Free web version of iRebal due out this summer

Feb 3, 2013 @ 12:01 am

By Dan Jamieson

TD Ameritrade's plan to offer a free, web-based version of the popular iRebal re-balancing software got a positive reception from financial advisers last Thursday.

Many of the 1,500 advisers in attendance at the firm's annual conference applauded when Tom Nally, head of the custody unit, announced the pending rollout.

“It's a very big deal,” he said in an interview.

TD advisers pay $10,000 to $50,000 a year in licensing fees for a desktop version of the system.

The firm plans a full rollout of the web-based application sometime this summer.

The online version of the program will be fully integrated with Veo, the firm's technology platform, Mr. Nally said.

“It's not "iRebal Lite,'” he said.

There will be some minor differences, “but 99% [of advisers] will have everything they need” from the online version, which Mr. Nally noted hasn't been a profit center for TD.

The firm thinks that the free offering will make advisers more efficient.

Re-balancing portfolios has long been a challenge for advisers, generally.

Ninety software companies are working on integrating a variety of applications into the Veo platform, company executives said.

COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

TD officials are convinced that their open-access Veo project, which allows approved software vendors to create new applications for the system, will help the firm gain a competitive advantage.

TD officials also reported that the branch referral program, AdvisorDirect, is seeing 41% year-over-year growth in both asset levels and number of conversions.

Tom Bradley, head of TD Ameritrade's retail business, and until a year ago the head of the custody unit, told attendees that technology and compliance requirements have been streamlined, making the referral process easier for branch-based advisers.

The firm targets $500,000 households for the 154 registered investment adviser firms in the referral program.

When asked by a conference attendee about possibly losing out on smaller, but still desirable, clients, Mr. Bradley said that the size of targeted accounts is flexible.

Branch referrals are based on client needs for higher-end services, Mr. Nally said.

djamieson@investmentnews.com Twitter: @dvjamieson

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