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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the IMPACT Awards program. if you don't find the answer to your question here.

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 who have advanced the industry and have achieved success through exemplary business practices.

In addition to the recognition, the awards program provides advisors with an opportunity to learn what leading firms are doing by sharing the winners’ best practices and achievements.

What are the IMPACT Awards categories?

There are three IMPACT Awards categories:

  • Best-in-Business IMPACT Award™ recognizes an independent investment advisory firm for excellence in business management and client services.
  • Pacesetter IMPACT Award™ recognizes an independent investment advisory firm that has realized accelerated growth through strategic management, innovative practices, and ongoing investments in business capabilities.
  • Trailblazer IMPACT Award™ recognizes an independent investment advisory firm for unique efforts to advance the industry such as serving a new client segment, creating a new business model, education efforts in the community, developing new talent, or advocating for the industry.
How do I know what award I should apply for?

Each award recognizes—and celebrates—different areas of excellence, and each has differing qualifications for number of years in business. One winner will be selected for each of the three awards.

  • The Best-in-Business IMPACT Award is focused on the management of a firm and its practice management. This award is for firms that have been in business for more than 10 years.
  • The Pacesetter IMPACT Award is for firms that have achieved accelerated growth through the strategic management, innovative practices and ongoing investments in business capabilities. This award is for firms that have been in business for less than 10 years.
  • The Trailblazer IMPACT Award recognizes a firm for an initiative that the firm has developed and driven forward in an effort to move the RIA industry as a whole forward. This award is for firms that have been in been business for more than 5 years.
How many awards will be given?

One winner will be selected for each of the three awards.

Will winners receive any prizes?

Winners of the Best-in-Business IMPACT Award, Pacesetter IMPACT Award, and Trailblazer IMPACT Award will be 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.

What if I have other questions?

Please us with any additional questions.

Who is eligible for the IMPACT Awards?

The firms must:

  • Use Charles Schwab as a custodian for client assets.
  • Have been in business as an independent investment advisory firm for 10 years or more (Best-in-Business IMPACT Award); 10 years or less (Pacesetter IMPACT Award); 5 years or more (Trailblazer IMPACT Award).
  • Have at least $25 million in assets under management.
  • Registered as an investment advisory firm with the Securities and Exchange Commission or applicable state securities regulators.
  • Not have been an IMPACT Awards winner within the past 5 years. Past winners of the Pacesetter Award may not participate again in the Pacesetter IMPACT Award.
Does my firm need to have a relationship with Schwab to be eligible to be considered for an IMPACT Awards?

Yes. Firms must use Charles Schwab Advisor Services to custody client assets in order to be considered for an IMPACT Award.

How do you participate in the IMPACT Awards program?

Nominations for all awards will be accepted May 15–June 30, 2013.

The nomination window for accepting applications for 2013 IMPACT Awards is now closed. Sign up to be notified about the 2014 IMPACT Awards program.

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

For the Best-in-Business IMPACT Award, Pacesetter IMPACT Award, and Trailblazer IMPACT Award, you may nominate your firm once in each category.

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

Yes, we encourage you to participate every year. However, Best-in-Business and Leadership Award winners 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 two award categories.

Is there a fee to participate?

There are no fees to participate in the IMPACT Awards.

Can I nominate my firm in more than one category?

Yes, you can nominate your firm once in each of the categories. However, multiple nominations for the same firm for the Best-in-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 will be 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 electronically through website will be accepted

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

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

What are the program deadlines?

Nominations will be accepted May 15–June 30, 2013 through the website.

When will the winners of the IMPACT Awards be announced?

The IMPACT Awards will be presented at IMPACT 2013, a leading industry conference taking place November 10–13 in Washington, DC. Information about the winners will be posted online after they are announced at the conference.

How will winners be notified?

Winners will be notified in September. Winners will be announced at the IMPACT Awards ceremony at IMPACT 2013 and posted online.

Will runners-up be announced?

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

How will winners be selected?

Entries will be reviewed to ensure that they meet all eligibility requirements and Schwab criteria. The remaining finalists will then be 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 will convene to review finalist nominations and select the winners in each category. Final selection will be subject to acceptance of the IMPACT Awards Terms & Conditions and final approval by Schwab. In granting its final approval, Schwab will be guided by the criteria for the IMPACT Awards Program, and will also consider 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 will be used to decide the winners?

Nominations for the 2013 IMPACT Awards will be evaluated based on the 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
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 on understanding the unique needs of a specific client segment and developed an innovative approach to serving them (i.e., a new business model, marketing strategy or strategic plan)
  • Made a difference in their community though programs to educate new audiences about financial planning
  • Helped shape the industry’s future through advocacy efforts in Washington or involvement with industry associations
  • Made strides in attracting and cultivating the RIA industry’s next generation of talent
Awards and/or other Distinctions

For more detailed information on “How Entries Are Evaluated” for all three awards, please review the judging section.

How will Schwab use the information provided through the nomination forms?

Information you provide will be used to review and judge your nomination for the IMPACT Awards program. Schwab and the judging panel will maintain the confidentiality of your nomination. Schwab will not sell information collected. See the IMPACT Awards Terms & Conditions for more information.

How will objectivity be maintained in the selection process?

Schwab will use the eligibility criteria to review all nominations received. Once Schwab confirms the finalists, a judging panel of industry experts will select the winners for all three awards. All IMPACT Awards winners are subject to Schwab’s final approval.

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