Schwab Advisor Services (and other parts of the Schwab advisory biz) today announced intentions to push paperlessness, streamline its processes for advisers and introduced plans to build and host a site for adviser-generated reviews of third-party technology products and tools.
All that came out of Tech Talk, a live briefing from the show floor of Schwab's Impact conference being held in Chicago this week in which a repeated mantra was 'improved client experience.'
As part of its move toward less paper Schwab announced a new relationship with document management technology provider DocuSign to enable eSignature capabilities on the majority of Schwab forms.
Once implemented sometime in 2013, advisers will be able to visit Schwab Advisor Center online, create electronic packages of forms that clients and prospects can review, complete, and sign while online themselves.
Schwab is just the latest custodian to partner with Docusign.
Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services formed a strategic relationship with Docusign to do something similar back in 2008 when building out its WealthCentral platform. And more recently TD Ameritrade Institutional's Veo was integrated with Docusign platform support.
“There is not strong adoption to date with these sorts of solutions — our perception is that it has not been integrated enough into the day-to-day workflow of the adviser,” said Neesha Hathi, senior vice president of advisor technology solutions during an interview last week.
She added that Schwab's intent was to make the integrations more comprehensive and will go far beyond just client-facing platforms.
“We are investing in the representatives' desktops, in how we process the workflow systems, how our internal folks manage these processes,” she said.
Naureen Hassan, senior vice president of client experience for Schwab Advisor Services, attempted to bring the point home in today's call by sharing various data points, for example that the firm's client services personnel process over 20,000 applications a month.
“What we are announcing represents a multi-million dollar investment in workflow technology, including improved business process management,” she said.
“One process we have right now requires 17 steps, touches five different internal systems and multiple groups internally,” Ms. Hassan added.
Process improvement plans include reducing the number of steps required to complete key custody activities and further optimizing of Schwab's technology offerings including its mobile and cloud computing tools.
An Android version of the Schwab Advisor Center mobile application will be rolled out by the end of April 2013 (in case you are wondering, an application for the Windows Surface tablet is not on the immediate roadmap and will depend on the level of adoption by advisers).
Another development involves SchwabAlliance.com, the customized version of schwab.com for clients of Schwab advisers.
The site will serve as an integral component of the future client experience improvements. For example, clients of advisers using eSignature will be directed to Schwab Alliance to review and eSign forms.
Other types of features can be enabled by advisers as well, for example, an option that requires clients to consult with their adviser before trading or moving funds.
Schwab Intelligent Technologies, another part of the Schwab advisory world announced that it will launch a review site featuring ratings and adviser feedback on popular third-party providers used by advisers.
To be called the Schwab OpenView MarketSquare the new site's mission will be to assist advisers with selecting the best applications in key advisory categories.
Advisers can begin submitting technology vendor reviews through a web site (see below) and there are plans to begin posting them sometime in the first quarter of 2013.
Only advisers that custody assets with Schwab will be able to submit them and you will have to log in using your Schwab credentials.
Likewise only advisers with a Schwab relationship will be able to view the reviews.
For more information or to submit a review visit Schwab Intelligent Technologies online.