Building an inclusive firm culture for RIAs

April 13, 2022 Chelsey Sleator
New culture program designed to help RIAs develop their own diversity and inclusion vision, strategy, and action plan.

Schwab was founded on the belief that the investment industry needed to be more inclusive. And in demonstration of this belief, Schwab recently launched a program to help RIA firms develop their own diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies. 

The Business Consulting and Education team for Schwab Advisor Services provides their deep expertise through consulting and education programs to help RIA firms achieve their goals. 

The team says that one area of work where D&I has always been a critical pillar is talent management—including the RIA Talent Advantage program which provides tools and resources for attracting diverse talent to the RIA profession and creating a diverse culture.

Strengthening D&I

With the onset of COVID-19 and the societal unrest that followed in the summer of 2020, RIAS, like business leaders everywhere, were looking for more extensive D&I resources. 

“We saw a spike in the number of inquiries we were getting from our advisor clients asking us questions like, ‘What does Schwab do in the D&I space?’ and ‘How can Schwab help us with D&I?’” explains Leslie Tabor, a leader on the Business Consulting and Education team. “That’s when we realized that Schwab needed a more scalable way to bring this expertise to more advisors.”

New program for RIAs

So, Schwab committed to building its own program, one that was specifically tailored to the RIA industry, and at no cost for advisor clients. 

Following weeks of conversations with advisors to learn more about what they were looking for, the Building an Inclusive Firm culture program was born, consisting of five workshops led by Schwab, and modeled after the company’s own strategy. 

In each workshop firms identify objectives and tactics for specific D&I pillars. The training is designed with extensive time reserved for open dialogue, allowing advisors to hear from each other, learn from each other, and ultimately help hold each other accountable.  

Firms will leave the program with their own D&I vision, strategy, and action plan that they developed.


I’m hopeful that diversity and inclusion will become a core competency for RIA firms—as fundamental as their business strategy—and a key component of firm growth.

- Leslie Tabor, Business Consulting and Education, Schwab Advisor Services

The pilot program launched last November (2021) with 18 advisor firms and wrapped up in March (2022). Initial feedback has been very positive, and there is a waiting list of a dozen firms looking to participate, and a second cohort scheduled to launch in July (2022). 

“We want to be able to touch and support as many advisors as possible,” says Leslie. “We can already see that it is inspiring dialogue, and it is our hope that over time it will also help spark the change for our clients.”