Schwab Advisor Services says its strategy to create an integrated advisor desktop is focused on best of breed apps and “meaningful integration,” differentiating it from TD Ameritrade Institutional’s open-architecture strategy that gives advisor’s more choice of apps.
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“I respect the strategy TD is pursuing with respect to integration, but we believe that you cannot deliver high-quality deep integration within an unlimited or expansive number of participants,” Schwab’s Brian Shenson says. “That’s why we are developing deep and meaningful integration with selected providers.
“I want to impress on you that our strategy is to bring together best of breed technology providers and work with them to build integration through Schwab OpenView Gateway that is high-quality and driven by best-practice workflows for advisors,” says Shenson, director of marketing at Schwab Advisor Services (SAS).
“We’ve identified that this is a multiyear initiative for Schwab,” says Shenson, director of marketing at Schwab Advisor Services. “We are so committed that we’ve established a new business to ensure these solutions are high-quality and provide enduring sustainability.”
Shenson did not quibble with my analysis of the technology path SAS is pursuing versus TDAI’s.
TDAI’s overlay of Salesforce enables three financial planning and nine portfolio management apps to integrate their data into Salesforce. That provides an RIA lots of flexibility.
If your firm prefers AssetBook to Morningstar for portfolio reporting, that’s fine. If you prefer eMoney to MoneyGuide Pro, that’s okay, too.
In contrast, Schwab’s integration of its custodial data with Salesforce does not allow advisors to integrate data from any financial planning apps into its version of Salesforce and just one PMS system, Schwab Portfolio Services, SAS’s outsource service for portfolio management. No other PMS system can port data into the version of Salesforce integrated with Schwab’s custodial data.
“PMS is in our sites,” says Shenson. “We’re starting with Schwab Performance Technologies solutions but will be making announcements later about how we integrate with PMS apps.” He could not put a date on when it will get done.
TDAI’s integration strategy is more difficult to deliver, but Jon Patullo, director of technology product management at TDAI, calls it “true integration.”
Instead of building point-to-point interfaces, TDAI’s approach is to structure the custodial data it pushes into Salesforce into a database in Salesforce that can be utilized by other apps. For example, TDAI’s custody data, after it is fed into Salesforce, can be pushed into three financial planning applications, MoneyGuide Pro, eMoney Advisor, and Finance Logix.
Similarly, TDAI’s integration of Salesforce brings in data from nine portfolio management systems (PMS) and that data is structured so it can be pushed into other apps. Data from PMS apps can be pushed from TDAI’s version of Salesforce into MoneyGuide Pro, eMoney Advisor, and Finance Logix. (Below is a list TDAI provided showing all the apps integrated with Salesforce.)
Both (SAS) and TD Ameritrade Institutional (TDAI) have identified CRM systems as the most important app to an advisor, and they’ve both identified Salesforce as the most important CRM. Why Salesforce?
While custodians won’t admit it, I suspect it’s because they can customize their own versions of Salesforce. They can get a lot of users on their “house-brand” of CRM.
Both Schwab and TDAI give away the interface to Salesforce, enabling advisors using Salesforce to use access their custodial data for free. However, putting more advisors on their overlays of Salesforce gives the custodians more direct influence over your desktop.
Despite my skepticism, TDAI’s Patullo says TDAI is agnostic about which CRM advisors choose to use. He says TDAI likes Salesforce because it is used in-house by TDAI employees.
TD retail employees as well as TDAI staff all use Salesforce, from branches in Canada, Florida and further-flung places worldwide, all use Salesforce. Patullo says TD’s enterprise deal with Salesforce allows favorable pricing for TDAI-affiliated RIAs.
More importantly, TDAI has programmers in-house that specialize in customizing Salesforce. That internal knowledge may be an asset.
TDAI has supplied 50 advisor workflows in its Salesforce overlay. That’s impressive. The workflows, which were shown to me during an hour-long demo by TDAI on Wednesday, enable an advisor to draw from a data bank of 50 processes common to RIAs.
None of the CRMs have created a store of workflows for their users (which I think is crazy). So this is a really nice feature offered by TDAI’s version of Salesforce.
As for other CRMs—such as Redtail, Ebix SmartOffice and Junxure—Patullo says TDAI is committed to providing the same functionality in its version of Salesforce to users of those other CRM apps.
The competition between TDAI and SAS to build the best advisor desktop is building, as we approach the times of the year when these two custodians hold their annual RIA conferences, and breakaway brokers plan their exits from wirehouses after year-end.
Last week, SAS announced that the launch of a beta test of its custodial interface with Junxure, a popular desktop CRM for RIAs. Schwab also announced creation of a separate business, Schwab Intelligent Technologies, “to leverage technology and best practice work flows to help RIAs drive efficiencies in their firms.”
Apps Integrated With TDAI’s Version Of Salesforce
PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
FINANCIAL PLANNING SOFTWARE
- Money Guide Pro
- Finance Logix
DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT & STORAGE
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- TD Ameritrade
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