Recognizing the best
of the best.


Congratulations to this year’s winners!

Nominations are now closed.

Winners will be notified in October and announced at IMPACT 2017 in Chicago.

Get notifited for next year

We’ll let you know when it’s time for 2018 IMPACT Award nominations.

Sign Up

Past winners

Meet the judges

IMPACT Award winners are selected by a panel of prominent leaders from both the business world and the financial services industry.

Blaine F. Aikin

Blaine F. Aikin

Executive Chairman, fi360

Blaine F. Aikin

Blaine F. Aikin

Executive Chairman, fi360

Blaine Aikin is the executive chairman of fi360 and a recognized thought leader in the field of financial advice and fiduciary responsibility. He joined fi360 in 2005 as chief knowledge officer, became chief executive officer in 2007, and was named executive chairman in 2015. He led the rise to prominence of the company’s professional development capabilities, investment management platform for advisors, and business research and practice management services that help advisors and financial institutions gather, grow, and protect investor assets. His rich experience includes having been a financial planning practitioner, chief investment officer, and corporate executive responsible for the design, delivery, and management of investment products.

Mr. Aikin is a well-known speaker and the author of numerous articles on fiduciary responsibility and investment management. He also writes the monthly Fiduciary Corner column in InvestmentNews magazine. He has been included on Investment Advisor magazine’s IA25 list of the most influential people in the investment advisory community, and RIABiz named him one of the 10 most influential individuals in the 401(k) industry. He currently serves as chairman of the Board of Directors of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

Mr. Aikin received a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Allegheny College and a master of public management and policy degree from the Heinz College of Carnegie Mellon University. Upon graduation he was selected for the prestigious Presidential Management Intern Program. He is a Certified Financial Planner® professional, a Chartered Financial Analyst® charterholder, and an Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst® designee.

An avid outdoorsman, Mr. Aikin serves on the Steering Committees of the Pennsylvania Forest Stewards program and the Pennsylvania Center for Private Forests.

Julie Littlechild

Julie Littlechild


Julie Littlechild

Julie Littlechild


Julie Littlechild is president of, which conducts ongoing research among financial professionals, their clients, and their teams to uncover the drivers of deeper engagement and the impact on long-term value and growth. Those data are the foundation for engaging keynote presentations, workshops, and thought leadership programs across North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe.

Ms. Littlechild has worked with and studied top-producing financial professionals, their clients, and their teams for more than 20 years. She is a respected researcher, a popular speaker, and a recognized expert on driving deeper engagement and growth.

Prior to launching, Ms. Littlechild established Advisor Impact, where she created The Client Audit, one of the most successful client feedback programs for advisors. She sat on the national board of the Financial Planning Association from 2010 to 2013, was twice identified as one of the 25 Most Influential People in Financial Planning by Investment Advisor magazine, and won the Influencer Award in practice management from Financial Planning magazine. She works in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe and holds a master of business administration degree from the University of Toronto.

Kevin Keller

Kevin R. Keller

Chief Executive Officer, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

Kevin Keller

Kevin R. Keller

Chief Executive Officer, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

Kevin Keller is chief executive officer of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board). As CEO Mr. Keller has established CFP Board as a leader in the financial advisory profession through its mission of benefiting the public by granting and upholding CFP® certification as the standard of excellence in financial planning.

Since joining CFP Board in May 2007, Mr. Keller has led the organization in multiple ways in support of its mission. Under his leadership, the number of CFP professionals in the United States has increased by more than 40% to nearly 77,000, while a fiduciary standard requirement for CFP professionals when providing financial-planning services was implemented, thus ensuring strong consumer protections. Program improvements were also realized with the addition of new capstone course requirements and apprenticeship experience options, which strengthened the CFP certification requirements. In addition, Mr. Keller led CFP Board in transitioning the comprehensive examination from a paper-based test to a computerized format.

In 2011 and with the overwhelming support of CFP professionals, Mr. Keller instituted an annual advertising campaign to raise awareness and recognition of CFP certification among the campaign’s target audience. In the public policy arena, he reinforced the leadership role of CFP Board by advancing policy positions related to financial planning that benefit the public, working in collaboration with industry and investor protection organizations.

Anticipating the future for CFP Board and CFP professionals, Mr. Keller recently launched the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning, which focuses on creating a more diverse and sustainable financial planner workforce and establishing an academic home and body of knowledge for this important, emerging profession.

Mr. Keller has a bachelor of science degree in agriculture and a master of science degree from Ohio State University, and he earned the Certified Association Executive credential in 2000.

Tom Robinson

Thomas R. Robinson

President and Chief Executive Officer, AACSB International


Thomas R. Robinson

President and Chief Executive Officer, AACSB International

Tom Robinson serves as president and chief executive officer of AACSB International, the primary global accreditor and membership organization of business schools. He works alongside the organization’s board and global network of staff, members, and volunteers to foster engagement, accelerate innovation, and amplify impact in business education.

Prior to joining AACSB, Mr. Robinson spent seven years at CFA Institute, most recently as managing director of the Americas and managing director of education globally, providing vision and leadership for a 100-plus-member global team that produced and delivered educational content and programs for candidates, members, universities, and other investment professionals. He also served as co–executive sponsor of CFA Institute’s Future of Finance Initiative.

Prior to joining CFA Institute, Mr. Robinson spent 14 years at the University of Miami, serving as a tenured accounting faculty member and in several administrative roles, including department chair and director of the Master of Professional Accounting and Personal Financial Planning programs. He taught graduate courses in financial statement analysis, personal financial planning, and valuation. Mr. Robinson has won several teaching awards, has published regularly in academic and professional journals, and has authored or co-authored multiple books.

Prior to joining the University of Miami, he practiced public accounting and financial planning for almost a decade, primarily with Deloitte and Pritchett Dlusky & Saxe in Columbus, Ohio. He also served as a consultant and investment advisor to individuals, law firms, accounting firms, professional associations, and government agencies in the areas of valuation, wealth management, and financial statement analysis.

Mr. Robinson is a CFA® charterholder, a certified public accountant, a Certified Financial Planner®, and a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s and a doctorate from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.

Sean R. Walters

Sean R. Walters

Chief Executive Officer, Investments & Wealth Institute


Sean R. Walters

Chief Executive Officer, Investments & Wealth Institute

Sean Walters is chief executive officer of the Investments & Wealth Institute (formerly IMCA). Established in 1985, Investments & Wealth Institute is a nonprofit professional association and credentialing organization serving individual members and certificants in 39 countries. Its 11,000-plus members collectively manage more than $3 trillion, providing investment consulting and wealth management services to individual and institutional investors.

Investments & Wealth Institute’s Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) certification represents an advanced competency standard for investment management professionals and was the first financial services credential in the United States to receive international accreditation (ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024) for personnel certification programs. Investments & Wealth Institute’s Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) certification is for advanced wealth management professionals working with high-net-worth clients. Investments & Wealth Institute also develops and delivers more than a dozen live and online programs annually: the Investments & Wealth Institute Conference Series, Masters Series, Focus Series, and assessment-based certificate programs.

Mr. Walters has been active in association management since 1990 and was hired by Investments & Wealth Institute in 2007. Prior to that, he was managing director for the Financial Planning Association and director of membership for the International Association for Financial Planning. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in history, and he holds a master of business administration degree from the University of Indianapolis. He is a Certified Association Executive and has earned the Institute of Organization Management designation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Walters lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife and three daughters.

Questions? We’ve got answers.

Get started by viewing our frequently asked questions about the IMPACT Awards. If questions remain, contact us, and we’ll find clarification together.


The content on the IMPACT® website and in discussions at the IMPACT conference are meant for general informational purposes. The views expressed are not intended to provide specific financial, accounting, compliance, tax, regulatory, or legal advice.

Third-party firms, speakers, panelists, sponsors, and exhibitors are not affiliated with or employed by Schwab. Any mention of third-party firms or individuals is not and should not be construed as a recommendation, endorsement, or sponsorship by Schwab.

The IMPACT Awards® are not a referral to, endorsement or recommendation of, or testimonial for the advisor with respect to its investment advisory or other services.

Independent investment advisors are not owned by, affiliated with, or supervised by Schwab.

Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., receives remuneration from fund companies for recordkeeping, shareholder services, and other administrative services for shares purchased through its Mutual Fund OneSource® service. Schwab also may receive remuneration from transaction fee fund companies for certain administrative services.

Charles Schwab Advisor Services® serves independent investment advisors and includes the custody, trading, and support services of Schwab.

©2017 Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab”). All rights reserved. Member SIPC. PER 0817-767U



What is the purpose of the IMPACT Awards program?

Independent investment advisors have fundamentally changed the financial services landscape by providing client-centric, independent advice to affluent investors. Established in 2006 by Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab”), the IMPACT Awards honor firms that have advanced the industry and have achieved success through exemplary business practices.

As a response to the integration of the independent investment advisor and independent retirement plan provider communities in 2014, an award was added to recognize the unique achievements this group has brought to the retirement plan industry. In addition to the recognition, the awards program provides independent investment advisors and independent retirement plan providers with an opportunity to learn what leading firms are doing by sharing the winners’ best practices and achievements.

What are the IMPACT Awards categories?

Learn more about each IMPACT Award.

How many awards are given?

One winner is selected for each of the four awards.

Do winners receive any prizes?

Winners of each award category are honored at the ceremony, with each firm receiving a trophy and a $15,000 donation to a charitable organization of the winner’s choice. The selection of each winning firm’s charity is subject to Schwab’s approval.


Who is eligible for the IMPACT Awards?

Learn more about the eligibility requirements.

Must my firm have a relationship with Schwab to be eligible for consideration for an IMPACT Award?

Yes. To be considered for an IMPACT Award, firms must use Charles Schwab, Charles Schwab Advisor Services, or Charles Schwab Bank to custody client assets.


How do you participate in the IMPACT Awards program?

Nominations for 2017 are now closed. You can sign up to receive email notification when 2018 IMPACT Award nominations are being accepted.

Is there a limit to how many nominations I can make?

You may nominate your firm once in each category for which you qualify.

If I participated in previous years, can I participate again?

Yes. We encourage you to participate every year. Best-in-Business and leadership award winners, however, will not be allowed to participate in any category for five years; previous Pacesetter Award winners may not participate in the Pacesetter IMPACT Award category again and must wait five years to participate in either of the other three award categories. Winners of the Best-in-Retirement Business IMPACT Award must wait five years before they are eligible for another award in any category.

Is there a fee to participate?

There is no fee to participate in the IMPACT Awards program.

Can I nominate my firm in more than one category?

Yes. You can nominate your firm once in each of the categories for which you qualify. However, multiple nominations for the same firm for the Best-in-Business IMPACT Award, Best-in-Retirement Business IMPACT Award, Pacesetter IMPACT Award, and Trailblazer IMPACT Award are not permitted.

Am I able to provide supplemental materials in addition to the nomination form as part of my award nomination?

At the time of nomination, only a completed form is accepted. Later in the process, Schwab may ask for additional information.

What if I do not complete the data requested on the nomination form?

All fields must be completed for a nomination to be accepted.

May I submit my nomination via regular mail?

No. Only nominations received through the nomination form are accepted.

May my firm use a previously published case study to fulfill the essay portion of the Best-in-Business IMPACT Award, Best-in-Retirement Business IMPACT Award, Pacesetter IMPACT Award, or Trailblazer IMPACT Award nomination?

Yes. Nominations may include previously produced content that is owned by the firm; however, information that is copyrighted by another source cannot be used.

Timeline and Notification

What are the program deadlines?

Nominations for 2017 are now closed. You can sign up to receive email notification when 2018 IMPACT Award nominations are being accepted.

When are the winners of the IMPACT Awards announced?

The IMPACT Awards will be presented at IMPACT 2017, a leading industry conference taking place November 14–17 in Chicago, Illinois. Information about the winners will be posted online after they are announced at the conference.

How are winners notified?

Winners will be notified in September via phone. Winners will be announced at the IMPACT Awards ceremony at IMPACT 2017.

Are runners-up chosen?

Only one winner for each category will be announced. No runners-up are selected.


How are winners selected?

Entries are reviewed to ensure that they meet all eligibility requirements and Schwab criteria. The remaining finalists are then judged by a distinguished panel of leaders from across the business world and financial services industry who understand the challenges and opportunities facing today’s investors and those who serve them. These judges convene to review finalist nominations and select the winners in each category. Final selection is subject to acceptance of the IMPACT Awards terms and conditions and final approval by Schwab. In granting its final approval, Schwab is guided by the criteria for the IMPACT Awards program and also considers which candidates best exemplify the prestige and purpose of the awards and reflect Schwab’s reputation in the marketplace for integrity, service, and value. Schwab has absolute discretion in approving the winners, and Schwab’s decisions in all matters related to the awards and the IMPACT Awards program are final.

What criteria are used to determine the winners?

Nominations for the IMPACT Awards are evaluated based on each firm’s ability to demonstrate success in the following areas.

Best-in-Business IMPACT Award

  • Business planning
  • Technology strategy
  • Practice management and employee development
  • Client loyalty

Best-in-Retirement Business IMPACT Award

  • Business planning in the retirement industry
  • Technology strategy in the retirement industry
  • Practice management and employee development
  • Client loyalty

Pacesetter IMPACT Award
Demonstrated accelerated growth in tandem with the following:

  • Business planning
  • Technology strategy
  • Practice management and employee development
  • Client loyalty

Trailblazer IMPACT Award
Demonstrated change in helping the industry reach new heights, for example:

  • Focused understanding of the unique needs of a specific client segment and a developed, innovative approach to serving them (i.e., a new business model, marketing strategy, or strategic plan)
  • Made a difference in the community through programs to educate new audiences about financial planning
  • Helped shape the industry’s future through advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., or involvement with industry associations
  • Made strides in attracting and cultivating the RIA industry’s next generation of talent
  • Awards or other distinctions

How does Schwab use the information provided through the nomination form?

Information you provide is used to review and judge your nomination for the IMPACT Awards program. Schwab and the judging panel maintain the confidentiality of your nomination. Schwab does not sell the information collected. See the IMPACT Awards terms and conditions for more information.

How is objectivity maintained in the selection process?

Schwab uses the eligibility criteria to review all nominations received. Once Schwab confirms the finalists, a judging panel of industry experts selects the winners for all four awards. All IMPACT Award winners are subject to Schwab’s final approval.

We’re eager to help.

Nomination process

Leon Bridges

His unique sound has taken him from busing tables to performing for President Barack Obama in the White House and making television appearances on The Late Late Show, Saturday Night Live, and Austin City Limits. Bridges and his band have been on two world tours. He received the 2015 Grulke Prize for Developing US Act at the 2015 SXSW Music Festival, where he was a hot topic among both fans and critics.

When you hear his smooth, melodic voice, it’s easy to compare him to Otis Redding or Sam Cooke, and indeed he feels he must carry on the tradition of soul music, honoring the great artists who came before him. But the 26-year-old native of Fort Worth, Texas, whose fame is quickly growing, has his own unique sound, with echoes of gospel and R&B.

For Bridges soul has a raw and imperfect quality that can come only from deep within. As he riffs on the guitar in his retro fedora and suit, he sings from the heart about family, truth, and love. What comes out of him is “real and life-affirming in a musical way,” says music producer and guitarist Austin Jenkins, who helped Bridges first record his music.

Listen to Bridges’ “Smooth Sailin’.”

You are now leaving the IMPACT® 2017 website

Return to IMPACT 2017 site