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Schwab and Advent to extend, deepen integration

Adviser clients of both that attend Schwab Impact conference should weigh in on their priorities

Nov 1, 2012 @ 11:48 am

By Davis Janowski

Charles Schwab
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((Photo: Bloomberg News))

It is amazing how, in today's ever more complex age, four paragraphs of newsishness can end up taking three pages to deliver.

That is what we have with Tuesday's announcement, jointly prepared between the various advisory-oriented groups within Charles Schwab Corp. and Advent Software Inc.

In a nutshell, the two organizations agreed to deliver some technology integrations to adviser clients of both at some point in the relatively near future.

This does make great sense in the long run because the two firms share some 1500 advisory firms as clients/customers.

Please forgive the snarkiness, it has been an intense few days around the New York area, so I am letting off steam as I tease out the significance.

It is an integration agreement.

In other words, a formal agreement to integrate that has been signed though perhaps not agreed to in blood — ghoulish I know but it was Halloween last night.

Specifically Advent Software, Inc. and Schwab Corp.'s subsidiary Schwab Intelligent Technologies announced Tuesday that they entered into an agreement to integrate two of Advent's portfolio management platforms: Black Diamond (acquired by Advent last year) and Advent Portfolio Exchange (better known as APX).

The integration will evidently be delivered through Advent's Advent OnDemand product that will allow the whole of either to interface with the Schwab OpenView Gateway.

I'll leave the crux to their own words: “Through this agreement, Advent will be extending the availability of custody information from Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. to drive high value workflows in these platforms. The ability to access current custodial data throughout the day will help advisors, portfolio managers and operations personnel make more informed decisions and enhance client service.”

And that is the most significant hard bit of news here, advisers on the Advent platforms will soon have access to intraday transactional and account data rather than just from the last day's close.

I spoke with Brian Shenson, vice president of advisor technology solutions for Schwab Advisor Services last week.

“We have almost 20 years of experience working with Advent and frankly we have had lots of interest from advisers, and this will be custody information from Schwab enriching those platforms and providing them with access to alerts, many of them investment-related,” he said.

“Then of course there is real time information about transactions, balances and positions and this is just augmenting what we already do through ACD — but in real time, rich and secure integration into those platforms,” said Mr. Shenson.

Dave Welling, vice president at Advent Software and general manager of Black Diamond, worked at Schwab for many years and said he has been waiting for this opportunity.

“Advent really is dedicated to the advisory market and we realize that no one can meet all of an adviser's needs on their own, it takes collaboration, it takes collaboration and this is but one more significant step,” he said.

When asked about a timeframe though, he said this was not yet firm.

“Our developer teams have been working together and understand the how and have key hypotheses to work from; the first step is client validation but there is no precise timeframe for the deliverables from a dev standpoint,” Mr. Welling added.

He said the firms will continue to assess that client validation and seek in-person adviser input on what specific items they would like to see as highest priority at Schwab's Impact conference this month.

“This is going to really help firms with improving their billing workflow, whether it is quarterly or monthly and certainly it will make their rebalancing process far more efficient,” he said.

Advisers attending the Schwab Impact conference can look forward to having both pre-conference sessions and conference session where this will be a topic of conversation.

He added to that while the announcement represented somewhat obvious good news for Black Diamond users it would also prove particularly advantageous to Advent's cloud-based APX users in the asset management community.

“Many firms using it [APX] do not have another customer relationship management application, in fact for them, especially the more institutional-focused firms, they have a very different concept of CRM [meaning they typically rely on fewer features than retail advisers and therefore can appreciate the additional streamlining of their processes that an integration can provide]” explained Mr. Welling.

Not only that more and more firms are simply asking the question: “Hey are you going to work with Schwab?” he said.

“They are very clear on suggesting that their two biggest providers having a formal commitment to work together is a good idea,” he said.


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