Schwab's purchase of U.S. Trust has caused concern among some of the independent, fee-based advisers that Schwab serves. So in June, it sent a letter assuring the advisers that U.S. Trust will not be targeting their clients.
The letter, which came with a separate statement of client-contact policy, was sent to the 5,900 advisers who run their businesses through the firm. The communication was described as an expansion of existing policy.
Schwab promised to protect the privacy of client information, saying it would not be used for business development purposes. The firm also said it would not offer Schwab employees an incentive to refer customers to U.S. Trust instead of to advisers in Schwab's AdvisorSource program.
Dean Parisian, a Schwab-affiliated adviser in Alpharetta, Ga., isn't concerned about interference from U.S. Trust. "I've had no problems with my client base," he says.
But a West Coast adviser is more skeptical. "U.S. Trust will have the database with my client base and you never know," he says. "They claim they won't solicit my clients, but how can you enforce that?"
"It's part of our policy," a Schwab spokesperson retorts. "Schwab will not share client information with U.S. Trust."