Joseph Ricketts is the founder and chairman of Ameritrade Corp., the fourth-largest Internet-based brokerage in the U.S. In addition to using the World Wide Web, Ameritrade clients may also complete trades via telephone and fax. After CEO Thomas Lewis resigned suddenly in August of 2000—in the wake of the dot.com fallout—Ricketts took over as interim CEO until March 2001, when Merrill Lynch executive Joseph Moglia accepted the top spot at Ameritrade. As chairman, Ricketts continues to oversee the development of Ameritrade's business plan. He owns roughly 65 percent of the firm.
After completing his undergraduate degree in economics at Omaha, Nebraska-based Creighton University, Ricketts launched his financial services career, which included stints at Dun & Bradstreet as a branch manager, and at Dean Witter. In 1975, after several regulations in the investment industry had been loosened, Ricketts co-founded First Omaha Securities—later named Accutrade—as a discount brokerage. Seven years later, Ricketts took over as chairman and CEO of Accutrade. He established AmeriTrade as a clearing broker in 1983, and he merged the firm's discount and clearing brokerage operations into TransTerra Co., a new holding company, in 1987. Accutrade introduced technology that allowed trading to take place via touch-tone telephones the following year.
Ricketts oversaw the acquisition of K. Aufhauser & Co., Inc. in 1995. Aufhauser became the first brokerage company to offer Internet-based trading when it launched WealthWeb in August of 1994. Ricketts also spearheaded the purchase of Internet-based trader All American Brokers Inc., the creation of Ceres Securities, and the launch of trading services on portable communication devices, such as cellular phones. Accutrade released Accutrade for Windows, an application serving individual investors engaged in online trading, in January of 1996. Ten months later, Ricketts changed the name of his firm from TransTerra to Ameritrade Holding Corp.
Ameritrade conducted its initial public offering in March of 1997. Ricketts convinced America Online (AOL) to include a direct link to both Accutrade and Ceres on its site. Similarly, Microsoft Corp. agreed to allow Ricketts to provide users of the Microsoft Investor program with online access to both financial services. In October, Ameritrade Holding consolidated its online services into a single firm, named Ameritrade Inc., which offered Internet-based trades at a flat fee of $8 each. Additional strategic alliances forged by the year's end included deals with Yahoo! Finance, Excite Business & Investing, and Infoseek Personal Finance.
In conjunction with Data Broadcasting, Ameritrade began offering stock quotes via the Internet in 1998. A joint venture with PostX allowed Ameritrade to make trade confirmations electronically. Along with broadening his firm's reach via agreements with domestic partners, Ricketts also began forging deals with international partners, such as France-based discount broker Cortal and Deutsche Bank AG. In March of 1999, Thomas K. Lewis, Jr. was appointed co-CEO. With Lewis and Ricketts both at the helm, Ameritrade completed the acquisition of online brokerage R.J. Forbes Group, Inc. and introduced the Online Investor Index to track the transactions completed by online investors. Eventually, Ricketts handed over full managerial control to Lewis. However, the abrupt departure of Lewis in August of 2000 prompted Ricketts to take the reins at Ameritrade until a new leader was put in place. While Ricketts served as interim CEO, Ameritrade completed the $40 million purchase of TradeCast Ltd. early in 2001. The addition of TradeCast's business-to-business operations prompted the eventual reorganization of Ameritrade into two units serving different clients: individual investors and institutional investors. In March, Joseph Moglia took over as CEO, while Ricketts remained chairman.
Ameritrade Holding Corp. "History." Omaha, NE: Ameritrade Holding Corp., 2001. Available from www.amtd.com.
"Ameritrade's Ricketts Sees Rebound as Markets Revert to Norm." Futures World News, June 8, 2001.
Ring, Niamh. "Ameritrade Revamps Structure and Lineup." American Banker, June 28, 2001.
SEE ALSO: Ameritrade Holding Corp.; Brokerage Model; Investing, Online
"Ricketts, Joseph." Gale Encyclopedia of E-Commerce. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 19, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ricketts-joseph
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