The Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) ecosystem continues to grow aggressively. At the same time, the industry is navigating a period of great change: new entrants, new ways of serving, and new name combinations.
Our company’s proposed acquisition of TD Ameritrade will also bring changes—changes we believe will strengthen the RIA profession and the advisors we serve. As expected, our plans have generated a lot of discussion in the industry. It is very early days, and we are in the process of obtaining regulatory and other approvals for the proposed transaction.
But there is one thing I can say right now with utmost confidence:
We have not and will not change our commitment to seeing the world through all of our clients’ eyes—and that means being here for advisory firms of all sizes.
We’ve been committed to RIAs of all sizes for more than 30 years. Our roots are in serving RIA firms with less than $100 million in assets under management. It’s how we got our start in that business, and we never forget that these firms represent the vast majority of the industry in terms of numbers. They are the entrepreneurs who set out on their own so they could serve investors in a fiduciary manner, with a more customized and personalized approach.
It’s that heritage and the fact that those firms remain at the heart of our business that often gets lost in the current industry commentary. Sure, as the RIA space has grown and evolved, we have earned the opportunity to serve a broader array of advisory firms, including national firms managing billions of dollars of investor assets. But it’s simply naïve and inaccurate to infer from our growth and wider appeal that we are not fully committed to serving the smaller firms that are at the core of our business and at the core of TD Ameritrade’s custody business. It’s inconsistent with everything we have done for more than 30 years.
We’ve been committed to RIAs of all sizes for more than 30 years. Our roots are in serving RIA firms with less than $100 million in assets under management.
As my colleague Bernie Clark shared in our recent Winter Business Update, we’ve developed a service offering—the Core Solutions Group—designed specifically for the 4,500 advisors with less than $100 million on our platform. Many of these firms have smaller staffs, with people wearing multiple hats. They often rely on us for support and guidance in areas like cybersecurity compliance, technology and practice management, and they appreciate that our virtual education and practice management offers provide them with expert support and resources in areas like marketing and operational efficiency, so they can grow their practices. They also like that our digital efforts help streamline labor-intensive, account-related tasks by offering a more secure, guided experience that minimizes data entry, errors, and paper—while making it easy to get status updates and track progress so they can stay on top of client requests. These enhancements let advisors focus on more important things, such as spending time with clients or finding new clients—which is what they do best.
That’s why we’re digitizing many of the transactional parts of our processes, so we can free up our people to be more consultative problem solvers for our clients. And our proposed integration with TD Ameritrade will allow us to look to the best parts of their platform to help us deliver even more capabilities to advisors and their clients. The digital transformation of our business with advisors helps lower Schwab’s costs—which leaves us with more to invest back into client services.
Some early examples of how we are transforming how advisors work with us and their clients include Digital Account Open, Status, and broad third-party integration, the latter giving advisors a choice of what technology best supports their business, and how they want to work with us.
At the end of the day, advisors are asking us to help them grow. We do that in a number of ways. One of them is helping with the big questions they face in the areas of succession planning, talent, and growth strategies. By sharing Schwab’s know-how with our clients, advisors can see what others in the industry are doing and benefit from best practices. Those are things that can help accelerate growth in their businesses.
Putting together a better online experience while preserving the ability to talk with a person—that’s what we call no-tradeoffs. Our commitment to eliminating trade offs means we will deliver the secure and trusted custodial support that advisors and their clients need as efficiently and seamlessly as possible, while finding ways to deliver even more value-add services to help advisors grow and enhance their client experience.
Our Pledge to RIAs isn’t just words on paper. It is a promise—a commitment—and it’s something our teams are very proud to deliver.
- Walt Bettinger, CEO, Schwab
We know advisors today have more choices than ever when it comes to working with a custodian for their client accounts and a provider of technology of services they need to meet the needs of those clients. From platforms like ours, to independent broker-dealers and traditional banks and wire houses, the competition for the business of RIAs is thriving. That’s why we are so focused on finding new, more effective and efficient ways to serve RIAs of all types and sizes.