TD Ameritrade to acquire FA Insight for big data

The research firm will offer benchmarking and business management for RIAs

Feb 4, 2016 @ 9:58 am

By Alessandra Malito

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TD Ameritrade announced on Thursday that it was acquiring research and consulting firm FA Insight in a strategic move to better deliver big data capabilities to RIAs.

FA Insight, which is based in Tacoma, Wash., will offer registered investment advisers who custody assets with TD customized benchmarking data and industry reports. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, a spokesman for the custodian said during its annual conference.

The acquisition, expected to be completed by the second quarter, will make available more than a decade of survey data as well as three industry studies for advisers, including "Growth by Design," "People and Pay" and a mergers and acquisition-focused report. Research on areas such as client acquisition, staffing and compensation, pricing strategies, operational efficiency and risk management also will be provided to advisers.

Such research should make advisers better informed business managers, a TD spokesman said. Advisers also will be able to benchmark themselves against specific industry metrics.

“The goal is for advisers to be able to measure their practices versus similar peer groups,” Jim Dario, managing director of TD Ameritrade Institutional product management, said at a press session at the conference. "Now they will be able to compare beyond the walls of TD advisers."

The data won't be available on Veo, but the firm will add the benchmarking information as a part of the Veo One platform expected in the fall.

FA Insight will continue its research and studies. Reports will continue to include non-TD advisers and those who participate will be able to view the results.

“By bringing FA Insight's benchmarking and related consulting expertise to TD Ameritrade, we can now reach a larger audience, supporting more advisers," FA Insight co-founder Eliza De Pardo said in a statement.

William Boland, a senior analyst at the Aite Group, said this acquisition will be great for TD to pick up on trends and developments within the firm with research done in house.

"It allows them to own the content more so and to position the research in a way that is meaningful to them," Mr. Boland said.

Big data shows promise for the financial services industry. A Gartner Group study in 2014 reported 73% of organizations invested or planned to invest in big data in the next two years.

A 2014 Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey of 500 managers and executives found that about 60% of firms using big data reported increased productivity.

Updates with additional reporting from Liz Skinner

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