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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Having the Right Conversation With Walt Bettinger

News summary by MFWire's editors

"The idea that startup roboadvisors are going to take over wealth management can finally be one of those fantasies of the past that we're going to bury."

Walt Bettinger
Charles Schwab
President and Chief Executive Officer
Walt Bettinger, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Charles Schwab, shared that tidbit and more this morning with RIAs and fundsters alike at the 2016 IMPACT conference at the San Diego Convention Center. Bernie Clark, Schwab's executive vice president of advisor services, had an onstage conversation with Bettinger, and they focused their discussion on where Bettinger sees the industry heading in the next ten years.

On independent roboadvisors (Schwab has its own inhouse roboadvisor, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, in both direct and advisor-friendly versions), Bettinger says that roboadvisors need to be combined with humans, namely human advisors.

"I don't think it's really a surprise," Bettinger says. "Technology alone is not enough."

Bettinger and Clark touched on a host of topics, including: competition among RIA custodians (which Bettinger predicts will intensify); the infamous DoL fiduciary reg (which Bettinger sees as more of a "little nudge" that will speed up preexisting industry trends); the importance of RIAs being able to differentiate themselves from brokers and others; the continued growth of the RIA business, namely thanks to "via market share movements"; and the changing nature of "being in the cultural conversation."

"We are a custodian at heart," Clark says.

Bettinger also took a moment to praise Scottrade founder and CEO Rodger Riney as having built a "wonderful business." Bettinger even described Riney as "one of the true gentlemen in our industry." (Yesterday TD Ameritrade, a rival to Schwab in both online brokerage and RIA custody, unveiled a $4-billion cash and stock deal to buy Scottrade.)

Oh, and the theme of IMPACT 2016 seems to be conversations. Before Bettinger took the stage this morning, Clark concluded his opening remarks by asking RIAs, "Are you having the right conversations to continue the enormous growth that we're seeing?" 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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