TD Ameritrade this week will roll out an upgrade of its open architecture platform’s integration with cloud-based electronic signature system DocuSign, as it streamlines DocuSign’s pairing with financial form-filling software Laser App.

While the company already has integrated DocuSign with Laser App through its Veo advisor platform, the signature process for the advisors was “not as seamless as we’d like,” said Jon Patullo, TD Ameritrade’s managing director of technology product management. “We really wanted to streamline that process to make it as user-friendly and easy for advisors” as possible, he said.

In Financial Planning’s 2011 Tech Survey, one Denver money manager said that TD Ameritrade’s integration of its open-architecture platform with DocuSign, which began about a year ago, is “the single biggest technology enhancement introduced by a custodian in a long time.”

Alex Murguia, managing principal of McLean Asset Management Corporation in McLean, Va., also said it has been an enormous help to his business. The ability to use DocuSign through the TD Ameritrade platform has been “an enormous benefit,” he said. To fill out a general client application for a client in a different state who can’t stop by the office, Murguia said, all his firm has to do is put the filled-out application through DocuSign.

DocuSign then emails it to the client who answers a few questions for identity verification purposes and the signs it electronically. That signature sends all parties — including the wealth management firm and TD Ameritrade as custodian — an electronic copy of the application forms and the account can then be opened.

That same process used to take seven or eight days to complete, Patullo said, from the time the client filled out a handwritten application to the time TD Ameritrade was able to mail the necessary forms back to the wealth management firm.

With the new integration, from the time an advisor launches Laser App through Veo or a CRM tool, automatically populating a general account application with the client’s information, to the time the forms come back signed via DocuSign, as little as one business day has elapsed. Also, there are fewer chances for errors to be introduced into the forms, since those only have to be filled out once and no one is trying to read cryptic handwriting.

“Using an electronic system to open the account helps advisors close more business,” Patullo said.

Danielle Reed writes for Financial Planning.

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