In a move aimed at edging ahead of the competition, Fidelity has added third-party vendors Addepar and Wealthbox to its advisor technology platform Wealthscape to boost FAs’ abilities to tailor services for clients.
“Adding third-party vendors is important for clients looking to create customized solutions and scale their businesses correctly,” Lisa Burns, head of platform technology for Fidelity Institutional, says. “We know advisors demand choice” when it comes to technology and “different advisors have different business models,” she says.
By adding third-party vendors, Fidelity is effectively expanding the range of customer offerings — like account aggregation and tax planning — advisors can use to service clients, she says. But Burns says “it’s not necessarily that more third-party vendors is better. Quality is also important.”
To keep up to speed with the latest developments that would be of best use for advisors, she says Fidelity uses consultants to monitor which vendors are entering the market and what clients want.
For Addepar and Wealthbox, “Fidelity heard from clients they wanted Addepar on the platform” and “Wealthbox’s addition was the result of Fidelity looking for ways to add flexibility across the CRM space,” Burns says.
Addepar provides data aggregation and performance measuring. Wealthbox is a web-and-mobile CRM.
The additions raise the number of vendors on Fidelity’s platform to over 120, Burns says.
Fidelity isn’t the only firm integrating third-party vendors.
The industry will see “competition among the platform providers to get more integration built into their platforms,” Brad Burgess, chief technology officer of Orion, which recently rebranded from NorthStar Financial Services Group, says.
Looking “from advisors’ eyes, I see more and more third-party vendors appearing in the industry. And that creates options for advisors. It gives them more opportunities on how to do things,” Burgess says. Integrating third-party vendors lets advisors choose what works best for their system, he says. And for that reason, Orion plans to “integrate with as many third-party vendors as possible.” The firm currently has just over 100 integrations, with “quite a few in the works,” Burgess adds.
At TD Ameritrade, its Veo Open Access advisor technology platform has over “160 different integrations,” Jon Patullo, managing director of Institutional Technology Solutions for TD Ameritrade, says.
“RIAs are independent, so every advisory firm may use a different system,” he says. So, when it comes to integrations, it’s the more the better, he seems to say. “Third-party integrations are obviously very critical for technology platforms. They drive efficiencies in advisors’ offices so FAs can spend more time attracting or serving clients,” he says. “If you have 10 integrations on your platform or 150, having 150 gives advisors the ability to really pick and choose what works best for them and their clients.”