From the January 2010 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

Schwab Enters ETF Business

The discount brokerage firm Charles Schwab has officially entered the ETF industry.

The San Francisco-based company introduced four index ETFs in November. The Schwab U.S. Broad Market ETF (SCHB), the Schwab U.S. Large Cap ETF (SCHX) and the Schwab U.S. Small Cap ETF (SCHA) are linked to Dow Jones indexes following U.S. stocks. The Schwab International Equity ETF (SCHF) tracks the FTSE Developed ex-US index, which contains around 1,400 foreign stocks. The funds will charge annual expense ratios between 0.08 percent and 0.15 percent.

The $700 billion ETF industry in the U.S. is currently dominated by Barclays Global Investors (iShares), State Street Global Advisors (SPDRs) and the Vanguard Group.

In a statement, Schwab's chief executive Walter Bettinger indicated that other ETF products would be forthcoming soon.

The firm also stated it would allow online commission-free trading for its customers who buy and sell Schwab ETFs. This aggressive move has the potential to help Schwab's ETFs gain traction in a business noted for its hypercompetitive nature and rock-bottom fees.

Schwab is the largest discount brokerage in the U.S. The company already handles around 20 percent of all ETF trading volume by small investors. It also has a large and influential base of independent investment advisors.

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