Charles Schwab plans to broaden its clients' access to foreign equity and currency markets through a partnership with Broadridge Financial Solutions, a securities processing and business process outsourcing for financial services firms, Schwab officials announced Wednesday.

To that end Schwab will launch a multi-country and multi-currency offering in the second quarter 2012 that will allow Schwab clients to initially trade in 12 markets and eight currencies. Broadridge will provide the technology to support currency trade processing, accounting and reporting.

Schwab's pairing with Broadridge is the San Francisco-based investment firm's latest expansion in global investing services. Since Schwab last fall launched over-the-counter foreign stocks, foreign equity trading by Schwab clients has accelerated dramatically, growing more than 300 percent in the first quarter of 2011, officials said.

Schwab will also soon introduce a suite of new guidance capabilities, including global macro-economic and currency commentary from Schwab and third-party experts. It will also offer round-the-clock customer service and support for international trading of both equities and currencies.

"As our clients continue to take a broader world view with their portfolios and their long-term goals, we want to be sure they have a platform that lets them access global markets seamlessly, and houses research, tools and guidance that enable them to become more confident and successful investors," said Brian McDonald, Senior Vice President of Active Investor and Core Client Experience at Charles Schwab."

-Jim McConville