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Walt Bettinger finally arrives in Omaha, Neb., to meet-and-greet ex-TDA staff and the local press, offering a good story to tell and liberalized post-Covid work policies

The Charles Schwab Corp. CEO traveled to TD Ameritrade's former headquarters with senior TDA staff, buoyed by the happy news that headcount jumped by 300.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022 – 2:24 AM by Brooke Southall
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Walt Bettinger: I kept saying, ‘I have no issue with that whatsoever.'

Brooke's Note: Nothing in a CEO's life is more like omelette-making than M&A. But for Schwab CEO Walt Bettinger, arriving in Omaha a pandemic's worth of time later to see where the chips fell in his TD Ameritrade merger, it's all tidy eggs Benedict. At the former TDA HQ, an unforeseen industry rebound made layoffs unnecessary and hiring beneficial. Now all that remains is to virtually merge the TDA and Schwab IT systems, which still bear a resemblance to scrambled eggs. 

The Charles Schwab Corp. now has more staff in Omaha, Neb. than TD Ameritrade had before its 2019 acquisition, or even what Schwab has today in its former San Francisco headquarters.

The tally was a key point that Walter Bettinger carried with him on his first post-Covid trip to Omaha since his company swallowed its Midwestern rival.

The Westlake, Texas, firm--33,000 employees and $7.69 trillion in client assets later--now has about 2,400 employees in the former TDA headquarters city, up from about 2,100 in Nov., 2019 when the deal was first announced.

The 2,400 headcount is also about double the 1,200 people who work in San Francisco. Schwab's former headquarters city.

Schwab previously announced that it will keep supporting the College World Series' home base in Omaha -- albeit minus the TDA brand. See:  Charles Schwab brand goes up on Omaha's TD Ameritrade stadium, home of college baseball world series 

Barnstorming

The Schwab CEO had never traveled to Omaha, largely because of COVID-19, and spoke for the first time with the city's hometown newspaper.

He told The Omaha World Herald he was fine with the added clause in the TD Ameritrade deal that assured Founder Joe Ricketts that Schwab would maintain staffing levels in the city.

“I kept saying, ‘I have no issue with that whatsoever, because this combination is going to be so successful. We’re going to be growing and have even more people in Omaha,’ ” he told the newspaper.

He acknowledged, however, that success wasn't assured. “We’re grateful that’s how it’s panned out,” he said. 

In Omaha, the natives are still sure they liked it better the old way but that there have been benefits from having quality people displaced.

"The end of TD is a definite loss but a massive gain to all the companies that have acquired their talent," says Jud MacKrill, CEO of Milemarker who left Omaha in late 2020.

He adds that having a feisty number three custodian was a source of vitality for RIAs that needs replacing.

Relentlessness

"I believe that competition is fundamentally key and I hope that there will be a new breed of custodian that will help keep the mainstays like Schwab, Fidelity and Pershing in a posture of relentless improvement and a focus on their clients."

In Bettinger's first-in-a-series of cross-country, in-person sessions with staff, he met employees returning to offices and a future of hybrid work. Schwab also has big staff hubs in metro Denver, Phoenix, San Diego and Dallas.

The Omaha paper also noted that Bettinger made good on his assurances to make people decisions based on serving customers -- as opposed to nickel- and-dime business development incentives.

Explosive growth

Nebraska approved big tax breaks for acquiring companies that retain jobs in-state, but Schwab has yet to apply for them nor does it have plans to.

Schwab has the luxury of not counting pennies because its growth -- the TDA merger aside -- has been explosive. See: Goldman Sachs nabs TD Ameritrade's Darla Sipolt for RIA custody; Kate Healy, Jim Dario and Peter Dorsey are among 1,000 staffers cut by Schwab post TD merger

Though it eliminated about 1,000 redundant jobs, it's continued to hire aggressively, though not at the dazzling pace of Fidelity Investments. See: Charles Schwab Corp. is crash-hiring TD Ameritrade Institutional staff-- amid wild growth-- to quell RIA service howls, but cautions to hold off custody switch to Schwab to avoid repapering 

Schwab companywide hired 300 financial advisors and more than 2,800 client service people last year --- with Omaha getting a modest share of them. See: Broadsided by good fortune, Charles Schwab Corp. pivots to fill service capacity deficit, rethink TD Ameritrade integration timetable and unleash 'mystery shoppers' to scout rivals

“Omaha plays a critical role in our plans for the future, both as a hub for great talent and part of our strategy to accommodate growth as we work to serve the needs of our expanding client base,” Bettinger said in a release published last week.

As part of Schwab's post-COVID new deal with staff, they get at least 90 “work location flex days” annually and can request more.

Stock updraft

Even Schwab's long-laboring shares (SCHW) are catching the updraft from its growth. See: As Charles Schwab Corp. shares soar and Robinhood's crater, the mobile-first brokerage makes seminal move past its ‘casino' model and sells 'fiduciary' portfolios

Shares leaped today, closing at 92.20, up $3.19, or 3.58%, at the end of the day on the New York Stock Exchange. In Contrast the NYSE Composite was up 0.38%. That's not far off from its 52-week high of  $96.24,compared with a low of $63.07.

In after-hours trading, shares continue to gain, up 31 cents, or 0.34%. at $92.51.

 


Related Moves

Chuck Schwab reveals Part B, doubling-down on Walt Bettinger by making him co-chair, a day after Part A -- wagering $15 billion from the Schwab corporate treasury on the CEO's future leadership

The 84 year-old founder's elevation of his 61-year-old protege may foretell bigger fireworks from Rick Wurster who recently took over many of Bettinger's CEO duties, one executive recruiter says.

July 30, 2022 – 12:41 AM

Skip Schweiss exit from TD Ameritrade means the RIA custody business lost its most visible corporate-paid advocate -- for the moment

TD's now ex-managing director of advisor advocacy is set to become the FPA president, but most peers agree the 58-year-old is poised to 'write his ticket' with another custodian or national RIA

August 5, 2020 – 9:33 PM

Robinhood gets 'brilliant' upper manager -- and a spare CEO -- by nabbing TD Ameritrade's ex-thinkorswim top exec, hopefully to throw a lifesaver to Robinhood's sinking stock

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January 6, 2022 – 10:33 PM

Oisín's snippets: Charles Schwab brand goes up on Omaha's TD Ameritrade stadium, home of college baseball world series • Interactive Brokers lands an RIA custody insider, Charlie Latimer, to climb the custodian ladder

The TDA brand lives on until the techies figure out how to make two systems into one, but change is in the air in Omaha, while Interactive Brokers gets a leg up in the custody business with a new hire.

December 27, 2021 – 9:58 PM

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Mentioned in this article:

TD Ameritrade
Asset Custodian
Top Executive: Tom Nally




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