Schwab invests pounds 50m in new call centre

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The Independent Online
CHARLES SCHWAB, the retail phone and Internet stockbroker, is to invest up to pounds 50m in a new call centre in Milton Keynes.

The move, which could pave the way for round-the-clock share dealing in the UK, will create 450 jobs, rising to 1,500 over the next five years, provided the firm's ambitious growth forecasts are met.

The expansion, which will more than double Schwab's European workforce in the next 12 months, follows the strong take-up for the firm's Internet share-dealing service earlier this year.

Schwab also started offering dealing services in UK and US shares to Swiss retail clients this month, and plans to use some of the new capacity to expand its offering to other European markets. Schwab is already the largest e-commerce player in the UK broking industry.

Bob Duste, the chief executive of Schwab Europe, said yesterday: "The centre at Milton Keynes reflects the enormous success we have had in attracting new customers since we entered the UK." Schwab is adding customers at the rate of 500 to 1,000 every week.

The firm has more than 130,000 active customers in Europe, most of them UK-based, 21,000 of whom trade online. In the US, where Schwab already offers 24-hour, seven day a week retail broking, Schwab has 5.9 million customers, of whom 2.5 million trade online. In the UK, more than 100,000 trades worth pounds 500m have been carried out so far on Schwab online.

Schwab employs 600 staff at its main UK site in Birmingham.