Growth: It’s what’s coming

September 14, 2020 Bernard J. Clark
Schwab executive Bernie Clark shares his perspective on the growth of the advisor industry and what it takes to be successful.

2020 has brought a lot to contend with across all parts of life, that is for sure. But as we know, constraints have a way of driving creativity. So it’s not surprising that we saw independent advisors move swiftly from working from home to growing from home this spring. While some have found their way safely back to in-person client meetings and working safely from their offices, the future, including the future of growth is top of mind for all.


When I talk to clients, I sometimes tell them that if they want to be successful in the future, they will be. This space is going to grow. Independent advisory firms are going to grow. And they need to be built to handle the growth on the horizon, because it is coming. Firms who plan to be big are going to be far more successful. Often, the firms we see that differentiate their services are the ones best prepared to be big.

- Bernie Clark, Head of Schwab Advisor Services

Success itself can topple a business that was ill-prepared to sustain the growth. Firms have to go beyond solving the inefficiencies of the day. It’s important for them to step back and focus on the challenges that lie ahead and how to solve for those. We know the past is littered with firms that hired a compliance officer after their first compliance event.

Future growth includes clients not focused on de-accumulation, but on asset growth and planning for a future that feels really far away. It includes clients who want to be more virtual, and those who are multi-lingual, and may be multi-currency. Future growth may also mean a client base that doesn’t look like you or act like you which triggers another question…will your workforce of the future emulate your clients of the future?

One of the biggest challenges independent advisors face is being ready for what’s ahead. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. We ask a lot of questions at Schwab. And it’s in that spirit that I ask, can your current technology handle the growth on the way? Are those you partner with astute and ready for the growth you expect? I envision that independent advisors will have fewer but deeper relationships with partners who support them, and that will be incredibly important to the future.

From where we sit, independence is the way forward for high net worth investors. RIAs have a better model and they’re deep in relationship with clients because of it. Those clients want their advisors to be big and successful, and to have the kind of partners who help drive their success. Gone are the days of clients not wanting to give their advisor referrals because they want them to have time for only them.

There are countless reasons we love telling your story. Our next set of television commercials featuring independent advisors kicks off this week, and next week, we are again partnering with the Wall Street Journal in “Spotting Your Blind Spots,” a fun online game that helps HNW investors discover their financial blind spots and how an RIA can help.

We are bullish on the future of the RIA profession, and incredibly honored to play a role in helping our clients serve theirs. Here’s to a future filled with greatness and growth for all!