Launching the latest salvo in a price war between the top independent custodians, Schwab Advisor Services announced fee waivers and price cuts for functions that help advisers seeking to sell their businesses and maximize client referrals.

The enhancements Schwab announced focus on the firm’s Business Consulting Services, which helps its independent advisers grow and manage their firms. As part of its cost-cutting effort, Schwab eliminated fees on its Mergers and Acquisitions Listing Service, an online database that connects those looking to sell or merge their firms with potential buyers.

Schwab also announced a partnership with Advisor Impact. That deal offers Schwab advisers the opportunity to use Advisor Impact’s Client Audit tool at a discount. Client Audit helps advisory firms gauge clients’ satisfaction with the firm, identify clients’ needs, structure a client service plan to drive profitability and increase client referrals. 

Finally, Schwab made its Online Technology Adoption Scorecard, first launched in April of last year, available to advisers online. The scorecard allows firms to see how employees’ usage of Schwab’s technological tools measure up to the way in which they are used by the top 20% of firms, as determined by the 2009 Charles Schwab RIA Benchmarking Study.

The announcement was made on came on the final day of Schwab’s IMPACT conference in San Diego and it came less than a week after rival custodian Fidelity revealed a variety of its own price cuts for advisers. At that time, Michael Durbin, president of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, said, “We’re not trying to walk ourselves into a price war, but we have to be responsive.” Fidelity’s cuts, which focused on the firm’s CRM, Separate Account Network and account transfers for breakaway advisers, were revealed three months after Schwab’s first cost-cutting measures were announced back in June. Schwab, at that time, eliminated fees on its electronic equity and options trading on a temporary basis.

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