With Jeff Blumenthal, Managing Director, Advisor Services Business Development; and Tina Kerr, Senior Team Manager, Service
Schwab Advisor Services™
Managing Director, Advisor Services Business Development
JEFF BLUMENTHAL: Hi, I’m Jeff Blumenthal, Managing Director of West Coast Sales for Schwab Advisor Services, and I’m joined, today with Tina Kerr from the Schwab Advisor Services Service and Client Support group. Morning.
TINA KERR: Good morning.
JEFF: So I know you’ve been a Schwab over 10 years, and you spend a lot of time with clients. What’s a typical conversation with a client?
Senior Team Manager, Service
TINA: So the conversations are different every day. It’s part of what I actually love about it, is that it’s never the same. A lot of them are some of the, ‘I need help doing this.’ ‘I need help doing that.’ They call the service team and they get to have one single point of contact of their service team. And we get to act as their quarterback, advocating for them with all of our different departments working with New Accounts, Retirement Services, making sure that those business partners understand the advisor relationship and, we really get to act, again, for the advocate for the advisor and their client, making sure that we’re working to get the best possible solution.
We get to know our advisors, their children, even cheering on the same sports teams and going through that. I just had an email from a client who we’re talking about the recent hockey playoffs, and making sure… or talking about those. So it’s just building those relationships over the phone that we prefer. But we do have, of course, the electronic methods of getting in touch with us for those that prefer that. Maybe they’re on the road and they can only communicate through email. We have secure email messaging that they can communicate through that, as well.
JEFF: Does Schwab do anything to measure service?
TINA: Yeah, so we go out to our clients, with a third party, and ask them to rate what they think of service. And we are the leading custodian in that, and it’s something that we take very serious. Myself, as a manager, I follow up with the folks who respond to those surveys, asking for feedback, and not just whenever they respond to a survey, but on a continual basis, making sure, again, that we are making… that our service is what it is that they need. So it’s not just a one-time thing where we check in. It’s an ongoing relationship, again, making sure that we’re meeting their needs.
JEFF: What do you think differentiates service at Schwab?
TINA: It’s our culture. We really strive to see things through the clients’ eyes, again making sure that the client is taken care of, making sure that the advisor can really service the clients in the way that they want to. Each of our advisors are different, and so we need to make sure that we are tailoring our service so that they can serve their clients in the way that they see fit.
JEFF: Can you talk a little bit about how you hire employees?
TINA: So we have a very high tenure on our service teams. We work very hard to hire the individuals who are here to service clients. It’s about customer service, client service, not necessarily, you know, knowing everything about the industry. It’s ‘Are you going to be there to support our clients and provide the highest level of customer service?’ And we work very hard. Of course, there are folks who we’ll promote and move on within the organization, but we work hard for the succession planning it’s a focus, making sure that we have the right folks to move in when somebody does move on.
JEFF: So we talked a little bit about advisor technology. What kind of technology is available for end clients?
TINA: The end clients have access to the Schwab Alliance website, and then they can also do the mobile app, as well. This allows them to view their accounts easily, also allows them to approve electronic authorizations of money movements, which is just a fast and secure way to be able to get their money.
JEFF: When you work with new advisors that have transitioned out of an independent broker-dealer what are the big a-ha’s that are different about workflow or our approach?
TINA: Yeah. I think the big thing is that they’re not alone. I know that sometimes it’s scary for them kind of thinking that they’re going to branch off onto their own, doing their own business, but Schwab is here to support them. That’s what our business is and we do it well according to our clients. So they’re not alone. It’s something that we will help them through, and, they will be happier on the other side being able to service their clients the way that they want to.
JEFF: Tina, thanks you for your time this morning. It sounds like you have a lot of passion, ah, about serving advisors, and, ah, appreciate all your feedback today.
TINA: Yeah, a pleasure being here.
JEFF: All right.
TINA: Thank you.