Bloomberg News

SAN FRANCISCO -- Charles Schwab Corp., the biggest discount broker, is aiming to attract more wealthy clients from rivals such as Merrill Lynch & Co. by introducing a service for people with accounts of more than $1 million.

The new Schwab private client service will be introduced in about a week with offices in Houston, Los Angeles, and northern California, said Steven Scheid, the president of the retail division, in a briefing with investors Thursday that was broadcast on the Web. Schwab will charge a fee based on client assets, rather than trading commissions, Schwab’s biggest revenue source. Schwab’s goal is to double the amount of new assets it collects. It attracted $31 billion in the first quarter.

The move comes more than a year after Schwab bought U.S. Trust Corp., the San Francisco-based firm’s foray into servicing and advising rich investors. In June 1999, Merrill Lynch, the biggest U.S. brokerage firm, introduced its unlimited advantage service, which charges clients a fee based on their account balances.

Schwab did not disclose the fee for the new service.

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