David Pottruck, Co-CEO of Charles Schwab

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, May 17, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: If you don't trust Wall Street these days, who can blame you? The folks at Charles Schwab sure don't. They say enough with the big brokers, invest with us. Schwab unveiling some new product offerings it says will give investors more peace of mind when they trade.

Earlier, I spoke with David Pottruck. He's the co-CEO of Charles Schwab, and I asked him if this is an attempt to distance his firm from the bad press Wall Street's been getting.


DAVID POTTRUCK, CO-CEO, CHARLES SCHWAB: We've been working on more advice, more guidance, more help for our clients for years. Really, with the start of our buying or merging with U.S. Trust back in 2000, we clearly saw that more and more of our clients were going to need help and guidance, were asking that from us.

CAVUTO: Even though the same ones who got that kind of advice from, let's say, other firms, the Merrill Lynches, what have you, feel they got burnt?

POTTRUCK: Well, they came to us asking for help and guidance...

CAVUTO: After that.

POTTRUCK: ... because our competitors were giving them conflicted guidance or...

CAVUTO: So how do you avoid the conflict yourself?

POTTRUCK: Well, two things. No. 1, Neil, there are two types of conflicts: compensation conflicts and conflicts around advice. The compensation conflicts are simple. We have never paid our people on commissions. We've never paid our people in ways that relate to how much revenue a customer generates.

CAVUTO: So, the temptation to churn and burn, it just is not there?

POTTRUCK: Well, or even to recommend the wrong product, the wrong investment, bonds over equities or mutual funds over fixed income.

CAVUTO: Yes, but, you know, that is the model, by the way, that Eliot Spitzer, the New York attorney general, wants to see. Now let's say they indoctrinate that at some of the other firms. Do you lose an edge?

POTTRUCK: Well, it would be competition on a new basis. But I think it's not going to be easy to change the DNA of the way people and companies operate. At Schwab, we've never paid people on commissions. We've always paid salaries and incentives, the incentives tied to clients bringing more assets to us, because from our perspective, more assets is a statement of trust.

On the other side, you have the conflicts over advice. And that comes from trying to serve the corporate client who wants to issue securities and who is a multi-million dollar revenue stream to the firm and trying to serve individual investors who want objective advice.

CAVUTO: Well, are those individual investors coming back? Do you see them coming back?

POTTRUCK: Well, we brought $15 billion of net new money into our firm in the last quarter. We opened up over 200,000 new accounts at Schwab. Investors are still coming to the company. But there...

CAVUTO: Collectively, you would say the same about their view of the market, that maybe given the fact we've had a few strong days that they are saying, all right, we believe...

POTTRUCK: Well, actually, we did a survey last week of a nationwide poll of investors. Eighty percent said they are concerned about what to do, but they still view the market as the right long-term place to be to achieve their wealth-building, their retirement-building goals.

People still believe in the stock market, but they do not know what to do. And what they are missing is that it is really, at the beginning, all about asset diversification, portfolio construction.

CAVUTO: But you are a great market historian. You know that when the market essentially has been treading water for, what, for three years, right?


CAVUTO: So, one could argue are we going to revisit the mid-'60s and mid-'70s experience where we just do squat?

POTTRUCK: I don't think so. I think that we are going to find that the growth of our economy and people's recognition that stocks are the place to be to participate in the growth of the economy will have people staying and continuing to invest.


CAVUTO: All right. David Pottruck, the co-CEO of Charles Schwab.

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