Fidelity Investments’ RIA custodian business has announced a new tool, Technology Investment Evaluator, to help advisers run their businesses more efficiently.

The Excel-based application will help consultants within Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services to pinpoint where technology upgrades could improve advisors’ workflow and what the economic impact of those upgrades would be.

“We think this is a differentiated technology because we built it in collaboration with advisers,” said David Canter, executive vice president and head of practice management and consulting at Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services. “Our consultants daily are in the offices of advisers who are contemplating big technology [investments].”

Fidelity officials said its consultants enter information into the Technology Investment Evaluator about an adviser’s practice, including software and hardware expenses, staff resource allocation and the number of investor accounts along with asset levels.

The consultants then work with the adviser to pinpoint where the opportunities to improve efficiency are, and they predict the impact of deploying technology and making operational changes.

Next, a consultant works with the adviser to help prioritize, plan and execute the initiatives laid out in a customized report.

“It’s about how can we help advisers make their practices more efficient,” Canter said.

One of the most common efficiency challenges, he said, has to do with redundant manual processes, such as having to re-key client information into separate systems.

Fidelity’s consulting is product-agnostic, Canter said.

“It’s hard to maintain credibility if you’re veering a client toward a particular solution,” he said. “Ultimately, the adviser must make the decision; we fully inform them of the options and the pros and cons.”

Fidelity is not the only custodian promising to help make adviser practices more efficient.

Charles Schwab is also touting its data integration efforts. On Wednesday it announced a new business unit, Schwab Intelligent Technologies, that will deliver a platform enabling data integration between Schwab systems and those of three client relationship management technology providers: Salesforce.com, Junxure and Microsoft. The development is part of a multi-year integration initiative by Schwab.

Fidelity officials said that its technology and operations consulting team has a history of working with independent advisoes in areas ranging from systems integration to technology infrastructure design and business process management.

Steve Garmhausen writes for Financial Planning.

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