June 7, 2011

New Schwab Franchise Program to Focus on Underserved Regions

Andrew Salesky, SVP of Schwab’s new program, says offices will not compete with existing company RIAs

Andrew Salesky, senior vice president of Schwab’s new Independent Branch Services program, told AdvisorOne on Tuesday that the firm’s objective with the new franchising initiative is to continue the mass affluent strategy of its existing branches.

david salesky“We’re not changing our strategic focus in anyway,” says Salesky (left), who reports directly to founder and chairman Charles Schwab and Schwab president and CEO Walt Bettinger. “We feel this is a good way to have a presence in geographic locations in which we’ve traditionally had a small presence.”

The idea of franchising is one that has frequently been raised at the company, he says. After years of periodically discussing the idea, the company feels “the time is right” to allow independent advisors to truly take advantage of the Schwab brand and breadth of product offerings.

“We were pleasantly surprised at the level of support we’ve received from our own branch managers, as well as our independent advisor partners on the Schwab Advisor Services platform,” Salesky says, when asked about pushback from existing branch managers. “They realize that an opportunity like this to enhance the Schwab brand benefits us all.”

The company is planning to have between five to 10 branches open by the end of the 2011, and has significantly upgraded its online and PR promotion to help make that happen. Salesky says qualified candidates will have financial services experience and strong ties to their local communities.

“Other than that, we really don’t have an ideal type of candidate; it all depends on the geographic circumstance. It could be a relatively small practice that, again, has deep ties to the local community. It could be a wirehouse guy looking to make a change, or a rep currently with an independent broker-dealer. We’re looking for a wide spectrum of candidates.”

When a franchise is awarded, the firm expects a “modest” initial investment of between $25,000 and $50,000. For that, it will provide the advisor with a fully-functioning, turnkey branch office with furniture and Schwab technology. It will also provide a seed list of Schwab clients to help advisors with initial referrals and revenue generation. Lastly, it will provide local marketing support that includes a quarterly marketing match program. For every $1,000 advisors spend, they’ll receive $2,000 of marketing purchase power, according to Salesky.

“It will be a revenue and expense-sharing structure,” he says. “At the tail end of their career, they will have an opportunity to sell to a qualified third party, although we will have the right of first refusal of any price that is decided upon.

“For the first time in our history, this provides the independent financial professional with an opportunity to fully share in the success of the Schwab brand.”

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