Building a rich client experience is becoming all the rage at brokerage firms like Raymond James. This "high-touch" approach may be superficially expensive, but is a great way to compete for high-end clientele -- provided, of course, that you have the resources.
Registered Rep has a great piece on the rise of relationship management in the industry. For too long, many advisors considered themselves primarily stock pickers or life planners.
The new wave of firms focuses on the advisor as relationship builder and outsources just about everything else. Investment selection gets shifted to separate account managers and overlay vendors. Taxes get farmed out. Estate planning goes to trust companies.
What's left behind is what none of those sometime competitors can take away: your unique and closely guarded relationship with your clients. You might keep any of these functions in-house because you like them or you're good at doing them, but it's the relationship that represents the first and most essential value you add.