To me, the most interesting event of the year, so far in the financial planning space, is the Schwab organization's new Independent Branch Services initiative. The cover article in my July newsletter gives a detailed examination of how it works, including an interview with Andrew Salesky, who is running it. But the gist of it is that Schwab's retail division is looking for experienced advisors to come in and transform their practices into Schwab branch offices on a franchise basis.
This is a serious initiative, a turn-key planning office that will be very appealing to experienced breakaway brokers who don't want to invent their own offices, and I can envision a lot of advisors -- people who have never really gotten the scale to be profitable -- deciding that this is their best career option. I expect that in two years, there will be hundreds of these offices; in three, Schwab could more than double its retail footprint (currently 306 offices).
As I said, there are a LOT of details to talk about. But one interesting question is how the advisory community will respond to all these new branch locations, and the competition they represent. Will those who custody at Schwab Advisor Services rethink their relationship? Or is this irrelevant even to advisors who see the former vice president of their local FPA chapter opening up a retail branch across the street?
And what does this mean for traditional broker-dealer recruiting, having an established retail brand, not affiliated with those brokerage houses, looking for experienced reps?
Would you be tempted by this offer? Do you know others who would be? Would you be more or less inclined to affiliate with Schwab's custodial services as a result of this?
I'd like to know the answers to these questions, and I'm pretty sure the Schwab executive team would too.
What do you think?
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