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I Am American Business

Joe Moglia

Producer Notes


The TD Ameritrade Call Center is located in a massive building in Omaha, Nebraska. Each aisle is like a mini-neighborhood. The big news on the aisle where we were shooting... someone's dog was about to have puppies! TD Ameritrade is a large company, averaging over 300,000 trades every single day. But they have a personal touch, and it seems like Joe Moglia is one of the reasons why. Joe grew up in a rough part of New York City, the child of recent immigrants and remembering those times seemed to put him at ease. It seems like you can take Joe out of the old neighborhood, but you can't take the old neighborhood out of Joe. He hasn't lost touch with his past, and that comes across in everything he does. It gives you confidence that he's still a regular guy who knows the value of every dime.

Video Interview

The "I Am" Q&A

What kind of car do you drive?
A ten-year-old black Mercedes.

What's your favorite place to go?
Italy.

What website do you like to visit?
CNBC's.

What was your worst moment in business?
When I was first given risk responsibility at Merrill Lynch and I lost twenty-four million dollars in a day when the previous biggest loss had been less than one million in a day. That was a tough day.

How did you survive that?
We were able to work through our problems, address what was going on, we were able to fix them, and became a lot better.

What's your favorite drink?
Manhattans.

What's your favorite food?
Ice cream and pasta.

What's your idea of fun?
Laughing.

And at work?
Laughing.

What personal weaknesses do you forgive in someone?
It's truly absolutely OK for somebody to make a mistake. It's not OK if they keep making the same mistake again and again.

Are there businesses weakness that you forgive?
I think, yeah, that would definitely apply to both. I want our people to not be afraid of making a mistake. But I also want our people not to make the same mistake again and again.

What movie star do you like?
Anthony Hopkins.

Who's a business hero of yours?
Warren Buffet.

What personal qualities do you admire in business?
People that are really, truly committed to doing the best thing for their clients and their shareholders.

And what personal qualities do you admire in life?
People that really do believe in committing to the well being of others.

And what was your greatest moment in business?
I think the accomplishments that we've had at TD Ameritrade.

What is your dream?
I think I've always believed that it's important to try to be able to have an impact on others. And I think whatever I do, wherever I go, however that might be perceived, or whatever job I ultimately take, or how I live my life, I think I want to be known as somebody that really went out of there way to do a good job of taking care of others.

Do you have a motto?
Always give it your very best shot, and always do what you believe is right, regardless of the negative ramifications associated with that.

And what is your present state of mind?
If you can literally live every day as if it's your last, and you can learn every day as if you're going to last forever, Coach John Wooden said that. I think, if I keep that in my mind, most of the time I'm doing pretty well.

Transcript

CNBC:
Let’s talk a little bit about how many trades you do?

JOE MOGLIA:
We actually do more equity trades in the United States with the individual investor than any other broker dealer in the world. And, so far, for the month of October, we’re averaging three hundred and twenty-eight thousand trades a day, and that’s actually a pretty significant number.

CNBC:
Who is your average investor?

JOE MOGLIA:
The average investor is frankly the individual. It’s a regular family in the United States. So, the normal America family would be the entire heart of our entire client base. And the only reason why we exist as a firm is to be able to take care of the needs, the financial needs of that particular family.

CNBC:
What is your mission as a company?

JOE MOGLIA:
Without question, one of the most important things in any family is that they truly take responsibility for their own financial well being. And the reason why we exist as a firm is frankly to help them be able to do that. So, whether you are interested in a simple electronic experience, we can provide that for you. If you want somebody there on a twenty-four hour basis, seven days a week, to hold your hand and help you through something, we can provide that. If you want a relationship with a branch, we can provide that. Indeed, if you even want to give your money to somebody else to take care of you, we can do that for you. But, at the end of the day it’s the family taking responsibility for themselves, because nobody cares more about your money than what you do.

CNBC:
How do you handle average person’s fear of investing?

JOE MOGLIA:
I think the individual investor today frankly is far more sophisticated and educated than they may even think they are. A lot has happened in the last ten years. The Internet, the dot com, the bubble bursting. You can't go through all that and not have learned an awful lot.

CNBC:
Do you think full service brokers, or Wall Street in general has wanted to keep this mystique that people can't manage their own money?

JOE MOGLIA:
I think in general there is a myth on Wall Street that managing your own money is incredibly complicated. It’s not that difficult, it’s really not. And each individual, at the very least, has to be able to take responsibility for their own financial well being.

CNBC:
Where did you grow up?

JOE MOGLIA:
I grew up in the Dyckman Street section of New York, seven of us were in a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment. My father was born in Italy, my mother in Ireland, and neither went to high school. There was a time back then where I just realized how critical it was that somebody in the family ultimately take responsibility for the financial well being. In our house, any extra money that really existed, my father would put in a box in the closet. Now, every now and again he’d also like to buy a stock. But if the stock went up a point, for him he was making a hundred dollars, or fifty dollars, and that was a great trade.

CNBC:
Do you remember how old you were when you had that realization, that maybe he shouldn't be keeping it in a box?

JOE MOGLIA:
I actually bought my first stock when I was fifteen. And I bought ten shares of Chrysler at fifty. A year later I sold it at eleven. So there’s a lot to learn about personal investing. That was an experience indeed that I think you learn from.

CNBC:
Tell us about your first job.

JOE MOGLIA:
I actually started working along with my brother in my father’s fruit store when I was ten. And during the summer I’d work about twelve, thirteen hours a day six days a week. And then later on, I got married when I was nineteen, and I held down three jobs. One was with my father in the fruit store. The other one, I drove a New York City yellow cab. And I was a driving instructor on trucks for the post office.

CNBC:
Where did you first learn about the stock market?

JOE MOGLIA:
One of the things that my dad enjoyed doing was just paying attention to what was going on in the markets and he enjoyed every now and again buying a stock. And frankly, I always found that what was going on in the New York Stock Exchange floor fascinating.

CNBC:
So let’s say someone calls up and says, “I want to open an account. I have a family. I haven't done this before.” What steps do you take?

JOE MOGLIA:
If they are comfortable trying this themselves, the web site experience is intuitive enough that they should be able to get through that. But, if they want somebody to hold their hand and explain it to them, and walk them through that, we’ve got somebody there to help them do that, as well.

CNBC:
Let’s just talk a little bit about the evolution of online trading. It used to be day traders playing, and it wasn’t for serious long term investing.

JOE MOGLIA:
I think actually buying or selling a stock is pretty serious business, but it’s also important to be able to have a well thought out, disciplined, long term portfolio. I think the average American family spends more time preparing their family vacation than they actually do managing their family finances. That's not the right way to do that.

CNBC:
What’s your take on retail investors, how they're reacting to the economy?

JOE MOGLIA:
The investors in the United States for the most part feel very good about our economy and the market, but they do have some concerns about what’s going on with regard to the real estate market, and energy prices.

CNBC:
What are the tools on your site that specifically help people plan a long term strategy?

JOE MOGLIA:
We have a customized diversified asset portfolio allocation service that we call Amerivest. We’re able to implement a portfolio strategy that’s customized to an individual’s needs, and rebalance whenever appropriate. We’ve actually seen a lot of people open up new accounts over the span of the last year or so. And when you think about what’s going on with regards to the global markets and the global economy, it makes sense that more people are paying attention to the finances.

CNBC:
How does this make you feel about the service that you provide to families like the family you grew up in?

JOE MOGLIA:
I actually think as a firm we have a fiduciary responsibility to really help the families that are our clients better understand and make decisions about their financial future. It’s our job. I’ve had two careers. The first one was a football coach. My entire job was to be able to bring a team together. And since I’ve been on Wall Street, any team I’ve ever been responsible for, our job has been to do a better job of taking care of our clients. And I'm really incredibly proud of us having done that at TD Ameritrade.

CNBC:
How’s does it feel when you to back to your old neighborhood?

JOE MOGLIA:
One of the things I really enjoy in my life is just staying in touch with old friends or people that have been part of my life. So, when I get a chance to go back to our reunion, or graduation, or anything along those lines, it’s a big deal for me.

CNBC:
Do you see people who you know aren't taking care of their money? Or people who you have the sense that you want to encourage them…

JOE MOGLIA:
One of the things that I feel bad about is when I do have a friend that frankly has not done a good job of paying attention to his or her money, and most of the time they just frankly haven't taken responsibility for it, because it’s not that difficult to do.

CNBC:
How have people become more educated recently?

JOE MOGLIA:
I think the number one thing that’s provided better education has certainly been the internet, and the media community has certainly taken responsibility for helping better educate the client base.

CNBC:
Anybody can do it?

JOE MOGLIA:
Anybody in my neighborhood would be able to open up an account with us. It’s really a matter of taking responsibility for your own financial well being. I guess that’s the thing I kind of get back to, because that’s really what it comes down to. I’ve written a book. The entire reason why I wrote that book is to help provide simpler and better education for an individual that’s trying to do a good job of taking care of their family’s financial needs. Wall Street has created a little bit of a myth that this is all going on behind some big black veil. It’s not that tough.

CNBC:
How much money do you need to get into it?

JOE MOGLIA:
If you have a few hundred dollars, it’s a good start. So, just beginning to take some responsibility for it, you don't have to have a lot of money, you don’t have to have a tremendous amount of educational background, but it’s got to be something that you recognize is important. It’s got to be something that you're willing to stand up and take responsible for. And frankly, somebody that’s got three MBA’s from the greatest universities in the world, or somebody that’s never gone to high school still has to take that responsibility.

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