American Way What does the Schwab brand stand for?

SchwabI hope it stands for integrity and a mission to serve the client. In our vision statement we say our aspiration is to be the most ethical brokerage in the country.

We also want to be useful to our customers. When we come out with a new service, we hope it is highly useful to our customers, not just a newfangled deal where we can make money. Look at everything we've offered over the years. It always comes down to how can we serve our clients better? I think that's been the success of Schwab; that's how we went from having a handful of customers in 1973 to having 7.6 million now. That demonstrates that when you provide a useful service, backed up by an ethical way of delivering the service, you will attract customers.

American Way As baby boomers come closer to retirement age, do you see their interest in things financial escalating?

Schwab I fear for the baby boomers. The worry is that Social Security won't be adequate to take care of your needs. There's an alternative, and that's to save and invest to supplement Social Security.

The government has set up various possibilities such as 401(k)s and IRAs. At some point in your life, you will have to rely on your investments to live. For most people, Social Security is not enough. You and your spouse probably could not survive on $1,200 monthly. That's what Social Security would pay you when you are 65. I know. I'm there [chuckles].

American Way Are you collecting Social Security?

Schwab No, I haven't applied for it yet. I'm thinking about it if the market gets any lower [laughs]. But this is a huge national issue. It's something the government is working on, and we as a financial services business are trying to do a better job of helping people take their hard-earned income and get some success in their investing.