Charles Schwab’s recently-announced move to a subscription-based financial planning model on its robo-advice offering shouldn’t threaten traditional financial advisors – as long as they can differentiate themselves, according to recent news reports.
Schwab announced last week that it’s switching from an asset-based financial planning fee model to a $30 monthly subscription fee, with an additional $300 fee upfront, for its hybrid robo-advice service, now renamed Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium, according to Bloomberg. Schwab already competes with advisors on investment management and financial planning, and the new service “will strengthen that position,” Jim MacKay, founder of Jim MacKay Financial Planning in Springfield, Mo., tells WealthManagement.com. But he says that he doesn’t feel concerned because he’s not competing in the same space, according to the web publication. Having worked as a former call center financial planner at Vanguard, where he was expected to take five calls a day, MacKay tells WealthManagement.com that it’s impossible to have any deep understanding of any one client in a call-center situation.
“There’s no way, with that level of volume, working with potentially thousands of clients, to have any real connection with them,” he tells the web publication. “Your understanding of that client is really shallow.”
However, advisors who do offer the same services offered by Schwab fee-based model “should be concerned,” McKay tells WealthManagement.com. Schwab’s move only bolsters the argument that advisors need to specialize and find their niche, Michael Kitces, co-founder of XY Planning network, recently wrote in comments on social media, according to the web publication.
“Solo advisors cannot compete on price/scale w/ Schwab. MUST compete on differentiated value at higher fee level,” Kitces tweeted last week, according to WealthManagement.com.