In the best interest of clients: making sense of Reg BI

Article

August 27, 2020

By Jamaal Mobley, Director, Communications

On June 30, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) took effect. It’s a positive step forward for investors. Reg BI raises the industry standard for broker-dealers, including Schwab, to act in the best interests of clients when providing investment advice. Paired with the new Client Relationship Summary (Form CRS), Reg BI also requires brokers to better explain to investors their services and fees, and to disclose all conflicts of interest.

Rosai quote

“The great news is that Reg BI aligns with how we have always run our business. We have always focused on the individual needs of our clients, treating them the way we would expect to be treated ourselves. As our first and most important Guiding Principle states: Trust is Everything. We build trust every day by keeping the best interests of our clients at the forefront of what we do.”

Mary Rosai, Senior Vice President, Planning and Portfolio Group, Charles Schwab & Co, Inc.
 
Mary Rosai, senior vice president of Investor Services Client Experience and Executive Sponsor for WINS

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Schwab’s approach has been a reflection of our commitment to clients: Be fully transparent with our clients about our services, fees, and obligations. That collaborative effort to be fully transparent was led by a large, cross-functional team bringing together representatives from Investor Services, Advisor Services, Digital Services, Legal, Compliance, Supervision and Controls, Schwab Asset Management Solutions (SAMS), Project Services, Schwab Technology Services, Training, Communications and Marketing.

The team crafted a strategy ensuring Schwab’s disclosures to clients are clear and concise, easy to find and navigate, and written in ‘plain-English’ with graphical support, in a way that clients can easily read and understand.

Based on that guiding principle, we created a client relation summary page, placed prominently on Schwab.com, one of the most visited parts of the website, so clients can link to the disclosures from a page they are used to and feel comfortable navigating. 

We designed the required disclosures to make them accessible and their respective purposes clear. Investors want information that is simple, clearly communicated and in one place, and the graphics and user experience encourage investors to read the disclosures and explore related information that clients likely want to know.

  • Within each disclosure the design and language are intended to facilitate reading and understanding. Investors are busy, and don’t have time for ‘legalese’. Schwab’s Reg BI disclosure is a concise four-page single document written in plain English.
     
  • Images are also helpful. Graphics complement the text and increase the likelihood of investors reading and engaging with the content. This was our approach in developing Form CRSs, describing the client relationships with our broker-dealers and investment advisors. Communicating our responsibilities to our clients in a way that clients are most likely to engage with and understand is very important.

New regulatory responsibilities often present new challenges and some additional work. But they also offer an opportunity lead the industry in fulfilling our responsibilities to investors. That has been our approach with Reg BI, and we will continue to serve our clients with transparency and respect. Their best interest is our ‘North Star’ in everything we do.

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