Schwab’s accelerated investment in advisor technology continues to yield new digital tools that help independent advisors pursue growth and increase efficiency
Schwab Advisor Services has introduced new enhancements to its industry-leading digital onboarding capabilities, enabling independent advisors to open and fund up to ten new client accounts in one “digital envelope,” which clients can authorize with just a few clicks on their desktop or mobile device.
Building on the digital account open tool first introduced by Schwab in 2018, this latest enhancement fulfills a big ask among advisors who frequently need to open multiple accounts when bringing on a new household. In early usage of the new tool, more than half of new account-opening transactions involved multiple accounts, and some as many as eight accounts.
In this latest iteration, Schwab further simplified the onboarding process by letting advisors open multiple accounts, tailor them to their clients’ needs, and fund them — all in a single, 100% digital workflow completed with one email to their clients.
“Most clients don’t just have one account: their portfolios are held in an array of investment, retirement, trust, and other accounts. With the ability to open and fund multiple accounts with just a few clicks, our enhanced digital onboarding tool solves a big pain point for advisors,” said Alison Dooher, head of Digital Advisor Solutions for Schwab Advisor Services. “We have led the way in developing innovative digital tools, and we’re extending that lead by making client onboarding a simpler, more secure experience.”
The digital onboarding workflow also now gives advisors the option to upload up to sixteen commonly used firm documents, such as welcome letters, advisory agreements and regulatory disclosures, for new clients to view, edit, acknowledge and approve. No pen or paper needed.
Save Time. Minimize Errors
Digital onboarding minimizes the time advisors spend on opening and funding new accounts and helps them deliver a better, more convenient experience for their clients. Eliminating paperwork also makes onboarding less prone to human errors that can cause delay. Since the digital tool was introduced, the percentage of documents not in good order (“NIGOs”) has dropped to 4 percent versus 30 percent for paper-based transactions due to its ability to validate input data from advisors and their clients.
In addition to being a key component of Schwab Advisor Center, enhanced onboarding capabilities are available through many popular third-party technology tools through Schwab’s third-party integrations, which allow advisors to pass up to fifty different data points into digital onboarding. CRM providers that integrate with Schwab digital onboarding include AdvisorEngine CRM, Practifi, Redtail, Salentica and XLR8. Popular portfolio management and accounting platforms that support Schwab digital onboarding include Advyzon, Envestnet Tamarac, Morningstar Office, Orion, Panoramix and Black Diamond. Thanks to Schwab’s open-architecture capabilities, advisors can open and fund multiple accounts through their preferred CRM tool.
“Advisors don’t serve accounts; they serve individuals and families,” Dooher said. “Our 100% digital onboarding capabilities let advisors streamline their workdays while delivering a more convenient and safer client experience.”
These capabilities also extend to advisors’ clients, who can use their Schwab Alliance credentials to review and approve new account documents from their mobile device, quickly and securely.
Accelerated Investment in Advisor Technology
As Schwab prepares to complete its integration with Ameritrade, it is leveraging its combined strength to accelerate investment in advisor services technology — at a pace three times what it spent before the acquisition. A big part of that has been Schwab’s investment in digital onboarding.
Schwab achieved an industry-first in 2018 when it unveiled a simple, 100% digital account opening solution, and it has extended that lead over the past few years. Enhancements include the ability to combine account features and set up funding, as well as support for thirteen of the most common account types, including individual and joint tenant, Roth and rollover IRAs, and living trusts.
Last year, digital onboarding was enhanced to let advisors open and fund new accounts in a single digital envelope while also allowing clients of advisors to add and edit their own information and documents within the same workflow. Advisors moreover can track the status of approvals and recall or resend digital envelopes when needed.
In the year ahead, digital onboarding will be further enhanced to support even more account types and registrations, including separately managed accounts. Additional digital capabilities that will enable firms to manage their existing client accounts, such as supporting a wider range of asset transfers and adding IRA beneficiaries, are coming later this year.
“In this era of digital everything, it’s clear advisors who embrace technology tools are better positioned to optimize their business and satisfy clients,” said Jalina Kerr, managing director of client experience for Schwab Advisor Services. “We are confident that firms who leverage digital onboarding will be more efficient, freeing up time that can be better spent building relationships and growing their business.” In its most recent RIA Benchmarking Study, Schwab found that firms with greater adoption of digital workflows gained efficiencies, spending on average 12.5% less time per client on operations in 2021.
Schwab also continues to invest in and enhance its integration with DocuSign, available through Schwab Advisor Center, which will continue to be a significant part of its onboarding capabilities. DocuSign’s digital forms are a valuable tool for multi-custodial firms.