The latest update to TD Ameritrade Institutional's VEO One technology platform brings the custodian one step closer to offering financial advisers a fully digital and automatic account opening process.
New integrations with customer relationship management (CRM) software and portfolio management systems push client data straight into the Veo account opening wizard, a tool to digitize the form-filling process with digital documents and e-signature. Without having to manually re-enter client data, TD Ameritrade Institutional director of technology solutions Bob Mahoney said opening new accounts will be faster and the chance for not-in-good-order errors will be reduced.
"We worked with the industry's leading technology firms and advisers to come up with an elegant and automated solution for addressing common frustrations around new account openings," Mr. Mahoney said in a statement. "Now, advisers have multiple choices for processing their documents faster and more accurately."
Eight technology firms are currently integrated, included three CRM s(Advyzon, Salesforce and Wealthbox) and two portfolio management technologies (Envestnet Tamarac and Orion Advisor Services). Agreement Express, Docusign and iPipeline are also integrated into the digital account opening process.
TD can support technology built in-house by registered investment advisers and is already integrated with platforms at FTJ FundChoice and Carson Group. The company plans to include more third-party technology providers in the future.
XYPN co-founder Alan Moore applauded the integrations and said it's a step in the right direction for TD. In the past, advisers had to manually update Veo with client information from the CRM.
However, the technology still falls short of the fully digital, automated account opening investors can get from digital advice startups like Betterment and Wealthfront. The integration will help reduce time and errors on the adviser side of the equation, but the account creation still isn't fully automatic – something advisers call "straight-through processing."
TD's integrations automatically push client information stored on third-party technology to the Veo account opening tool, but doesn't necessarily change what TD does with the data, Mr. Moore said. "This is a huge improvement, no doubt. But it's not actually making account opening more efficient on the back-end side."
Straight-through processing is on the top of some advisers' technology wishlists. But outside of Apex Clearing, which provides straight-through processing for some of the most well-known robo-advisers, Mr. Moore isn't sure that any of the large custodians offer a 100% digital account opening. Most firms still require a human to take the information received from advisers and use it to manually open an account, he said.
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Joseph Giannone, senior communications and public affairs strategist for TD Ameritrade Institutional, disputed this.
"A TD Ameritrade employee does not have to touch the data, nor rekey data, if it comes from our wizard or these latest technology integrations," Mr. Giannone said in an email. "If an adviser is using these newly integrated solutions and our Veo wizard, then the process is fully digital. Nobody here has to touch it."
Apex did not respond to a request for comment. Fidelity Institutional, Charles Schwab Advisor Services and Pershing all maintained they support straight-through processing.
Mr. Mahoney said that from the client's and adviser's point of view, the new account opening workflow is entirely digital. The integration with Docusign and iPipeline's Laserapp means all documents are filled out and signed electronically.
"There is no printing involved, no faxing, no scanning – all digital," Mr. Mahoney said. Speeding up the process and eliminating NIGO errors will benefit both TD and the RIAs it serves, but the ultimate winners will be investors, he said.
"When you streamline the process, they get the account and it's funded and it's ready to go," Mr. Mahoney added. The process that used to take "days and weeks" will now be a matter of "minutes and hours."
But the fact that it could take hours indicated to Mr. Moore that the process isn't completely digital yet.
According to its press release, TD plans to introduce "fully digital, end-to-end account opening capabilities for even greater speed and efficiency."
When asked what part of the process isn't yet digitized, Mr. Giannone said TD still supports advisers who still use products that aren't integrated with Veo's new digital account opening, and those who still choose to print out paper.
"What's ahead is we will be taking other forms off paper and into the digital stream," he said in an email. "In other words, automating more than just new account forms."