Originally published in the AdvisorEngine’s blog
AdvisorEngine announced the completion of the integration with Schwab Advisor Center. For the first time, RIAs can access Schwab Advisor Center client data as part of AdvisorEngine’s end-to-end technology platform. On May 4th, AdvisorEngine will host a virtual event featuring Schwab’s Senior Vice President and Head of Advisor Technology Solutions, Andrew Salesky, and AdvisorEngine’s CEO, Rich Cancro to discuss industry trends impacting independent advisor technology use, client preferences and fintech development. In the meantime, here’s what AdvisorEngine leadership had to say about this announcement.
AdvisorEngine announced its integration with Schwab. Can you talk about that?
RICH CANCRO: We’re proud to say that we are now integrated deeply with Schwab, TD, Fidelity and Pershing. We are positioned to meet firms where they are and serve them well across CRM and Portfolio Management. It’s an important moment for the company.
Schwab was a terrific partner in the integration process. From documentation to environment set-up, testing and release management. Their communication of what to expect and how to work together drove nice camaraderie amongst the teams. From a product standpoint, they are opening up access to a broad set of integration points, to name a few — automated batch files, digital account opening, account funding, account transfer and billing alerts.
How long did the integration take to complete?
CRAIG RAMSEY: We spent close to a year working on completing this integration.
It’s worth noting, it’s a privilege to integrate with the major custodians. You don’t just get to show up and do it. The second is: even once you are tentatively invited, it is a significant due diligence process. For a growth company like us, it’s a serious investment to build a strong team and a strong technology foundation that stands up to that scrutiny.
Also, we don’t go shallow with our integrations just to put a logo on the website. There are other solutions where advisors can get surface-level connectivity. From an integrations standpoint, our strength is in mapping deep data, helping firms cleanse and normalize that data every morning using our Data Operations function, and then building product functionality on top of that foundation.
It is so powerful to work with a company willing to put in the extra work to help make a project a success. And an essential part of that work is getting the data right.
Judging by business development conversations, we estimate that 85% of wealth firms out there can benefit greatly from this type of data relationship. Some large wealth management firms (typically $10 billion or more AUM) have dedicated teams/departments that do something like what we do each night/morning. But even then, I would argue that our breadth of experience across all the custodians is a major benefit.
Our integration is a shining example of Schwab’s commitment to integrating with leading fintech firms. Workflows are a critical enabler of scaling operations for wealth management firms.
Which advisors would benefit the most from this integration?
JOHN TYERS: In terms of observable trends, advisors are coming to us and asking how they can simplify their technology stacks. (Including firms across the size spectrum, from new breakaways to long-established large RIAs.)
Compared to several years ago, we are now seeing more firms looking at a holistic approach to technology. Often, firms had previously picked many different technologies and then struggled over time to scale due to disparate applications and light data integrations.
It’s also worth noting: the majority of Junxure CRM firms use Schwab for custody. This means that today marks the first time that most of our CRM firms can leverage our broader wealth platform functionality.
CANCRO: All CRM functionality works using Schwab data and alerts, which automatically create smart actions and workflows in Junxure. We leverage a single sign-on into Schwab that fully integrates into Schwab’s Digital Account Opening (DAO). I will say that this new integration starts to unlock new possibilities that will blur the lines between CRM and Portfolio Management systems.
How is this integration special?
RAMSEY: In terms of functionality, one important point is that this integration allows firms to essentially tailor their ‘client service model’ along a spectrum. On the far left of the spectrum would be entirely ‘advisor initiated,’ meaning the advisor is driving the process. On the other far-right end of the spectrum would be ‘client-initiated,’ which looks and feels closer to a robo-advisor model in many ways. Increasingly, we are seeing wealth management firms take a blended approach, allowing end clients to have more control and providing high-end support all along the way.
CANCRO: The distinction here is that today, we are now opening up an entire suite of portfolio management functionality and end-client experience functionality.
There are features across the entire wealth management lifecycle, from creating proposals for prospects and funding new accounts through account transfers or direct funding, to flowing in data to fuel performance reporting, that is advisor-facing and also client-facing through the client portal, and real-time alerts that allow for operational workflows and account maintenance.
From a broader standpoint, the market needs to understand these custodian integrations are bringing us one step closer to delivering a fully integrated user experience across our CRM and wealth management features.
Next up on our roadmap is to release Phase One of an exciting, completely new redesign and reconfiguration of our CRM. Phase Two of that initiative will be the full integration of data and login between the CRM and portfolio management functionality to bring us to a unified offering that will deliver significant client benefits.