Fidelity Investments today announced the release of Fidelity Access, a more secure, convenient way for clients to see and use their Fidelity account information, such as balances and holdings, on third-party websites and applications that aggregate financial information. Fidelity Access will benefit the clients of financial advisors, as well as retail investors who use financial planning, budgeting, portfolio, tax and other software that can accept data feeds. This new service is based on open technology standards, not proprietary technology. In short, Fidelity Access puts control of the data where it belongs: in the hands of the client.
As third-party financial websites and applications begin to use Fidelity Access, Fidelity clients will no longer need to provide those sites and applications with their Fidelity login credentials (their account usernames and passwords) in order to share their Fidelity account information. Instead, when clients choose to access their Fidelity account information through a financial website or application that participates in Fidelity Access, they will automatically be linked to Fidelity and can then quickly and easily authorize Fidelity to provide that site or application with access to their Fidelity account information; they can even designate the specific Fidelity accounts to which they want to offer access. Once Fidelity receives that authorization, Fidelity Access will allow that financial website or application to access the client’s Fidelity account information through a secure connection.
ULTIMATE CLIENT CONTROL
Fidelity Access lets clients maintain control over the access they provide to their account information. On the Fidelity Access control center, which will be located on Fidelity’s websites, Fidelity.com, NetBenefits.com and WealthscapeInvestor.com, clients will be able to see which third-party websites or applications they have authorized to access their Fidelity account information and can change or remove those permissions at any time. Fidelity will periodically remind clients what applications have access to information so that they can update data permissions as necessary.
Fidelity is working with third-party financial websites and applications to enable them to connect through Fidelity Access, which is available now; sites and applications may connect to it as soon as they want. To protect clients, third-party firms that want to connect to Fidelity Access must adhere to strict security standards; destroy any user IDs and passwords previously acquired from Fidelity clients; and assume responsibility for handling Fidelity client data they receive, including liability should that data be breached, compromised or misused after they’ve received it. Participating financial websites and applications will not be charged by Fidelity for using Fidelity Access; once they agree to its requirements, websites and applications can access Fidelity client account data through Fidelity Access without charge. When the rollout of Fidelity Access is complete, Fidelity will no longer permit third-party financial websites and applications to use Fidelity account usernames and passwords to access information from Fidelity accounts. Fidelity expects to complete the rollout in 2018.
AN ENLIGHTENED APPROACH TO DATA AGGREGATION
As someone who continually looks at and evaluates financial software and solutions, I salute Fidelity for this enlightened approach to data aggregation. Just about all financial institutions, with the exception of Fidelity, make it difficult for their clients to aggregate their data in a secure fashion. As a result, clients are forced to take unnecessary security risks to access their own data through third parties. The Fidelity solution both improves security and increases client control and transparency. Hopefully, others will follow Fidelity’s lead.