The Charles Schwab Corp. is planning a major expansion of its branch network, which could include the addition of hundreds of financial consultants and support staff to offer more financial planning help for all levels of clients, company executives said Friday.
“We do not have enough people out talking to clients,” said chief executive Walt Bettinger in a presentation for analysts. “We have the same number of financial consultants as we had seven years ago, and [yet] we’ve added millions of clients,” Bettinger said.
Schwab has more than 325 branches staffed with approximately 1,200 financial consultants.
The company could hire as many as 300 to 400 new financial consultants per year going forward, said Terri Kallsen, Schwab’s executive vice president of investor services. Schwab loses about 10 percent of its financial consultants every year.
“We’re building a team approach in our branches that’s focused on wealth management,” Kallsen explained. The goal is to “reduce practice sizes so we can continue to deepen relationships with clients … as they go through the life events.”
Financial consultants are trained at Schwab’s FC Academy, she said, a three-year program that includes experience working with higher net-worth clients.
Clients who’ve gone through Schwab’s planning process and have a dedicated financial consultant use more of the firm’s products and services, including more fee-based managed accounts, Bettinger and Kallsen said.
Key areas for branch expansion are the East Coast, New York, Washington D.C., Texas, Chicago and California, Kallsen said.
The company also has 27 franchise branches run by independent contractor advisors. Bettinger said the independent branches are meeting their goals of bringing in $10 million in new assets yearly.
Schwab’s robo offering, called Schwab Intelligent Portfolios (SIP), figures prominently in the company’s growth plans. Rolled out in the first quarter, the program reached $3 billion in assets with more than 39,000 accounts as of June 30.
“We’re adding capabilities around SIP for goal-tracking,” Kallsen said.