With the exodus of wirehouse brokers showing no signs of abating, leading custodians for independent registered investment advisors are expanding their offerings to ease the transition process and to hopefully tap into this profitable market. In early June, Schwab Institutional unveiled its latest efforts in this space with a comprehensive new platform with numerous services and discounts for start-up RIA firms.

   Barnaby Grist, managing director of strategic business development at Schwab Institutional, says the number of new firms Schwab is working with is running at double last year's pace, when 114 new firms decided to custody assets with the San Francisco-based giant. Of those 114 firms, about 70% came out of wirehouses, with some bringing nearly $1 billion in assets.

   The new platform, Schwab Business Start-Up Solutions, combines many of the services already available to advisors affiliated with Schwab with several new enhancements. This includes Schwab Performance Technologies with its comprehensive web-based performance reporting solution that allows advisors to outsource many back-office tasks.

   In the area of marketing, Schwab this summer will introduce an online tool enabling advisors to devise logos, stationery, business cards and brochures. After they've created a brand identity, advisors can tap into the marketing tools in GrowthPoint, Schwab's practice management service.

   Elsewhere, start-up firms with at least $75 million in assets can apply for loans of $100,000 or more to finance costs like technology, office space and furniture. And as part of Schwab's agreement with TriNet, advisors can access an integrated 401(k) plan.

   Among other services offered by Schwab, newly-independent advisors can get access to discounted office furniture and services from National Office Furniture, a division of Kimball International. They can also tap into Schwab's existing relationship with CB Richard Ellis to find real estate for their new office.