On the week of November 4th, a five-person team of Apriem Advisors attended the Schwab Impact 2019 Conference at the San Diego Convention Center. The team included:

  1. Rhonda Ducote, AIF®, President / Principal
  2. Benjamin Lau, CFA, Chief Investment Officer/Principal
  3. Landon Yoshida, CRPC®, AIF®, Vice President, Wealth Management & Principal
  4. Christopher Whitaker, CFP®, AIF®, Financial Planner & Advisor
  5. Joshua Garland, ChFC®, Financial Advisor

The Schwab Impact meeting is an annual event that is centered on the continued education of Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firms, with the goal of providing more value to end investors who come from all walks of life. The theme of this year’s event was “All In,” which challenged every Financial Advisor to look at themselves and ask if they are doing whatever it takes to be “All In” for their clients. This was an incredibly appropriate theme given the timing of the event was right at the heels of Charles Schwab’s announcement of zero commission’s on trades.

The event covered educational content viewed from all angles of a RIA firm including:

  1. Firm operations – Sales, marketing, cybersecurity, technology, regulatory compliance and succession planning.
  2. Employee experience – Best practices for attracting, engaging, and retaining the top talent available.
  3. Wealth management – How to grow and thrive through the headwinds of global market forces, geopolitical events and a trend toward passive investing.
  4. Client experience – Meeting client needs and expectations through cutting-edge approaches to effectively serve investors as they transition from millennials and young married couples through parenthood and retirement.
  5. Industry – Understanding how to differentiate your business and maintain positive momentum.

After drinking from the week long fire hose of information a few of my personal favorite take-aways were:

  • Alan Stein Jr. presented on “Skyrocket Your Sales Performance” where he highlighted Kobe Bryant’s key to success: “I never get bored with the basics.” Additionally, Alan Stein Jr. talked about the 3 Foundational Relationships between Yourself, Your Team and Your Clients; of the 3 the most important is how well you take care of yourself. Remember that you owe it to your family, clients and team to be the best possible version of yourself!
  • The Re-Architecting of Business: Spotlight on Financial Services, presented by Charles Marston – This session gave several potential predictions about where the financial services industry is headed, given the heavily technologically driven future. In summary, all financial advisors and planners generally do the same thing and commonly have very similar results. As technology continues to advance, these results will become even closer from one advisor to the next. You have to ask yourself what are you doing to make yourself valuable now and moving into the future?
  • The Happiness Factor: Making Your Personal and Work Lives Better, presented by Ken Harmon – Have you ever dreamed about winning the lottery? How about dreaded the potential of being diagnosed with a serious illness? Did you know that studies show in either case, within 18 months you will be back to the same level of happiness as before that life event occurred? The reality about happiness is that it has little to do with circumstance and everything to do with personal gratitude! Learning to say thank you and truly meaning it is the number one ingredient of a happy life!

As I made the drive home from San Diego to Newport Beach, the kids slept in the back seat, my wife shuffled through the seemingly endless tracks of Taylor Swift songs and I silently drove, reflecting on all of the big questions that arose from a week of personal growth and coaching. Do my actions reflect someone who is All In? How do I differentiate myself in this sea of sameness? What does the future hold when both simple and complex tasks can be accomplished by artificial intelligence? Do I embrace the change or become a voice and advocate for those that could potentially be left behind?

Eventually, my mind found its way back to the fireside chat with Charles Schwab who explained that back in 1975 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission deregulated the securities industry and allowed broker dealers to charge any fees they wanted. This occurred on May 1, 1975 and today is known as May Day.  At this historical turning point traditional brokerage firms began to raise their fees while Charles Schwab, through his ability to embrace technology (computers), dropped prices and became the first discount brokerage firm. His decision opened the world of investing up to the everyday blue-collar worker and changed things forever. So as I continue to search for answers to all the big questions, I am reminded by the story of Charles Schwab, that when we put fear behind us and the needs of people in front we find a compass for change that is worth following and that is what it means to be “All In.”