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Charles Schwab: How One Company Beat Wall Street and Reinvented the Brokerage Industry 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471660583
ISBN-10: 0471660582
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"a sharp, sometimes brutal and frequently entertaining book.... For investors, entrepreneurs and students of business, it is simply a good read." ("The Financial Times," November 8, 2002)

From the Inside Flap

May 1, 1975- Despite predictions of calamity and chaos from the high-priced, well-entrenched brokerage industry, the SEC formally abolishes fixed brokerage commission rates. In San Francisco, thousands of miles from Wall Street both literally and figuratively, a one-office firm triumphantly offers no sales commission brokers providing conflict-free discount brokerage services to all investors.

The rest is history. Over the past quarter-century, Charles Schwab & Co. has grown to become one of the world' s largest and most influential financial institutions, holding over $850 billion in client assets in nearly eight million active accounts. Charles Schwab himself has become synonymous with the brokerage industry.

But who is Charles Schwab? And how did his unique combination of deeply felt values, disgust over the mistreatment of investors by traditional brokerage firms, and never-say-die moxie make him one of the most beloved- and accomplished- figures in the history of American finance?

Charles Schwab: How One Company Beat Wall Street and Reinvented the Brokerage Industry tells the entire story. Organized around five critical junctures when Charles Schwab & Co. was forced to either reinvent itself or become lost in a sea of fierce competitors, this investigation reveals the behind-the-scenes successes, defeats, and determination that fueled the unprecedented growth of America' s leading broker.Charles Schwab covers the company' s major phases of reinvention, including: Schwab' s beginnings as a pure discount brokerage for the average investor who neither needs nor wants adviceSchwab' s transformation into an asset gatherer, revolutionizing the industry with its instantly successful Mutual Fund OneSource programSchwab' s integration of the Web into its business model: Schwab becomes a clicks and mortar companySchwab' s determination to be a full-service brokerage house for the affluent investor: Schwab abandons the no-advice and no-sales principles on which it was founded

Charles Schwab: How One Company Beat Wall Street and Reinvented the Brokerage Industry combines a fascinating look inside the walls of one of today' s great financial services firms with a razor-sharp portrait of the deeply principled maverick who drove that firm from vision to reality. Both highly entertaining and brutally honest, it paints a compelling picture of the company that brought stock investing to Middle America- and shook the staid brokerage industry to its core.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471660582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471660583
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As an ex-Schwab employee (1991-2000), I recommend the book highly. Having firsthand knowledge of the people and many of the events that were reported in the book I found the historical portions of the book to be accurate.

John Kador has done an excellent job of capturing the history, heroic vision and ethics of Schwab (both Chuck and the company) and how the company revolutionized the discount brokerage industry and the distribution of mutual funds. Also, I thought his comments and perspectives into the many challenges the company overcame, and current hurdles to overcome, were incredibly insightful.

John writes in a narrative style that reads more like a fiction novel than what one might expect for a "business book". As I said, I'm an ex-employee and still found it to be a page-turner. I couldn't wait to read what else John had accurately captured about Schwab's long history. I have recommended the book to all of the Schwab employees and ex-employees I keep in touch with.

The book was written prior to the most recent re-emergence of Chuck Schwab as sole CEO of the company, so much has changed since the book was finished, but I still believe it is a great read for anyone who is interested in the history of one of the few revolutionary Fortune 500 companies.

This one is worth buying. You won't regret it!
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Format: Hardcover
As an ex-Schwab employee (1988 - 1996) I really enjoyed reading this book. I worked for or with several of the folks interviewed and was at HQ in San Fran. the day after the earthquake--pretty incredible day! I have recommended it to all of my ex-Schwab buddies.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful story about the rise of a banking/brokersge firm based upon a clever idea to assist middle class investors in becoming wealthy on their own.

Schwab, unlike most wall street brokers, empowers small investor to do it without the use of those on wall street who put their interest before that of the investor.
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Format: Hardcover
Business writer John Kador describes the evolution of Charles Schwab & Company, a former discount brokerage blessed with the ability to transform itself through four different incarnations. Kador emphasizes Schwab's commitment to integrity and customer service, a code that enabled it to prevail despite upheavals and threats. While the book focuses on the company, the running portrait of Chuck Schwab gives it a personal core. Kador highlights Schwab's concern with exercising his values and leading a highly principled business amid an often shady industry he saw as corrupted by greed. Kador's engaging narrative style is designed to inform and entertain general investors, executives and managers. At times, the discussion of Chuck Schwab and his company sounds almost too laudatory, as if the book is an in-house publicity piece. We from getAbstract recommend that readers should take all that sugar with a grain of salt, given this otherwise compelling dish.
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Format: Paperback
The brokerage industry is filled with companies who are out for themselves, and the only thing that counts to them is money. I really admire Charles Schwab for wanting to be different and put clients ahead of his and his firm's interest. Contrary to other firms, employees at his firm are paid salaries instead of commission so there is no conflict of interest. The company's salespeople do not make sales calls. If clients need a service or product, they can call the company themselves.

I highly recommend this to readers. I found this book very delightful to read. If you are unhappy with your current broker or advisor, there are other avenues.

- Mariusz Skonieczny, author of Why Are We So Clueless about the Stock Market? Learn how to invest your money, how to pick stocks, and how to make money in the stock market
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent business book�part personality profile, part corporate history and part industry analysis. It�s the story of the rise of the discount brokerage industry as created by Charles Schwab and the mavericks who worked for his eponymous company. It�s a fascinating story filled with interesting characters and more twists and turns than the latest Patterson thriller. Along the way, it delivers some worthwhile commentary about management and leadership and how companies rise and fall. Kador bases his narrative on pre-published sources, then livens it up with quotes and anecdotes from a large number of sources. The result is an easy-to-read (and occasionally humorous) book that just about succeeds in providing a �fly on the wall� record of the inside politics and personalities of the firm.
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Format: Hardcover
While the folks at Schwab will probably wince once or twice as they read this book, if they're smart they'll see this as a valuable learning opportunity. Companies pay consultants millions of dollars to get what business writer John Kador provided at no cost to the company: a fearless inventory of how the world perceives Charles Schwab & Co. For the most part, it's an extremely positive perspective. This book is a refreshing departure from the countless business histories that are written for no other purpose than to profit from exposing the personal frailties of the rich and famous. Instead, author Kador provides an inspiring account of how a middle class boy from California worked his way up from raising chickens to the rich CEO of the largest discount brokerage in the world. Unlike the Wall Street celebrities of the 1990s whose quest for personal gain caused them to look no further than the price of a company's stock, Schwab forged his path to success by automating the mundane details of his brokerage firm's back office operations. Throughout, Schwab insisted on ethical practices that eliminated the conflicts of interest that created so much heart ache for brokerages and investors alike. The book describes how Schwab leveraged these values to build an organization to help investors help themselves. The book suggests that Schwab does best under adversity. If so, the company has its work cut out for it. While Kador is optimistic about the company's opportunities, he lays out a number of challenges the company must rise to. Now its Schwab's turn. Notoriously thin-skinned, the company has a choice. It can swallow hard and heed the hard truths in these pages. Or it can dismiss the book as a hatchet job. Customers and investors take note.
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