Our Wired World

Advisors Embrace New Possibilities for Growth and Development in Virtual Environment

Pandemic leads to reduced need for office space and an increase in staff working remotely

Data released by Schwab Advisor Services shows how this year’s workplace changes are expected to persist in the future.

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Independent advisory firms have moved beyond adapting to the virtual work environment imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and are actively embracing strategies and opportunities for continued firm growth, according to a range of data released by Schwab Advisor Services.

According to Schwab’s latest Independent Advisor Outlook Study, released during this week’s virtual IMPACT event, advisors expect many of this year’s workplace changes to persist in the future. More than half (56%) of advisors expect that the pandemic will lead to a reduced need for office space and 49% expect an increase in staff working remotely. In addition, 47% of advisors believe that the increased use of video conferencing with clients and prospects will continue.

“In the beginning of 2020, we saw independent advisory firms adapt to the new normal to be able to effectively run their businesses in the remote environment. This shift took place rapidly, and most advisors changed gears, enabled remote working, and continued delivering an exceptionally high level of service to clients during what has been a volatile and uncertain economic period,” said Lisa Salvi, vice president, Business Consulting & Education at Schwab Advisor Services. “Over the summer, we saw a mindset shift as advisors recognized the new possibilities that come with the virtual and digitally-enabled business model, and now they are thinking ahead to how this will shape the long-term trajectory of their firms.”

This mindset shift is also reflected by demand from firms of all sizes for Schwab’s Business Consulting & Education solutions, such as several new online resources that were launched this year. Highlights include:

  • Virtual Consulting Touch-points: Schwab completed in-depth multi-week 1:1 business and technology consulting engagements with 100 firms, in addition to over 700 other touch-points including roundtable conversations, coaching calls, and consultations on timely topics such as cybersecurity, strategic planning, marketing strategy, creating a referral culture, and mapping the ideal client journey.

Schwab Advisor Services’ Business Consulting & Education team offers an array of actionable consulting programs focused on the key business and technology challenges facing RIAs. The consulting programs help RIAs address core challenges of starting, building, and growing their firms.

  • COVID-19 Resource Hub: This hub pulls together timely Schwab resources for independent advisors from across the firm, including best practices for digital workflows and resources to help advisors navigate uncertainty and cultivate virtual relationships.
  • Virtual Practice Management: Virtual Practice Management (VPM) programs are on-demand guided learning experiences, supplemented with virtual workshops that provide an opportunity to engage with Schwab experts and fellow advisors. Currently, VPM programs help guide advisors through the critically important processes of strengthening their cybersecurity program, building their strategic plan, and establishing an ideal client persona and client value proposition. According to Schwab’s 2020 RIA Benchmarking Study, firms that documented their ideal client persona and client value proposition attracted 28% more clients and 45% more new assets than firms without these frameworks in 2019.
  • Talent Resource Center: The Talent Resource Center (TRC) launched earlier this year and includes online self-service tools and resources that help RIA firms continue to evolve their talent strategies and attract new and diverse talent. According to the 2020 RIA Benchmarking Study, “Recruiting staff to increase firm’s skill set/capacity” is in the top five strategic priorities for firms. TRC also offers timely guidance related to managing talent in the current environment, including educational materials on cultivating virtual relationships and conducting effective virtual meetings.

“Firms of all sizes have grappled with the new realities of the workplace this year, and we are committed to making sure every client has ongoing support to maximize growth, achieve their goals, and gain competitive advantage, even as the world around us changes,” said Salvi. “The need for independent advice continues to grow, and we are excited to continue to support advisors as they not only face the challenges of running their businesses in the current environment, but also seize new opportunities that are unfolding.”




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