Schwab Institutional today named the winners of its third annual IMPACT Awards that recognize financial advisors and advisory firms that advance the industry. The winners were recognized during a ceremony at Schwab's IMPACT 2008 conference in Atlanta.
Charles R. Schwab IMPACT Award winner is Joan Bavaria, founding
president and CEO of Trillium Asset Management Corp. in Boston.
Bavaria, widely recognized as one of the early pioneers in socially
responsible investing, founded her firm in 1982 with a focus on serving
clients with a concern for the social and environmental impacts of
their investments. Trillium is today one of the largest independent
investment management firm in the U.S. dedicated solely to socially
responsible investing, with 40 employees and more than $1 billion in
Bavaria was an early innovator in the concept of community investing and microfinance, and helped bring the community loan fund idea to Wall Street. At Trillium, Bavaria has created a workplace that is a sustainable model for long-term employee ownership: the firm is majority employee- and woman-owned and donates five percent of pre-tax profits to charitable causes. Trillium offers a progressive set of employee benefits and maintains a strong, diverse board of directors.
In 1981, Bavaria co-founded the Social Investment Forum, the national organization that serves as the primary association for practicing social investment professionals. Bavaria served on the Forum's Board for eight years, four as president. She is the founding chair of Ceres, a national network of investors, environmental organizations, and other public interest groups working with corporations to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Ceres launched the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), now the de-facto standard used by more than 850 companies for reporting on environmental, social and economic performance.
Best-in-Business Award winner is Litman/Gregory Asset Management LLC of
Larkspur, Calif. The firm was recognized for its best-in-class practice
management and innovation in serving wealthy individuals, families and
institutions since 1987. An innovator in the RIA industry,
Litman/Gregory has continually expanded its investment management
services by establishing separate but related businesses, all based on
its core expertise of research. In 1996, it created the Masters' Select
Funds. In 2001, it formed AdvisorIntelligence, a subscription research
service through which Litman/Gregory shares its manager due diligence,
asset class research, model portfolio allocations, client
communications, and best practice advice with more than 1,000 of its
Litman/Gregory has been recognized by various publications as one of the nation's top advisory firms.
The Best-in-Tech Award winner is Clarfeld Financial Advisors Inc., a wealth management firm and multifamily office in New York and London. It was honored for its technology platform, including the CFA Report Generator and the company's customized contact management system, that streamlines internal efficiency and enables Clarfeld's "Financial Confidantes" to optimize personal time with clients and focus on providing comprehensive financial planning, sophisticated tax and investment management services.
The technology platform grants immediate and secure access to client data, including investment reports, research, commentaries, benchmark numbers, stock-option analysis and more. Using document imaging and storage programs, Clarfeld pulls data from multiple sources to create client reports tailored to individual specifications with a level of efficiency that enables the company to maintain its internal benchmark of producing 80% of client investment reports within five days after quarter end, while accounting for more than $3 billion in assets under management with double-digit asset and revenue growth each year.
The Pacesetter Award goes to Vista Capital Partners Inc. of Portland, Ore. The firm maintains an index-based approach to investing that focuses on asset allocation, low costs and tax efficiency. Part of Vista Capital Partners' client focus is its 16-point Client Service Experience that ensures clients receive more than 20 "touches" each year, including proactive and regular account reviews, birthday cards, personalized notes thanking clients for referrals, open houses and client appreciation events, and proactive client conversations to touch base on account activity. The result: the firm's client retention rate is nearly 100%, and it serves as the sole advisor for more than 95% of its clients.
Vista Capital Partners also has a comprehensive compensation and benefits package that encourages and rewards exceptional performance and a healthy work-life balance. As a result, the firms has experienced no turnover in professional staff during its nearly eight years in business. To reach its target client base, the firm maintains a systematic marketing strategy that includes a clearly defined process for asking clients for referrals; developing partnerships with local tax, estate-planning and insurance professionals; and employing a dedicated business development professional.
As part of its commitment to the community, Vista Capital Partners contributes 2% of its profits to local charities. The firm also recently launched "Vista Green," a company mandate to minimize its environmental impact.
Each winner was granted a donation from Schwab Institutional to a charity of their choice. The Charles R. Schwab IMPACT Award winner received a $25,000 donation from Schwab Institutional toward the Opportunity Finance Network's CARS program, a comprehensive third party analysis and rating system of community development financial institutions which aids investors in their underwriting process and is designed to increase the flow of capital to the community investing industry. The firms honored with the Best-in-Business, Best-in-Tech and Pacesetter Awards received a $10,000 charitable donation toward the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network; the Foundation for Educating Children with Autism; and the Children's Cancer Association and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, respectively.
The 2008 IMPACT Awards winners were selected by a panel of judges including Daniel O. Leemon, former executive vice president and chief strategy officer for The Charles Schwab Corp.; Edythe "Dede" McClatchy Pahl, executive director of the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA); David G. Tittsworth, executive director and executive vice president of the Investment Adviser Association (IAA); and Marvin W. Tuttle, Jr., CAE, executive director and CEO of the Financial Planning Association (FPA). IMPACT Awards entries were scored by the accounting and consulting firm Moss Adams LLP.