Kicking things off was Charles Schwab himself. The company founder discussed the state of the financial planning industry, the world of low fees and how the firm was positioning itself for advisors for the future. These thoughts were echoed by Schwab CEO Walter Bettinger, who also introduced several new technological innovations that could benefit the advisory community. This included a hefty dose of income and lending products as well as Schwab’s new single-sign-on platform.
A day of IMPACT also wouldn’t be complete without several planning and education sessions. Highlights from day two included a workshop on health savings accounts (HSAs), navigating today’s fixed income market and a hefty dose of cybersecurity. The day also featured the results of Schwab’s RIA Benchmarking Study.
Last but not least, we got to see the results of the 14th annual IMPACT Awards that took place on the opening day of the event. The awards are given to firms that have “advanced the industry through their demonstrated leadership and business practices.”
Once again, Schwab IMPACT is asserting itself as the must-attend event for the financial planning industry.
Check out our Schwab IMPACT 2019 Channel to catch the latest updates from the event.
I Hated Commissions
However, the topic that stood out from the talk continued to be Schwab’s decision to cut trading commissions and fees to zero. At the beginning of October, Schwab made waves when it announced that it was doing away with commissions on brokerage trades. This prompted many other online and advisory brokerages to cut commissions as well. It turns out that Schwab was always a trendsetter. During the conversation, Schwab noted that he was never a fan of brokerage fees saying that “and speaking about commissions, I hated commissions. I hated them then, I hate them today, and we took them away.”
Also speaking to Clark, Schwab CEO and President Walt Bettinger echoed the company founder’s remarks about hating commissions. The resulting move to cut fees was a “culmination of, I would say, at least 20 years of planning.” To that end, Bettinger reported that the prices for financial transactions will not be a major factor among various firms. At the same time, Bettinger mentioned that some services that advisors traditionally provide – such as asset allocation and tax-loss harvesting – will quickly become commoditized. It was here that Bettinger and Chuck talked about Schwab’s increased use of technology and how the firm was moving into more income-focused products and looking at the “other side of the balance sheet.” This included lending capabilities for RIAs including sophisticated mortgages, banking for RIA firms and more.
The focus on the future was another key topic during the day’s planning sessions. Again, lead by Bernie Clark, Schwab released the results of its Independent Advisor Outlook Study. The look at RIAs, growth of the industry and overall potential changes showed that the majority of advisors – 92% – expect the industry to continue to grow and more than a third – 37% – believe it will grow at a higher rate than the market. And while many believe that there are some significant changes coming, being independent and the increased use of technology will help them growth and face the challenges with ease.
And speaking of that tech, day two of IMPACT saw the release of CAIS IQ, which is a state-of-the-art learning system for alternative investments. More than 84% of investors plan to increase their allocation to alternative investments in the coming years. However, knowledge of Alts remains low. CAIS IQ hopes to reduce the learning curve by using predictive algorithms.
Check out our Q&A with Blaze Portfolio to know more about how the company is trying to help advisors.
The IMPACT Awards
Day Two Is in the Books
Day three will see more of the same with more direct investment planning options and education sessions.