Ameritrade Slips After Setting Fee Schedule

Ameritrade (Nasdaq: AMTD) was down 25 U.S. cents at $3.25 in morning trading Wednesday, after the online brokerage company said it will begin delivering statements and trade confirmations by e-mail, charging a $2 fee for each paper confirmation.

Ameritrade said that it will also charge $15 per quarter in maintenance fees for accounts with less than $2,000 in assets or fewer than four trades in six months. Retirement and beneficiary accounts will be exempt.

Ameritrade said the new plan, which takes effect July 1st, will cut expenses by reducing the costs associated with customer mailings.

“Our electronic delivery is a more efficient choice for our customers and our business,” said Anne Nelson, Ameritrade vice president of marketing and product development. “We are reducing the friction for customers while we further streamline our operations and reduce unnecessary expenses.”

The company said that it hopes the maintenance fee will encourage customers to make more trades and put more money in their accounts.

“While Ameritrade has utilized a $500 promotional opening balance to encourage usage of our services, our policy regarding a $2,000 minimum balance is consistent with our standard account opening amount,” Nelson said.

The fee plan is also “consistent” with the company’s plan to diversify its sources of revenue, she said.

Ameritrade said it will provide information about the effect of the new fees on its finances when it reports quarterly results on April 24th. The company charges its investment customers $8 for Internet trades, $12 for touch-tone trades and $18 for broker-assisted trades.

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