Expect significant technological advancements from Charles Schwab & Co. in 2013.
The San Francisco firm has announced plans to launch several new tools for advisors and their clients, including a technology product review site and the integration of Schwab data within a new workplace strategy solution. In addition, Schwab is looking to push paperless documentation through an increased emphasis on mobile and cloud computing.
The Schwab OpenView MarketSquare site is a "Zagat-like" review site that will feature advisor-submitted ratings and feedback on technology products built around integrating technology and workflow design. The site should provide a community for advisors facing the challenge of selecting the ideal technology products for their business.
Schwab also announced that it will integrate with Tamarac, a division of Envestnet. Advisors will be able to access real-time custody data — including information on cash and transaction acivity — from Schwab Advisor Services within the Tamarac Advisor Xi web-based platforms Advisor CRM and Advisor View.
Finally, Schwab announced that it will work with DocuSign to enable eSignature capabilities on most Schwab forms. Starting in 2013, clients should be able to review, complete and sign forms online. This eliminates the need for multiple hardcopy signatures, and also quickens the process of document submissions.
Brian Shenson, vice president of advisor technology solutions, said the timing is right for mobile and net-based solutions. Users are more comfortable with using these technologies, and electronic documents can offer greater security than paper documents, given available controls for document access and backup support for cloud-stored files, he said. In addition, such integration also allows advisors more efficiency in the workplace by improving the availability of data needed to track business activity.
"We're seeing from vendors a tremendous interested in mobility and hosted solutions, and these two trends are moving people toward mobile devices and net-based services," said . "To talk in the context of Hurricane Sandy, events like that remind people that having their data and their systems available in the cloud, this is really starting to take shape for clients."