NEW YORK, Sept 12 Charles Schwab Corp,
one of the biggest U.S. brokerages, announced on Wednesday a new
online platform giving individual investors direct access to 12
non-U.S. markets with the ability to trade in their local
Schwab said it would offer U.S.-based investors
commission-free trading on the platform until the end of March,
though currency conversion and other fees will still apply.
Trading foreign stocks in their local currencies can offer
investors diversification, a hedge against the U.S. dollar, and
greater access to opportunities outside of the United States,
said Brian McDonald, senior vice president of Schwab's active
But there are several risks the average investor should
consider, including differences in financial reporting standards
and exposure to both market and currency risks, said Greg
McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com in North Palm
"Most individual investors are just not cut out to be stock
pickers, particularly on foreign exchanges," McBride said. "But
the necessity for international allocation means that low-cost
ETFs (exchange-traded funds) and index mutual funds are the more
suitable option for most individual investors."
San Francisco-based Schwab said its Schwab Global Account is
open to all U.S.-based investors and gives access to markets in
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong,
Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom.