November 12, 2013

Recognizing Veterans at Schwab Impact

Schwab Impact is being held in Washington this year, with one of the main themes being the importance of advocacy for RIAs, with banners throughout the Walter E. Washington Convention Center urging advisors to “stand up and be heard.”

Another form of “standing up” took place on the first full day of the conference, which happened to be Veterans Day. In Schwab Advisor Services head Bernie Clark’s welcoming address, he acknowledged the holiday, and asked for veterans in the audience to stand up, which they did to much appreciative applause.

Schwab’s acknowledgment went beyond that.

In educational sessions on Monday, the hosts encouraged attendees to fill out evaluation forms, a common event at conferences, but this time there was a twist. Schwab said it would donate $1 for every completed evaluation to the Foundation for Financial Planning to support the Foundation’s outreach efforts to veterans. The Foundation, whose executive director is Jim Peniston and whose board includes noted advisors (such as Elissa Buie and Alexandra Armstrong) and leaders from many advisor partners (including Clark, along with Kate Healy of TD Ameritrade and Bob Oros of Fidelity Institutional), provides funding to several veterans and active-duty military members. In its 2012 annual report, the Foundation reported that it had partially funded programs that provide financial life skills training and pro bono financial planning advice to more than 60,000 military personnel and their families at home and abroad.

There was one other event, a very personal one, that reflected Schwab’s rememberance of veterans on Nov. 11.

Col. David Sutherland (U.S. Army, retired) spoke Monday afternoon from one of the smaller stages set up in The Exchange, the Impact exhibit hall, on the theme “Helping Our Veterans Thrive.” Before an attentive audience, Col. Sutherland,  co-founder and chairman of the Center for Military and Veterans Community Services, spoke movingly of the sacrifices made by American military personnel and their struggles after returning from deployment. These returning soldiers, he said, are “wired to serve,” they follow the "essence of the soldier's creed" in both the military and private life, by always "putting the mission first."

He called on advisors and their partners to “help veterans and their families thrive” where they live by supporting local community organizations. He concluded by saying that 22 veterans a day commit suicide, and urged community involvement to reduce that number. When he finished, the audience gave him a standing ovation.

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