Schwab Advisor Services is launching a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to market RIAs and promote the independent advice model to high-net-worth investors.

The nationwide initiative aims to underscore the firm’s commitment to independent advisors and educate investors about the differentiating value of independent financial advice.

“What we understood from our consumer research is that investors remain fairly confused about the available options when it comes to managing their wealth,” says Susan Forman, senior VP and head of marketing at Schwab Advisor Services.

“They are still unclear about the differences between traditional advisers and independent advisers, so this campaign is a great opportunity for us to showcase the differences and put the Schwab brand behind our firm support of the independent model.”

We feel the responsibility to shine a light on the value of the independent model for advisers, says Forman


Moreover, Forman says advisers feel pressured by increasing competition and are seeking ways to differentiate themselves. The ads will serve as a toolkit for them to do so, she says.

The campaign, which is launching this week, will comprise print and digital ads featuring advisers who custody assets with Schwab – 10 in the initial rollout – alongside the Charles Schwab brand. Forman says the focus will be on highlighting value propositions of the RIA model by using language that resonates with high-net-worth clients.

To drive investor engagement, the ads emphasize words like "independent" and "trust"

The ads will run on both the print and online editions of major media outlets, such as the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Forbes, the Economist, CNNMoney, MarketWatch and Business Insider, with a full-page ad to appear on the WSJ starting Friday. Schwab would not say exactly how much the company is spending on the campaign.


Concurrent with the media ads, Schwab will be unveiling a new educational website dubbed the Independent Advisor Learning Center, which will highlight the differentials of the independent model in greater detail. Forman says the site will largely be an expansion upon the existing content of the RIA Stands For You website that Schwab
launched as part of another RIA-focused campaign it ran in 2011 and 2012.

The new site will also have a directory that allows investors to input their zip code and find advisers in their immediate area. About 1,200 Schwab advisers are listed in the directory, according to Forman.


“I love the fact that Schwab is coming out and doing some great media support for their RIA community,” says Janet Stanzak, principal of Financial Empowerment LLC and the 2015 chair of the FPA. “High-net-worth investors would much rather work with someone who takes their entire financial situation into consideration, so it makes total sense for them to be doing this.”

The timing for the campaign is perfect, Stanzak says. With the new fiduciary rule going into effect next year and all the press attention given to it, it’s more important than ever to stress that advisers work in the best interest of clients, she says. The increasing number of people nearing retirement who are seeking out advice also coincides well with Schwab’s campaign, Stanzak observed.

Geoffrey Brown, CEO of NAPFA, says the new marketing effort demonstrates Schwab’s insight on the growth potential of the independent advice industry. “I think it’s always a good idea for larger entities like Schwab to highlight the importance and role of the independent channel," Brown says. "They see the growth of that channel both from an adviser standpoint but also from a consumer standpoint.”


Pamela Sandy, president of the FPA, is also supportive of Schwab’s initiative, stating that the association is looking forward to learning more about the new website.

Schwab will carry the campaign through to 2017, Forman says, with additional elements like embedded video to follow in a month from now. She expects they will share some metrics of the campaign in the future.

"I think advisers are going to appreciate it,” says Brown. “They are always looking for additional support, and when you have an entity like Schwab behind you, only good things can happen."