Financial professionals are fond of quoting hockey legend Wayne Gretzky when planning the future: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

For the retail investment and wealth management industries, that means understanding a changing client base, Terri Kallsen, executive vice president for investing services at Charles Schwab said in an address at SIFMA’s Private Client conference last week.

“The consumer is expecting us to meet them at the channel of their choice,” Kallsen said. “It’s all about establishing and facilitating trust so that clients meet their financial goals over their lifetimes.”

To do so, the financial industry must adjust to serve increasingly educated and sophisticated investors.

Schwab’s clients are valuing relationships and holistic planning as opposed to focusing on their advisor’s ability to outperform benchmarks, Kallsen said. 

One client, a breadwinner whose husband was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, was trying to raise three young children, including one with a disability.

“She was challenged and nervous,” Kallsen said. “If I had a discussion about outperforming a benchmark, that would rock her world—what she cared most about was having an advisor who knew what her situation was and could help her achieve her goals.”

Investors want relationships and service with a human touch, said Kallsen, but they also seek value and want to be able to access their accounts using technology.

Rather than navigate a self-directed discount brokerage, as they may have done in the past, today’s cost-conscious investor wants access to financial planning, too.

“Consumers want to access technology and they want it to be easy to do business. ... People also want to know that in this industry, we care deeply about them,” Kallsen said.