Charles Schwab seems sensitive to advisor concerns that they will lose business to their own custodian, but at the end of the day it looks like RIAs compete with Schwab at their own risk.
Bernie Clark of Schwab Advisor Services says that whether RIA affiliates like it or not, management remains deeply invested in the franchised "independent branch services" program as the key to expanding the company's branch network.
The tone here is a little stronger than what we got a few weeks ago, when Schwab was insisting that the new branches were only targeting "underserved" markets and so would not step on existing RIA affiliates' toes.
Now Clark explains that because the program primarily targets mass affluent -- or as he puts it, "pure retail" -- accounts, most RIAs are already priced out of this market anyway and so active competition will be minimal.
I know a lot of advisors have been aggressively courting smaller accounts in the hope of boosting their AUM and eventually growing alongside less wealthy clients. Whether you're one of them or not, if you're concerned by what Schwab's doing, let us know.