Brokerage firm Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCH) told investors some good news and some bad news last Friday with regard to the company's daily average trades for the month of July. So what do you want to hear first? Well, traditionally we start with the good news, so here it is: Average daily trades were up 6% when compared with the month of June. Not too bad, all things considered (and by that I mean this horrible, bear-driven market).

And now the bad news...

July's average daily trades of 133.7 thousand were down compared with the same time frame a year ago. Double-digits down. 10%.

So, while there was a bounce of improvement from the time Schwab was in the doldrums not long ago -- when average daily trades during the month of May fell 18% compared with April -- I still find these results disheartening for the stock, especially when the entire context of Schwab's problems is seen in total.

The biggest problem by far for Schwab and competitors such as E*Trade (NYSE:ET) and Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD) is the aforementioned volatile equities marketplace, which is tending to oversell everything. Retail investors and traders are probably sitting on the sidelines during this tough period. Then there's the issue of Greenspan and rising rates, which can be detrimental to financially related equities.

Schwab has been facing other difficulties as well, including a recent CEO shuffle and the need to lower commission costs. It's a tough, competitive market out there, not only with the aforementioned online caterers but also with the likes of Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MWD) and Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER). Bill Mann presents a useful summation on Schwab's current situation and its future potential. He makes a compelling case that the company is a strong blue chip in this sector with hearty, significant brand appeal.

Although I am partial to E*Trade (as mentioned in a previous piece), I won't discount Bill's analysis. If you are a patient investor, Charles Schwab will probably reward you down the road. But understand something important: You may have to wait a long time and reinvest a lot of dividends (current yield for the stock is slightly less than 1%) before the stock reaches one of the firm's more expensive commission tiers.

While you're waiting, you can read Selena Maranjian's article detailing SmartMoney's annual review of the brokerage companies.

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned.