Charles and Chuck: The evolution of trading
Think back – if you can – to the 1970s. Before the Internet. Before e-mail. Before texting. That's when Charles Kenmore (the executive) and Charles Schwab (the business) got started.
“When I joined the telecom industry, an adage was shared with me, and I think it's still applicable today: If you've got two phones, that's a limited advantage. But if you have a million people connected, that is more than a million times more valuable than having two people connected,” Kenmore said in an interview. “That's the freedom that technology permits. It flattens the communication process. It permits people to go out, seek information, share information and take action on that information in a timely way.”
It doesn't take a business visionary to see where network theory takes personal investing. Today's technology gives investors real-time, direct access to information and to the markets.
“When I started out investing in the 1970s, even if you had your own ideas to trade in stock on a day-to-day basis, you had to call up your broker and he had to execute the buy or the sale for you,” Kenmore recalled.
Then came deregulation of certain brokerage transactions, effective May 1, 1975.
“Schwab was really a very early pioneer in working with retail investors who had the ability to do their own research and come to their own conclusions,” he said.
By the way, Kenmore knows what he’s talking about. He’s been a Schwab client since the 1980s.
And he’s certainly capable of doing his own research. After 35 years as a business executive – establishing four start-ups within larger companies – last year he decided to sell his Silicon Valley company. But Kenmore didn't fade into retirement. He combined his experience in business leadership and investing strategy to become an active trader. Now, he conducts his own research and trades daily, using Schwab's StreetSmart Edge® platform on his home computer and smart phone.
Although Kenmore is the ultimate self-directed investor, he regularly calls on Schwab to discuss technical issues or to bounce off ideas about the markets or the mechanics of execution.
“Schwab is the only company I've dealt with that starts out with the customer and adapts the product or technology to customer needs, rather than the other way around,” he said.
Kenmore also praised Schwab for leveraging technology “and just doing things better to keep costs down. Schwab does not short-circuit customer service, and that's a very important distinction because anyone can charge you less by giving you less. That's not particularly helpful.”
For the better part of four decades, Charles Kenmore has been an astute observer of business trends and technological advances. So how does he sum up the evolution of Charles Schwab?
“Schwab is a full-service broker,” Kenmore said. “It's just not full price.”
Hear Charles Kenmore’s story and add your comments: How has technology changed the way you manage and invest your money?
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