In the mid-1990s, when forward-thinking financial services firms were racing to claim "firsts" on the Internet, Charles Schwab & Co. stuck solidly behind its proprietary PC software. It did not give customers access to their financial records until 1998, when it started what has become a wildly popular Web site.

Now that wireless account access has become the leading-edge service offering, Schwab executives are vowing not to get caught behind. Its e-planners have launched wireless initiatives that place the San Francisco-based discount brokerage among the leaders of financial services firms preparing for the future of the unwired Internet.

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