Like so many other industries, there are small players and big players.
Little fish in a very large pond may be another applicable cliché to describe this story. The pond is the brokerage business and that pond is big.
Companies like Fidelity, the world’s largest retirement account holder has 13.5 million accounts, E*Trade, one of the most well known of the brokers for retail investors has 3.9 million accounts and TD Ameritrade has 5.7 million.
In the past, there were plenty of smaller discount brokers but most were bought by the larger firms.
Schwab acquired OptionsXpress for $1 billion and TD Ameritrade acquired Thinkorswim for an undisclosed amount.
As the big brokers keep getting bigger, there was little room to compete if you were still holding on as one of the smaller firms in the highly competitive field of discount brokerage.
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This was true for two small firms, Zecco and Tradeking.