Technology, innovation, and the future of third-party integration for independent advisors

Article

August 5, 2021

By Kartik Srinivasan, Director of Digital Advisor Solutions 

In the past year, independent advisor firms became increasingly reliant on digital workflows to serve their clients and grow their practices. Across our platform, we saw advisors embrace the benefits of tech more than ever with a 70% jump in adoption of digital account open tools.  

As independent advisors look ahead and consider the new tech-enhanced ecosystem, many remain bullish about growth: Advisors surveyed in Schwab’s most recent Independent Advisor Outlook Study (IAOS) believe the industry will continue to grow, with two-thirds still expecting accelerated growth through 2021. 

And the numbers we’re seeing validate that belief: 

  • Since 2018, there has been a 100% increase in the number of API integration partners on our platform, and today we have more than 180 product integrations.  

  • In 2020, we saw a 40% increase in API usage by advisors, and currently more than 3,000 advisor firms actively use our APIs.   

Earlier this year, we convened our TD Ameritrade Institutional colleagues and many of our third-party technology providers to discuss the future of third-party integration as well as the demands and preferences of advisors and their clients. More than 150 professionals joined us for this two-day virtual forum where we exchanged integration best practices and updates on our shared mission of building a seamless technology experience for advisors.  

A few key takeaways of note: 

     1. Tech providers are optimistic and excited about the future 

Vendors are excited to see the Schwab and TD Ameritrade Institutional teams come together to build integrations that leverage the best of both platforms. Vendors mentioned they are pleased with the process of working together and with centralized tools like our new developer portal which provides them with access to important resources. We will continue actively working with the third-party community in preparation for broker dealer consolidation. 

     2. Appetite for integration is only growing  

Driven by client needs and the expanding technology ecosystem, there is still a long runway of opportunity. On our part, we are continuing to aggressively close some minor gaps between TDA and Schwab in terms of API capabilities, data file delivery and a handful of tech partners that TDA works with that have yet to begin working with Schwab. These will be well addressed prior to broker-dealer consolidation. 

     3. Schwab is making it easier for technology firms to serve advisors 

In addition to the launch of the modernized developer portal for third-party providers earlier this year, Schwab also released the much-awaited Status API into pilot, which provides Schwab Advisor Center status updates to external technology partners. With over 70% of firms on the Schwab platform using the Status capability, this has been an important enhancement for those firms that are also using third-party integration. 

Building on the success of our forum earlier this year, we plan to host a second event in September (details still to come). We want to ensure we maintain an open dialogue with the advisor technology community so that, collectively, we can help advisors optimize their tech stack to benefit both their business and most importantly, their clients. 


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