Charles Schwab announced its Impact Award winners during its annual conference in Boston on Thursday.

The Impact Awards recognize financial advisors and firms that help better the industry through their leadership, operations, technology and growth.

The Leadership Award went to Jane Williams, co-founder, president and CEO of Sand Hill Global Advisors LLC in Palo Alto, Calif. Williams was acknowledged for here role in raising financial literacy and fiscal responsibility among women. Under her leadership, Sand Hill launched the Women's Wealth Network, which organizes and contributes to various events aimed at promoting financial know-how and self-sufficiency among the firm's clients and beyond.

The Best-in-Business Award for business management excellence was presented to The Colony Group LLC. The firm, which has offices in Boston, Washington, D.C., and Naples and West Palm Beach, Fla., was recognized for the its overall business structure, where staffers dedicated to company operations enable the financial professionals to focus on client service.

The Best-in-Tech Award winner was JMG Financial Group Ltd. in Oak Brook, Ill., which was cited for promoting efficiency by strategically integrating third-party and custom-built technology applications that enable it to add clients without expanding its staff.  

Finally, the Pacesetter Award went to Mt. Eden Investment Advisors LLC in San Francisco. The firm was recognized for its culture of ongoing education and development, which in turn attracted several experienced advisors from large firms--and their clients--to join Mt. Eden and grow the company's revenue during the economic tailspin of 2008.

Among other things, Mt. Eden pays the majority of exam prep costs for first runs at each level of the CFA and CFP tests, paying society dues, and retaining an executive coach for leadership training.

The fifth annual Impact Award winners were selected by a panel of judges from various industry associations and companies not affiliated with Schwab.