one area of the site to another.
StreetSmart Edge, in contrast, operates on a desktop, and investors need to be prepared, as there is a learning curve with this platform. Investors find they may easily customize the platform to meet their unique needs, selecting from color schemes and custom layouts, among other things. Some do find this program more difficult to navigate than the active trader program offered through ETRADE, but many appreciate the advanced features found here.
Advanced features found on StreetSmart Edge include customizable watch lists, a Launch Tools button, and pop-up notifications when an order is triggered. In addition, this platform includes chart markers which show a stock, when it was purchased and at what price, a function lacking in most competitor platforms. The easy order entry benefits investors, offering a customizable all-in-one trade ticket and the Trade & Probability Calculator enables investors to analyze a theoretical position with ease. Advancing charting is both robust and clean with StreetSmart Edge, yet some do find it to be lacking in flexibility, especially when compared to thinkorswim, the platform offered through TD Ameritrade.
Overall, new and experienced investors alike find much to love about Charles Schwab. The company continues to be highly respected in the industry, and it offers a nice balance of products for clients. The customer service is enough to have many investors making a move to this firm, and all appreciate having access to the top notch research. The huge array of commission-free ETFs is just an added bonus, in the eyes of many.
Charles Schwab continues to make improvements also, working to improve on their platform and tools. In addition to assisting clients with investing, the company provides personalized portfolio strategies, life planning, and retirement advice. For those who still aren’t convinced this is the broker for them, one look at the wide array of investment products, many of which aren’t seen with other discount brokerage firms, is enough to make the decision to switch to Charles Schwab easy. Most expect this company to only improve over time, thanks to its acquisition and continuing integration of optionsXpress. Any investor who has looked at or used the company in the past may wish to look once again as this company has a great deal to offer for all interested in growing their personal wealth.