Envestnet Tamarac partners with Schwab, TD on digital account openings

Auto-filling documents designed to make onboarding more efficient for RIAs and more convenient for clients

Sep 20, 2018 @ 3:17 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

Envestnet Tamarac announced new integrations Thursday with TD Ameritrade Institutional and Schwab Advisor Services that enable a fully digital account opening process.

The integrations, currently in pilot testing at both custodians, push client information from Tamarac into the custodian platforms to pre-populate forms with details necessary to open new accounts. Tamarac claims it is the first portfolio management vendor to market utilizing new technology from TD and Schwab for digital account opening, and the custodians are the first to allow the 1,000 RIA firms using Tamarac to digitally open accounts entirely through a third-party portfolio company.

Auto-filling documents will make onboarding more efficient for registered investment advisers and more convenient for clients, Envestnet Tamarac president Stuart DePina said in a statement.

"This advancement is part of our ongoing roadmap designed to automate time-consuming processes, such as client onboarding, and allow RIAs to focus on higher-value activities such as building client relationships and holistic financial planning," Mr. DePina added. Tamarac overhauled its adviser software in November, and in May announced new client portal and financial planning features.

Without the integration, advisers have to manually input client data from Tamarac into their custodian plan, explained Ashley Dahl, Envestnet Tamarac vice president of product management. This isn't just slower, it opens the doors for errors that slow down the account opening process.

"I came from an RIA, where I worked right out of college, where I did a lot of time for my first couple of years filling out paperwork for everybody," Ms. Dahl said, when asked why this feature is so important to advisers.

It's even more important for large firms, and Tamarac services more than a third of all RIAs with more than $1 billion in assets. "We're constantly opening new accounts," she said.

The connection between Tamarac and the two custodians could go further than account opening and eventually digitize just about any client paperwork that doesn't require notarization, Ms. Dahl added.

The firm is also working on similar functionality with other custodians, she said, responding that "we're working with all of them to create automated account opening processes" when asked why the functionality is coming first to TD and Schwab.

For Schwab, it's a continuation of senior vice president of digital adviser solutions Andrew Salesky's decision to partner more with third-party tech vendors. The custodian recently announced enhanced integrations with Orion Advisor Services, also around digital account opening.

Schwab is also nearing the release of its next-generation portfolio management software, PortfolioConnect. The tool is built directly into Schwab's custodial platform and will be free for advisers who custody directly with Schwab, but will not be the multicustodial offering previously promised to advisers.

Such a tool would have competed with products like Tamarac. Although Schwab will still incentivize RIAs to custody all client assets at Schwab, it's embraced the idea to also support multicustodial technology, and advisers who use them, as well.

Schwab representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

TD Ameritrade is no stranger to third-party integrations, but Tamarac is utilizing new APIs to grant outside access to TD's account opening software. Director of product management Bob Mahoney said automating data entry will lead to "less fat-fingered errors."

"When it comes to account opening, we see advisers asking for a more seamless, efficient process," Mr. Mahoney said.

Demand is high for automated, fully digital account opening processes as RIAs and broker-dealers look to bring client experience up to the bar set by robo-advisers and other consumer-facing digital startups. Participants in InvestmentNews' Fintech Think Tank frequently said clients want opening an investment account to be as easy as shopping online.

(More: How to offer the ideal hybrid digital adviser)

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