Periodically, Joe Martinetto, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, will use this forum to provide insight and commentary regarding Schwab's financial picture. For any questions, please contact Investor Relations via email or call:
Richard G. Fowler, Senior Vice President: (415) 667-1841
The commentary in this section speaks only as of the date specified below. The company makes no commitment to update any of this information.
January 19, 2016
Those of you who follow The Charles Schwab Corporation closely may receive our quarterly financial results through a wire service/email, a market data aggregator, or simply by checking our corporate website. This morning, we began making our results available via another widely-used platform: Twitter. You can find our page on www.Twitter.com with the handle @CharlesSchwab. Today’s activity includes a Tweet noting the availability of fourth quarter 2015 results with a link to our press release, and follow-ups sharing the headlines from this morning’s announcement.
Companies have increasingly leveraged Twitter to share insight about their industry, clients, and initiatives. Several years ago, the SEC provided guidance on how publicly-traded companies could use social media platforms in compliance with Regulation FD. Since then, news about financial results has also been increasingly shared and discussed on the platform. We hope to “join the conversation” – boosting awareness of our business progress and the accessibility of our disclosures – by making our earnings package available via Twitter.
In addition to quarterly earnings releases, we also intend to alert investors to our Business Update events. Next month, you’ll see us Tweet in advance of our Winter Business Update, letting you know the time and place to tune in. We’ll then Tweet as it begins, and afterward share a link to the webcast replay.
For now, we plan to use social media to alert folks that financial information is going out through our established channels. Our Twitter page will essentially be another place that conveniently links to our regular disclosures. We will check in with SCHW owners and followers later this year on our financial communication practices and look to refine our approach based on your feedback. We remain committed to a transparent and effective communications effort.
Today we released our November Monthly Activity Report. While we produced another month of solid client metrics, we have no illusions about another press release stealing the show later this week. As you know, the Federal Reserve is widely anticipated to begin raising interest rates on December 16th. We have seen economic and employment reports meet expectations, FOMC minutes evolve, and member speeches show increasing conviction.
We issued our SMART report for the month of August today, and between the client metrics shown there and the trading data that we’ve already posted it’s clear we’ve been busy. With the elevated market volatility late in the month, our clients made extensive use of our branches, phone-based service centers and online capabilities to help keep their investing on track. Many of them engaged with our financial consultants and subject matter experts to ask questions about how their assets enrolled in our advisory solutions are positioned, as well as assess their holdings and determine what, if any, action should be taken.
By now, you may have noticed that we recently made a few changes to our disclosures, and I’d like to make sure everyone is aware of these developments as well as provide context for how they help tell our story. As a large savings and loan holding company, our required reporting has expanded significantly in recent years. In addition, as Schwab evolves, we revisit our reporting and strive to keep it closely aligned with the everyday workings of the business. In the second quarter of 2015, we added a new Other Regulatory Disclosures tab to our corporate website, made changes to the Asset Management and Administration Fees (AMAF) table in our earnings release package, and included some new information in our 10-Q filing.
As we announced in our earnings release today, our Q4 ’14 financial results included two nonrecurring items related to the company’s non-agency residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) portfolio: net litigation proceeds of approximately $28 million and net losses of $8 million from selling securities totaling approximately $500 million. Taken together, these items increased pre-tax income by approximately $20 million, or $.01 per share. With the financial crisis well behind us, it’s been a while since we’ve needed to discuss these securities, so I wanted to walk through some history and share a perspective on these recent developments.
Concurrent with our Earnings Release today, we are inaugurating a new approach to reporting on our clients’ trading activity intra-quarter. We have retired the inclusion of trade reporting in our Monthly Market Activity Report (“SMART”) and are now providing a weekly look at trading activity, including revenue, asset-based and other trades, which is posted on the Investor Relations landing page on aboutschwab.com. Here’s a link to our initial report: http://www.aboutschwab.com/investor-relations.
As you look through today’s earnings release, you might notice that the size of our balance sheet (shown in the Financial and Operating Highlights table on page 5) hasn’t changed much since year-end 2013, continuing to hover around $144 billion. That’s unusual for us – for example, the company’s balance sheet grew by approximately $8 billion during the second half of 2013. Given the factors influencing this situation, I wanted to share some perspective on current client behavior and ramifications for our capital management going forward.
As I mentioned in my last post, here are a few more thoughts on the evolution of client behavior during the market recovery, which is now a full five years along: With the S&P 500 up over 170% from its lowest point in the first quarter of 2009 and setting new records, it’s not really surprising to see investors put cash back to work in the markets. There are, however, some interesting aspects to the way our clients have reallocated their holdings across products and asset classes during the recovery thus far.
The S&P 500 Index bottomed at 676.53 on March 9, 2009, so we are now a full five years into the market recovery. As the recovery has strengthened in recent months, we have been asked more often about individual investor engagement, with the questioner usually equating engagement with trading activity.
This is my inaugural CFO Commentary. I expect to use this site regularly to provide perspectives on Schwab's financial picture, including color on our performance and details on topical issues. Over time, I can see sharing more significant financial information that might be better discussed in a forum like this, versus press releases or other forms of communication.
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