On the same day Charles Schwab Corp. reported monthly trading volumes still far below those of a year earlier, its president and co-chief executive, David S. Pottruck, sought to lay out a survival plan.
"I wish I had somewhat better news, but it's been a trying time," he said Tuesday at a New York conference sponsored by Goldman Sachs & Co.
Schwab's trades averaged 235,000 a day in April, no improvement from March and 39% less than a year earlier, when people were still flocking to the Web to trade and before the bottom fell out of the Nasdaq stock market.
Mr. Pottruck said Schwab will use customer segmentation, new products, and other means to achieve the sort of growth it racked up before the Internet trading frenzy.
"The last two years has been all about speed, throwing capacity at demand. We think in fact that kind of period is now behind us, and we're back to the same kind of market environment for the first 25 years of our company," he said.
Schwab is finishing a restructuring program to cut 13% of its work force and slash executive pay. Some 3,700 jobs have been eliminated, 1,500 of them through attrition, the rest through layoffs, Mr. Pottruck said.
"All of our layoffs were done on a business-by-business basis, as opposed to an across-the-board slash, " he said. "This was not an easy thing to do," he added.
"We have been through three months of really hard work," Mr. Pottruck said. "We all feel that were much more back in control of our destiny."
Apparently some ex-Schwab employees are not holding grudges. Mr. Pottruck said the company had received "a couple of hundred e-mails" from laid-off workers. He read one aloud: "I can't imagine I'll ever work for a more conscientious employer. Despite all the stress all of us are under, I know I could never work for a better company in the Bay Area."
Indeed, when Schwab announced the layoffs in March, it also announced some unusual provisions, including re-signing bonuses for terminated staff in the event that the market rebounded and they were rehired. On Tuesday, Mr. Pottruck reiterated hopes that the company could rehire some who had been laid off if the market stages a comeback.
"I think as a company they are genuinely sad to have to lay people off," said Guy Moszkowski, an equity analyst with Salmon Smith Barney. There might also have been some level of embarrassment, he said, on the part of executives at having to fire people after ramping up so much during the market uptick. "They're genuinely good people," Mr. Moszkowski said.