Custodians who serve independent RIA firms appear to be escalating a technology arms race. The most visible front in this battle is integrating third-party applications. As custodians battle for the hearts and minds of advisors in the years ahead, Fidelity possesses a weapon that no other firm can currently match: The Fidelity Center for Applied Technology, known as FCAT.

Established in 1999, FCAT is a central group within Fidelity charged with evaluating technologies for the firm. That's a tall order, as Fidelity spends approximately $2 billion per year on technology, and many company insiders view its technological edge as the foundation of its success.

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