TD tech integration: What Schwab is telling advisors now

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As Charles Schwab embarks on its integration of TD Ameritrade’s technology, top leaders are shedding more light on what the firm will keep — and what it won’t.

The strategy executives decide on will have big implications for thousands of advisors and hundreds of tech vendors. At Schwab’s virtual Impact conference, the company’s tech executives fielded questions from advisors such as how they will handle the vast ecosystem of third-party technology vendors integrated on TD’s Veo platform. Advisors who custody exclusively with TD also wondered how they should proceed with opening new accounts and when they would be moved over to Schwab’s technology.

Echoing previous comments, Schwab senior vice president of digital advisor solutions Andrew Salesky says the team is just getting started on its integration plan, but assures advisors that they won’t lose any of the capabilities they or their clients enjoy today.

However, he indicated that Schwab is more interested in Veo One, TD’s dashboard of a select number of tightly integrated fintechs, rather than legacy Veo ecosystem of hundreds of vendors.

Eighty percent of TD advisors already use Veo One, which is “a superior experience … built on state-of-the-art technology,”according to John Patullo, a managing director in charge of TDA’s advisor-facing technology. The legacy Veo Open Access platform is at the end of its life, and the team wants to focus its human and financial resources on a single technology platform, Patullo says.

As for the roughly 5,000 advisors who only custody with TD, Schwab is building a training and support program to facilitate the transition, Salesky says. Advisors will not be required to open new accounts using Schwab’s technology until a paperless onboarding process is in place, he adds.

Of course, advisors are welcome to start opening new accounts with Schwab to gain familiarity with the platform, Salesky says.

“We recognize that advisors will need time to get comfortable,” he says. “But if you do [feel comfortable] and bring some of your organic business to Schwab, that is an opportunity to get an early experience.”

Schwab’s focus, at least early on, will be on modernizing the custodian infrastructure to support guided digital workflows and streamlined processes. Paperless onboarding, money movement, transfer of accounts and digital client approvals will continue to to be a priority under Salesky.

The acquisition of TD’s technology will let Schwab improve some of core elements of advisor technology, says chief digital officer Neesha Hathi.

“Sometimes people when they talk about innovation, they want to talk about the things that are five years out,” Hathi says. “I think there’s a lot of innovation in the basics. If we can get a really great, end-to-end, paperless, straight-through account [opening process] that you don’t have [not in good order] issues with, that’s pretty cool.”

The goal is to get the account opening process down to 10 minus or less while eliminating errors, Salesky says.

Schwab also wants to boost its investment management with TDA technology such as the thinkorswim trading platform and iRebal rebalancing engine, as well as the thematic investing and direct indexing capabilities it acquired from Motif, Salesky says.

“It’s not just pushing digital paper, it’s creating digital transactions,” Salesky says. “That is job one: complete the journey of streamlining everyday processes.”

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Clearinghouses/custodians Integrations Fintech INVEST West 2020 Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade