08 August 2018

Technology integration now happening in real time

By Timothy D. Welsh

One of the more pressing business and operational issues facing advisors over the years has been the daunting task of bringing all of their technology systems and custodians together so that they work in harmony, deliver efficiencies and streamline back office tasks.

While this technology integration problem has been a perennial issue, the good news is that much progress is being made these days thanks to a collaborative advisor technology community and leadership from the industry’s popular custodians.

An interesting example of this trend can be seen in the recently held 9th annual TD Ameritrade Institutional Tech Summit.  At this two-day technology gathering, more than 40 advisor technology executives, including several from SS&C Advent’s Black Diamond® Wealth Platform, huddled together with executives, developers and product managers from TD Ameritrade’s famously successful Veo Open Access initiative to collaborate on ways to make advisors' lives easier.

The conference started with a walk down memory lane to provide context for how the Veo Open Access initiative has grown from one vendor integration to now over 150 integrations.

“Back in 2010, advisors were telling us that technology integration was a real issue in their businesses because they liked having choice of using their own personal favorite CRM, financial planning and portfolio accounting systems. And didn’t want to suffer the trade-offs of an all-in-one bundled solution, or have their technology stack dictated to them by their custodian or broker-dealer,“ said Managing Director Jon Patullo in his opening comments.

Choice is good; however, it creates complexity, Patullo shared.  “As a result of these conversations, it occurred to us that there was an opportunity for TDA, as their custodian, to play the role of technology integrator so that the custodial data they needed would be able to freely flow from our systems of record to their applications of choice and back again.”

To do this, TDA floated the idea of creating an application programming interface (API) that allowed third-party technology vendors to code to, so that data could pass easily. One system would also be able to update other systems, saving massive amounts of advisors’ time and resources, while enabling advisors to work with their vendor of choice.

“At the first Tech Summit, we started with just a handful of tech vendors to help validate this idea and to begin to build a roadmap for what this could look like,” Patullo noted. “Collaborating with the industry vs. us doing it on our own was a much faster way for development and has been the real success behind Veo Open Access.”

According to Tech Summit host, Marcel Tsai, Senior Product Manager for TDA, advisors and their staff can now launch custodian workflows without leaving their favorite vendor applications for various tasks via the Veo Open Access API, such as account opening, account servicing, trading, cash management and reporting.

An early adopter and partner in the TDA Veo initiative has been SS&C Advent’s Black Diamond. According to SS&C Advent's Mike Betz, who oversees their partnership with TDA, “We’ve recently delivered some awesome functionality for advisors who use TDA, including automating the process of bringing PDFs of TDA custodial statements and tax documents right into the Black Diamond client portal. We’ve also rolled out the Salentica Data Broker integration with Veo for any instance of Salesforce.”

Betz notes that over the last 12 months, Black Diamond has seen a 50% increase in assets coming in from TDA and a corresponding 25% increase in the number of Black Diamond firms who use TDA. 

"TDA is currently the fastest growing custodial partner we work with, and I believe that has a lot to do with the resources TD has invested in Veo Open Access" says Betz.  Going forward, Betz mentions that Black Diamond, Salentica and TDA are co-developing widgets that will allow advisors to easily access cross-system data and tools all from within TDA's new Veo One platform. 

Next up for the Veo Open Access initiative is to bring in more analytical abilities, such as TDA’s recently acquired FA Insight data so that advisors can benchmark themselves against their peers and see at a glance how they are performing and opportunities to improve efficiencies.  Additionally, AI-based “virtual agents” and “chatbot” capabilities will also be deployed to better service advisory firm’s needs.

To learn more about the many integration capabilities Black Diamond offers to its clients, click here.