Schwab unveils free financial-planning tool

Firm opens new offering, along with online hub with planning resources, to all clients

Schwab unveils free financial-planning tool

The tech-based democratization of financial services continues to threaten wealth industry professionals south of the border as an online brokerage giant unveils a free suite of financial-planning offerings.

Through a self-guided tool called Schwab Plan, all clients of Charles Schwab are now being enabled to move toward their retirement goals with free digital financial plans, reported ThinkAdvisor. With the move, the firm says it has become “the only large retail brokerage to offer complimentary financial planning to all clients.”

After answering a few questions, clients using Schwab plan can expect to receive a plan that shows retirement goals along with the probability of funding those goals. They can also see how their current asset allocation compares to a recommended allocation, with suggested next steps to get and stay on track, said Chief Digital Officer Neesha Hathi.

In a statement, Hathi said the new tool can also “aggregate and factor in accounts held outside of Schwab.”

While the move opens the door for more holistic financial planning to be conducted through digital means, Hathi said the firm acknowledges that “technology doesn’t replace the power of trusted human relationships and connection. Speaking to ThinkAdvisor, she said that the tool does not necessarily replace a financial consultant or CFP professional, particularly for those clients or investors with “more complex needs and [a] preference for working with a person.”

Schwab has also launched an online financial-planning hub, where its clients along with all investors can find goals-based calculators and related tools and educational resources.

“Schwab sees what Vanguard’s doing [by] pushing into the digital space much more with planning, and it’s trying to stay one step ahead,” Gavin Spitzner, head of Wealth Consulting Partners, told ThinkAdvisor.

The move follows Schwab’s merger with TD Ameritrade and, more recently, its rollout of subscription pricing, which Spitzner said has brought down fees on virtually delivered human advice.

“Now they’re giving away planning for free to every single client. They are commoditizing planning,” Spitzner said.


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