Charles Schwab added 3.2 million retail investor accounts in the 1st quarter, more than in all of 2020

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  • Charles Schwab said Thursday it opened more than 3 million new retail brokerage accounts in the first quarter of 2021.
  • The quarterly additions were more than what Schwab saw during all of 2020.
  • Schwab said core net new assets more than doubled from last year to $148.2 billion.
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Charles Schwab opened more retail accounts during the first quarter of 2021 than it did during all of 2020, with figures from the broker highlighting the recent boom in new market participants.

The company as part of its earnings report on Thursday said it opened 3.2 million new brokerage accounts during the first three months of this year, exceeding its total for 2020, excluding accounts it acquired through recent mergers with other brokerages.

The new accounts contributed to daily trades rising to an average of 8.4 million in the quarter. Schwab said that was four times higher than the pro forma combined pace for the fourth quarter of 2019 that marked the start of the $0-online-equity-commission era.

"Early in the first quarter, we were challenged to keep pace with extraordinary activity from both new and existing clients," said Walt Bettinger, Schwab's CEO, in the statement.

The company said the climb in new accounts took place against the backdrop of the US economy continuing to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, aided by an increase in vaccinations and fiscal stimulus from the government. As well, the growth came alongside a 78% jump in the S&P 500 index from its March 2020 lows through the end of the first quarter of 2021, and a climb in the 10-year Treasury yield past 1.7%.

Schwab said it logged $148.2 billion in core net new assets, more than double from a year ago and up 24% from its record in the fourth quarter of 2020. Core new assets hit $62.6 billion in March.

The update followed a study released last week by Charles Schwab showing that 15% of all US stock markets investors began investing in 2020.

The company also said Thursday that first-quarter retail call volumes rose by 19% a year earlier to 8.3 million.

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