Top Workplaces

Charles Schwab: Diverse, valued employees put laser focus onto clients’ needs

Charles Schwab employees volunteer at Second Harvest Metrolina Food bank.
Charles Schwab employees volunteer at Second Harvest Metrolina Food bank. Photo courtesy of Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab prides itself on hiring employees with a variety of backgrounds who are committed to helping others, Schwab Investment Management Vice President Jeff Norton said.

“We cast a wide net, and we welcome everyone,” he said, noting Schwab has been celebrated as an employer for LGBT equality and for employing veterans, among other types of diversity.

“Once you step in the door here, you’re walking into a welcoming environment,” Norton said. “Having folks with diverse backgrounds helps us” support clients. “Everyone who comes to work here has a story that ties back to their own investing experience or their family’s investment experience.”

Charles Schwab, a public company based in San Francisco, provides a full range of securities brokerage, banking, money management and financial advisory services to individual investors and independent investment advisers. Its two Charlotte-area offices employ about 60 people.

Hibah Shariff, a senior public relations manager at Schwab, said it holds more than $3 trillion in investment assets, making it the country’s largest publicly traded investment firm. She noted that since Charles Schwab founded the company more than 40 years ago, clients and their needs have been “at the crux of every product and service” offered.

“Culturally, what that means is you’ve got people coming into work every day who just want to help clients and colleagues – it’s a very collaborative environment,” Norton added. “Everyone has a different area of expertise, and together we’re focused on making the client experience better, solving their problems and achieving their goals.”

As focused as they are, the employees in Schwab’s Charlotte office are not all business all the time. Last year after being recognized as a Top Workplace, they celebrated with an outdoor party, complete with JJ’s Red Hots. They get together once a quarter for something fun, which has included chili cookouts, Thanksgiving potlucks and March Madness events.

Schwab employees also volunteer together, sorting food at Second Harvest Metrolina Food Bank, and visiting schools to read books and help out with year-end testing. The company gives everyone 8 hours a year to give back to an organization of their choice.

Perhaps one of the biggest perks of working at Schwab is the four-week sabbatical allowed in addition to vacation time after each five years of employment. Norton said it’s an opportunity to recharge and focus on family and friends, and employees go out of their way to ask where their colleagues have gone and what they did.

He has taken two sabbaticals — one to Turks and Caicos, and one to Martha’s Vineyard. A co-worker traveled to South Africa for a monthlong safari; another took cooking classes in Paris. Some have used the time to teach, or even just stayed at home to finish building a house.

“Across the country, we find that’s it’s really unique, particularly in the financial services industry” to offer a sabbatical program, Shariff said. When she qualifies in a few years, she’s hoping to spend time traveling abroad.

Norton, who will mark his 23rd anniversary with Schwab in November, said, “I look forward to coming in every day, and that speaks volumes in an age where people always want to look for the next best opportunity. … Once you start building a network here, it can take you all across the country, if you so desire.”