Charles Schwab introduced its online Schwab Advisor University on June 16 to help 6,000-plus independent registered investment advisory firms improve their business. On the same day, TD Ameritrade announced plans to launch a special online education and training center in the fall for its 4,000-plus independent RIA clients.
For Schwab, the new classes and training programs are based online at the Schwab Advisor Center, Schwab’s website for its RIA clients. They have been designed to train RIA operations and support staff on using Schwab’s numerous tools and resources.
In a Schwab study of some 1,050 independent advisors clients done in late 2009, nearly 70% of advisors said they would find it useful to receive training on how to best use Schwab’s technology tools.
According to Schwab, improvements in back-office staff productivity should be a direct benefit of using tools highlighted in the classes. In addition, the university could help advisors save time and money.
“Advisors tell us that maximizing productivity and efficiency to enable growth is one of their top business priorities,” said Julie Sunwoo, vice president of business consulting for Schwab Advisor Services, in a press release.
“Schwab Advisor University is designed to provide a flexible and practical environment for staff to sharpen skills and improve performance in a range of operational areas so team members can spend more time serving clients and doing their part to help their firms grow,” Sunwoo explained
In a statement, Patty Meneley, COO and compliance officer of Sargent Bickham Lagudis in Boulder, Colo., said, “The University provides an easy way to get people up to speed quickly, and also to evaluate if they learned what they needed to learn.”
Schwab Advisor University is designed to work in conjunction with Schwab’s Technology Adoption Scorecard to identify areas for improving firm productivity and address them with specific training. This benchmark, launched in 2008, has been used by more than 3,000 advisory firms.
Schwab Advisor University includes 12 self-paced courses and reference materials, including a course series designed for first-time users of Schwab Advisor Center tools. The online curriculum covers the four categories of Schwab tools – new accounts, account servicing, moving money, and trading and research.
Specific classes focus on topics such as back office processing for equity and mutual fund web trading.
“The training helps me tremendously as a manager. I don’t have to make time myself or take someone away from my team to sit with someone who needs training. It’s invaluable to me,” said Cynde Lee, director of operations and chief compliance officer at Bay Area-based Sand Hill Advisors LLC, in a statement.
“I like the interactivity and that I can get a report to let me know how employees are doing and whether they’ve completed the training,” Lee explained.