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Schwab's new hires would make Omaha workforce larger than TD Ameritrade's

Schwab's new hires would make Omaha workforce larger than TD Ameritrade's

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Ten of Omaha’s major happenings of the last 20 years and what lessons they might offer for Omaha’s future.

More than 18 months after the gut-punch announcement that homegrown brokerage firm TD Ameritrade was being acquired by Charles Schwab, the combined company has almost the same number of Omaha workers — and it soon will have even more.

Schwab announced Thursday it’s in the process of adding more than 200 jobs in Omaha, building on the workforce of 2,200 the company says is currently based here.

That means after those hires, Schwab would have roughly 100 more jobs in Omaha than TD Ameritrade did when the marriage of the two brokerage industry giants was first announced.

Schwab’s Thursday statement on the new jobs is about as close as the company has come to date to making a commitment to retaining operations in Omaha. The statement said the firm expects its Omaha employees to play “a key role” in serving Schwab’s growing base of client investors.

“TD Ameritrade has been a member of the Omaha community for over 40 years, and Schwab is committed to its local workforce in service to our clients,” said Dan Madott, who is Schwab’s managing director of retail strategy and analytics and leads a local employee council in Omaha.

Up to now, neither Schwab nor the former TD Ameritrade had offered many hints as to what the acquisition ultimately would mean to TD’s Omaha operations, including its high-profile, green-tinted headquarters complex that towers over Interstate 680 and West Dodge Road.

Schwab said at the time of the November 2019 acquisition announcement that the combined headquarters would be in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth, which wound up as the biggest geographic winner in the $26 billion deal.

Schwab also made a commitment to its longtime home base of San Francisco, saying it expected to retain a sizable corporate footprint in the city.

But Schwab at the time had little to say about Omaha or TD Ameritrade’s 2,300 workers based in the city.

The sale of TD Ameritrade meant that Omaha would lose a Fortune 1000 corporate headquarters and hundreds of associated jobs. The city’s best hope was to preserve operational and customer service jobs under the larger, merged company.

In one glimmer of hope for Omaha, The World-Herald disclosed days after the sale that TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts had insisted on including language in the deal aimed at offering some level of protection for Omaha employees.

The language still gives Schwab much leeway to reduce the acquired firm’s workforce in the city, and it covers only the first two years after the merger. But a person close to the transaction told The World-Herald that Ricketts was satisfied that the agreement would accomplish his goal: requiring Schwab to be deliberate in years ahead as it considered how to integrate the Omaha operations into its own.

Ricketts subsequently predicted during a podcast interview with his son, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, that Omaha may well come out ahead on jobs after the Schwab merger.

Joe Ricketts said he was basing his prediction on the quality of TD Ameritrade’s workforce and the low cost of operating in Omaha, two things he thought Schwab’s leaders would come to recognize, too.

It still will be years before it’s known what the final merged company will look like.

When federal regulators approved the deal in October, Schwab said that it would take another 30 to 36 months to fully integrate the companies. That’s still the timeline, a Schwab spokesman said Thursday.

While Schwab has yet to make any kind of full-throated Omaha commitment, the job numbers in its release Thursday seem to suggest that the merger results so far are closer to what Joe Ricketts forecast than a wholesale corporate departure from the city.

It has helped Omaha’s cause that Schwab has continued to add millions of new investor clients since the merger.

Schwab said investors opened 3.2 million new accounts in the first quarter of this year alone. That and other growth since the start of 2020 has required the company to boost its client service staffing by 10%.

Schwab also announced a year ago it intended to adopt TD Ameritrade’s award-winning “thinkorswim” trading platform and related products. Previously, each firm had its own online trading platform, but Schwab called TD Ameritrade’s “one of the strongest retail trader platforms in the industry.”

The 200-plus new Omaha jobs Schwab announced Thursday span functions across the company, with particular emphasis on client services, operations and technology, the company said.

The company said the open roles in Omaha are part of a nationwide recruitment push that includes hiring in Texas, California, Colorado and other locations. The company said it’s committed to a diverse workforce, with opportunities for training, advancement, personal flexibility and competitive pay.

A tax incentives bill passed by the Nebraska Legislature in 2020 aimed at preserving Nebraska jobs during large company mergers apparently has not come into play on Schwab’s job decisions for Omaha.

The law offers up to $4 million a year over 10 years to a company that employs at least 1,000 people in the state and has had an ownership change within the last two years. The company receiving the benefits is required to commit to preserving at least 90% of its Nebraska job base.

Schwab has not applied for benefits under the law.

That law already has helped convince Milwaukee-based Fiserv, the company that acquired Omaha-born First Data, to commit to the 90% jobs retention target.

Pete Ricketts, a former TD Ameritrade executive and board member, has worked as governor to convince Schwab of the value of basing workers in Nebraska.

A Ricketts spokesman lauded Thursday’s announcement, noting Joe Ricketts’ prediction that Schwab may grow its investment in the state.

“He was right,” Taylor Gage said. “The governor appreciates Schwab’s ongoing commitment to Nebraska.”


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Reporter - Metro News

Henry is a general assignment reporter, but his specialty is deep dives into state issues and public policy. He's also into the numbers behind a story, yet to meet a spreadsheet he didn't like. Follow him on Twitter @HenryCordes. Phone: 402-444-1130.

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