Recent news in the investment industry touched close to home in Nebraska. Charles Schwab is to buy TDAmeritrade, and move the headquarters to Texas. How many of the 2250 jobs will be left in Nebraska is uncertain. A lot of things will change.
The first shares of stock I ever bought were at the discount brokerage firm Joe Ricketts founded. At the time, the place had fewer than twenty employees. It was in a second floor walkup office in a second-rate building in downtown Omaha. The lobby had a most amazing gizmo: a little Quotron machine. You could punch in a stock symbol, and it would show you the current price.
Those prices were not in dollars and cents, but dollars and fractions. XYZ might be selling at 27 ½ , ABC at 9 ¼.
Before personal computers, before the internet, stock quotes were something you got out of the newspaper or called your broker for. The afternoon paper had noon prices; the morning paper had the previous day’s closing prices.
But in the Ameritrade lobby, a dozen patrons stood in an endless loop of a line, waiting for a turn at the Quotron. They punched the symbols in, looked at the prices (some wrote them down), then went to the back of the line to wait for another turn. Daytrading took more patience then.
Later, the firm pioneered getting information to the people by making stock quotes available from any touch-tone phone. (Kids, ask your grandparents what I’m talking about.) Then the internet made a lot more things possible.
It is not for me to judge the takeover transaction; it evidently makes sense to the people who are making the decisions. We will do our best to help affected employees, of course. We will always remember the typically American story of innovation and success that Ameritrade represents.
Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.