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Charles Schwab Interview
14:41:20 Dagen McDowell
So chuck when you stared your broker’s business back in 1971 you truly im-powered individual investors over the years and truly brought wall street to main street so as we launch Fox Business and aim to do the same for financial news and businesses I wanted to thank you so much for joining us on our launch day and our launch week. It’s a real honor.
14:41:12 Charles Schwab
Thank you its wonderful digs here. I love to see Fox expanding and new places to show news. And have people come and talk about all these things. I think Fox is doing a great job and I just encourage you to keep up the momentum you have.
14:41:59 Dagen McDowell
Well we aim to make it fun and interesting. But to go back a little bit, you Chuck you pioneered discounted commissions in trading, you pioneered mutual funds supermarkets and online trading among other innovations. What do you think is the next great innovation that’s going to change the world of investing for Americans?
14:42:20 Charles Schwab
Well there are still things to be done, it’s probably more so in the information make it easier for you to understand how you are doing. Those kinds of decisions of how well am I am meeting my goals, my plans for myself. How am I tracking against that versus the performance I see. Do I need to make any adjustments to my portfolio? That whole planning area is really an important place for most individuals that worry about, am I going to get there by the time I retire? There are a variety of other things. Probably the product areas they’ll be some innovations that will go into as many of the baby boomers start retiring. And that number is going to be rather rapid here over the next ten years. So innovative products that will be great for the retirees who will be living on their investments and that will be pretty important I think. And it won’t be necessarily an insurance thing, it will be even better in my view than that. It will be lower costs a much better thing for someone who has to live off their securities as they go forward. And may have maybe a part time job. But to be reliant on their successful investing for their income.
14:43:38 Dagen McDowell
But as more pensions have disappeared and investors have to rely on themselves and Americans have to rely on themselves to invest. You saw it with General Motors recently where new workers would essentially get 401K plans. What is going to get people to invest more and make sure they are saving and investing for their retirement?
14:43:56 Charles Schwab
Well the number one thing of course is education. Understanding that each person is responsible for their own financial out comes, their own financial welfare. And that’s not an easy thing to communicate at times. But the number one thing I think, that every young person gets started on their 401K and I’m so proud of what happened last year. We worked very hard on it in Schwab, about automatic enrollment in your 401K. It used to be sort of a selective thing. Particularly the younger ones, the younger kids sort of passed off the 401K concept but we all know the sooner we start investing the compounding and the growth that will come over 10, 15, 20 years time so That is happening. So the numbers of people who are now enrolling in 401K is like 90 95% which is fantastic. As opposed to maybe it was 60 or 65% just of several years ago. And that’s going to be a big one for all of us individuals.
14:45:13 Dagen McDowell
Well you just recently came out with the 10th annual survey that Schwab does with aerial mutual funds and it found that stock market participation among African Americans in this country are back where it was 10 years ago. Blacks still trail whites in investing and saving. So how does this country fix that problem and why does the everybody need to worry about it.
14;45;35 Charles Schwab
Well the number was 57%. I read that survey myself. And it was 57% ten years ago, it went up and then back down. And of course what we had in the intervening years, some very tremulous markets. We have the down markets of 200 and 2003. A lot of people, African Americans included, everybody lost some confidence in the market. And so the last four years its coming back to some degrees, and is doing a nice job. We are coming back to our old highs in most areas but not all areas. Nasdaq is still not near its old high, Down Jones is for instance, S&P is. But there are a lot of industries that are not back to their old high so people are still aren’t totally confident yet. So when you lose confidence, I’m sure people sort of with draw and that’s what happened in that survey that we did with Aerial. Indicated that the black America, African Americans dropped 57% participation with whites I think dropped.
14;46;42 Dagen McDowell
How do you bring them back into the investment world?
14:46:44 Charles Schwab
Well it takes education, rebuilding of confidence that stocks do go up and down but yet over the long term they go up. You have to be patient, you have to think in terms you know compared to real-estate which you of course you don’t see the price of real estate, you don’t even know what it is until you try to sell it. You think it might of gone up. But stock market really requires education. So we need more of that in schools. We need more of that program that we do in Schwab. We put on a big program called Money Matters with the boys and girls club across the country. Another information thing is we
provide free for people called, Schwab money it’s really a great thing for.
14:27:35 Dagen McDowell
So it is private, industry and government combined?
14:47:38 Charles Schwab
Totally I think it has to be a combination of the two it simply, can’t be government alone. Its responsibility its corporations who have to inform their employees about the benefits of 401K or any other kinds of things kind of participations they might have. It has a lot to do with Ira. Ira accounts, rath Ira, traditional Ira. All of those kinds of things and people need to get information about it. And you know firms like Schwab do provide it, provide it free of course but people need to take the initiative, you just can’t force them.
14:48:13 Dagen McDowell
What did you make of Senator Hillary Clinton, that recently just proposed having new 401K style for Americans to save for retirement its just a proposal, and there would be tax breaks for a thousand dollars essentially giving a thousand dollars for saving in retirement.
14:48:31 Charles Schwab
I’m not completely familiar with the program she initiated. I’m totally for getting more people involved and engaged in the investing, saving, wither it is their social security thing. Getting more enrichment there and the social security because that’s going to be a continuing issue. Separate accounts, adding you know getting people started earlier. All those things are really a kind of Valid kind of thing. And hopefully something that she’s talking about will eventually happen.
14:49:02 Dagen McDowell
For the next president, what do you think is going to be the biggest financial, economic or fiscal hurdle that president has to over come.
14:49:10 Charles Schwab
Well two biggest things that frankly president bush has tried to attack is social security, issue that is looming out there 10, 20 years out that we have to start today. Also our whole medical system, Medicare and so forth. Needs to be resolved because those things are going to be under-funded. And Americans are going to be looking for those things as they get older, for assistants. But you got to start putting together those programs today, the efficiency today, putting aside the savings today, because the demands are going to be very large in a number of years.
4:49:56 Dagen McDowell
Alright I want to focus on your business a little bit, they ought to call you the come back kid. Cause you left as co-CEO in 2003 a little over a later you came back as chief executive. Why did you come back and what have you learned your second go around as chief.
14:49:57:00 McDowell: Lets focus on your business a little bit. They ought to call you the come-back kid cause you left as co CEO in 2003 and a little over a year later you came back as chief executive. Why’d you come back and what have you learned your second go round as chief?
14:50:12:28 Schwab: well I have had a lot of fun frankly the last 3 and half years. The first half year was very difficult because we had to reorganize the company and become a more simplified company. Take a lot of costs out, we had to reduce our prices to costumers that had gotten a little out of whack with the market, but now the last three years we’ve been just humming.
14:50:40:13 SCHWAB: clients are coming into SCHWAB at very rapid rate and we’re very happy about that, our service levels have never been higher, our product offerings service offerings have never been better, it’s been a real sense of pride to see that all happen and happen under my watch.
14:50:56:10 McDowell: now in the next five years what do you see for the company?
14:50:59:12 SCHWAB: well I see more of the same frankly, I’ll probably be right in my role for at least that time period and I have some wonderful
14:51:07:25 McDowell: you don’t want to play golf? Most people are like hitting the lanes everyday, you turned seventy this year, (SCHWAB: Yea, I did) you don’t look it. (SCHWAB: Thank you)
14:51:17:19 SCHWAB: now I enjoy golf a lot, and I’m fortunate enough that I can play once a week and have a pretty nice game and I like to do other things also. So its not going to interfere with my golf at all
14:51:28:11 SCHWAB: so, but I really love I’m passionate about what we do. How important it is for America and Americans to save and do the right thing about investing. It’s not, its just not a lottery game. It’s really, there’s something more important with investing and how to get good outcomes and that’s what we try to share with our clients. How to get good outcomes – consistent, predictable outcomes
14:51:50:26 McDowell : what do you say to people and what do you say to kids, even, because I know that educating children is such an important thing for you. You wrote a book with your daughter Carrie. What do you say to them to get them passionate about investing and about money and about and have fun with it
14:52:06:03 SCHWAB: well it is certainly not easy, but I like to use the example my daughter used in terms of starting your children out with an allowance. And forcing them to make decisions on their resources when they’re 7 or 8 years of age Let them buy the gum if that’s what they want to use their hard earned savings with Mommy shouldn’t do that or Daddy shouldn’t do that, but getting kids to think about what the value is of a dollar and be able to make those choices. So it has to start at the very early beginning. How what is the value of money, what does it do for you? What does it not do for you?
14:52:45:16 McDowell: how about adults? Getting adults excited about investing because it kinda goes back to my earlier questions, but Roger Ailes my boss, always talks about people follow or men in particular follow sports scores and can recite sports scroes going back to the 50’s and 40’s and stats but why not investing in stocks and all that?
14:53:07:10 SCHWAB: well, I wish it were that easy and of course you see it sometimes in some crazy markets like we had in 2000, where it just became so frothy and people everybody made money so easily, but it isn’t like that. In some respects it’s analogous to great health. It is so boring to get on that treadmill, but you should do it every other day. If you want to live a long healthy life you’ve got to start out as a young person, thinking about your health, your weight and all those other wonderful things we talk about. And its nothing maybe get Fox News in front of you while you’re on the treadmill. Maybe you should do that while you’re investing too
14:53:49:24 McDowell: Thank you, you’re a great pitch or the perfect pitch man for SCHWAB, is there any other business you would ever want to pitch for. And I’m not offering you a job, but any business you love?
14:54:03:16 SCHWAB: No, I’m totally passionate about investing and what it does for people and families. Investing is, successful investing enriches your life and nothing is particularly as important you get a little bit older. When you get a little bit more maturity, you sort of understand when you have not only children, but grandchildren. You’ve got the grandchildren’s education. You’ve got to think about that and the whole perpetuation of the family and such. These are fulfilling things for people who have done smart early investing.
14:54:39:27 McDowell: When you talked about people’s resistance to invest maybe after the come down after the tech bubble burst and what not. What about the housing down turn now, are you seeing that? Or are you seeing that at all impact your investors, your clients?
14:54:53:23 SCHWAB: Well, there has been certainly a turn, from real estate investing to more stock market investing in recent years. People thought after the crash, oh the automatic thing I should do is go buy a new apartment and rent it out. That will be my investment now. And we’re finding out that that probably is not as easy either because there’s an excess now of apartments particularly in some parts of the country.
14:55:19:22 SCHWAB: I think though the whole mortgage area is still yet to be played out completely. There’s lot of resetting going on in terms of mortgage rates that will happen through the remainder of ’07 and right on through ’08. So its going to be a little bit tough, I think in the mortgage in the real estate area
14:55:42:06 McDowell: what about your firms own mortgage exposure?
14:55:44:22 SCHWAB: well we don’t have any subprimes we’ve never done that kind of business and our, we have a SCHWAB bank; we have first mortgages for people, but not all the issues you have been reading about.
14:55:58:09 McDowell: Do you see opportunity there now? As others players as other plays have had trouble?
14:56:03:26 SCHWAB: Well, we don’t we think it investing is more the principle reason why SCHWAB is in business. We have mortgage available to our clients, if they need mortgages for a first home or a second home or that kind of mortgages, but we’re really not interested in being a major mortgage lender.
14:56:26:23 McDowell: well we talked about the tech bubble bursting and the housing slow down, but we’re coming up on the 20th anniversary of the stock market crash back in ’87. We should remind people SCHWAB as we know it know went public right (SCHWAB: Right) the month before the crash in ‘87
14:56:43:17 SCHWAB: 20 years ago, it’s hard to believe, you know, equivalent though, we went public at 16.5 dollars a share. That same stock because of stock splits and so forth would probably be something like $200 a share if we had not split. So even after the stock market crash and so forth so we’ve probably grown at an easy compounded rate of 20-25% over 20 years. So its been a great growth period for us.
14:57:13:13 McDowell: is there a lesson in there?
14:57:17:17 SCHWAB: I think the lesson simply is find great companies. Stick with them even through down periods, through crashes of 1987 or crashes of 2002, because they come back, the earnings come back, the companies come back if they have a good service; they have a good essential service to offer to American consumers
14:57:40:08 McDowell: what about? Do you think it could happen again? A crash of that (SCHWAB: absolutely) magnitude?
14:57:44:29 SCHWAB: yes, the market always has building that there will be down terms of the market. Yea, my whole career actually has seen many many more than just the two that we’ve mentioned. And you have to have the fortitude to be a long term investor, to hang on to good companies, good mutural funds and ride it out so to speak. Emotions actually tend to be one of the worst most difficult things to handle as a human being, frankly. So when things are down our natural tendency is to want to sell and when they are up at the high our natural tendency is to what? To buy. Well that’s sort of crazy, you want to do it just the opposite if you’re a good investor. You buy when they’re down and sell when they’re up but our natural tendency is not to do that. So the best thing for most of us is to hang right in there right on through. And you will get the enjoyment of wonderful consistent and long term returns.
14:58:49:01 McDowell: When you talk about enjoyment of earning money and making money in the market and you have such a passion for it. Do you worry in this environment, this politically charged environment that wealth is becoming a dirty word in this country?
14:59:02:01: SCHWAB: I think every few years it becomes a difficult thing. And I think, what I encourage those of us who have been successful and we all started in essentially the same spot, but we have to be generous we have to think about philanthropy, we have to think about how do we help different institutions do a better job for the people that are less fortunate than us, but I think that’s one of the great things about the American system is we’re encouraged through our tax code system to give to worthy causes. We’re able to deduct or able to write off some of our non for profit gifts and such. Or and I would just encourage people to do more and more of that.
14:59:47:13 McDowell: well you mentioned tax and taxes and the democratic presidential candidates and the democrats in the house and the senate have been attacking President Bushes tax cuts, talking about possibly repealing them. What do you think the stock market reaction would be if some if not all of those tax cuts disappeared before or after they expire?
15:00:08:03 SCHWAB: well I think it would be a depressant to the market for a short period a period of time. I think there are some negative ramifications and interesting enough you see that our deficits or the money that is flowing in because of the lower taxes and its creating people realizing that capitol gain. So that the treasury has a gush of money coming into it. Yes we have a war going on that’s expensive, but our deficit as a percentage of our national income, gross national income, is one of the lowest its been in a long time. It’s under 2%, its like 1.5% is the percentage of our deficit in relationship to our national income. Its one of the lowest in many many years. In fact its one of the lowest in the last 50 years and so there are consequences that when you get to the point of taxing things too high, some increase in taxes might be okay, might be acceptable, might not hurt the market much. Huge ones would be very depressing. But we’ve lived under many kinds of administrations; democrats republicans the American system is pretty robust pretty
15:01:26:13 McDowell: So you think the tax increases are okay?
15:01:27:10 SCHWAB: Well I’m not in favor, frankly, but we’ll do just fine.
15:01:34:02 McDowell: One more political question, who are you getting behind in ’08?
15:01:36:22 SCHWAB: Well I have supported a lot of people and I haven’t made the decision yet as to whom I’m going to vote for.
15:01:44:25 McDowell: what are you waiting to hear? What are you waiting to see?
15:01:46:19 SCHWAB: well out in Ca where I’m registered I think it will be. I would think its going to be Giuliani probably win Ca. and I’m leaning in that direction.
15:01:59:18 McDowell: Okay, we’ll tell Steve Forbes who’s on Fox, quite often. Alright I want to get on to more fun stuff. What, I’ve always wanted to know this, what is your biggest money mistake?
15:02:10:07 SCHWAB: oh I’ve made many (McDowell: Because you learn from them right?) I’ve made many mistakes along the way. That’s really all about how you learn to become a successful investor. I’ve made a number of mistakes. (McDowell: Give me a couple, top two) Couple? Adventure Capital things I’ve done where I have lost 100% of the investment. I knew they were high risk, with high reward but I got ultimate test. I lost all of it. I’ve learned that you just, even though a stock is down it may go down further so don’t just buy a stock because it is down. Buy it because it’s a good company, not because it’s a down stock. Make sure you buy good companies. There’s a huge difference between buying a company, a great company, and buying a stock. Stock is just what the stock market price is doing, but if you want to have success in investing make sure you get great companies.
15:03:06:06 McDowell: Well some of your clients have to be active traders do you would you tell them the same thing?
15:03:10:01 SCHWAB: well absolutely, of course many of them find that they’re trading for very small increments and they’re using different methodologies of doing that and that can be very rewarding. It takes an intense amount of time. What I’m talking about is buying great companies and becoming a newscaster is about you’ve got another job to perform and not a professional trader. That’s a different story, but if you are a professional trader you’re going to spend all of you time doing and it and you’ll probably do it and found out a way to make good returns for your time.
15:03:45:10 McDowell: Now you talked about golf. We know you like golf. I want to know what else you do for fun.
15:03:50:11 SCHWAB: I love to fly (McDowell: because you’re so busy) I love to fly fish. I love to hike. I like to do things in Montana. I love to travel too.
15:04:02:25 McDowell: Do you when you’re hiking or fly fishing do you keep a blackberry or something with you so you stay connected?
15:04:08:07 SCHWAB: no. I’m not a high, you’d think I’d be a high tech guy but I’m not. No, when I (McDowell: Not at all?) when I go fishing I might take a cell phone in case of an emergency. That’s about it, but I’m not in contact with office no. I have great confidence in the people that work with me. Give them responsibility unless there is an emergency and there’s never an emergency.
15:04:30:20 McDowell: You’re not just a little curious what the markets doing when you’re out there fishing in the wilderness?
15:04:33:10 SCHWAB: well I’ll find out.
15:04:36:28 McDowell: okay, I want get back to your business a little bit, just quickly. Where do you see yourself as the chief in a few years and what about succession planning?
15:04:48:04 SCHWAB: Well you know we always are looking at succession planning. Always have and certainly always will. The board makes decisions and we’re very happy with the performance of the company right now and they will make decision on their CEO at some time in the future. I’ve offered to continue to be CEO for the indefinite future and we have wonderful people coming up that will be potential to fulfill my role at some point and time. I intend to be around SCHWAB for a good period of time in the future.
15:05:24:23 McDowell: there’s been a lot of consolidation going on in recent years. Do you see SCHWAB as a buyer or a seller?
15:05:31:20 SCHWAB: we would never be a seller, but we would buy something if it would fit into our strategic plan. And so far we have not seen any of those. We have made some acquisitions and small fill in various parts of the company where we think they might add some level of capability to our present offering but we’re really not interested in, frankly, in big acquisitions. And…
15:06:01:22 McDowell: and you sold US Trust
15:06:03:00 SCHWAB: we sold US trust. That was the last sort of part of what I was attempting to do to bring the company into a more simplified SCHWAB. And so we are now, I think well situated. We serve the 401k world, the individual investor, and the investment advisor world. Their all very fast growing parts of the business. We love all three of these businesses and it all relates to investing.
15:06:31:20 McDowell: you’ve talked in the past how difficult it was to cut staff as during the market tumult. How important is your staff and the people who work for you. How important are they to you and the business?
15:06:43:06 SCHWAB: well they’re in our business being the service business, they’re absolutely essential. We could not be a great company without having great employees. And so we have to treat them with the best and highest level of respect, give right kind of incentive programs, the right kind of rewards, all those things and training, education all the things like that to retain our people. We’re very interested in retaining our people. And we’ll the only way we can continue to be a really great company is to have great employees.
15:07:13:25 McDowell: Now you’ve overcame a disability, dyslexia, what are you well known, but Chuck what do you tell people who are struggling with a disability or the same thing? You’ve done a lot work in that area with your charity work. What do you tell people? As in words of encouragement.
15:07:31:16 SCHWAB: Well, I just have to say 1 in 7 children have some form of learning difficulty. And so you as a parent need to understand there’s always a possibility your kid no matter how brilliant you are, your child might have an issue. And if there’s ever an issue about that you can have them tested. And then after that there’s a whole litany of things you might want to do to help the child along in terms of being their advocate and making sure they get through school, with their self esteem. That’s the biggest risk always with any child is having them lose their self esteem at some point in their life particularly if they have a learning issue.
15:08:18:12 McDowell: and to, Back to investors one final question. What do you tell people, Americans to get fired up about investing and excited about socking money away even though you used the b word once, boring, a little bit earlier but what do you tell people?
15:08:35:27 SCHWAB: well I think once you see some levels of success and some accumulation it feeds on itself. I think and you can begin thinking about the possibilities that you might want to enjoy later on. You may say well gee when I turn 55 or 60, and I have this opportunity to take work less or retire completely what might I want to do with my wife or… Maybe I would like to travel a little bit more. Those options become available to you. Maybe my kids live on one of the other coasts I can see them on occasion. Maybe there’s a whole lot of athletic things I still have capabilities of doing now I want to do those too. I also want to keep in great shape because I know that’s going to be really important for longevity. You know it goes on and on and on.
15:09:31:23 McDowell: you mentioned longevity and success one of the great success stories of American business Chuck Schwab. Thank you for joining us.