The tech team at Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services this week has come up with a new way to help prevent independent financial advisors from enjoying their vacations: a new smartphone app that allows them to open client accounts and do electronic trading for clients from anywhere.
“What we’ve done,” said Ed O’Brien, senior vice president and head of technology at Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, “is expand the capability of the system we introduced in February with the next step in evolution.”
In February, the Fidelity’s first app for iPhones and Android phones allowed advisors using Fidelity’s Wealth Central platform to remotely access client accounts, to be able to respond to client questions -- though the advisors were unable to trade from the phones.
“Now, with the new system introduced today, they can trade on those accounts and even handle multiple accounts,” O’Brien said. "And we have something that’s really unique: The advisor can even access accounts in a client portfolio that are outside of Fidelity. It gives them the same level of integration that they have with the system they use in the office.”
O’Brien claims that security on the remote system is high. “There is no data stored locally on the smartphone, and it uses the same ‘token’ technology on the device that we use in the office, where there is a challenge question and also a one-time pin to use," he added. "It’s an added layer of protection when they’re trading for a client’s account.”
Whether a trade is placed via the smartphone or in the office, the trading records are tracked and recorded the same way. “It’s all one system with different access points,” said O’Brien. “In fact, in the pilot program, advisors told us that when they were on the road, they could even see trades placed in the office.”
The system is reportedly easy enough to learn to use that there has been no need for training programs beyond an online users’ guide. “If you’re already using the website in the office, advisors tell us it’s a seamless transition,” said O’Brien, adding that there is no added charge to advisors for using the smartphone technology.
The only thing that advisors cannot do on the smartphone that they can do in the office, O’Brien said, is block trading for multiple accounts.
That and going swimming while placing a client’s stock order.
Dave Lindorff writes for Financial Planning.