Leveling the Playing Field

As more and more small advisors go online with the

According to The Online Opportunity: Building a Competitive Internet Presence, a trend report by Schwab Institutional released on August 19, investment advisors are now competing directly with larger institutions, attracting affluent investors, and increasing their client base through Internet presence development.

"Smaller businesses are discovering the Internet gives them new opportunities to communicate with their clients," says Tim Welsh, director of marketing for Schwab Institutional. "The Internet now allows for small advisors and larger institutions to compete at the same level."

The report also indicates how advisory firms have increased productivity with fully functional Web sites. "There is a large segment of clients, especially baby boomers, that want to collaborate more with their advisors, to be more involved with investment decisions," adds Welsh. "Now they can go online and see what stocks were chosen, and follow their portfolio's performance."

Schwab suggests advisors should include access to account information, performance reporting, account aggregation, investment research and market data, communications tools (e-mail and message boards), site development and maintenance tools, and usage tracking aspects when building their Web sites.

Schwab Institutional has a program called Schwab Advisor WebCenter, under which the company's Performance Technologies Inc. unit will build and host advisor Web sites.

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