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The Protection of Client Assets Remains at the Center of Our Focus
For advisory accounts held through Charles Schwab & Co., Inc:
How are my securities at Schwab protected?
The first thing to remember is your securities—like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange traded funds, or money market funds—held at Schwab are yours. The SEC's Customer Protection Rule safeguards customer assets at brokerage firms by preventing firms from using customer assets to finance their own proprietary businesses.
At Schwab, clients' fully paid securities are segregated from other firm assets and held at third party depository institutions and custodians such as the Depository Trust Company and Bank of New York. There are reporting and auditing requirements in place by government regulators to help ensure all broker-dealers comply with this rule. In the very unlikely event that Schwab should become insolvent, these segregated securities are not available to general creditors and are protected against creditors' claims.
What part of my assets are protected by FDIC?
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is an independent agency that maintains the Deposit Insurance Fund which is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. Its purpose is to protect depositors' funds placed in banks and savings associations.
The FDIC insures accounts held at member banks up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, based on ownership category. However, all deposits held at the same FDIC-insured bank in the same ownership capacity are added together to determine your total amount of FDIC insurance coverage at that bank. This rule applies whether you open an account directly at the bank (such as a Schwab Bank Investor Checking™ or Schwab Bank Investor Savings account™), or whether Schwab brokerage holds the accounts on your behalf (such as through Schwab's Bank Sweep feature). Bank Sweep deposits may be swept into more than one Program Bank to extend the total FDIC coverage available to you.
CDs in Schwab's CD marketplace, Schwab CD OneSource®, are also protected by the FDIC. CDs you purchase through Schwab are aggregated with other deposits you hold at each issuing institution and are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per bank.
What is SIPC coverage and when does it become activated?
Schwab is a member of Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which provides protection for securities and cash in client brokerage accounts, including those held by clients of investment advisors with Schwab Advisor Services. SIPC protections are activated in the rare event that the broker-dealer fails (bankruptcy) and client assets are missing due to fraud or other causes.
How does SIPC coverage work?
SIPC protects against the loss of cash and securities—such as stocks and bonds—held by a customer at a SIPC-member brokerage firm. The limit of SIPC protection is $500,000, which includes a $250,000 limit for cash. There is no requirement that a customer reside in or be a citizen of the United States. A non-U.S. citizen with a Schwab account is treated the same as a resident or citizen of the United States with a Schwab account.
SIPC coverage is used to reimburse customers if there is a shortage after all customer assets held at the brokerage firm have been recovered. SIPC provides up to $500,000 of protection for brokerage accounts held in each separate capacity (e.g., joint tenant or sole owner), with a limit of $250,000 for claims of uninvested cash balances. These limits do not mean that the account will only receive up to $500,000 of their invested securities. Rather, in a SIPC customer proceeding, the account will receive a pro-rata share of all client assets recovered in liquidation then will receive up to $500,000 from SIPC to make up any difference that exists. SIPC does not protect against the decline in value of customer securities.
Does Schwab have any additional protections for client securities beyond those provided by SIPC?
Yes, in addition to SIPC, Schwab clients receive an extra level of coverage through "excess SIPC" insurance protection for securities and cash. This helps ensure claims will be covered in the event of a brokerage firm failure and funds covered by SIPC protections are exhausted. Schwab's Excess SIPC program has a $600 million aggregate (meaning the most the program will pay for the Excess SIPC portion of the losses). Commodity interests, futures contracts and cash in futures accounts are not protected by SIPC.