After 20 years of providing innovative wealth solutions, the Schwab Private Client™ (SPC) program is changing its name to Schwab Wealth Advisory™ (SWA). This rebranding effort reflects Schwab’s dedication to enhancing their comprehensive wealth management strategy for clients.
We caught up with Jennifer R., a Managing Director with SWA and long-time Schwabbie, to discuss how this new name reflects the depth of wealth advisory experience, dedicated service, and ongoing enhancements to investment solutions delivered to its client base.
Keep reading to learn about the history of SWA, and how its evolution provides opportunities for financial service professionals and advisors looking to ignite their career.
Describe the evolution from Schwab Private Client™ (SPC) to Schwab Wealth Advisory™ (SWA).
I've been at Schwab for 27 years, and back then, we did not give any stock advice. Then we went through the tech bubble, which taught us just how much our clients and investors trusted the Charles Schwab name and needed investment guidance. They were constantly calling us and asking, “what do I do with this tech bubble that burst?” and I was very privileged to be one of the first financial consultants to give investment advice on behalf of the firm.
Initially, our guidance was situational and broad. We would do asset allocation models and recommend mutual funds from our select list. Eventually, we graduated to providing recommendations for certain stocks.
Once we were comfortable within the guidance space, we established Schwab Private Client and mainly dealt with portfolio customization. This early iteration of SPC is what laid the groundwork for today’s full, holistic wealth management offering. Nowadays, we don’t just build asset allocations with stocks and a couple of Electronic Funds Transfers (ETFs), but instead consider a client's full financial situation, including children and next-generation wealth investing goals. The entire effort is designed to meet our high-net-worth clients’ needs and provide efficient, trustworthy service.
The name change reflects the evolution toward a more comprehensive wealth management approach, as opposed to simply building stock portfolios. It really allows us to define, and remain true to, that offering and support the aims of Schwab Wealth Advisory.
The shift from SPC to SWA not only changed the name of the service, but also the representative titles. Do you feel this name change helps signal a clearer career path for those employees?
If you look at our titles today, they're called “Private Client Advisors,” which is an industry standard term. But, when you hear the new title of “Wealth Advisor” for high-net-worth clients, that really resonates with our team members and clients. It inspires them to not just focus on portfolio construction as a one-off, but instead think about the broad approach that wealth advisory encompasses.
Why should external talent be interested in joining SWA during this moment of change?
We have made quite an investment in our new offering over the past 24 months.
In fact, I just met with an employee who was praising the differences in what we offer and where we are today. Our refined approach, which includes a specific cap on clients-per-advisor, has translated into a greater work/life balance for employees. This balance allows them to add more value to their clients and develop a deeper understanding of their clients’ financial goals.
I would also say that the huge investment we’ve made in technology will give our advisors the tools to provide clients with full-service wealth building and management. To that point, I also believe that we're well ahead of our competition in terms of the technology we have at our disposal.
How have employees impacted the growth and evolution of SWA?
We're a feedback-centric business because we want clients to be engaged and see the value in our offering. The same thing can be said for our employees – our people are the reason we are successful, so we're always asking for input.
One big piece of feedback was that we needed a more structured training program to help prepare new talent to take on clients. At Schwab, we're all about investing in our employees’ professional development, so we worked hard to implement a better onboarding process. We also refocused on pathing people’s career journeys because we want our employees to continue to upskill and develop.
Can you provide any example(s) of how you see this career path taking shape for current employees?
When I came over to lead the Phoenix SPC team, I decided to really focus on scale and creating a centralized SPC service team. There are six teams across the network that support the daily inbound calls from SWA clients. This not only created that needed scale, allowing the Private Client Advisors and Sr. Associate Private Client Advisors to focus on essential things like planning and proactive client calls, but also created another path within SWA. Entry level service associate team members now learn how to deliver world-class, white glove service to our clients. From there, those newly minted associates continue to learn the business, giving them the skills they’ll need to grow into a wealth advisor role.
What kind of tools, resources, and training are offered within this group to empower employees to own their career progression?
We have a whole host of different learning opportunities across our network. One great example is our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). I'm the business sponsor for the Military Veterans Network here in Phoenix, and I used to be a co-chair for the Women's Interactive Network as well. I encourage employees to join an ERG that they have a connection to, because each group provides great networking opportunities and the chance to learn more about the business. Also, if you ever want to pivot your career path and develop new areas of expertise, ERGs allow you to build connections with employees in your area of interest.
From a training perspective, Schwab’s Wealth Management University (WMU) is a great and always accessible resource that offers all employees the opportunity to learn things like wealth management essentials, how to build relationships with clients, planning and advice fundamentals, and more.
How were you able to ignite your career journey within this space and attain your current position?
Before my days at Schwab’s Indiana branch, I worked at two different commission-based firms and was not enjoying what I did for a living. So, when I joined Schwab, I had somewhat of an “aha” moment; I was given access to leaders and mentors that believed in me and were bold and courageous in providing me with the constructive feedback I needed to be a better leader, manager, employee, and person.
That level of support really allowed me to move from a customer service position to branch leader, and eventually progress to my current role of Managing Director in SWA. I think that the incredibly positive, very humble culture at Schwab is what kept me around. We all share that wonderful mindset of service toward our clients, our peers, and our team. It’s just who we are.
Interested in learning more about what a career in Schwab Wealth Advisory could look like? Talk with a Talent Advisor to get your specific questions answered at our upcoming virtual networking chat!
To start your career journey with a firm that is invested in your development from day one, explore opportunities at Schwab Wealth Advisory today!