American Way What was it like giving up the CEO title? Your name is still on the door, and a lot of people associate the company Charles Schwab with Chuck Schwab the man.
Schwab Life has not changed around here. I've had the pleasure of the CEO title for 30 years. I don't think I need to do it for another 30.
Now I have David Pottruck, who has worked with me for 20 years, and as CEO he has to execute. But I would consider myself an extraordinarily active chairman. My role has not changed one iota.
As I said to my wife, this will probably give me an hour a week more, maybe two hours a week. Over a year's time it adds up. But making sure you are on top of what is going on in a company like this is a huge time investment.
American Way Have you thought about retiring?
Schwab No, I have no interest in retiring. I'm having too much fun. [Pause] That's an overstatement. Right now is not a fun time. We've gone through a horrible three years. I'm looking forward to more even times, and I think we will see that in the next few years. The government has been making the right moves. Indicators are looking stronger. The market seems to be returning to health. But it's not easy when you go through a growth thing as we did in '98-'99, and then we had to reverse some of that.
American Way What's the hardest thing you did during that period?
SchwabRetrenching. Letting people go. Cutting back services. Cutting off the foreign expansion we had been doing. Those are tough decisions. You have to really know what you are doing. I understand the engineering of the company, so I made those decisions. After 30 years of growing this business, I understand it as well as anybody. If anybody understands it better, come forward. You're hired! [laughs]