By Joel Bruckenstein, CFP
With so much of the market’s attention focuses on the outcome of the upcoming transfer of TD Ameritrade accounts to the Schwab platform over the Labor Day weekend, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that Schwab has been quietly making improvements to their advisor offering, and that they continue to do so.
Schwab is rolling out iRebal and thinkpipes to Schwab advisors. All TD Ameritrade advisors will have access to these tools as soon as they move to the Schwab platform. Both tools are far superior to what Schwab previously offered in those domains. iRebal has been extremely popular with TD Ameritrade advisors for years due to its excellent user interface and intuitive workflows. Early indications from Schwab advisors accessing it for the first time are almost universally positive. thinkpipes is another popular tool that is far superior to anything Schwab previously offered, so firms accessing it for the first time are likely to become raving fans.
The new improved Schwab Advisor Center is impressive. A new, customizable dashboard serves as an advisor’s front page. It can supply key data such as status updates and alerts, a snapshot of firm AUM, as well as trends over various time periods, asset flow information, market index information, plus the ten highest value accounts and the ten top security holdings.
The updated design provides a simpler user interface with improved user experience, improved navigation, and aggregated views. For example, advisors can now see an aggregated view of all master accounts. They can assign nicknames and bookmarks. They can perform tasks with fewer clicks due to an enhanced account selector and well positioned quick links.
Digital account management, one of the most common, and sometimes onerous tasks advisors perform, has been greatly improved. Advisors can now open multiple accounts, tailor them to the client’s needs and securely fund them, all with a single secure email to the client. Schwab continues to add new account types to digital onboarding including those for Managed Accounts and Schwab Personalized Indexing.
Digital account maintenance has also been upgraded. With full digital workflows, data can be instantaneously validated to minimize errors and delays. The system automatically offers eAuthorization by the client when available or pre-filled PFF documents for wet signature or DocuSign. The DocuSign experience has also been enhanced. The console now includes over eighty templates that pre-fill and pre-tag based upon Schwab data.
Move Money has been re-designed to include key reference data and eAuthorization enrollment. The global navigation displays unsettled cash and RMD remaining fields. The tables are now easily sortable, searchable and customizable.
Fully automatic mutual fund investing is available now through Schwab Advisor Center as well.
In the area of third-party integration, Schwab has made significant strides. They now claim over 235 third party integrations available. I’m told that the depth and breadth of many integrations has been improved as well.
According to the folks I spoke with at Schwab, many more enhancements will be rolling out soon. Mov Money will be further enhanced so that advisors can import transactions for ACH and wires. Future dated wires will be enabled as well.
Schwab will be introducing a streamlined, 100% digital enrollment lending solution for Schwab pledged asset lines (PAL).
Digital onboarding enhancements will let advisors view client edits to digital envelopes. There will also be support for asset-based pricing.
In the area of trading and investment management, Schwab will provide real time aggregate positions and balances through the SAC trading tool. iRebal and thinkpipes will be made available to all Schwab advisors.
Finally, through enhanced API’s, Schwab will enable deeper integration to third party digital onboarding and move money tools.
Clearly, Schwab continues to invest in advisor technology. Once the dust settles on the Labor Day conversion, which hopefully will go smoothly, we expect to see continued improvements in the advisor user experience through the remainder of the year.