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Changes at the Top for RIA Units at Fidelity and Schwab

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At a time when growth in the RIA channel has been robust to say the least, the two largest custodians have announced executive changes and restructuring of their units serving RIAs.

First off, Charles Goldman, who came to Fidelity in late 2008 from competitor Charles Schwab to serve as president of Institutional Platforms for Fidelity Institutional Products Group–which includes Institutional Wealth Services (its RIA custodial unit); National Financial (its correspondent clearing arm for B/Ds); and its family office business–will be leaving the Boston-based firm at the end of March.

It was reported in late January that Goldman would be leaving the company to pursue outside interests and as of yet there has been no announcement of plans for a replacement. The executives heading the business units under Goldman’s leadership will all remain in their posts and report to Fidelity Institutional President Gerard McGraw.

In other news from Fidelity affecting RIAs, on February 4, Fidelity’s Institutional Wealth Services unit announced that it would reduce the commissions it charges for online U.S. equity and options trades for its clients with commission-based pricing to $7.95. At the same time Fidelity is offering commission-free online trades for a suite of 25 iShares ETFs and the Fidelity Nasdaq Composite Index Tracking Fund (ONEQ).

Meanwhile, on the Left Coast . . .

In San Francisco, there’s been an executive restructuring at Charles Schwab’s Institutional Services unit. Bernie Clark will now be head of Schwab Advisor Services. He’s been part of Schwab Advisor Services since 1998 (when it was called Schwab Institutional), and most recently was the executive in charge of sales and relationship management.

Concurrently, Patricia Cox, who became COO of Schwab Institutional in 2008, will be taking over leadership of the newly formed Corporate Brokerage Services business. In this role, she will oversee all brokerage-related corporate services for Schwab–stock plan services, designated brokerage, mutual fund clearing, and investment-only sales to employers. Prior to this change, Cox managed service, technology, and client experience for Schwab Advisor Services.

Both Clark and Cox will continue to report to Executive VP Jim McCool, who in announcing the changes to advisors said, “We’re making these changes to further sharpen our focus on each of the unique institutional businesses and expand leadership opportunities for both Bernie and Trish…I’m confident that Bernie’s long tenure and understanding of the advisor business will continue to provide value and help you focus on your clients and grow your business.”–Robert F. Keane