Forward-thinking firms: Meet the 2017 IMPACT Awards® winners

Submitted by Yue.S.Wang on January 3, 2018
Forward-thinking firms: Meet the 2017 IMPACT Award® winners

Forward-thinking firms: Meet the 2017 IMPACT Awards® winners

Learn how these four firms position themselves for success.

The Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) space is defined by independence—the ability to chart a unique course and serve clients the best way you know how. As the year draws to a close and you reflect on your recent wins and the opportunities ahead, consider how your top-performing peers are blazing new trails, owning their independence, and creating shared value in the process.

What lessons can be learned? And how can they help you push your own firm to new heights?

Each year, Schwab honors leading independent RIAs at the IMPACT Awards® ceremony. Award recipients represent the best of what RIAs offer: bold, innovative thinking, a client-first approach, and a passion to push the wealth management industry forward. This year's award recipients live these values every day—sending ripples through the industry as a result.

Meet the winners, discover the practices that make them stand out, and find the inspiration to bring something different to your firm in 2018.

2017 Best-in-Business IMPACT Award™

Heritage Financial Services: Seeing the whole picture

2017 Best-in-Business IMPACT Award™ winner Heritage Financial Services, LLC

"Our goal is to help people who are serious about their money build cost-effective, sophisticated portfolios, prepared with detailed financial planning."

—Chuck Bean, founder and chief executive officer, Heritage Financial Services, LLC

There's a difference between claiming to be a comprehensive wealth management firm and actually delivering comprehensive wealth management. Heritage Financial Services knows that the difference lies in high-touch client service—which is evident even before investors officially engage as clients.

Take its initial Three Meeting Process, which does more for a prospect than many firms do for their clients.

It starts with a thorough discovery, diving deep into the prospect’s data and goals. Then it's on to a State of the Union, where a Heritage advisor unpacks the prospect's financials, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of their portfolio as they relate to a newly drafted financial plan. Visual and easy-to-read documents detail what a prospect owns, how diversified their portfolio is, and what they're paying in fees. The third meeting delivers a detailed list of wealth management and planning recommendations with specific investment strategies.

The extra attention up front pays off in loyalty down the road. The firm enjoys a 99% client retention rate, with countless referrals generated from existing clients.

"Treat everyone like you would treat your own mother, and you’ll have a successful firm," says Chuck Bean, the firm's founder and chief executive officer.

It's a simple but powerful philosophy—one that can help your own firm cement trust and commitment from your clients.

2017 Best-in-Retirement Business IMPACT Award™

ABG Retirement Plan Services: Putting fitness into retirement planning

2017 Best-in-Retirement Business IMPACT Award™ winner ABG Retirement Plan Services

"'Recruit, retain, retire' is where we began, and—frankly—it's where we still are today."

—John Blossom, chief executive officer and president, ABG Retirement Plan Services

What does it take to get to retirement success these days? ABG Retirement Plan Services has an answer: Support clients' full financial lives, not just their contribution rates.

As a recordkeeper and consultant, ABG Retirement Plan Services is always looking for new ways to help advisors and plan sponsors prepare participants for the next step. That search led it to embrace financial fitness as a prerequisite to retirement readiness. Members—its term for participants—now have free access to the Financial Fitness Center, an online platform offering tools, know-how, and interactive "workout" items to help prep them for the journey ahead. The firm also offers a more proactive, on-site financial fitness program for plan sponsors that want to go deeper.

ABG Retirement Plan Services knows that plenty of competing financial interests can get in the way of saving for retirement. That’s why it goes after the root causes of financial insecurity, not just the symptoms. For example, the firm recently worked with its two largest plan sponsors to introduce emergency savings accounts inside their retirement plans. The savings accounts are designed to draw lower-income employees into plans, reduce the need for plan loans, and eliminate hardship distributions from retirement plans. Up and running, the emergency savings accounts can help lower-income earners access money when it’s needed most, while encouraging positive saving habits that trigger plan engagement.

Although ABG Retirement Plan Services' programs and efforts are focused on retirement, any RIA can take cues from its systems-thinking, holistic approach. Consider making 2018 the year to ask, "What's really getting in the way of my clients' success?" Then, attack the root cause.

2017 Trailblazer IMPACT Award™

Mainstay Capital Management: Fueling the future of the industry

2017 Trailblazer IMPACT Award™ winner Mainstay Capital Management

"We'll go into a company and teach classes for new employees. I always feel it's a win if a new employee comes after class and says, 'How do I get started?' It's those times that I know we're doing the right thing."

—David Kudla, chief executive officer and chief investment strategist, Mainstay Capital Management

Mainstay Capital Management is driven by a fundamental impulse to educate people and help them own their financial futures. The wealth management firm’s inner educator shines through in its free CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™-taught webinar series, MoneyMatters™, and in its dedicated work as an industry advocate for student investment conferences and competitions. These educational outreach programs benefit the greater good while also serving as a source of differentiation and strategic growth.

Bolstering its education efforts, Mainstay established two $1 million student-run investment portfolios and is working on a third. The firm’s advisors serve as mentors for the students in the program.

"We want students to engage with their education," says David Kudla, the firm’s founder and chief executive officer. "We want them to engage with the industry and learn. And we want them to engage in these experiential activities, because we feel it's important for society, higher education, and the industry."

Mainstay leverages its natural teaching abilities to engage the next generation. Think about your firm's strengths. How can you use them to lift the industry? Mainstay’s success shows that when you elevate the industry, you elevate yourself.

2017 Pacesetter IMPACT Award™

Gurtin Municipal Bond Management: Specializing for impact

2017 Pacesetter IMPACT Award™ winner Gurtin Municipal Bond Management

"One thing that I'll say about Gurtin: We are always on a quest to improve."

—Michael Johnson, managing partner, co-chief executive officer, and chief risk officer, Gurtin Municipal Bond Management

You don't have to be everything to everyone, as Gurtin Municipal Bond Management proves with its commitment to deep specialization.

Gurtin not only survived its first year in the financial uncertainty of 2008, but grew into a true firm of the future—setting the pace for the industry and opening up new possibilities for investors who want to make a difference through municipal bonds.

The launch of its municipal socially responsible investment (SRI) strategy earlier this year marked a turning point in the firm's young history. Now it can play a pivotal role in helping investors align their investments with their values. The Gurtin Municipal Social Advancement strategy allows investors to make targeted investments in bonds that fund positive social and environmental outcomes. These include bonds that improve human welfare, community infrastructure, and the environment and contribute to the longevity of a community.

Investor response has been nothing but positive, with unprecedented year-to-date growth—which proves yet another thing: Having a targeted client offering doesn’t close off opportunities; it accelerates them.

Discover more about the IMPACT Awards

The Schwab IMPACT Awards are now in their 12th year of honoring RIAs for bold thinking and inspiring results. For more information on the awards and to read the full profile of each winner, visit the IMPACT® website.

What about these four firms speaks to you? How can you focus your firm's strengths to truly differentiate? How can you jump-start a new direction and give your employees a point of pride to rally behind? By thinking bigger and acting bolder, this year’s award winners stretched themselves to succeed.

If you're interested in learning how you can put some of the best practices from the winners to work at your own firm, reach out to your Schwab relationship manager.

If you're thinking about becoming an independent advisor, consider a custodian that invests in your success. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of a custodial relationship with Schwab.