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How Will Schwab's USAA Deal Affect Advisors?

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Charles Schwab confirmed its expected plan to buy the brokerage and managed portfolio accounts of USAA Investment Management Company late Thursday.

The $1.8 billion deal includes a referral agreement could add 1 million new accounts and about $90 billion in client assets to Schwab’s $1.9 trillion Investor Services business. 

The transaction comes just a few months after Schwab rolled out a subscription service for DIY investors and only a couple of days after TD Ameritrade CEO Tim Hockey announced his departure. What does it mean for Schwab’s affiliated advisors, who work with $1.8 trillion of the firm’s $3.7 trillion in total assets, and its rivals? 

Not much, top industry observers say. 

“This is a savvy retail business acquisition for Schwab, with a limited threat to financial advisors …,” said Chip Roame, head of the consultancy Tiburon Strategic Advisors. “This is about 5% the assets of Schwab’s retail business. It’s a nice synergy for Schwab retail, and relatively uneventful for FAs.”

While Schwab has “stepped on advisors’ toes” in the past, the USAA deal does not seem to involve anything that should be upsetting to FAs, according to industry recruiter Jon Henschen. 

As for competitors, “I don’t really see any significance in the Schwab-USAA deal at all for TD Ameritrade,” said popular blogger and financial planner Michael Kitces on Twitter. “Relative to Schwab’s size, it’s a ‘minor’ deal, adding less than 3% to its Client Assets, and acquired entirely for its Retail channel.”

Relative to Schwab's size, it's a 'minor' deal, adding less than 3% to its Client Assets, and acquired entirely for its Retail channel. No material connection or impact to RIA channel?

— MichaelKitces (@MichaelKitces) July 26, 2019

On the plus side, Roame says, the purchase “includes an important referral deal from USAA to Schwab retail. USAA serves military members and veterans, not the high-paid target of many FAs.”

Jeff Levine, head of advisor education at, agrees. 

On Twitter, Levine explained: “Not a big deal asset-wise, but… Great PR opportunity to officially be the ‘exclusive wealth management and brokerage provider’ for USAA. If they’re really serious, @CharlesSchwab should provide special training to dedicated CFP group on military planning opportunities.”