TD Ameritrade Buy-Out: Part 1

Personal Money Planning |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

You may have heard in the news that Schwab is buying TD Ameritrade. You may wonder if this is a big deal.

It is a BIG deal.

Yes, a $26 billion price tag alone makes it big. But there are other far reaching effects that truly make it a big deal. I’ll get to that eventually. But not today. Today I have a story to share with you from my past. Let’s begin at my beginning.

As a young child, I lived in the hills above Los Angeles…

No, not that beginning. Let me try again.

Back in 1993 when I was starting up my financial planning and investment advisory firm, I needed the services of a discount broker to use for our client accounts. Schwab was the obvious choice as they were just about the only firm dealing with independent financial advisors. The problem was that Schwab didn’t want to work with smaller advisors like me. (When you’re starting, you tend to be small.)

We did set up a courtship, so-to-speak. Their regional representatives would want to do lunch to discuss my using their services; we’d have a good meeting; and then I’d hear nothing from them, finding out later that they thought I was too small. Then they’d call back saying that all is good, let’s get together again. After the third time this happened, I gave up…I had another option.

At a conference for fee-only independent advisors I had gone to earlier that year, one of the vendors hawking their products and services was a discount broker by the name of Jack White and Company (JW&C). Jack White was one of the early pioneers of the discount brokerage world even before Schwab. (Fun fact: when Jack White was in the Army, he was the squad leader of a singer called Elvis.)

Fortunately for me, Jack was shifting much of his company’s focus from retail customers to advisors and their clients. That’s why Peter Mangan, the head of this new division, was at the conference behind the booth. Our conversations went well. Jack White & Company invited me to tour their offices in the San Diego area, while Schwab still didn’t want to talk to little-old-me.

When I visited JW&C, Peter greeted me and showed me around their offices (this didn’t take long as it was all on one floor of an office building in La Jolla).

After the tour we went into an office to discuss things. A rather large man came in and asked if I’d like something to drink (unlike what you see in the movies, alcoholic drinking is frowned upon at the workplace and I was offered a soda). That man turned out to be Jack White.

Given my choices were a firm who didn’t want to talk to me (Schwab) and another who’s founder went off to the kitchen to get me a soda, my broker-shopping choice was easy.

What does Jack White & Company have to do with the TD Ameritrade purchase by Schwab? Come back next week to find out.

Gary Silverman, CFP® is the founder of Personal Money Planning, LLC, a Wichita Falls retirement planning and investment management firm and author of Real World Investing (available at Contact him at