With Chris Reedy, Managing Director, Advisor Services Business Development; Kimberly Sanders, Director, Business Consulting; and Nikolee Turner, Managing Director, Business Consulting
Schwab Advisor Services™
Managing Director, Advisor Services Business Development
CHRIS REEDY: Hello, I’m Chris Reedy, Managing Director of Business Development for Schwab Advisor Services. Today, we’re joined by Nikolee Turner and Kimberly Sanders, who are both with our Business Consultant Team. Welcome.
NIKOLEE TURNER: Hello.
KIMBERLY SANDERS: Thank you.
CHRIS: So, Kimberly, how long have you been with Schwab?
Director, Business Consulting
KIMBERLY: I’ve been actually working with advisors in this transition space at Schwab for the last six years.
CHRIS: And Nikolee?
Managing Director, Business Consulting
NIKOLEE: I have been at Schwab for almost four years, but I’ve been working with advisors in the RIA space and wirehouses for 12-plus years.
CHRIS: Nikolee, what do you like about your role?
NIKOLEE: I love that I get to help principals and firm leadership really become the best versions of themselves. Seeing what their area of struggle is and helping them think through it, work through it, come up with a strategy for it, and to make improvements in it. We want to help, I want to help firms make lifelong changes that really impact their firm, impact their business.
CHRIS: Kimberly, what do you like about your role?
KIMBERLY: I think I’ve got the best role at Schwab, to be honest. I love helping advisors really visualize what it is that they want to become and changes that they want to make, and helping them plan, and get there, and achieve it, and see that success, and then see them years after. I think, all of us at Schwab, this is a relationship business and I value very much seeing the advisors that I’ve worked with over the years come back and tell me stories about how much better their life is. They tell me stories about how they’ve been able to sponsor events for their kids, and how they’re spending more time. Many of them are bringing family members into the business. They are so proud of what they’ve built. And so knowing that I was part of that at the very beginning, and I know what the vision was for five years from now, and for them to come back and say, ‘Look, I’m here, and now I want to do more.’ That’s my favorite part of the job.
CHRIS: Tell me a little bit more, Kimberly what do you… how do you describe what your team does to help those advisors?
KIMBERLY: So if you think of us as small business consultants, we’re there from the very beginning, helping them do that due diligence, understanding the economics of the change, and then helping them create a business plan and then execute on that business plan, from identifying the gaps that they might need to fill, to filling those gaps with vendors or partners, and then really, at the end, pulling it all together into this really strong message for their clients and for the world to hear.
CHRIS: And Nikolee tell me what does your team do and how do you help advisors?
NIKOLEE: Right… so our team, once an advisor… an advisory firm is on the… is with Schwab, then I go in and I help them with some of their most pressing challenges, whatever that might be, something from… typically, firms are interested in ‘How do I grow?’ or ‘What is my profitability like or what should it be like?’ Transitioning their firm to the next generation is a hot topic that we’ve been working on a lot. So whatever it is that is most pressing for their firm, that’s what we work on.
CHRIS: So, Kimberly, what makes your team different than the competition?
KIMBERLY: The fact that we have a team makes us different than the competition. I think the investment that Schwab makes in us in giving us the ability to dedicate ourselves to advisors during the transition. The fact that I have a partner, Nikolee, makes us different. So I specialize in working with advisors in that transition space. They’ve got different questions, different needs. And I work with them throughout that transition so that they’re up and running. And, you know, behind the scenes, Nikolee and I are talking and we’re sharing that information, we’re sharing that business plan, and I’m letting her know, ‘Hey, these are some of the issues that they might want to talk about in their first year.’ And then we make that introduction and then she takes it from there. And there’s continuity, there’s involvement and excitement, right? We’re very invested in these firms. The relationship goes a long time.
NIKOLEE: Yes, and I love that… being able to work with Kimberly in those firms, because they’re so much further along. So when we…once the dust has settled, as you mentioned then we can really tackle more advanced challenges that they might be facing. So that continuity, I think…
NIKOLEE: …is important, that there’s someone on the other side, too, to help them.
CHRIS: Why don’t you give me an example of how someone’s made that transition and it’s opened up some new opportunities for growth or maybe just a… you know, some new opportunities within their business.
KIMBERLY: Sure. There’s a firm that I’m thinking of in Southern California that immediately came out the gate and said, ‘Look, we don’t know anything about insurance, we’ve never sold insurance, we never got paid on insurance, but we know that’s gap and that our clients are looking somewhere else to fill that gap.’ So they built-out an entire insurance arm in their firm, they brought in experts, and it’s completely changed the way they do wealth management. They’ve reframed their offering from money management to holistic wealth management. And insurance was a big piece of that, it was a catalyst to change their entire messaging.
NIKOLEE: And I think it’s also about the freedom to be able to design a client experience that feels appropriate or right for their clients. So you talk about the planning and being able to do the planning in the way that they want to. Oftentimes, there’s this constraint on time or resources. And to be able to design that specifically for their ideal clients, the clients that they enjoy working with the most I think there’s a tremendous amount of freedom in being able to dictate what that is.
CHRIS: People hear a lot about our Benchmarking Study. Maybe tell us a little bit more about it.
NIKOLEE: Sure. I love Schwab’s Benchmarking Study because it is really the foundation for a lot of the work that we do with firms. It was one of the things that attracted me to Schwab. I’ve been consulting in the industry for a long time prior, but Schwab’s data is really robust. Over 1,100 firms participating in that study. And being able to contribute data that allows us to see not only what’s happening in a specific firm what’s going on with their firm in terms of their profitability, but also to be able to compare to other people, and say, ‘You know, am I spending the right amount of money in my technology?’ or ‘Should I be looking at trying to achieve a different, profit margin?’
CHRIS: So, Kimberly, what are two or three questions that you hear most often from advisors going through a transition?
KIMBERLY: Well, the first one is… tends to be about economics. They’re trying to figure out ‘What will it look like on the other side?’ ‘Can I afford to do it?’ So we work through the economics with them, helping them understand a comparison between today and the future. We leverage our Benchmarking Study, we leverage our experience with prior transitions, quotes that we have from partners that do this day in and day out to help them get a really strong comparison and a sense of confidence that, yes, they can do this.
Then another question would be, really, ‘How am I going to talk about this to my clients? What am I going to say? You know, will they come with me?’ And so we work that. We understand it’s not a script, it’s not something that they all say the same thing, it’s ‘What are your clients asking you? What are their pain points? And how are you making an investment to address those paint points?’ And that’s how we shift that conversation.
And then, finally, it’s ‘How on earth am I actually going to do this?’ And that’s where we say, ‘We’re here to help you.’ There are so many resources at Schwab that we’re… our sole purpose is to help you get from point A to point B, so that, you know, you launch with confidence and pride.
CHRIS: So, Kimberly, you talked about a lot of the questions that you get from advisors going through transition are sort of fear-based.
CHRIS: What are some of the questions they should be asking?
KIMBERLY: I think they should be asking when, ‘When should I do this? What’s a great time?’ And the answer to that is ‘When it’s right for you. When are you confident that you have the ability to spend the time to focus on the due diligence and the planning, and to reach all of your clients?’ It’s designed based on them, right? The perfect time for them is the perfect time for their clients. I think they should be asking, ‘What’s next?’ Right? ‘I don’t want to just focus on the transition and getting myself launched. I want you think about where are we going to be in 5 years, 10 years? How am I going to transition this business when it’s time for me to leave?’ because we want to build that foundation that prepares them for all of that growth, and that succession, and their entire career as a business owner, because we’re always looking at that sale at the end of the day. There’s going to be a transition, and we want that firm to be valued as much as possible at the time of that sale. So we build the foundation, we put the pieces in place, so they are making steady progress towards that really strong, viable firm.
CHRIS: So, Nikolee, what are two or three questions you hear from advisors regularly?
NIKOLEE: Most often, advisors want to know ‘How can I grow? How can I grow faster, more effectively?’ And we spend a lot of time helping firms put together strategies that allow them to do that, to grow in the ways that they want to grow, ways that make for a sustainable firm, a sustainable business.
So another question that advisors ask all the time is, ‘What is everyone else doing?’ They want to know what the firm down the street is doing and how they compare. One way that I love to help firms understand how their numbers or what their data points are matching up to those around them. And then we take that a step further and we figure out what do they need to do so that they can get to that place that they envision themselves.
CHRIS: As advisors are looking at making a transition to the RIA model, why should they be choosing Schwab Advisor Services?
KIMBERLY: Well, I think they should be choosing Schwab not only for today but for tomorrow. And I think that’s something that advisors often miss, is that ‘This is a lifelong decision. You don’t want to do this again. This is the time, right? This is your launch. This is the beginning of the rest of your career. And so all the things that we provide, all the services that we’re here to help support these advisors as they’re making the transition, understanding the model, planning for their future, making sure that the transition goes off seamlessly, all of that support is modeled on the other side. They’ve got advisors, and support, and service teams, and relationship managers, and consultants there to help them through the next series of decisions. It’s not just one decision. This… owning a business is a lifetime of decisions.
NIKOLEE: And as they enter into new phases of their business, like all businesses do, they go through cycles, and we’re there to help them once it reaches new level of complexity, where they’re… maybe they’re trying to achieve scalability, or maybe they’re trying add additional services. We can help them through those challenges and implement those changes within their firm.
CHRIS: Kimberly, Nikolee, thank you very much for joining us today and sharing your insights.
NIKOLEE: Thank you.
KIMBERLY: It was a pleasure, thank you.