The Charles Schwab Corporation: Smarter Investor campaign

Mark Lane


Known as a discount broker in a world of traditional full-service investment firms, the Charles Schwab Corporation diversified during the 1980s and 1990s. In keeping with an industry-wide trend toward offering customers one-stop financial services, it expanded into banking, annuities, bond trading, and mutual funds. With the rise of the Internet, Schwab's core brokerage business evolved to allow trading on its website, making it America's leading online broker by the late 1990s. While a host of upstart, low-fee online trading services challenged Schwab from below, the company also needed to position itself against a wide range of consolidated financial-services companies. In response to these pressures, and amid an unprecedented bull market on Wall Street, Schwab rapidly increased its marketing profile at the end of the millennium, an effort that culminated with the well-received "Smarter Investor" campaign, which began in 1999 and ran through 2000.