Dallas, TX. – Four years ago when TD Ameritrade Institutional held its first official technology summit – an exclusive event that brought together the most innovative minds in the technology business – the goal was to collectively identify some of advisers' biggest challenges. Not simply individual adviser's issues implementing or understanding technology, but the global issues that were impeding the growth of an entire industry.
“At that time, you could say the biggest challenge was changing a mindset, not necessarily fixing a specific problem,” said Jon Patullo, managing director of technology product management at TD Ameritrade Institutional. “The real challenge was getting the industry to view technology as an investment, not just an expense.”
Fast forward four years to today's 2014 TDAI Technology Summit in Dallas: Advisers and their partner firms – custodians and technology providers alike – have made significant progress with their processes and platforms. At a firm level, advisers' investments in technology have nearly doubled since 2011, according to InvestmentNews Research, and averaged nearly 6% of total revenues in 2013.
With custodians like TD Ameritrade Institutional advancing both the dialog and innovation in the adviser technology industry, more advisers have had easier access to adviser-specific technologies and applications.
This has presented an opportunity for a broader number of advisers to experience how purpose-built software – adviser-specific CRM, financial planning, rebalancing and portfolio management tools – have enabled practices to run more efficiently and grow faster in recent year. At the same time, fully leveraging these tools and integrating them into firm workflows has also allowed many advisers to deliver a significantly improved client experience.
“This event really validates our strategies and approaches to solving adviser and industry technology problems,” said Mr. Patullo. “And not just our approach, but the goals and objectives of the vendors in the technology community as well. This has been a great forum to focus everyone on the same issues and really move the industry forward.”
At this year's forum, executives from TDAI and technology firms including Advent, Grendel Online, HiddenLevers, Instream, Junxure, Orion Advisor Services and RedTail are in attendance to openly discuss the biggest technology challenges facing advisers in 2014.
Integration is still at the top of the list, but this year TDAI executives will also be letting technology leaders “kick the tires” on its new Veo dashboard initiative, which it announced at its national conference in January 2014.
The dashboard, an early version of which is slated for rollout later this year, will serve as an adviser's “Mission Control,” as Mr. Patullo puts it, allowing them to log-in and launch up to 60 fully integrated applications from one screen – and ultimately access a single, consolidated view of each and every client.
“It's our version of iGoogle or MyYahoo!, where advisers can pick and choose what (tools and information) they want (to see),” said Mr. Patullo. “This is how we are looking to take things to the next level and we think it's a game-changer for the industry.”
The TDAI annual technology summit has served as a catalyst for many of TDAI's technology initiatives in recent years. The very first meeting, for example, focused on many of the integration issues that were making it difficult for advisers to centralize their data and operations and get all of their primary applications to effectively 'talk' to one another.
Not only was the lack integration preventing advisers from having more efficient platforms and operations, it dissuaded many from making new investments in technology.
That meeting specifically served as the launchpad for many of the elements of TDAI's Veo Open Access platform. The Veo platform The Open Access initiative was developed to allow TDAI's advisers to integrate with some of the industry's most widely used third-party applications. This allows for advisers to access data through the TDAI Veo platform, as well as third-parties – effectively creating a single technology solution that provides advisers with a more seamless and open environment for managing client and firm data.