I have a friend who is a citizen of a Commonwealth country and he is considering opening an account in the U.S. to invest here and the bank is making it very difficult.

It's like they don't want his account. One obstacle after another and lots of nosy, irrelevant questions about his financial affairs that are none of their business. For example, they are asking him about other accounts he has in other countries.

Will opening an account with a discount brokerage like Schwab be more straightforward, or will it be the same experience?

  • I believe a SSN is required to open up brokerage accounts...?
    – Michael
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 19:27
  • 1
    If they are going to establish a financial relationship with this fellow, what exactly makes his financial affairs "none of their business"? They are likely required to gather this information, if not by law then at least as a matter of due diligence to protect the company against potential fraud.
    – CactusCake
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 19:47
  • @JoeMalpass If you know a businessman, why don't you ask if him if he interrogates his clients and wants to know all the bank accounts they have. That is not a normal question to ask a client. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 21:00
  • Your question is whether or not human interaction is required to open a discount brokerage account. I think the answer is yes. Any reputable brokerage service won't just let anyone, let alone a non-US citizen, open an account. There are documentations, validations, etc. needed.
    – Michael
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 21:42
  • @MichaelC. You don't need human interaction to provide documentation. I am kind of looking for somebody who has opened a brokerage account recently to answer this question. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 22:53

1 Answer 1


You definitely do not need human interaction to open an account at Schwab. You just need to provide a social security number and US drivers license.

See http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/investing/accounts_products/accounts/brokerage_account

You can do it online or through the mail.

They usually have some questions about your level of experience with investing. They are required to ask these questions to ensure that you don't get confused and put your money in inappropriate investments.

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