Although the integration between Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade is still far from complete, the acquisition is starting to bear fruit for Schwab’s technology for advisors.
In July, independent financial advisers will be able to open, fund and set up multiple types of accounts on Schwab’s custodian platform in a fully digital workflow. New digital integration adds money movements, with account transfer or automated clearinghouse, to Schwab’s existing digital account opening tool, and expands the number of supported account types to include living trusts, inherited IRAs and custodial accounts. Ongoing account maintenance, such as adjusting an address or phone number, can be done in the same workflow.
The new feature cuts the overall time it takes to onboard a new customer in half and could likely cut it even further as more people get to grips with processes like Docusign, says Anthony Halpin, founding partner and director of the company. operation of Chicago Partners Wealth Advisors, a company that helped Schwab test the digital onboarding process.
Digital integration has been a goal of Schwab Advisor Services since Andrew Salesky took over the digital advisor solutions team in 2018, and was initially promised for a 2020 release. And although the company is not attributing the release To the technological capabilities acquired from TDA, the on-going integration process has accelerated development efforts and allowed Schwab to exceed its original roadmap, according to Alison Dooher, head of digital integration and customer service at Scwab. .
“The integration provided an opportunity for acceleration,” Dooher said on a recent call with members of the media.
A combined team – somewhat offset by a few rounds of layoffs – and increased resources gave Schwab significantly more development capacity, Salesky said. Schwab is also in the process of integrating some of the key features of TDA’s Veo technology platform, such as dashboard capabilities, navigation enhancements, and a revamped iRebal.
“We are spending in the digital space a level of investment that was previously Schwab’s entire portfolio,” said Salesky. “There are advantages of scale in terms of investment capacity. “
Digital integration allows Schwab’s custody platform to keep pace with other industry players, such as Bank of America’s COBE Merrill Lynch released in May, said Alois Pirker, research director at the wealth management practice of Aite Group.
However, it’s not a complete solution for RIAs, who also need financial planning, reporting and CRM software, says Pirker. Financial planning. Schwab said it supports integrations with 180 third-party technology vendors, but the quality of those integrations will ultimately matter more than the quantity, he says.
“[Schwab] still has work to do to achieve the level of integration that RIAs will demand, ”adds Pirker. “The depositories of startups are embarking on the search for the smallest RIAs. The TDA did a great job keeping them happy, and Schwab was historically not so committed to them.
Despite growing competition from new custodians, Schwab feels no pressure on its bottom line, says Salesky. The fourth quarter of 2020 was the best quarter on record for Schwab’s custodian business, and the pace continues into 2021.
“We are really seeing unprecedented levels of growth,” says Salesky. “Yes, there are competitors. There have always been competitors, and there have always been new entrants, but our business is growing.
“We are appreciated by the market,” he says.