OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — TD Ameritrade's CEO said Wednesday the economy appears to be improving steadily, but Congress could still mess that up.
Fred Tomczyk told shareholders at the online brokerage's annual meeting on Wednesday that he expects the economic environment to remain challenging this year.
Everything in the economy and stock market is starting to feel good right now as investors gain confidence, Tomczyk said.
"However, Washington can still screw this up," he said.
Congress should deal with the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to take effect March 1 because failing to do so would hurt the economy and undermine fragile investor confidence, Tomczyk said.
Ameritrade Chairman Joe Moglia said the U.S. economy and the company are still recovering from the 2008 Great Recession, which was the deepest economic pullback since the Great Depression.
"Four to five years later, there is light at the end of the tunnel," Moglia said.
Ameritrade is one of the leading online brokerages. It generates revenue from trading fees, investment advice fees and asset-based fees and interest on the client assets it holds.
The current environment of low interest rates limits how much revenue Ameritrade can generate from asset-based fees, but the company has prevailed by attracting new client assets, limiting expenses and developing a new revenue stream from investment advice fees.
Investment advice fees generated $193 million revenue for Ameritrade last year. That's up from $158 million in 2011 and $76 million in 2009.
That complemented the $1.3 billion in asset-based revenue and $1.1 billion in transaction-based revenue Ameritrade generated in 2012.
Ameritrade reported net income of $586 million, or $1.06 per share, in fiscal 2012. That was down 8 percent from the $638 million, or $1.11 per share, the previous year.
Its shareholders elected four board members and approved Ameritrade's choice of an auditor in routine votes Wednesday.
Tomczyk said the company's next annual meeting could be held at Ameritrade's new headquarters in west Omaha instead of a rented meeting room, but that hasn't been decided. Workers will begin moving into the new facility this spring.
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TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.: www.amtd.com