Schwab Advisor Services’ annual Impact conference is the RIA custodian’s biggest event, but the impact of its invitation-only Explore conference for RIAs has grown more important over the years. That growth was evident at this year’s Explore, held in Tucson, Ariz.
In a telephone interview conducted during the conference, Schwab CEO Walt Bettinger and SAS’ head, Bernie Clark, provided an update on existing initiatives for advisors who custody with Schwab, along with a some insight into Schwab’s new corporate advertising campaign, which is meant to “re-establish Schwab as a challenger brand,” according to Bettinger.
In the wide-ranging interview on Thursday, Bettinger and Clark first spoke of the Explore attendees, who Clark said came from 158 RIA firms, 51% of which manage more than $1 billion in assets. Speakers at the show ranged from Schwab’s Liz Ann Sonders and Greg Valliere of the Potomac Research Group—speaking, respectively, of the state of the markets and the state of national politics—to Gen. Colin Powell and former Sen. Olympia Snowe.
Bettinger said the advisors at Explore were “upbeat and optimistic,” that their firms were showing strong growth, and that “to a person they are excited” about the business.
That growth and success, warned Clark, is “attracting competition,” mentioning in particular BloombergBlack, a nascent online wealth management service by the financial publisher that Clark said could be attractive to younger investors, many of whom will be the beneficiaries of the $16 trillion that will be transferred to younger generations by the boomers. However, Clark also argued that “the generations aren’t that different,” and that investors young and old “want people who speak their language” to provide financial advice.
As part of its efforts to help RIAs who custody with Schwab to continue to grow their firms, and to be able to reach those younger investors with advisors who speak their language, Clark and Bettinger announced several new initiatives and updates to previously announced programs.