The Making of a Mammoth Merger: Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade
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The Making of a Mammoth Merger: Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade

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The Making of a Mammoth Merger: Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade

Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade: A Mammoth Merger

In this era of fierce competition in the discount brokerage space, scale might be the best recipe for success.

Charles Schwab has once again sent shockwaves through the financial services industry, announcing its intent to acquire TD Ameritrade. The all-stock deal — valued at approximately $26 billion — will see the two biggest publicly-traded discount brokers combine into a giant entity with over $5 trillion in client assets.

Today we dive into the history of these two companies, and what effect recent events may have on the financial services industry.

The Evolution of Charles Schwab

1975 – U.S. Congress deregulated the stock brokerage industry by stripping the NYSE of the power to determine the commission rates charged by its members. Discount brokers, which focused primarily on buying and selling securities, seized the opportunity to court more seasoned investors who might not require the advice or research offered by established brokers. It was during this transitional period that Charles Schwab opened a small brokerage in San Francisco and bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

1980s – The company experienced rapid growth thanks to a healthy marketing budget and innovations, such as the industry’s first 24-hour quotation service.

This fast success proved to be a double-edged sword. Charles Schwab became the largest discount broker in the U.S. by 1980, but profits were erratic, and the company was forced to rescind an initial public offering. Eventually, the company sold to BankAmerica Corporation for $55 million in stock. A mere four years later, Charles Schwab would purchase his namesake company back for $280 million.

1987 – By the time the company went public, Charles Schwab had five times as many customers as its nearest competitor, and profit margin twice as high as the industry average.

1990s – In the late ’90s, Charles Schwab moved into the top five among all U.S. brokerages, after a decade of steady growth.

2000s – The company made a number of acquisitions, including U.S. Trust, which was one of the nation’s leading wealth management firms, and most recently, the USAA’s brokerage and wealth management business.

The Race to $0

For Charles Schwab, the elimination of fees is the culmination of its founder’s vision of making investing “accessible to all”.

charles schwab falling trade fees

The company’s fees were slowly declining for decades. In late 2019, it finally took the plunge and introduced free online trading for U.S. stocks, exchange-traded funds, and options. The response was immediate and enthusiastic, with clients opening 142,000 new trading accounts in the first month alone.

Although Charles Schwab sent rivals scrambling to match its no-commission trade offer, fintech upstarts like Robinhood have offered free trading for years now. The “race to zero” reflects a broader generational shift, as millennials are simply more likely than earlier generations to expect services to be free.

The Evolution of TD Ameritrade

1975 – The origin of TD Ameritrade can be traced back to First Omaha Securities, a discount broker founded by Joe Ricketts. The company changed its name to TransTerra in 1987.

1988 – TransTerra’s subsidiary, Accutrade, was the first company to introduce touch-tone telephone trading, a major innovation at the time and one of the first early forays into automation.

Early 1990s – Ricketts’s willingness to integrate emerging technologies into the trading business helped his companies achieve impressive growth. In 1997 the company acquired K. Aufhauser & Co., the first company to run a trading website.

The Internet wasn’t a puzzle. We were crystal clear from the beginning that customers would migrate to this.

– Joe Ricketts (2000)

Late 1990s – The Ameritrade brand was solidified after the company changed its name from TransTerra to Ameritrade Holding Corporation in 1996. The newly named company completed an IPO the following year, and established its new brand Ameritrade, Inc., which amalgamated K. Aufhauser, eBroker, and other businesses into a unified entity.

2000s – Ameritrade entered the new millennium as the fifth largest online investment broker in the United States, fueled in part by marketing deals with AOL and MSN.

The modern incarnation of TD Ameritrade took shape in 2006, when TD Bank sold its TD Waterhouse USA brokerage unit to the Ameritrade Holding Corporation in a stock-and-cash deal valued at about $3.3 billion. At the time of the deal the new company ranked first in the U.S. by the number of daily trades.

2016 – TD Ameritrade acquired the discount brokerage Scottrade for about $4 billion. The deal brought 3 million client accounts and $170 billion in assets under management into the company, and quadrupled the size of its branch network.

What Comes Next?

Naturally, the announcement that these massive discount brokers plan to merge has generated a lot of speculation as to what this means for the two companies, and the broader brokerage industry as a whole.

Here are some of the consensus key predictions we’ve seen on the deal, from both media and industry publications:

  • After the deal is approved, the integration process will take 12 to 18 months. The combined company’s headquarters will relocate to a new office park in Westlake, Texas.
  • Charles Schwab’s average revenue per trade has dropped nearly 30% since Q1 2017, so the company will likely use scale to its advantage and monetize other products.
  • The merged company will continue to adopt features from fintech upstarts, such as the option to trade in fractional shares.
  • E*Trade, which was widely considered to be an acquisition target of Schwab or TD Ameritrade, may now face pressure to hunt for a deal elsewhere.

Even though these longtime rivals are now linking up, stiff competition in the financial services market is bound to keep everyone on their toes.

I think Joe Ricketts and I agree that our fierce competitiveness nearly 30 years ago is proof that market competition can be a source of miraculous innovation.

– Charles Schwab

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The Best Selling Vehicles in America, By State

From Fords in the Midwest to Toyotas on the coasts, here are the best selling vehicles in America, visualized by state.

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The Best Selling Cars in America, By State Shareable

The Best Selling Vehicles in America, By State

From Ford trucks in the Midwest to Toyotas on the coasts, the best selling vehicles in America reveal a lot about the country.

Compared to other countries with fewer highways or narrower roads, the U.S. is very much a truck-friendly country. Across the U.S., the most sold vehicle in 2019 was the Ford F-Series of trucks, primarily the F-150.

As the home of the world’s pioneer automotive manufacturers, including Ford and GM, consumers primarily purchase local brands. But that hasn’t stopped Toyota, the largest foreign manufacturer in the world, from also gaining a foothold.

This graphic uses 2020 sales data from automotive information resource Edmunds.com, breaking down the best selling vehicles in each state through new vehicle retail registration.

What Are the Best Selling Vehicles in Each State?

Despite a slowdown in vehicle sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a global chip shortage, Americans still bought plenty of trucks last year.

In fact, 48 out of the 50 states had a truck or SUV as the top selling vehicle in 2020—and most states actually had trucks taking all of the top three spots. The only two with a car topping the leaderboard were California and Florida.

Top Selling Vehicle By State (2020)#1#2#3
AlabamaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoToyota Camry
AlaskaRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado
ArizonaRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado
ArkansasRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado
CaliforniaHonda CivicToyota RAV4Toyota Camry
ColoradoFord F-SeriesRam 1500-3500Toyota RAV4
ConnecticutHonda CR-VToyota RAV4Subaru Forester
D.C.Toyota RAV4Honda CR-VSubaru Forester
DelawareFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
FloridaToyota CorollaFord F-SeriesToyota RAV4
GeorgiaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
HawaiiToyota TacomaToyota 4RunnerToyota RAV4
IdahoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
IllinoisFord F-SeriesHonda CR-VChevrolet Silverado
IndianaChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesChevrolet Equinox
IowaChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
KansasFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
KentuckyChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
LouisianaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MaineFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MarylandToyota RAV4Ford F-SeriesHonda CR-V
MassachusettsToyota RAV4Honda CR-VFord F-Series
MichiganFord F-SeriesChevrolet EquinoxRAM 1500-3500
MinnesotaChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
MississippiFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MissouriFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MontanaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
NebraskaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
NevadaRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesToyota RAV4
New HampshireFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoToyota RAV4
New JerseyHonda CR-VHonda CivicToyota RAV4
New MexicoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
New YorkHonda CR-VToyota RAV4Jeep Cherokee
North CarolinaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
North DakotaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
OhioFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
OklahomaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
OregonToyota RAV4Ford F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
PennsylvaniaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Honda CR-V
Puerto RicoToyota RAV4Toyota YarisToyota Corolla
Rhode IslandToyota RAV4Honda CR-VFord F-Series
South CarolinaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
South DakotaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
TennesseeFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
TexasFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
UtahFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
VermontFord F-SeriesToyota RAV4RAM 1500-3500
VirginiaFord F-SeriesToyota RAV4Honda CR-V
WashingtonToyota RAV4Ford F-SeriesRam 1500-3500
West VirginiaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRam 1500-3500
WisconsinFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRam 1500-3500
WyomingRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado

The Ford F-Series was the clear leader in sales, primarily in the Midwest. With a top-selling spot in 60% of U.S. states, the F-Series was the best selling vehicle in America.

Combined with the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500-3500 series, the big three American truck brands accounted for 73% of the top three selling vehicles across all American states and territories.

Japanese Automakers in the Mix

Though American manufacturers had the best selling cars in most states, they had some overseas competition.

Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Honda had the top-selling vehicle in 11 states (and D.C.). They primarily captured car sales along the coastlines, including in California, Florida, New York and Washington, some of the most populated states in the country.

America's Best Selling Vehicles (2020)Type# Times in Top 3
Ford F-SeriesTruck45
Ram 1500-3500Truck36
Chevrolet SilveradoTruck33
Toyota RAV4SUV18
Honda CR-VSUV10
Chevrolet EquinoxSUV2
Honda CivicCar2
Subaru ForesterSUV2
Toyota CamryCar2
Toyota CorollaCar2
Jeep CherokeeSUV1
Toyota 4RunnerSUV1
Toyota TacomaTruck1
Toyota YarisCar1

Despite many cars being available for sale in the U.S., only seven manufacturers made the top-selling vehicles list in 2020.

  • Ford
  • Ram
  • Chevrolet
  • Toyota
  • Honda
  • Subaru
  • Jeep

With the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic yet to be reflected in the sales, and electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla on the rise, how will the best selling vehicles in America evolve?

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Ranked: Big Tech CEO Insider Trading During the First Half of 2021

Big Tech is worth trillions, but what are insiders doing with their stock? We breakdown Big Tech CEO insider trading during the first half of 2021.

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Big Tech CEO Insider Trading During The First Half of 2021

When CEOs of major companies are selling their shares, investors can’t help but notice.

After all, these decisions have a direct effect on the personal wealth of these insiders, which can say plenty about their convictions with respect to the future direction of the companies they run.

Considering that Big Tech stocks are some of the most popular holdings in today’s portfolios, and are backed by a collective $5.3 trillion in institutional investment, how do the CEOs of these organizations rank by their insider selling?

CEOStockShares Sold H1 2021Value of Shares ($M)
Jeff BezosAmazon (AMZN)2.0 million$6,600
Mark ZuckerbergFacebook (FB)7.1 million$2,200
Satya NadellaMicrosoft (MSFT)278,694
$65
Sundar PichaiGoogle (GOOGL)27,000$62
Tim CookApple (AAPL)0$0

Breaking Down Insider Trading, by CEO

Let’s dive into the insider trading activity of each Big Tech CEO:

Jeff Bezos

During the first half of 2021, Jeff Bezos sold 2 million shares of Amazon worth $6.6 billion.

This activity was spread across 15 different transactions, representing an average of $440 million per transaction. Altogether, this ranks him first by CEO insider selling, by total dollar proceeds. Bezos’s time as CEO of Amazon came to an end shortly after the half way mark for the year.

Mark Zuckerberg

In second place is Mark Zuckerberg, who has been significantly busier selling than the rest.

In the first half of 2021, he unloaded 7.1 million shares of Facebook onto the open market, worth $2.2 billion. What makes these transactions interesting is the sheer quantity of them, as he sold on 136 out of 180 days. On average, that’s $12 million worth of stock sold every day.

Zuckerberg’s record year of selling in 2018 resulted in over $5 billion worth of stock sold, but over 90% of his net worth still remains in the company.

Satya Nadella

Next is Satya Nadella, who sold 278,694 shares of Microsoft, worth $234 million. Despite this, the Microsoft CEO still holds an estimated 1.6 million shares, which is the largest of any insider.

Microsoft’s stock has been on a tear for a number of years now, and belongs to an elite trillion dollar club, which consists of only six public companies.

Sundar Pichai

Fourth on the list is Sundar Pichai who has been at the helm at Google for six years now. Since the start of 2021, he’s sold 27,000 shares through nine separate transactions, worth $62.5 million. However, Pichai still has an estimated 6,407 Class A and 114,861 Class C shares.

Google is closing in on a $2 trillion valuation and is the best performing Big Tech stock, with shares rising 60% year-to-date. Their market share growth from U.S. ad revenues is a large contributing factor.

Tim Cook

Last, is Tim Cook, who just surpassed a decade as Apple CEO.

During this time, shares have rallied over 1,000% and annual sales have gone from $100 billion to $347 billion. That said, Cook has sold 0 shares of Apple during the first half of 2021. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t sold shares elsewhere, though. Cook also sits on the board of directors for Nike, and has sold $6.9 million worth of shares this year.

Measuring Insider Selling

All things equal, it’s desirable for management to have skin in the game, and be invested alongside shareholders. It can also be seen as aligning long-term interests.

A good measure of insider selling activity is in relation to the existing stake in the company. For example, selling $6.6 billion worth of shares may sound like a lot, but when there are 51.7 million Amazon shares remaining for Jeff Bezos, it actually represents a small portion and is probably not cause for panic.

If, however, executives are disclosing large transactions relative to their total stakes, it might be worth digging deeper.

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