Attempting to build buzz before a national conference with press releases lacking in — ahem — real news impact is nothing new, but when it comes to big technology initiatives I'm following closely I am happy to oblige by covering them if I have something to say.
A case in point is the TD Ameritrade announcement released today about its open API initiative.
I had a chance to catch up briefly with Jon Patullo, director of technology product management at TD Ameritrade Institutional, before the holidays.
While neither Schwab nor TD acknowledges that there is a competition or race going on between their technology projects I prefer to think there is (it keeps things interesting — and a lot of advisers agree with me on both counts).
As is reported in the press release more than a dozen third-party technology providers including CRM, portfolio management and financial planning software firms have participated in the initial planning and development process, providing feedback on best practices to create an integration methodology.
I have independently confirmed that Ebix Inc. (CRM provider that bought fellow CRM provider E-Z Data Inc. in 2009), PIE Technologies Inc. (makers of Money-GuidePro financial planning software), Orion Advisor Services LLC (portfolio management and reporting provider) and Redtail Technology Inc. (popular online CRM software provider with advisers) have all been actively playing in the API sandbox.
This working collaboration means that those third-party vendors are anxious to integrate with Veo, TD Ameritrade Institutional's trading and account management platform and be able to securely exchange data.
The initial integration work includes being able to access data most important to advisers, including client balances, positions, and account alerts — across the applications.
Future integration plans will move into the trading and transactional arena.
“The vendors wanted a test environment and we have obliged and are making a lot of progress,” said Mr. Patullo, adding that they would be putting out the production version of their API in the next week (which they did).
Third-party, independent providers are chomping at the bit.
“We're excited because the integration with TD is helping to put more information at Redtail CRM users' fingertips and is going to help reduce redundant data entry for them,” said Chris Roberts, institutional and broker-dealer manager with Redtail Technology.
And that is one of the biggest peeves I continue to hear from advisers.
I spoke to Eric Clarke, president of Orion Advisor Services, whose firm is one of those actively involved in the project.
“The easiest analogy would be what Apple [Inc.] has done with their App Store. They published the API and are letting the other talented developers out there work on it,” he said.
“TD is getting behind the due diligence in terms of security and approving those that are ready and then saying ‘hey here is our API, go out and use it to the advisers' benefit,'” he added.
Part of the buzz I think TD wants to build is to have advisers come by the “technology showcase” and training/educational session at their upcoming national conference (Feb. 2-5 in San Diego).
To keep with the tongue-in-cheek nature of this post I must solicit a tit for tat, where for art thou Schwab? What is the latest? Inquiring minds want to know.
Advisers that want even more detailed info. on the Veo open access project have a new web page to visit: