Market volatility, for now, is Charles Schwab's (NASDAQ:SCHW) friend.

The leading discount broker saw a ridiculous spike in trading activity last month. Enabling an average of 498,200 client trades daily in October, Schwab's volume was 56% ahead of last October. Activity was also a healthy 25% busier than it was in the equally rocky September of this year.

The bad news, of course, is that the market tanked during the period. The flurry of commission-generating trades bodes well for the current quarter, but client assets still fell by 11% during the month. The $1.16 trillion in total client assets is also 22% lower than where Schwab was a year ago.

Mixed bag, indeed.

There is an encouraging nugget there, though. Schwab attracted 91,000 new accounts last month. It is the broker's best month since it landed 94,000 fresh clients in April.

Could it be? Are investors finally coming back? Rival discounters like E*Trade (NASDAQ:ETFC) and TD AMERITRADE (NASDAQ:AMTD) would certainly love that to be the case.

They're not the only ones. Investing research firm (NASDAQ:TSCM) posted a loss on a mere 4% top-line advance during its latest quarter. Mutual fund and equities watcher Morningstar (NASDAQ:MORN) fared slightly better -- with revenue and earnings climbing 12% and 10% respectively -- but it still fell short of analyst expectations.

Seeing Schwab grow its client base, despite the gut-wrenching declines in its accountholders' portfolios, is encouraging. Who knows how long it will take for the market to win the trust of the individual investors? The big news here is that it's already starting to mend those fences.

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Charles Schwab and Morningstar are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Morningstar. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been trading exclusively through discount brokers since 1990, but he does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.