Charles Schwab Advisor Services announced a new business, Schwab Intelligent Technologies, marking a milestone in the company’s initiative to deliver integration solutions for registered investment advisors.
Intelligent Technologies will produce Schwab OpenView Gateway, which Schwab calls a flexible, open-architecture technology platform that enables data integration between Schwab systems and those of three client relationship management technology providers: Salesforce.com, Junxure and Microsoft.
Schwab also announced Wednesday that Junxure will begin beta testing with Schwab OpenView Gateway this month.
“We’ve made significant progress in our development with their business team,” said Brian Shenson, managing director of advisor service technology at Schwab.
Select advisors who use Salesforce.com will also begin pilot testing Schwab OpenView Gateway and another solution, Schwab OpenView Integrated Office, this month.
The new business unit is part of Schwab Intelligent Integration, a multi-year initiative launched last year to help advisors increase integration between the different systems and workflows in their offices.
Schwab says it created the unit to leverage technology and best practice workflows to help RIAs drive efficiencies in their firms.
“We feel so strongly about the importance of integration solutions for advisors that we wanted to set up a line of business and a dedicated team to focus on these issues and opportunities,” Shenson said. “Our goal is to fundamentally change the way advisors do business.”
In a statement, Neesha Hathi, vice president of Advisor Technology Solutions at Schwab, seemed to address the fact that rivals have come to market with CRM-centric integration solutions before her company.
“Quality takes time and we believe advisors will benefit from our thoughtful approach to intelligent, focused integration,” she said.
Schwab plans two implementation strategies for its integration solution.
The first is a modular strategy built around its OpenView Gateway. Advisors buy, configure and implement the CRM solution from one of Schwab’s three partners. They then get access to Schwab’s integration capabilities.
The other option is a turnkey solution, in which advisers go to Schwab and buy a bundled solution including CRM, portfolio management and reporting and Schwab’s integration capabilities.
The initiative that’s now known as Intelligent Integration was announced in the spring of 2010, and because of Schwab’s clout in the RIA industry, its rivals have been watching closely.
Its Intelligent Integration initiative is focused on four principles: CRM-centricity, intelligent integration, platform choice and support and guidance from Schwab. Schwab selected salesforce, Junxure and Microsoft as partners based on a survey of its advisor clients.
Junxure will begin its beta test with Schwab OpenView Gateway this month.
In addition to Schwab’s technology integration with Junxure, a discounted technology solution will be available from Junxure exclusively for Schwab clients. This solution will include training and consulting services designed to help advisors get the most out of Junxure and Schwab OpenView Gateway integration.
The consulting offering could be a key differentiator for Schwab as it faces off against integration-solution rivals, says Sophie Schmidt, senior analyst at Aite Group, LLC.
“Other providers say, ‘you can connect to our platform using our (platforms),’ so they are much more open applications,” says Schmidt. “But I don’t think they have this idea of process improvement, of packaging it all and helping you improve your business.”