Charles R. Schwab, chairman and chief executive officer of the nation's largest discount brokerage, is always ready to try something new to capture assets - even teaming up with banks.

All year, the financial services industry was abuzz over his extremely successful mutual fund supermarket, OneSource. Suddenly, it seemed, Charles Schwab & Co. had become the very model of sales savvy and technological prowess. NationsBank Corp. and Mellon Bank Corp.'s Dreyfus subsidiary were among those that trotted out their own versions of OneSource this year. Last week, Mr. Schwab capped a big year by striking deals to give customers of two giant banks - KeyCorp and First Union Corp. - access to One Source. With a single phone call, investors can choose from a vast menu of no-load funds. Holdings are tracked on consolidated statements.

Schwab, which was owned by BankAmerica Corp. from 1983 to 1987, didn't decide lightly to share its secrets with KeyCorp and First Union. "I don't know of any time in Schwab's history that we've let anyone use our brand," a spokesman said.

Mr. Schwab has made his mark as an innovator, and the smart money says he'll continue to strut his stuff. His company already has introduced Internet trading, all-electronic customer accounts, and a flurry of software upgrades to support its increasingly wired customers. For Mr. Schwab, the future is always now.

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