Seven Questions with Tony Sirianni: Tim Oden of Schwab Advisor Services
AdvisorHub’s CEO Tony Sirianni sat down with Tim Oden, Senior Managing Director at Schwab Advisor Services, and talked about the industry. Tony sits with established leaders of the largest firms, as well as up and coming disruptors, and asks them more or less the same questions, so Advisors can get a sense of how each firm addresses the same issues from different perspectives. Taken together, they are a very interesting collection of influential points of view, and display the diversity of opinions and conclusions in Wealth Management today. You may even get to know these industry leaders on a more personal level.
Q: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing advisors today and what has your firm done to address it?
A: One significant challenge is that advisors are serving an increasingly diverse client base. This diversity takes many forms: age and life stage, investment goals, and gender and racial diversity to name just a few. In practice, it has implications for almost every aspect of a firm, from talent strategy to investment philosophy and product selection, to client experience and expectations.
We have been talking about and working directly with our clients for some time on this front. From our Business Consulting & Education programs, that provide hands-on consultative support for strategic planning and talent management, to our technology ecosystem that gives advisors the flexibility to integrate the third-party solutions that work best for their clients, to providing access to a wide range of product solutions to help meet a diverse array of desired investment outcomes.
Q: What do you make of the changes our industry has been through over the last ten years, and what opportunities do those changes create for advisors?
A: The past ten years have been a period of considerable growth and opportunity for independent advisors. According to Cerulli, independent advisors are expected to close in on one-third AUM market share by 2020.
There are several boarder changes that have underpinned this growth trajectory. Since the financial crisis, investors have become more focused on the importance of trust and transparency in their financial advice relationships; evolution on the technology front has made it possible for independent advisors to efficiently grow and scale their firms; the maturation of industry has shepherded best practices that have improved client service and firm operations; and the independent model is attracting talent and new client assets at a strong clip because it is a model that works for both investors and advisors.
Q: What recent trend do you feel will have the greatest impact on the wealth management business?
A: The heightened consumer awareness about the importance of fiduciary is certainly having a demonstrable impact on the advice landscape. The DOL Rule may be in the rear-view mirror, but fiduciary advice is still front and center for investors and it is shaping their decisions about who to trust with their assets.
The advice landscape is crowded, and differentiation is critical for capturing opportunities, especially with high net worth investors. The Schwab Independent Advisor Outlook Study found that 90 percent of advisors report their role as a fiduciary is at the center of the value proposition that they present to clients, and with so much focus on fiduciary now, RIAs are very competitively positioned.
Q: What role, if any, should senior firm leadership play in developing an advisor’s business?
A: From our perspective as a custodian, we believe we have a responsibility to champion the success of advisors, and we are doing this through a combination of industry thought leadership and advocacy, delivering strategic guidance and actionable insights, and providing the operational support and technology needed to run successful firms.
However, everything we do is continuously informed by our advisor clients. Advisors are best positioned to understand their own clients’ needs and and to represent them to us so that we can continue to provide the support that allows their firms to grow and thrive.
Q: If they showed a desire, would you encourage your children to get into the wealth management business?
A: Absolutely. If they are looking for a career where they can serve others, build long-term relationships and play an educational and consultative role on issues that impact individuals and their families in a meaningful way, I would encourage them to explore roles in wealth management. In addition to the day-to-day fulfillment that comes from helping people with their financial lives, this is a vibrant, relevant and growing industry that will offer many career opportunities as time goes on.
Q: What are your interests outside of wealth management?
A: I have a passion for helping to cultivate leadership skills in young people as I believe it is a valuable and much needed skill be it in school, athletics, in the community or in work and politics. I regularly seek opportunities to work closely with young adults, in their college years or when they land their first career positions, to mentor them with respect to their emerging leadership skills.