Charles Schwab Advisor Review
With over $7 trillion AUM, Charles Schwab is one of the highest rated financial services firms. This review will break down its advisory services.
Charles Schwab is a financial services firm based in Westlake, Texas. The company provides brokerage and banking services, as well as wealth management and advisory. In J.D. Power’s 2023 Investor Satisfaction Study, the firm took first place with a high customer satisfaction score of 752 out of 1,000. Schwab is registered with the SEC as an RIA and broker, as well as with FINRA.
The company offers three types of financial advisory services. Each has its own features, account minimums, and fees. This guide will outline what Charles Schwab offers, as well as break down other key company information, including investment philosophy, how to open an account, and contact information.
Assets Under Management
Number of Employees
Walter W. Bettinger II
3000 Schwab Way Westlake, TX, 76262-8104 United States
Pros and Cons of Charles Schwab
- Upholds a fiduciary duty
- Offers wealth management
- Fee-only structure lessens conflicts of interest
- Advisors are CFPs
- High account minimums
- 298 disclosures
Types of Clients Charles Schwab Serves
Charles Schwab offers three types of advisory services which feature help from an in-person/human professional. The larger your investment, the more you’ll get in return However, the firm’s tiers range from one that’s tailored to beginners to a wealth management program. Below is a table displaying each account type, as well as its accompanying minimum:
|Account Type||Minimum Investment|
|Financial Planning||$500,000 if working with a dedicated consultant, otherwise, no account minimum is required|
|Intelligent Portfolio Premium||$25,000|
Besides for its Financial Planning tier, you won’t be able to access the other two services unless you meet the account minimums above. Keep in mind that for the Intelligent Portfolios Premium offering, you may still meet the minimum if you have a total of $25,000 across several Charles Schwab accounts.
On top of the account minimums, you’ll also need to cover advisory fees and costs associated with transactions you make or securities you buy. Further along in this article, we’ll outline Charles Schwab’s fee structure.
Financial Advisor Services Charles Schwab Offers
Charles Schwab allows you to work with a professional via each of its three tiers. As mentioned, the more you’re able to invest, the more assistance and service you’ll receive. The firm’s lowest tier, Financial Planning, grants you active help from a certified financial planner (CFP). However, Intelligent Portfolio Premium gives you that same feature, plus robo-advisor tools.
Here’s a detailed overview of what each tier offers you:
Charles Schwab allows clients to get access to financial planning services without any account minimum. If you don’t invest any money to start with, you’ll simply receive planning tools, such as calculators and boilerplate plans. However, if you invest $500,000, you’ll receive a dedicated consultant. These experts can work with you to build your portfolio and plan your future. You can meet with them via a local branch, over the phone, or online.
Schwab’s dedicated financial consultants can provide help with the following:
- Retirement planning
- Education planning
- Estate planning
- Tax planning
- Insurance planning
- Investment management
- Risk management
Intelligent Portfolio Premium
An initial investment of $25,000 allows you to take advantage of Charles Schwab’s robo- and human advisor hybrid, Intelligent Portfolio Premium. The firm touts its technology as being able to help you build, monitor, and rebalance your investment portfolio. You’ll also get one-on-one assistance from a CFP, who can help you plan out your investments, as well as other aspects of your finances.
According to Charles Schwab, the robo-advisor will mainly focus on investing in low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to balance risk and reward. Additionally, if you need to utilize the CFP portion of the service, you may speak with them online or over the phone.
With a minimum investment of $1,000,000 or more, you’ll gain access to Charles Schwab’s wealth management service. In this case, you’ll receive personalized advice, as well as be able to work with a dedicated team of experts. Chief among those is your financial consultant, who will serve as your first point of contact with the firm.
Schwab also offers private wealth advisory services if you eclipse $10,000,000 or more in assets. This offers the same benefits as above; however, the company will afford you the best service available to ensure your needs are met.
Each of the advisor services above has accompanying fees you’ll be responsible for paying. Charles Schwab charges flat monthly and assets under management (AUM) fees, depending on the tier you choose. Here’s a breakdown of the first two tiers:
|Account Type||Minimum Investment|
|Financial Planning||No fees except when working with a financial consultant. For the latter, fees vary depending on the services you require.|
|Intelligent Portfolio Premium||One-time fee of $300, then $30 per month|
For its wealth advisory service, Charles Schwab charges a percentage of AUM. Depending on how much you have, your fee will adjust on a sliding scale. The more you have, the smaller the percentage will be. Below is a table displaying how much you can expect to pay at varying asset levels:
Each client of Charles Schwab will have unique needs and goals. So, whenever you work with one of the firm’s experts, you can expect them to tailor what they do to your objectives. The company’s robo-advisor product, however, does attempt to make safer investments by picking low-cost ETFs that diversify your portfolio.
Charles Schwab’s seven investment principles may also give clues to the philosophy its advisors implement. These are for investors to:
- Establish a financial plan.
- Begin saving and investing now.
- Diversify their portfolio.
- Keep excess fees and taxes to a minimum.
- Protect themselves against losses.
- Regularly monitor and rebalance their portfolio.
- Favor logic over market trends and emotion.
Charles Schwab is an RIA and broker that’s registered with both the SEC and FINRA. Because of this, it must maintain transparency and report any regulatory events as disclosures on its Form ADV. Per FINRA’s BrokerCheck, the firm has 298 total disclosures, which, compared to others, is on the high side.
236 of Charles Schwab’s disclosures are arbitrations between the firm and a client. However, 57 are regulatory events, which refer to legal proceedings involving the firm and its representatives. Each of the firm’s disclosures is publicly available on the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) or FINRA’s BrokerCheck.
Charles Schwab offers clients several methods to contact the firm in case they have any questions or need assistance:
- (877) 519-1403 for general inquiries
- (855) 694-5208 for questions regarding Intelligent Portfolios
- Via chat on the company’s website.
- By visiting a local branch
How to Become a Client
To start working with Charles Schwab, we recommend you visit the firm’s website and select the product that applies to you based on your potential initial investment. Online, you’ll be able to open an account and schedule a consultation with an in-person or phone advisor, if applicable. Alternatively, you may call the firm at (877) 519-1403 and ask for a representative to point you in the right direction based on your needs and goals.
Tips for Choosing a Financial Advisor Firm
Choosing the right advisory firm is an important and personal decision. Ultimately, it’s most important to find one in which its professionals are most fit to serve you and your needs. The first step in this process is to research both the firm and advisor by using free tools like FINRA’s BrokerCheck and the SEC’s Investment Adviser Search. These both allow you to verify a firm/expert’s credentials, as well as disclosures against them.
Account minimums are also a factor that will influence your decision. Some, such as Charles Schwab, offer services with a lower barrier to entry. Meanwhile, others have steep requirements that may keep you from being able to work with their professionals. Fees are also a consideration, as they may be too expensive or charged in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.
To help you jumpstart your search for a qualified advisor, we recommend using a free matching tool. This will require you to fill out a short quiz about your finances. Then, it’ll pair you with up to three vetted professionals near you.
The information in this review is based on publicly available information directly from Charles Schwab’s website, the SEC, and FINRA. Neither the firm nor its representatives have any say on what we’ve included on this page.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do Charles Schwab advisors charge?
What you’ll end up paying for Schwab’s advisory services depends on the tier you select. For its financial planning services, fees will vary based on what you need an advisor to do. However, the Intelligent Portfolio Premium product’s fees are clearer cut, with an initial $300 cost, then a recurring $30 per month.
The company’s wealth management service charges are based on AUM. As your assets increase, the fee percentage goes down. For instance, the firm charges 0.80% on the first $1,000,000 you put in. However, if you reach $2,000,000 AUM, the fee drops down to 0.75%.
How much money should you have to get a Schwab wealth advisor?
Schwab’s Wealth Advisory requires you to have at least $1,000,000 to gain access to its services. For its private wealth management, you’ll need to have upwards of $10,000,000.
How do Charles Schwab advisors get paid?
Charles Schwab compensates its financial consultants with a base salary. It also grants them what it calls Relationship Pay, which comes when they keep lasting relationships with clients, and Solutions Pay, which is for attracting clients and recommending products or services.
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