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Schwab expands commission-free ETF platform, putting focus on cost
September 18, 2014 / 7:02 PM / 3 years ago

Schwab expands commission-free ETF platform, putting focus on cost

CHICAGO, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Charles Schwab Corp said on Thursday it added 65 exchange-traded funds to its commission-free trading platform, including a handful of alternative funds, citing demand from customers who want to invest in ETFs without paying online trade commissions.

The expansion of Schwab’s ETF platform, which now has 182 funds from 13 providers, comes as cost becomes increasingly important to ETF investors, said Heather Fischer, vice president of ETF Platform Management at Schwab.

“They’re telling us cost is king,” Fischer said in an interview at the Morningstar ETF Conference in Chicago. “It’s an important dimension of ETF investing.”

Schwab launched its ETF OneSource platform, which waives online trade commissions, last year and said it had $31 billion in assets under management as of the end of August. This year alone, customer have invested $5.9 billion in ETFs in the program, which amounts to about 45 percent of total ETF flows at Schwab, the company said.

The partnering of ETF providers is a way for Schwab to increase assets and for the providers to expand their distribution to Schwab’s brokerage customers.

Among the new funds are those focused on niche areas of the ETF market, including managed futures and merger arbitrage, as investors seek out a more diverse offering.

More than half of the new funds are from existing ETF providers on the platform, while the other funds are from seven new providers partnering with the Schwab platform for the first time. Those providers are ALPS, Direxion Investments, Global X Funds, IndexIQ, PIMCO, ProShares and WisdomTree.

“It is a two-way street in figuring out what is the right fit,” Fischer said, of adding new funds and providers. (Reporting by Ashley Lau in Chicago; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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