The Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) landscape is vast and ever changing. Successfully carving a path depends on a firm's ability to support sustained growth and clearly differentiate itself from the competition. Here are insights from four leading RIA firms that may prove helpful as you plot your firm’s course for 2017.
One of the reasons advisors often cite for transitioning to the RIA model is the ability to customize their offer and form deeper relationships with clients. In fact, these are two of the hallmarks of being an RIA. And Schwab remains committed to growing the independent model and helping advisors capitalize on all the freedom, flexibility, and possibility it affords.
Each year, Schwab proudly honors leading independent RIAs through the IMPACT Awards® program at their IMPACT conference. Recipients exemplify bold, innovative thinking, fight for strong client advocacy, and push the industry forward. What's striking about the 2016 winners is their laser focus in key areas. From bringing financial education and service to "the 99%" and young people to growth strategies focused on targeted acquisitions and building communities, ingenuity is in these firms' DNA. Have a look at this year's award recipients.
"It's about more than money. Wealth can be your time, talent, wisdom, relationships, health, influence—and your money."
—Jeff Peller, co-founder and chief executive officer, SignatureFD
2016 Best-in-Business IMPACT Award™
SignatureFD: Redefining wealth
At SignatureFD, the value of a client's wealth extends far beyond a balance sheet. The Atlanta-based firm views financial wealth as a tool for helping clients achieve the lives they envision—and a key area where financial advisors can play a role in helping clients articulate their goals and plot a course toward them.
Community building is the key guidepost in the firm's own growth plan. The firm currently supports seven distinct communities with events, workshops, and activities where people can meet, learn, and grow. These include SignatureWOMEN®, SignatureGENEROSITY®, SignatureEXEC®, SignatureHEALTH®, SignatureLAW®, and SignatureENTREPRENEUR. Three more are in development.
SignatureFD brings the same spirit of community to its employees, and the approach has paid off. The firm has been recognized by the National Association for Business Resources as one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in Atlanta.
The firm also emphasizes a people-first mentality with technologies. Every tool is vetted, designed, and introduced to help employees become "power users," and a technology committee composed of representatives from all corners of the business ensures that solutions can support scalable growth and efficiency.
As part of the award, Schwab will make a $15,000 donation to Helping Hands Ministries' Jordan Chamblee Treatment Fund on behalf of SignatureFD.
—Rob DiMase, executive vice president, Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group
2016 Best-in-Retirement Business IMPACT Award™
Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group: Advocate for real people
The founders of Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group are unabashed about their desire to look beyond the C-suite and focus on "the 99%." Sentinel strives to keep the retirement planning process clear and comfortable for participants, and works with plan sponsors to hone in on the advice employees really need.
The firm takes a holistic approach, serving as a one-stop shop for benefits for small and mid-sized employers. Sentinel finds that companies often overspend on health care and underspend on retirement, so their employees help clients find a balance through customized solutions and consultation.
That emphasis on finding the right fit extends into Sentinel's staffing. The firm uses Predictive Index modeling to match behaviors with company values and offers unique training opportunities such as a Walk in My Shoes program that lets employees discover what another colleague's job requires by working alongside them for a day.
As part of the award, Schwab will make a $15,000 donation to the St. John's Preparatory School's John A. Carnevale '81 Scholarship Fund on behalf of Sentinel.
"The things that people talked about were incredible—things that you don’t talk about with maybe even best friends. There’s no 'business' in these events. It's just genuine human connection."
—Marilyn Capelli Dimitroff, firm principal and director of wealth management, Planning Alternatives
2016 Trailblazer IMPACT Award™
Planning Alternatives: Cultivate deep connections
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
An early adopter of the independent model, Planning Alternatives highlights the value of an empathetic approach to financial planning and advice. Through its personalized, proactive client service, careful attention to firm culture, deep community engagement, and dedication to philanthropic work, the firm is determined to humanize the world of finance.
The firm's Connector Event series is an innovative take on building networks and centers of influence. The invitation-only events encourage professionals to build lasting connections by sharing stories that resonate.
Growth without sacrificing firm culture is a clear goal: Planning Alternatives targets the acquisition of one new RIA firm each year. Serving niche communities has been another path to growth for the firm. In 2012, Planning Alternatives created WealthCare Advisors, a joint venture with the Michigan State Medical Society to offer fiduciary wealth management services to state-based physicians in Michigan.
As part of the award, Schwab will make a $15,000 donation to Variety, the Children's Charity on behalf of Planning Alternatives.
"The financial world already has a stereotype of being boring, and even painful, for people. We need to bring it to where society is today."
—Paul Roldán, principal and chief executive officer, Allgen Financial Advisors, Inc.
2016 Pacesetter IMPACT Award™
Allgen Financial Advisors, Inc.: Make advice accessible
Allgen Financial Advisors is guided by one core value: people before profit. The firm's name echoes its commitment to helping people of all ages and means develop and practice smart financial habits. Team members at the Orlando-based firm describe their ideal client not by account balance but by an eagerness to learn and take action.
Allgen developed a step-by-step approach, The Path to Financial Freedom, to guide those actions. The firm's goal is to help each client move along that path toward an empowering, impactful, and financially sound life.
For Allgen, supporting that journey means making investing easier from day one. Education and client empowerment are central to the firm's success. With FAQ videos shared on social media, timely blog posts, and a user-friendly website, Allgen makes it easy for people to understand their options and take immediate action.
As part of the award, Schwab will make a $15,000 donation to the National Christian Foundation's Allgen Compassion Fund on behalf of Allgen.
Making an IMPACT
The Schwab IMPACT Awards are in their second decade of honoring RIAs that are taking game-changing steps to serve their clients and grow their businesses. For more information on the awards and to read the full profile of each winner, visit the IMPACT® website.
To learn more about how firms like these benefit from working with Schwab Advisor Services™—and what that could mean for you—visit us online or call 877-687-4085.