Charles Schwab Corp. announced Friday its net income and revenue soared in the first quarter as the economy improved and investors moved off of the sidelines.

The firm’s net income soared to $243 million for the first quarter of 2011, up from $6 million for the first quarter of 2010. Even excluding certain charges relating to the Schwab YieldPlus Fund and the company’s affinity credit card program for the first quarter of 2010, the company’s first quarter 2011 net income was 84% higher.

Meanwhile, Schwab’s first quarter revenue rose 23% year-over-year.

“Although still choppy, the environment is improving and investors are actively engaged with us across all our businesses,” Charles Schwab, the company chairman, said in a press release. “Recent data shows that our economy is growing and adding jobs again, the unemployment rate is beginning to recover, and leading indicators are rising. The equity markets are responding, with the major indices rising by approximately 5% during the first quarter. Our clients are working with us to ensure they are participating in the markets appropriately – they have now reduced the percentage of their assets at Schwab held in cash to pre-crisis levels.”

Approximately $800 billion of the client assets currently at Schwab are either enrolled in one of the firm’s advisory offerings or under the guidance of an independent advisor, up 16% from a year ago, said Schwab.

New brokerage account openings totaled 224,000, net new assets totaled $25.1 billion excluding a large clearing outflow, and total client assets reached a record $1.65 trillion at month-end March, up 10% from a year ago, said CEO Walt Bettinger. Schwab now serves 8.1 million active brokerage accounts, 719,000 banking accounts, and 1.44 million retirement plan participants, he added.

“We plan to increase our 2011 spending on client-related initiatives by nearly 40% over 2010 to help us significantly improve our service in areas like fixed-income, global investing, mobile and tablet solutions, and advisor-focused technology, as well as to advance our index-and-ETF-based 401(k) and Independent Branch Services initiatives. Already this year, we’ve launched our new StreetSmart Edge trading platform, introduced an ETF Select List, and reached an agreement to acquire optionsXpress so that we can include their highly-regarded options and futures trading capabilities as part of our offerings for investors who trade more actively,” said Bettinger.


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