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Schwab Starts ‘Women Investing Now’

September 26, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ Charles Schwab & Co., the nation’s largest discount broker, is setting up a new educational program to teach women about investing.

``Women Investing Now″ will include free seminars at Schwab offices around the country and special booklets aimed at guiding women who are divorced or widowed or face other life-changing events. A new women’s section will be added to the company’s Web site (www.schwab.com) next month.

``Women live longer, they earn less and they traditionally invest more conservatively,″ Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, Schwab’s vice president for consumer education, said Tuesday. ``They need to consider investing a necessity, not a luxury.″

Schwab Pomerantz, 40, is the daughter of Charles Schwab, who founded the San Francisco-headed brokerage 26 years ago and serves as chairman and co-chief executive officer. She will head the new program.

Schwab and his daughter said at a news conference in New York that their goal is to help women understand the market.

They cited a phone survey done earlier this year by Harris Poll indicating that 82 percent of men expressed confidence in their ability to invest, while just 53 percent of women did so. Forty-eight percent of the women who were surveyed said that investing was scary, double the figure for men.

Schwab and his daughter said their aim was to ``narrow the gap.″

In a separate interview, Schwab said that about 30 percent of the company’s 7.3 million account holders are women.

While up from about 3 percent to 4 percent a quarter of a century ago, ``that shows many are still missing out″ on the benefits of investing, he said.

Stocks have returned an average of 11 percent to 12 percent a year, more than double the earnings on traditional savings accounts. ``That can make a big different over time″ in how much a woman’s savings grow, he said.

Schwab Pomerantz blamed lower market participation by women on ``hundreds of years of socialization″ and said that educating women about investing was ``a natural extension″ of the company’s philosophy of leveling the playing field for investors.

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