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How Vulnerability Leads to Better Client Service

By: Chelsey S., Sr Manager, Communications

Getting a call from a member of Schwab’s Estates team may come with mixed emotions. Usually, it means that a loved one has died, and Schwab is reaching out to settle the estate. It can be a sensitive time, but thankfully people like Keith K., based out of Indianapolis, are on the other end of the line treating these clients with care.

Empathy at the core

Before coming to Schwab, Keith worked in retail banking, where, in one role, he managed the accounts of deceased clients. “It really taught me empathy, and that I couldn’t force people through the process—they had to go at their own pace,” explains Keith.

It also made him a more empathetic banker. Keith made it a practice to sit down with older clients and ask them if they’d thought about a Power of Attorney or a beneficiary. It’s a conversation Keith learned to build up to once he’d established trust.

“I watched my clients have kids and then I saw their kids have kids,” explains Keith. “I could say to them, ‘I see you are struggling…maybe you want to add your son or daughter to the account.’”

But while Keith was practicing empathy and care with his clients, he wasn’t receiving it from his employer at the time. Instead, he was learning to never show weakness. “In that environment, weakness was used against you,” he explains.

The power of vulnerability

After 17 years, Keith decided he needed a change. He got an MBA and joined Schwab, beginning in Client Service and Support (CS&S) and then moving to Banking and Trust Services. Unfortunately, he developed a series of health issues which put him in the hospital. Because of his past experiences, Keith began to worry about his job. Instead, he was reassured by his manager that the only thing he needed to worry about was getting better. That’s when Keith realized things were different at Schwab.

In January 2023, Keith joined a collection of Schwabbies that came together from all parts of the company to embark on a fitness journey together. Virtually, they shared their struggles, and offered advice or words of encouragement. It was here where Keith was finally able to let his guard down.

“I learned that it is okay to be vulnerable in front of your co-workers,” explains Keith.

And when he practiced this vulnerability, Keith’s coaching sessions with his manager became more productive and effective, which helped his confidence. With this newfound confidence, Keith seized an opportunity to take a position in Estate Services—a move he wouldn’t have considered in the past. “Now I look forward to starting work each day,” he says.

Service at its finest

In the two months Keith has been working with the Estates team, he’s been able to leverage his confidence, and vulnerability in new ways—specifically with how he serves clients. “You are talking to these people when they’ve just buried a parent or a loved one. A lot of times, they are very vulnerable,” he explains. “But I’ve been through that too, and I know I can help them.”