As the leaders of major firms in the industry, these people could be fairly called the epicenter of influence. Their leadership shapes the direction of their respective firms, and impacts the actions of advisors and even other influencers.
Whether they’re driving new technology, advocating for a better standard for advice-giving or educating the next generation of advisors, the influence of these leaders is felt by everyone in the industry.
As the leader of Schwab Advisor Services since 2010, Bernie Clark has made his mark with his quiet but confident leadership. Schwab is the largest RIA custodian by number of advisors and assets under management, and Clark leads not just in growing the firm, but in addressing issues advisors face today.
For example, Clark told Investment Advisor he was optimistic on the future for RIAs, whom he called “the most altruistic group I’ve ever seen,” even though the RIA industry is still in “its early days.” He is particularly optimistic when it comes to the next generation of advisors. Schwab has launched several educational initiatives to help young advisors grow, like Schwab’s Executive Education program, which provides advisors with access to online courses from schools like Harvard and Wharton to increase their business savvy, and about a new intern program that brings young people to Schwab for internships—“we’re hiring 10 interns this summer”—who will eventually be available for hiring by Schwab-affiliated RIA firms. The firm continues to find success and provide much-needed help to advisory firms through its Insight to Action Program (ITAP) program, which helps firms both grow their businesses and create succession plans, along with its succession lending program.
Photograph by Tom McKenzie.
After launching DoubleLine Capital with a group of 40 or so colleagues who followed him from TCW Group, Jeffrey Gundlach has pushed assets under management at the firm above $50 billion, and he DoubleLine Total Return Fund (DLTNX) became within three years what he calls “the most popular fund in America.” DLTNX is the best-performing bond fund in Morningstar’s 300 intermediate-term fixed-income funds.
Then, when he shorted Apple Corp. stock and went long natural gas in May 2012, the pair trade went to 125%. When he went long the Nikkei and short the yen, it went up 65%. Now, he’s looking at going long Spanish stocks on the IBEX and shorting U.S. stocks.
“I look for pair trades where the risk-reward is dramatically skewed with ridiculous pricings,” Gundlach said. “Pair trades are interesting because you don’t have to have a definitive view. You just have to understand that things will keep happening due to policy manipulations. The whole world is a slave to the central planners.”
Photograph by Natalie Brasington.
For John Taft, head of wealth management at RBC Wealth Management, managing clients’ wealth is part of a higher calling.
Stewardship is a “close cousin” to fiduciary, Taft said, but it goes a little further. “Fiduciary is a minimum legal standard. Stewardship is a higher standard even than fiduciary. It means thinking about others, i.e., your clients, in everything you do.”
By working toward that “higher calling,” advisors have an opportunity to differentiate themselves, Taft said.