Thank you for holding this important hearing today and I commend you for your insight in calling my friend and constituent, Mr. Joe Ricketts, as a witness at today's hearing.
Joe Ricketts and Ameritrade have truly taken investing from Wall Street to Main street. The future of the investment industry is the present at Ameritrade. Joe Ricketts has always kept his company ahead of the curve. Back in 1975, the company that is now Ameritrade started offering discount brokerage services. In 1988, touch-tone telephone trading was added. Then in 1994 the company started internet trading. In 1997, Ameritrade shocked the world by offering breakthrough pricing at "8 bucks" per trade. These innovations were quickly appreciated by the investing public: In 1995 Ameritrade had nearly 38,000 accounts, Ameritrade now has nearly 600,000 online investors – this from a company, I'm proud to say, is located in Omaha Nebraska.
Through aggressive pricing, 24 hour access, extended trading hours and technological innovation firms like Ameritrade are dismantling the traditional "brokerage house" model and building the market to suit the needs of the individual investor -- the Consumer! Power for this industry is no longer determined by Wall Street, it's determined by the information super-highway.
I welcome Joe and the other distinguished panelists. Thank you for making your expertise and experience available to help educate us as to what is happening now in the market place and what we can expect to happen in the future that will benefit investors and our economy.