Head of Schwab Advisor Services Says RIA Industry Is at an Inflection Point

 In keynote address at IMPACT®, Bernie Clark celebrates strength and resilience of independent advisors, encourages them to embrace change

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 9:30 am PST



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"landscape gets bigger and broader every year."

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--This morning from the mainstage at Schwab’s annual IMPACT® conference, Bernie Clark, executive vice president and head of Schwab Advisor Services, pointed to the $5 trillion independent advice industry and applauded the more than 2,200 advisor clients in attendance, saying, “you being all in on independence has made this industry what it is.” He celebrated the remarkable growth of the independent model and echoed the “All In” theme of this year’s event.

Clark noted that the registered investment advisor (RIA) industry has tripled in size since 2009. While advisors today face new competition and challenges – both market- and industry-related – there remains an expectation among advisors that the growth will continue and even accelerate.

According to results from Schwab’s latest Independent Advisor Outlook Study (IAOS), released today at IMPACT, the majority of advisors (92%) expect the industry to continue to grow and more than a third (37%) believe it will grow at a higher rate than the market.

The majority (94%) of firms expect growth in net new assets over the next year and organic growth is expected to be the key driver (90%). Half (51%) of net new assets are expected to come from new-to-firm clients and an additional 39% from existing clients.

Yet the RIA landscape is also undergoing change, and with that comes challenges. According to IAOS, the top three barriers to growth are new forms of competition, the cost of doing business, and the ability to differentiate.

“Being all in matters more now than ever because we’re at an inflection point,” said Clark. “With all the opportunity that comes with that, there’s also more change, faster change, and more challenges. But in a world where things are seemingly more the same, nobody else is you. You are the differentiation.”

Readying firms for the future

Schwab Advisor Services’ chief operating officer, Jon Beatty, when addressing advisors at the opening session of IMPACT, said that the RIA industry “landscape gets bigger and broader every year.”

The IAOS data shows that the top areas in which advisors are considering making business changes over the next year are technology, operations/workflows, and client acquisition model.

Likewise, Schwab has been investing in its business and is “all in on the custodial experience and evolving for what’s next,” said Beatty. “We are reimagining how we serve advisors to build the RIA experience of the future, moving away from analog behaviors toward digital best practices that strengthen our purpose-built model.”

All in for independent advisors and their clients

During Beatty’s opening session, he shared one of three new advertising spots currently being broadcast to support independent advisors, part of a recently announced redoubling of Schwab’s “Independent Difference” campaign. The multi-channel effort has helped drive more than one billion views1 and driven more than two million investors2 to www.FindYourIndependentAdvisor.com.

Discussing the campaign’s success from the mainstage, Clark said: “All in is how we describe who we are when it comes to you. It’s our job when it comes to the safety and security of your client assets; it is reflected in our investments in making work easier, more efficient, and more secure for you and your clients; and it also shows up in our advocacy on your behalf.”

Charles Schwab Foundation is a 25th Anniversary Partner with Foundation for Financial Planning

Schwab will be announced at IMPACT as the Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP)’s leading 25th Anniversary Partner. Charles Schwab Foundation is proud to commit $500,000 as part of a dollar-for-dollar matching campaign for the FFP’s “Future of Pro Bono” Anniversary Fund. The Anniversary Fund, which aims to raise a minimum of $1.5 million by the end of 2020, will provide a significant boost to FFP’s ongoing grantmaking, signature programs, and special projects. It will ultimately create broader access to pro bono financial planning for people in need and easier on-ramps for financial advisors who want to help.

In a special showcase stage session, Bernie Clark and FFP’s CEO, Jon Dauphiné, will discuss how advisors can engage in pro bono service to benefit their communities.

1 Data per Sizmek reporting as of July 2019.
2 Data per Adobe Analytics as of August 2019.

About Charles Schwab

At Charles Schwab we believe in the power of investing to help individuals create a better tomorrow. We have a history of challenging the status quo in our industry, innovating in ways that benefit investors and the advisors and employers who serve them, and championing our clients’ goals with passion and integrity. More information is available at www.aboutschwab.com. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.


Through its operating subsidiaries, The Charles Schwab Corporation (NYSE: SCHW) provides a full range of securities brokerage, banking, money management and financial advisory services to individual investors and independent investment advisors. Its broker-dealer subsidiary, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab” member SIPC, www.sipc.org), and affiliates offer a complete range of investment services and products including an extensive selection of mutual funds; financial planning and investment advice; retirement plan and equity compensation plan services; compliance and trade monitoring solutions; referrals to independent fee-based investment advisors; and custodial, operational and trading support for independent, fee-based investment advisors through Schwab Advisor Services. Its banking subsidiary, Charles Schwab Bank (member FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender), provides banking and lending services and products. More information is available at www.schwab.com and www.aboutschwab.com.

Schwab Advisor Services™ serves independent investment advisors and includes the custody, trading, and support of Schwab.

Independent investment advisors are not owned by, affiliated with, or supervised by Schwab. For informational purposes only.

©2019 Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab”) All rights reserved. Member SIPC.



Rob Farmer
Schwab Corporate Public Relations

Kerstin Österberg
The Neibart Group

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