This is Bernie Clark’s first appearance on the IA 25. Click here to view the complete list and Special Report schedule for extended profiles for each of the 2013 IA 25 honorees.
You could argue that the leader of Schwab Advisor Services is influential every year, owing to Schwab’s position as the largest by far of the RIA custodians measured by number of advisors and assets under management. It’s especially appropriate to single out Bernie Clark, who has led SAS since 2010, as one of the 25 most influential people in and around the industry by dint of his quiet but confident leadership in not merely growing Schwab’s custody unit, but in identifying and acting upon many of the most trying issues faced by advisors. Those issues include succession planning, practice management, technology, identifying and growing the next generation of advisors, and increasing RIAs’ prominence in the consumer marketplace and in the corridors of power in Washington.
Take technology, for instance. “Two years ago, our advisory board” of RIAs said “mobile is not a priority,” Clark said in an April interview, before pointing out “how quickly people can transition” to the benefits of mobile technology, particularly in working with end clients. Using mobile technology will eventually allow advisors to reach the point where “two or three meetings become one meeting.” Schwab has shown its commitment to mobile through apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices to its Advisor Center technology platform.
Beyond mobile, Schwab’s nearly three-year-old Intelligent Integration project, part of an open-architecture “eco-system” approach that, Clark said, is a “10-year program,” allows advisors to integrate their standalone applications into the Schwab platform, such as what it’s already accomplished in CRM applications by working with SalesForce and Junxure. Last year, Schwab introduced MarketSquare, which allows Schwab RIAs to rate technology providers in a “Zagat-style way,” and also added an e-signature option for end clients through DocuSign.