Registered investment advsors are using the current period of uncertainty to accelerate changes that were in the works prior to the start of the coronavirus, according to Bernie Clark, executive vice president and head of Schwab Advisor Services.

One example is e-authorization, which advisors are employing during this time of social distancing as an efficient way to get documents to clients, and then sending them Schwab, Clark said during a teleconference Tuesday in which he outlined some of the future possibilities for RIAs. “There is so much impetus for change now,” he said.

At Schwab, he noted, “we are trying to make sure we understand changes that will survive into better times." The value of “RIAs comes from having deep relationships with people. Advisors already were working with many of their clients digitally, but now they have to deal with their colleagues digitally … from many locations.”

He said officers at advisory firms “have been deep in conversations determining how to be more efficient. There will be a continuation of discussions of scale and digitalization to save costs.”

In the coming quarters, Clark said, advisors will be more involved both in managing portfolios and with financial planning because market changes will have to be woven into clients’ future plans. Some advisors of late have moved client assets from fixed income into cash and they will be redeploying those funds, he added.

“RIAs may see a bad quarter for revenues for a quarter or two,” Clark said, “but business will stabilize. We have not seen advisors losing clients.”

Schwab has adjusted to the new realities by changing its annual fall conference, IMPACT, which was to be held in Boston in November, to a digital format. That means no face-to-face networking, but the conference may draw an even larger audience than in the past. IMPACT will be the cornerstone event under the new paradigm, he said.

One change that advisors are dealing with now is an increased focus on charitable giving by their clients, which is being driven by the increased needs of charities and individuals caused by Covid-19.

They also have to work with clients as market volatility begins to fade, and will have to make accommodations for the localized nature of the reopening of business.

Elsewhere, Schwab’s acquisition of its chief publically traded rival, TD Ameritrade, is proceeding as the firms await the needed clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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