Clark at Schwab Impact: RIAs’ Competitors ‘Want What You Have’

On day one of Schwab Impact, head of Schwab’s RIA custody unit ticks off new initiatives on succession planning, Washington advocacy, referrals

Bernie Clark talking with Liz Ann Sonders at Schwab Impact. (Photo: Orange Photography for Schwab) Bernie Clark talking with Liz Ann Sonders at Schwab Impact. (Photo: Orange Photography for Schwab)

The Schwab Impact annual conference is always a big show, with many attendees in a big space, and Schwab tends to announce big initiatives for its advisors at the conference. Schwab Impact 2012 in Chicago, which formally began Wednesday morning, was no exception.

Schwab Advisor Services said that 4,600 people, including 1,684 advisors, are attending Impact 2012 this year at the mammoth McCormick Convention Center; among the big-name speakers are Chuck Schwab himself, Robert Gates and Richard Haass, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles and Alan Alda as the closing keynote speaker.

On Wednesday morning, the head of Schwab Advisor Services, Bernie Clark, greeted attendees by calling advisors ‘explorers’ in the vein of other great pathfinders through the ages. He said that Wall Street competitors to RIAs “ recognize your success; they want what you've created,” calling on advisors to “go back to your essence” to successfully continue their growth and beat back the challenge of the Wall Street firms.

He promised that Schwab would spend more time in Washington in 2013 advocating for RIAs—Impact 2013 will be held next November in D.C. He then spoke of Schwab’s new initiatives designed to help advisors meet some of their specific challenges in succession planning, “finding new people” for their firms and making sure their concerns are heard in Washington.

Among those initiatives:

  • In technology: “In a more complex world, our role is to simplify your lives,” Clark said, pointing to MarketSquare,  A “Zagat-style way for advisors” to rate their technology providers as part of Schwab’s ‘Intelligent Integration’ technology platform; a deal with DocuSign built into Schwab’s tech platform that allows advisors and their clients to use e-signatures; and the recently announced Schwab AdvisorCenter app for the iPad.
  • In succession planning: Following on the success of Schwab’s Insight to Action Program (ITAP) program which helps advisory firms grow their businesses and create succession plans, and its succession lending program, Clark said Schwab would launch in 2014 an Executive Leadership Program designed to train the next generation of advisor leaders, and would also launch 
  • In human capital: In the area that Schwab calls “Finding New Talent,” Clark renewed its commitment to two specific higher-education financial planner programs–at Texas Tech University and the University of California at Irvine–and mentioned that there were 50 attendees at Schwab from seven schools. In 2013, Clark said Schwab would initiate an intern program "to identify and develop new talent” who would eventually be available for hiring by Schwab-affiliated RIA firms
  • In investor education: Clark said Schwab would enhance its year-old “RIA Stands for You” program to include a new round of national advertising and a referral program of sorts on the RIAStandsForyou.com site. That program currently includes client video testimonials about the value of working with RIAs, but in 2013 it will be enhanced by allowing prospective clients to insert their zip codes into a search engine that would then list RIAs in their geographic area.

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Check out complete coverage of Schwab Impact 2012 and archived 2011 conference stories at AdvisorOne.

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