Schwab Institutional, the biggest custodian of client assets from independent advisors, posted several milestones in the third week in April. On April 21, the unit of Charles Schwab & Co. announced that it had passed the $300 billion mark in assets custodied by its 5,000 affiliated advisors. The exact figure was $303.5 billion as of the end of 2004's first quarter, held through 1.2 million client accounts, the company said. The 325 advisors who are members of the Schwab Advisor Network, the company's select referral program, accounted for $9.48 billion of those assets as of March 31, 2004, representing a 20% increase from the end of 2003 alone. The $300 billion represents 30% of total assets at Charles Schwab & Co.
The company had more news by the end of the week. On April 23, Schwab said some 183 advisory firms had listed themselves as potential buyers or sellers on the Schwab Advisor Transition Support online service (www.schwabtransition.com). Open to Schwab and non-Schwab affiliates alike, the Transition service was launched last year with a 13-city nationwide roadshow which Deborah McWhinney, Schwab Institutional's president, noted was sold out. Tim Welsh, director of marketing for Schwab Institutional, said that 275 advisors from 240 firms attended those workshops to learn more about the Schwab offering and to educate themselves about transition planning, happily shelling out $1,500 apiece for the privilege. Building on that success, Schwab plans on conducting more in-depth multiday workshops in the first quarter of 2005 for interested advisors. Noting that many transitions can take five to ten years to complete, Welsh said the ratio of listed buyers to sellers was about seven to one.