“A big part of the conference is about advocacy,” said Bernie Clark, referring to Schwab Advisor Services’ annual Impact gathering in Washington starting Sunday.
With advisor attendee registrations approaching 1,800 (with 31% of attendees being first timers) as of a preconference interview on Oct. 29, Clark, head of Schwab Advisor Services, said that holding Impact in Washington “gives us the opportunity to influence” regulators and legislators.
Specifically, that means that Schwab will be “taking small groups of advisors” to meet with members of the House Financial Services committee, while Clark and Schwab’s legal counsel will take advantage of the venue to meet with the SEC to discuss the commission’s fiduciary rulemaking process and the harmonization of RIA and broker-dealer regulation. Clark pointed out that Schwab’s advocacy efforts were not a do-it-alone strategy, saying that in June it had approached regulators with the Investment Adviser Association (IAA) “and our competitors.”
In addition to welcoming RIAs who already work with Schwab, Clark said Impact would also see the “largest number of prospects ever” attending the show, as advisors contemplating a move toward becoming an RIA and affiliating with Schwab “are being more transparent” than ever.
Impact, he said, is a “gathering of the overall community” and since “advisors are more generous about sharing best practices than any other business” with their peers, the high number of attendees reflects the fact that “successful people like to be around other successful people.”
The RIA community has moved toward an “ecosystem,” as Clark likes to say, that gathers other firms around it with growth as a shared goal. As that community has matured, it’s now become part of a continuum which is as concerned with attracting and growing a younger generation of advisors while successful firms are “thinking of their legacy.”