Whether in practice management seminars or technology training sessions or even Financial Planning's most recent Tech Survey, advisors are hearing the same message: Mobile matters.

But for all but the most technology savvy advisors, coming up with a mobile app for clients is no easy matter.

Vellum Financial in San Luis Obispo, Calif., chose outsourcing provider Trust Company of America to design and build its app. “It’s been a no-brainer,” says Bryan Sullivan, the firm's founder and managing partner. “The app has given our clients more access to us, and we have more access to them.”

The app, introduced by Vellum in early April, allows clients to access all their accounts -- including those held elsewhere -- on their mobile devices. In addition to aggregating clients’ investments, the app also allows to engage in “creative communication” with clients, Sullivan says, including updates on market activity that may impact their portfolio and new wrinkles in tax laws that may affect their estate planning.

Vellum also puts the app on an iPad that it gives to new high-end clients as part of an onboarding package, Sullivan says.

INCREASING DEMAND

“We’re seeing increasing demand for apps from advisors,” said David Barry, president and chief executive officer for Centennial, Colo.-based Trust Company of America, which also serves as a custodian and back-office service and technology supplier for RIAs. “Orders have increased by about one-third in the past six months. The apps are becoming a necessity as a business tool, and clients are beginning to expect that their advisors have one.”

TCA builds the apps for its outsourcing clients at no extra charge, a company spokesman says.

Mobile apps are the latest way for advisors to show off their technological prowess, says Jason Wilder, executive vice president of business development and key accounts for King of Prussia, Pa.-based CMG, which provides investment products to advisors; the company also has its own RIA business, and used TCA for its own app. “Tech is driving everything and apps are allowing advisors to give their clients the latest technology,” he says. “Advisors and clients can see the latest positions we’re taking and decide whether to take action or not.”

Last week TCA announced that it entered into a strategic relationship with Scottsdale, Ariz.-based United Planners Financial Service, an RIA and independent broker-dealer, that will include custody services and access to TCA’s technology platform and its private-label mobile app technology.

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