August 9, 2012

With 600 RIA Participants Already, Schwab Expands Practice Management Program

Free Insight to Action consulting program leads advisors to devise a personalized strategic plan

One year into a quiet program that has already been used by more than 600 advisors who custody with it, Schwab Advisor Services announced Tuesday that it is expanding its Insight to Action practice management program to additional locations and additional topics.

Nick Georgis, vice president, Schwab Advisor ServicesThe free program, says Nick Georgis (left), vice president of SAS, has attracted advisory firms of all sizes with varying levels of complexity, with “most of the firms going through the program at $200 million plus” in assets under management. In addition to the topics listed below, Georgis says Schwab is looking at adding workshop focuses on strategic marketing and growth and another “around firm productivity from business operations.” Schwab’s most recent benchmarking study found that while many advisors say they want to achieve growth, most have not charted out the specific steps to achieve that growth.

Based on all-day workshops in various cities across the country—there have been 19 such workshops conducted on a regional basis so far, and Georgis says Schwab plans 30 events next year—participating firms must prepare ahead of time for the “immersive” gathering, and depending on their strategic plans and goals, Schwab consultants will follow up with the firms to ensure accountability and implementation, with Georgis noting that it’s in that phase where customization of their plans occurs.

The expanded curriculum for the workshops addresses one of the three main topics:

  • Mastering Strategic Planning 
  • Managing Client Profitability
     
  • Transition on Your Terms 

A fourth workshop focuses on how advisors can better levarege their technology tools, with best practices presented on using CRM programs, for example, with the ultimate goal for advisors to outline a technology action plan for their firms.

The succession planning workshop, Georgis says, is designed to help an advisor write an actual succession plan, starting with how to value an advisor’s practice, to allow advisors to “transition on their own terms” with follow-up support from Schwab for up to three months.

On strategic planning, Georgis says attendees go through a SWOT analysis to identify their strengths and weaknesses, “then we work with them after that” to determine “what we need to do get them where they want to be.” Most firms might have a vision, Georgis sayd, “but it’s helpful to get them to articulate” the vision and then “streamline it to make it plausible.” Returning to the SWOT analysis, advisors are encouraged to explore “what’s keeping you from realizing your vision? What can you do today? Advisors are finding that process incredibly helpful.”

Just having a vision isn’t enough, Georgis says, since “the vision won’t work without a game plan.” Many firms are “separating themselves from the pack,” he says, “with much better results than others,” including doing more strategic planning, segmenting their client base, and creating a client service roadmap. Such firms tend to “understand the importance of succession planning” which entail not only “putting people in place so the founding partner can transition out of the firm, but finding and keeping the right people to be the next generation of owners.”

“We meet our clients where they are,” Georgis says, with Schwab “not dictating that they have a certain vision” but working with the advisors to achieve their own visions, though Georgis points out that an advisor’s chances for growth success “goes up dramatically when you do things like client segmentation.”

Georgis believes that advisors are “much more willing” to spend the time and energy to improve their firms than they have in the past, but with the understanding that they “need to be more targeted.” By participating in these workshops, writing a strategic plan and a succession plan, “they’re creating more enterprise value…giving them more options” with the result that it’s “good for clients, employee and the next generation” of advisors.

In addition to what Schwab’s ITA consultants deliver to attendees, in tandem with Schwab's regional relationship managers, Georgis says that a major benefit of the workshops is that the advisors learn from one another in these specific areas of concentration.

The programs are delivered by Schwab’s core team of business consultants in conjunction with regional relationship managers around the country; they include onsite RIA office visits.

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