Charles Schwab Corp. has slashed by nearly 17% the price of trades that many advisors place online for their clients. The price reduction, from $29.95 to $24.95 per trade, came as the discount broker announced a broad reorganization of Schwab’s retail services.

Under Schwab’s new plan, investors will be able to choose among eight different plans, from one for active investors featuring $9.95 trades and streaming quotes, to Schwab Advisor Network, which offers referrals to independent advisors. In between are several levels of service provided by Schwab staffers, with prices rising in line with the amount and complexity of service and advice. “We are teaching investors how to pay for advice,” says Schwab Institutional President Deborah McWhinney.

McWhinney said Schwab’s advisor assets totaled $287 billion at the end of 2003. The firm had 5,300 advisory firms as clients at year end, down from about 5,800 at the close of 2002. But McWhinney noted that more than 90% of the firms Schwab lost had less than $10 million in assets. Schwab has been moving to shed its ties to smaller advisory firms in favor of ones that have at least $25 million in assets or those that have a plan to get to that level in short order.