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Financial Pros Have Independence on Their Minds, Finds New Schwab Survey


Survey Reveals Entrepreneurial Spirit, Frustrations of Established Financial Reps

Examining the Mindset of U.S. Financial Professionals, a survey released today by Schwab Independent Branch Services, finds that while client-facing financial professionals are generally fulfilled and optimistic about their careers, they are brimming with entrepreneurial drive and drawn to independence. The majority of survey participants care deeply about their work and are pleased with their jobs, yet 76 percent say they have experienced obstacles that have limited their success, citing lack of support and limited autonomy.

The 994 survey participants, who have worked in the financial services industry for at least seven years and interact with investors once a week, prioritize clients’ happiness over everything, yet 73 percent wish they could better assist clients and had more time to make an impact in the communities they serve.

Schwab Independent Branch Services launched in December 2011 to accelerate growth in new markets by attracting successful financial advisors to run franchise branches that complement Schwab’s existing company-managed branches. Today there are 44 franchise offices in 24 states.

“These survey findings reflect common perspectives that we’ve heard when talking to candidates about running our franchise branches,” said Craig Taucher, senior vice president, Schwab Independent Branch Services. “Their clients are at the heart of what they do; some want to be employees within established firms, but many feel they can serve clients more effectively by operating totally independently. Our hybrid model is the ideal solution for those who want the best of both worlds.”

Focused on client service and optimistic about the future

By and large, survey participants report that making clients happy is a top priority and see a bright future ahead for their industry:

  • Eighty percent are optimistic about the future of the industry, and 82 percent feel it is going in the right direction.
  • Seventy-seven percent would recommend the industry to a recent graduate.
  • Seventy-one percent agree that recent and impending regulations benefit clients.

Continually improving the client experience through innovation (78%) is crucial, according to those surveyed. In fact, 86 percent say that the financial industry has changed more in the last five years than in the previous 15 years, and 76 percent believe that new technology is changing the industry to the point where it will be unrecognizable in 10 years.

Fulfilled, but not without frustrations

Those who participated in the survey say their profession is the most important thing to them (61%). The vast majority (86%) feel successful; however, respondents did identify a number of obstacles that they’ve encountered in their careers:

  • Forty-one percent say they’ve had negative experiences in their professional lives that still keep them up at night, and 26 percent fear compromising their personal values.
  • Sixty-nine percent don’t regret anything about the professional path they’ve taken, but 71 percent wonder what life would be like if they had taken a different professional path.
  • Thirty percent of those who experience obstacles say they are too busy servicing existing clients and lack support to pursue new business.
  • Twenty-six percent say they’ve been promised things by employers that were never delivered.

“We frequently hear from those who are confined in the traditional model that they are drawn to the opportunity to own a Schwab franchise because they are struggling with competing priorities, trying to be all things to all people, and hitting a ceiling in terms of their growth, professionally and financially,” said Christine Baker, head of franchise sales, Schwab Independent Branch Services. “They see our model as transformational: one that enables them to create a business that is based on seeing through the client’s eyes and can fully align with their personal values and growth appetite.”

A strong desire for independence abounds

When reflecting on their careers, 46 percent of those surveyed wish they had built something from scratch.

The majority feel that independence is important for those who work in the financial services industry, and many expressed a desire to gain more personal control over their careers:

  • Sixty-eight percent consider themselves or aspire to be entrepreneurs.
  • Fifty-eight percent say it’s important to be masters of their own destinies.
  • Fifty-five percent dream of owning their own businesses.
  • Forty-seven percent say they want to build something new overall.

The survey findings reveal some feelings of discontent and frustration; notably, 80 percent say they are ready to take their career to the next level, and 63 percent are ready for a change.

To learn more about Schwab Independent Branch Services, visit

About the Survey

This online survey of U.S. financial professionals was conducted by Edelman Intelligence for Schwab Independent Branch Services. Edelman Intelligence is neither affiliated with, nor employed by, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. The survey is based on 994 interviews and has a 3 percent margin of error. Survey respondents are U.S. residents over 18 years old who have worked in the financial services industry for at least seven years. All data is self-reported by study participants and is not verified or validated. Respondents participated in the study between March 8 and March 23, 2018. Detailed results can be found here:

About Schwab Independent Branch Services

The Schwab franchise opportunity is a model for entrepreneurial financial advisors with deep industry experience and strong community roots who want to run a business that reflects their values. IBLs nurture strong client relationships with the operational support, vast resources, products/services, and brand recognition of Charles Schwab. Independent Branches are run by Independent Branch Leaders (IBLs) who are independent franchisees and registered representatives and investment advisors of Schwab. They are licensed independent contractors, not Schwab employees.

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 Follow us on TwitterFacebookYouTube and LinkedIn.


The Charles Schwab Corporation (NYSE: SCHW) is a leading provider of financial services, with more than 345 offices and 11.0 million active brokerage accounts, 1.6 million corporate retirement plan participants, 1.2 million banking accounts, and $3.31 trillion in client assets as of March 31, 2018. Through its operating subsidiaries, the company provides a full range of wealth management, securities brokerage, banking, money management, custody, and financial advisory services to individual investors and independent investment advisors. Its broker-dealer subsidiary, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (member, 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; 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 and

This advertising, and the franchise sales information within it, is not intended as an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy, a franchise. It is for informational purposes only. Currently, the following states regulate the offer and sale of franchises: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. If you are a resident of one of these states, or if you wish to operate a franchise in one of these states, we will not offer you a franchise unless and until we have complied with any applicable pre-sale registration and disclosure requirements in that state.

©2018 Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. All rights reserved.

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