F2 Strategy released a 5-part Insight Series to support TD Ameritrade Institutional firms as they transition their technology to Schwab Advisor Services. The series will cover a range of areas they need to attend to during the conversion and best practices to optimize their businesses during this period of transition.
From operations to clients, transitioning your TD Ameritrade (TDA) firm to Schwab Advisor Services affects a lot of players involved in the daily running of your business. Now that we’ve covered preparations for your operations teams and clients, let’s examine another one of those groups impacted: your third-party vendors.
Schwab works with more than 200 third-party technology vendors and almost all of the same vendors that TDA supported. The vast majority of your processes may not change and you’ll have the ability to use many of the same tools; however, your vendors need to certify that they are ready and able to make this transition with you. Vendors that will be impacted will include those related to performance reporting, billing, CRM, and others who send or receive data from TDA currently.
This is the time to reach out to all of the vendors who will be involved in the transition and confirm that they have a strategy to handle this transition on the timeline required. It is incumbent on them as your service provider to make these changes. They owe you a green light.
First, you’ll want to determine if you have a problem at all. Begin by asking, “Have you already supported an advisor firm converting from TDA to Schwab?”
Potential answers the vendors could give you:
- “Yes.” Great! From here they should tell you what you need to do to be ready for the transition. They should provide a list of action items.
- “No, but we’re aware of it and we support clients who are on Schwab today.” Also good, but this should lead to exploring issues with your vendor about multiple topics, including data mapping, process workflows, and user experiences.
- “No, we haven’t done this, and no one who uses our software works with Schwab.” Yikes, RED FLAG. If you get this answer, you are at your first crossroads and you must decide how important this vendor is and if you need to change vendors to one that supports the same capability and works with Schwab.
Other Points to Address before the Conversion
Beyond certification that the transition and the timing for the transition have been fully thought through, you should drill down into the specifics of how the conversion will go and what results will come out of it.
Make sure you ask your vendors and get clear answers to the following questions:
- Is anything going to change from your perspective when I go through this transition?
- How will the day-to-day processes change in how we work together? For example, look for differences related to APIs or flat files and batch or real time.
- Do you have a different integration that allows me to do something I couldn’t do before because I am on Schwab’s platform? For example, more efficient account opening.
- If there are changes how will my staff be trained on them?
- Do I have the right support person (who do I call if something does go wrong during the conversion?)
Where appropriate, confirm also that you will have access to your historical TDA data that has already been populated into the system. Regardless, we recommend downloading and archiving all Veo One data back to inception. Doing so will give your firm easy access to historical data if needed in the future. There are firms like NDex that also help support storage of legacy data on your behalf.
Think Beyond the Conversion
While you are engaging with all of your vendors, take this opportunity to look beyond the parameters of the transition and ensure you have the right vendors in place to support your business where it is and where it is going. Take this opportunity to look at additional tools and vendors that could enhance your existing platform post conversion. While you won’t want to change vendors unless absolutely necessary before the transition, this is an ideal time to plan for the future vendor changes you might decide you need to make after you convert to Schwab.
Discussion questions to raise:
- Data and Cyber Security—Who has my client data and how much of my data do they have? How are you securing my data? What cybersecurity certifications do you have and which are you pursuing? Our internal experts wrote an article covering the basics of modern cybersecurity that can guide you through thinking about this topic as it relates to wealth management.
- Service Offerings—What other services do you have? Are there features that have become available as a result of moving to Schwab?
- Pricing—Can I negotiate this price (Are there things I’m not using and paying for?)
In the end your vendor preparation work should leave you with the feeling that your vendors are ready and thoughtful about this conversion. That they can support you through it. And, that they are able to move with you on the other side of the conversion, providing you with the right services to help you grow.
Up Next: Life after the Conversion
You’re almost there! Now that you’ve considered how to prepare your business, your operations, your clients and your vendors, it’s time to think about life after the conversion. In our final article in this series, Schwab & TD Ameritrade Part 5: Optimizing Your Business Post-Conversion will focus on ways to maximize this experience.
Review the entire series of articles: