“Think beyond the demands of now, remove the distractions and act with the future in mind” was the message delivered today by Bernie Clark, executive vice president of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., and head of Schwab Advisor Services, to more than 1900 independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) gathered at the nation’s capital. Clark spoke from the main stage at IMPACT – the nation’s largest and longest-running annual gathering of RIAs – and his message was imbued with a sense of urgency, making the case that in order to see “your future clients, your future firm, your future industry” advisors must clearly envision what tomorrow will look like and act today to shape and prepare for it. “It is fitting that we are meeting this year in Washington D.C., a place where people have come many times throughout our country’s history to activate a vision of the future - where they have spoken up, had an impact and effected change,” said Clark. “We’re here in force in Washington to stand up and stand out for the future of the RIA model and the best interests of investors.” From next generation clients – called the “now generation” by Clark - to the RIA office and talent of the future, to the increased regulatory scrutiny on the horizon, Clark called on IMPACT attendees to see and own their future, saying that now is the time to lay the groundwork for tomorrow. He called on advisors to be guardians of the RIA model: “You MUST pass on your spirit of independence, service and entrepreneurship to the next generation of RIAs and clients.” Overall, advisors are optimistic about the future. According to Schwab’s most recent Independent Advisor Outlook Study (IAOS), the findings of which will be released today, the majority of RIAs (70%) are very optimistic about the opportunities for growth in the next five years and, by a ratio of almost two to one, they are focused on positioning their business for future growth versus focusing only on current business needs. A Shifting Competitive Landscape In looking ahead though, 71 percent of advisors think there will be more competition for new assets five years from now. Interestingly, when asked about the top three competitors for their business today, participating advisors ranked other regional RIAs (74%), wirehouses (46%) and broker dealers (43%) at the top of that list. When asked which three competitors they expect will increase the most five years from now, they still cited other regional RIAs at the top (66%), but the number two and three spots shifted to national RIAs (51% - up from 34% today) and online investment advisories (45% - up from 17% today).