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Free trading makes TD Ameritrade's top spot more attractive, outgoing CEO says

The hunt to fill TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.'s soon-to-be-vacant top spot may have just gotten easier with the elimination of commission fees.

Three months after announcing that President and CEO Tim Hockey would depart the online brokerage's C-suite in early 2020, TD Ameritrade has kicked off the search for its next chief executive. The company's board, through a search committee and firm, have already started to identify and consider potential successors, Hockey said Oct. 22 during a fiscal fourth-quarter earnings call.

Now, with the Omaha-based brokerage's decision to finally eliminate commission fees for most online trades, Hockey said TD Ameritrade's CEO position is that much more attractive.

"Nobody wants it to happen on their watch," Hockey said, referring to the fees elimination. "The move to zero has absolutely improved the opportunity to get a good quality CEO."

Whoever takes over for Hockey will still have a number of hurdles to face, including reconciling for the approximate $240 million revenue hit the company expects to see from eliminating commission fees. But TD Ameritrade has already seen a 49% jump in new accounts opened since cutting its commission fees versus the September average, Hockey said in prepared statements delivered alongside the company's earnings.

"I'm very confident that [with] both the team and the board with the new CEO, we'll be able to compete even more strongly and powerfully in the new environment," Hockey said.