When you are the industry leader, the eyes of your competitors, and even your partners, are often focused on looking for the cracks in the façade of the leader that will allow those competitors to make some headway. Thus there has been speculation for some time now that Schwab Advisor Services seemed to be losing some top executives at an alarming rate. Bernie Clark didn’t dodge the question of whether there was a brain drain at Schwab. His short response? There is no such drain.
“We have 2,000 people serving advisors,” he said, with the average tenure of those staffers being eight years. Noting that when he joined Schwab in 1998 “we were a maturing organization;” the company specifically set up a system where advisor-serving Schwab personnel could build careers. While acknowledging some departures from the executive ranks, he characterized them as a normal part of doing business—“sometimes people have to leave for their own purposes”—and said “our model has evolved based on people” who know the advisors well, and that “nine times out of 10” those relationships are “why we’re the primary custodian” of those advisors.
He finished the discussion on people by stating bluntly: “There’s no one in the industry I can’t recruit to Schwab.”