by Steven Diegel
SBJ Contributing Writer
Expanded services, a bullish market and a customer-friendly approach are just a few of the things representatives from the local branch of Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. attribute for their continued success.
Since opening in 1992, the Springfield branch of Schwab has experienced tremendous growth in clients and investment volume. Initially, however, expectations were less certain, as the company was unsure what the response would be to the introduction of one of the nation's leading large brokerage firms to the local market.
"We wanted to test the waters and see if the community would support the account," said John Sturtevant, branch manager and vice president of the Springfield Charles Schwab office. "So far the response has just been phenomenal."
Starting with just under 1,000 accounts and $17 million in total assets, Sturtevant reported that the Springfield office now boasts more than 5,000 accounts with more than $200 million in assets.
This growth forced the branch to move to a new office at 1300 E. Republic Road this February, which Sturtevant said finally gives them some breathing room and enough space in which to conduct business.
"Before, we were in a small office, out of space and needing more staff, so we had to expand," Sturtevant said. "Now we have a real branch."
The newest service offered by Schwab is the Internet trading option, he said, where customers can make online trades at a discounted commission rate of $29.95 plus three cents per additional share traded.
"It is an extremely attractive commission rate," Sturtevant said, especially considering that investors previously made trades directly with a broker at a much higher commission schedule.
While a number of other companies have also begun to offer the Internet trading service, Sturtevant said that Schwab makes an extra effort to educate its customers on how to properly use it and the various online options.
"We are probably the only company that I know of that is in the position to teach people how to use the web," he said. "We can bring them in and show them how to use (our web site) and get their comfort level up."
The real bonus of the Internet service is the timely information and research services available to customers, he said. In addition to personal account information, Sturtevant said the web site provides complete information on the market and companies, including earnings estimates, industry reports and buy-sell-hold recommendations.
"The real power is information," he said. "This puts the information into the hands of the people when they need it."
"Phenomenal" response to the Springfield branch of Charles Schwab & Co. has exceeded all expectations, according to John Sturtevant, branch manager and vice president, pictured above with Investment Specialist Vicki Moore.[[In-content Ad]]
Fishing retail shop Modern Outdoor Tackle moved; Healthy Spot LLC opened; and Springfield law firm Strong, Garner & Bauer PC changed names and moved its office.