(Photo: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg)

Schwab Advisor Services has launched Virtual Practice Management, which provides on-demand content and programs for independent advisors who custody with Schwab and need additional resources to help run their business.

The suite of virtually guided learning experiences is “an important part” part of the firm’s recent pledge to provide “in-depth practice management consulting and insights for every firm” on its platform, said Lisa Salvi, vice president of business consulting and education at Schwab Advisor Services, in a statement. The pledge was made several weeks after Schwab announced it was buying TD Ameritrade, which worried some of that firm’s smaller RIA clients.

The new VPM tool is currently available only to Schwab custody clients. It was created in response to some of the struggles Salvi heard about from the advisors themselves, Salvi told ThinkAdvisor. 

One story that stuck with her: An advisor she met at a cybersecurity presentation whose firm had about $50 million in assets under management recalling a late-night struggle to figure out a particular program. 

Such smaller advisory firms need assistance but may find it difficult to take time away from their business to attend consulting workshops for advisors, Salvi said. Now they can use VPM or connect remotely with a senior business consultant.

“Firms of all kinds need support to enable their success, and it’s a critical part of our role as custodian to offer help and guidance in the ways we are uniquely suited to deliver,” said Tom Bradley, senior vice president at Schwab Advisor Services, in a statement. 

The first VPM programs are courses on the ideal client persona and on the client value proposition — both designed to help RIAs differentiate establish tangible steps to attract their ideal clients. Schwab’s 2018 RIA Benchmarking Study found that firms who could document both the ideal client and client value proposition attracted 26% more clients and 41% more new assets than firms without those frameworks.

Later this year, three cyber security courses — based on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework — will be added to the Schwab VPM along with a course on strategic planning, followed by more courses in the future, Salvi said.

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