Last-Minute Steps for TD Advisors as Schwab Integration Closes In

Doug Fritz of F2 Strategy

We always knew it was high. No one wants to change custodians. It’s an absolute last-ditch, terrible thing to have to do voluntarily. The cost of switching to [another custodian] was so high that the vast majority of TD clients decided to stay put and work with Schwab.

That’s a huge tell. And that’s a tell that, I think, for the next 10 years, we’ll be referencing back to that as newer custodians come to market. We had a huge reason to leave before the conversion and very few people did.

The ones that did leave, that we’re seeing leave, they were at TD for a billion [dollars] in assets and they were LPL shops that were using TD as their RIA custodian. LPL is going to win some of that business back, which is good for LPL. And LPL is investing a ton of money in technology and they’re doing a phenomenal job.

What’s most significant about F2 hiring Laura Korbel as president?

For F2 and our clients, this is one of those indications of what a growing, but responsibly growing, management consulting firm does.

[F2 is] focused on delivering more to our current clients and being more valuable every year that we’re in existence. We go deeper, we offer more, we’re able to provide more services and be more of a resource for our clients.

Having a president that can come in and help us to align our teams, align delivery from the combined Oakbrook and F2 teams, where Oakbrook [provides] a phenomenal access to experts that sort of are in one area of the market and that two experts are then in sort of a similar but slightly different version of the market.

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Bringing those two firms together [has made F2] double the size. And, with the amount of the industry spending on wealth technology, we continue to grow and grow and grow.

It was very important to me personally that we have a professional president to operate the company to scale. I see too many firms, especially founder-led firms, where their growth starts to hinder the experience of their clients because they’re kind of trying to grow but in the same model that they were founded in, in the same top-down hierarchical structures, and it doesn’t work.

And so, when we looked at where we’re going as a firm, and we looked at, most importantly, the experience that we wanted our clients to have, the number one thing post-acquisition of Oakbrook, was we need a dedicated management team that will help us to scale our services. And Laura is a scalability genius.

Why did F2 decide to hire a new president?

Funny thing. When [I started the] company, I was CEO, president, head of sales, I watered the plant. I still actually water the plant. I was the guy that set up people’s email addresses … My list of duties was massive. And so we hired experts. We hired project managers and analysts and digital experts, data architecture experts. All these experts.

Laura [will be] managing the staff, organizing the resources, overseeing the allocation of which person gets on what project and what time on that project. I was doing that for a period of time.

And so she takes on the president role from me … I run the company but now I have someone whose whole job, whose whole career has been, at accelerated levels, driving and leading much bigger companies than we are right now but aspirationally designed for what we want to become, to high levels of scalability, efficiency and profitability.

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What are the main reasons why you selected her as president?

We interviewed people that had worked with her in the past. We did our due diligence on her background. She had the reputation of being a phenomenally reliable employee and client-focused leader and her attention to detail around building methods of operating as firms to enable scale was off the charts.

She came incredibly highly recommended in all the areas that we’re looking to achieve: staff organization, scalable delivery and preparation for growth. Those are the three areas that she [was] highly qualified in. I would say the other reason why Laura [was chosen is] she’s also based here in Chicago, which is where we just relocated the firm to.

We’re still a dispersed workforce. The vast majority of us work from home. But, as we grow from 70 employees to 150 to 300 employees in the foreseeable future, having a base of operations here locally in the Chicago area is important to us as well. We have our eyes on growing up to 300 employees.

By when do you think that would be?

I would say over the next five years, we would reasonably expect to be three times the size we are now.

And the size you are now is what? How many people?

We’re 70 full-time employees.

What was the reason why you decided to move to Chicago from San Francisco?

A central location. [It’s] far closer centrally to our clients. Being in California is awesome. Weather, surfing. Can’t beat it. But it’s incredibly far from Boston and Miami and New York and Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

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