Charles Schwab's ticker is doing better. Can the same be said for Charles Schwab's (Nasdaq: SCHW) ticker?

The discount brokerage icon underwent successful heart valve replacement surgery on Christmas Eve. He is "resting comfortably and recuperating well," according to a statement released by the financial services giant this week.

Schwab is no longer CEO at the company that bears his name, though he continues to chair the discounter's board of directors. Executives go in for medical procedures all of the time, but Schwab's operation is noteworthy since he's far more visible than his peers.

Schwab has largely been the face of Schwab's marketing campaigns over the years, so his health is an issue. Sam Waterston isn't the head of TD AMERITRADE (Nasdaq: AMTD). The E*TRADE Baby obviously isn't CEO at E*TRADE (Nasdaq: ETFC).

Things are different when a CEO takes center stage as a recognized face. Wendy's/Arby's (NYSE: WEN) had to scramble when Wendy's CEO Dave Thomas passed away. Steve Jobs doesn't wedge himself into Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) spots, though he is so associated with the Cupertino darling that investors were initially taken aback when he took a prolonged medical leave last year.

The incident also happens at a time when the discount brokerage industry has taken a step back on the bottom line, despite the relatively bullish markets. Schwab, optionsXpress (Nasdaq: OXPS), and TradeStation (Nasdaq: TRAD) are all expected to post a dip in profitability in 2010. TD AMERITRADE already did, as its fiscal year ended in September. E*TRADE is the lone exception, but bucking the trend is largely the result of its profitable turnaround.

Thankfully, analysts see all companies posting earnings improvement in 2011. In Schwab's case, Wall Street is targeting a much higher profit than even its 2009 performance.

Schwab's health won't be a factor in the long run. How many of the full-service firms are named after money moguls that expired several generations ago? However, Schwab will need to tackle its marketing strategy. Hopefully the pioneer will be around for several more bull markets, but this has to be a wakeup call.

These are interesting times, with discounters moving aggressively into commission-free ETFs and combating the commission schedule price wars. Charles Schwab's health -- both the person and the company -- are on the mend, but the industry itself isn't going to rest comfortably and recuperate when so many things are taking place.

In the market for a new discount broker? The way that rates and initial deposits are bouncing around, I can't say that I blame you. Check the sponsored broker comparison table in the Discount Broker Center to see if you can find the bargain-minded brokerage outfit that's right for you.

Apple, optionsXpress Holdings, and Charles Schwab are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz believes in self-service gasoline pumps and self-service stock brokerages. 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.