Less than two weeks after it cut stock-trading commissions to zero, Charles Schwab says it is planning to let investors buy and sell fractions of shares, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The offering is intended to attract younger investors to the discount brokerage firm and should be launched with several other new programs, according the report.
“I wanted to take commissions out of the formula,” the brokerage’s eponymous founder told the Journal on Thursday. “We’ve been on that path for 40 years,” he said, before mentioning that the firm wants to add next-gen clients.
Fractions of stocks could be popular with investors who, for example, cannot afford to buy a full share of Amazon stock, now trading at about $1,790.
The news prompted one industry observer to speculate what Schwab might do next. “This could also be the precursor to reducing the minimum for Schwab Intelligent Portfolios (currently $5k), which would allow them to compete against the likes of Acorns for smaller accounts,” tweeted Ben Johnson, director of global ETF research for Morningstar.
In a recent interview with ThinkAdvisor, Schwab said zero commissions should benefit advisors. Those who “use Schwab and get the tremendous advantage of zero-commission transactions” will be “very competitive against the traditional firms who try to do investment banking, advisory [etc.] — it gets so conflicted.”
When asked by ThinkAdvisor if it plans to allow both retail and advisory clients to trade share fractions, Schwab said in a statement: “We’re always evaluating and working on new services to improve how people can invest, but we don’t have anything specific to share on this right now.”
— Check out Don’t Ignore Threat of Free Commissions: Commonwealth Exec on ThinkAdvisor.