• Schwab's acquisition of TD Ameritrade, announced in November 2019, continues to move slowly forward.
  • On August 5, 2020, Schwab announced that the thinkorswim trading platform and the thinkpipes advisor platform would be supported once the acquisition is complete
  • The takeover is expected to be completed by the end of 2020, with platform rebranding and changes taking another 18-36 months.

As Charles Schwab's acquisition of TD Ameritrade moves slowly forward, Schwab announced on August 5, 2020, that the thinkorswim trading tools and the thinkpipes advisor platform would be integrated into its offerings. Thinkorswim is designed for derivatives-focused active traders and is available as a downloadable platform, web app, or mobile app. Customers use its powerful analysis tools and real-time streaming data to trade equities, options, futures, options on futures, and forex in their online accounts. To reflect its growing footprint in Asia, TD Ameritrade made the platform available in traditional as well as simplified Chinese. 

Thinkorswim was founded in 1999 by Tom Sosnoff and Scott Sheridan, and acquired by TD Ameritrade in 2009. Sosnoff and Sheridan are now with tastyworks. TD Ameritrade went on to acquire Scottrade in 2017. Schwab announced its intention to take over TD Ameritrade in November 2019 as commissions at most online brokers for equity trading were being cut to $0.

The acquisition of TD by Schwab was cleared by the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice in early June, and Schwab stockholders voted to go forward in a special meeting of stockholders held later that same day. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of the year, according to statements made by Schwab CEO Walt Bettinger during an earnings call on July 21.

Clients Respond

There had been speculation, mostly on Twitter, about the fate of the thinkorswim platform as well as the advisor tools available on TD Ameritrade. Schwab has said that adopting its own platforms and systems generally will be the most effective way to achieve a successful and timely integration. In their joint statement, Executive Vice President of Schwab’s Integration Management Office Jason Clague asserted that “We are committed to leveraging material advantages in TD Ameritrade’s platforms when doing so enables us to deliver a differentiated experience to all of our clients. That commitment drove these decisions.”

Jeremy Sellers, a day trader and day trading coach based in Birmingham, AL., and founder of Velocity Stock Network, says in a video response to the news, "I'm sure that supposedly we'll be getting one of the best platforms and best customer service experiences," once the acquisition is complete.

Several thinkorswim users commented that the platform has seemed slower since the acquisition was announced, with one saying, "The latency is unbearable and unacceptable. Perhaps this should be remedied prior to flooding TOS with more users." Steve Quirk, TD Ameritade's Global Head of Trading and Education, says, "Volumes are crazy and we are always working on that," going on to say that the firm has made great strides towards fixing the situation.

The announcement that thinkpipes, with its real-time charting capabilities and allocation tools, and the portfolio rebalancing solution IRebal, would continue to live on generated positive response from financial advisors on Twitter. In the statement, Schwab says, " Additional technology solutions continue to be evaluated for consideration as part of the combined platform." Two senior members of TD Ameritrade's advisory group, Skip Schweiss and Dani Fava, have left the company in the past two weeks. No announcement has yet been made about Veo One, the digital hub independent RIAs use to integrate various pieces of technology.