Five Of The Biggest Technology Stories For Advisors Of 2010

1.  Bank of New York Mellon Corp Acquires Albridge. While the purchase garnered some press, this is a huge story for independent advisors. BNY owns Pershing, the main clearing firm used by independent broker/dealers, and Albridge is dominant portfolio accounting and reporting system used by independent BDs. Pershing and the BDs are currently engaged in an uneasy dance over who will control the advisor’s desktop. Pershing obviously has lots of resources but BDs privately express wariness about the clearing firm becoming the Web destination for their advisors.
2.  FINRA Notice 10-06. Last January, FINRA released guidance on use of social media by registered reps.The long-awaited pronouncement cleared the way for reps to write blogs, use Twitter, and leverage social media sites used throughout American business. Last summer, Cambridge Investment Research, an independent Broker/Dealer with 2,000 registered reps said its reps could use Twitter and LinkedIn, becoming the first broker/dealer to embrace social media marketing. While word is that, so far, few advisors are using the supervised system, the explosion in popularity makes it likely that this form of marketing will flourish in the coming years and that other BDs will have to follow suit.

Schwab Intelligent Integration. In what has to qualify as one of the strangest tech moves of 2010, RIA custodian Schwab Institutional unveiled the first leg of its “Intelligent Integration” initiative and appeared to shoot itself in the foot by ignoring leading CRM systems for advisors. While Schwab did include one CRM for advisors (Junxure) in its plans, the other two systems it is announced integrations with are Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Schwab ignored the largest players in the CRM space that are targeted to advisors—Ebix CRM, Redtail Technology, and AppCrown.

Covestor Digs In. This is a leading site in a trend that could scar for advisors. Covestor         combines social networking with investing, and is at the leading edge of a trend is just now in its infancy. But it could cause a sudden, radical shift in the way most investors behave, and its popularity is almost sure to grow over the next decade, just as online brokers revolutionized the way Americans invested in the 1990s.

BrightScope Blasts Off. Founded just two years ago, 401(k) rating service BrightScope shifted into high gear in 2010. The company wants to be “the Morningstar or 401(k)s,” and is trying to make plan data more accessible and transparent. Government regulations now require the  release of such data and other companies are sure to compete with BrightScope, and the company is struggling publish data on plans that is current , but it represents a new transparency in the 401(k) business and brings huge opportunities for advisors to disrupt the inefficient pricing now rampant in this corner of the industry.  
What did I miss? Let me know what you think he biggest tech stories of 2010 were.

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