During its annual EXPLORE event last week, Charles Schwab CEO Walt Bettinger and head of Schwab Advisor Services Bernie Clark commended independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) for their thriving business model and uncompromising focus on serving clients, and shared with them an enthusiastic outlook for the future of the RIA space. Bettinger and Clark also spoke about the potential challenges ahead as RIAs continue to grow, including increased regulation and industry complexity, emerging new competition and a changing client base. Recognizing the landscape facing RIAs, Schwab unveiled several updates and new initiatives aimed at helping RIAs secure their success well into the next generation of RIA firms and clients.
Schwab's Walt Bettinger, President and CEO and Bernie Clark, EVP, Advisor Services at EXPLORE 2013 conference (Photo: Business Wire)
“We want to collaborate with RIAs in their growth and success, in the same way that RIAs play a crucial role in Schwab’s success,” said Bettinger. “In addition to our goal of being the best, safest place for RIAs to keep their client assets, we are also committed to delivering innovative strategies and resources that help RIAs to continue to thrive.”
New initiatives and updates announced during EXPLORE include:
- Differentiate the RIA model: Schwab invited advisors to participate in a new, searchable directory of independent registered investment advisor firms on its RIA Stands For You site. RIA firms that custody with Schwab are eligible to sign up to participate in the directory, which is slated to be available to individual investors later this year. The online directory is the latest addition to Schwab’s RIA Stands For You campaign, which launched in 2011 to help investors better understand the benefits of the independent RIA model. The website includes educational information to help investors who are seeking an advisor.
“RIA Stands For You was launched to help RIAs tell a clear story about what makes their model different, and to educate and inform investors about the choices available to them,” said Clark. “The addition of the advisor directory means that investors visiting RIA Stands for You will now be able to go beyond education and find an RIA they can work with in their local area.”
- Next Generation Leaders: At EXPLORE Clark announced that Schwab’s Executive Leadership Program will begin in January 2014. The program will help prepare promising leaders to manage and grow their RIA firms, and will include curriculum that covers five key competency areas: Leadership, Innovation, Talent Management, Strategic Marketing and Entrepreneurship. The program will feature content and faculty from several of the nation’s leading universities as well as insights from RIA firm leaders.
- Deeper technology integration: Schwab announced new participants in Schwab OpenView GatewayTM, from Schwab Intelligent Technologies™, adding depth and breadth to Schwab's technology offer for advisors. New additions to Gateway include Envestnet | Tamarac’s Advisor Rebalancing® application, PIEtech’s MoneyGuidePro and Zywave’s NaviPro Planning Suite™ which introduce financial planning and trading and rebalancing integration to the program.
- Client Service : Since the beginning of the year, Schwab has made significant progress on its previously announced Client Experience initiative. This has included various enhancements to Schwab Alliance, such as improvements to RIA customization and a streamlined enrollment process, allowing RIAs to get new clients up and running on the platform within an hour. Later this year, Schwab will begin piloting new solutions for both electronic signature and electronic authorization that will enable significant productivity gains for RIAs in day to day transaction areas such as account open and money movement, while also enhancing their end-clients' experience.