Ameritrade opened 19,000 net new accounts (newly opened accounts minus closed accounts) in November. E*Trade opened 14,815 net new accounts. Schwab lost 16,600 net accounts.
But new account openings don't tell the whole story for the online brokers:
Profitablility of new accounts is important. Ameritrade and E*Trade
customers, for example, tend to trade more than Schwab customers. Also,
the online brokers are juicing their financial results by trying to
cross-sell financial products to their brokerage customers and use the
cash in brokerage accounts to fund bank lending businesses.
Schwab's performance is problematic. Schwab has lost accounts on a
net basis every quarter since mid-2002. Schwab's own numbers state that
active client accounts fell from 8.0 million in Q3 2002 to 7.4 million
in Q3 2004. Chart comparing AMTD to SCH below; SCH is the green line,
AMTD the orange line.
Full disclosure: I'm long ET, short SCH at the time of writing.