We've got our eye on TD Ameritrade's growth, do-it-yourself hedge fund analytics and two elite conferences starting Wednesday

October 10, 2011 — 4:08 AM UTC by Brooke Southall

1 Comment

Brooke’s Note: Today is Columbus Day, these days a quasi-holiday, so we assume some financial advisors will take the day off while others will lumber to the office. For the latter group, we are here with a few thoughts to keep the RIA business wheels spinning. But take the afternoon off.

With all due respect to technology companies, new-age product makers and regulators, these days, it’s the asset custodians that hold center stage in the RIA business.

With that in mind, RIABiz began the Asset Custody Project two years ago and those articles can be found here. This summer we began the task of radically updating the first articles we wrote for that series, starting with Schwab Advisor Services [Schwab Advisor Services is nearing $800 billion of RIA assets but analysts are split over whether it can continue to dominate] and Pershing Advisor Solutions [What headway Pershing’s RIA unit is making after four years under Mark Tibergien].

We also caught you up recently on Trust Company of America. See: Trust Company of America is giving RIAs more weapons for free-wheeling.

Big TD picture

The next two articles in this series are big-picture updates on TD Ameritrade Institutional and Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services. Dina Hampton has been working on the TD article for a few weeks and has discovered a level of growth that is somewhat surprising from the number three player. That article will appear this week and is a sequel to: Where TD Ameritrade has come since its 2006 merger and where it is headed in 2010.

Concrete evidence of TD’s growth is the 110,000 square-foot building it is starting to occupy in La Jolla, Calif. – the result of adding to the RIA service staff it has stationed in the Fort Worth, Texas area. TD already had a presence in San Diego – a remnant of its acquisition of San Diego-based Jack White – but now it plans to take a big step up. “We’re more than doubling,” says Tom Bradley, president of TD Ameritrade Institutional.

Lisa Shidler has been hard at work on the Fidelity update that will appear later this week or early next week. She captures just how far Fidelity has come in its evolution and its identity among its peers. It’s a sequel to: Fidelity plows ahead in the RIA business with overhauls of service, technology and management

Nevin’s latest tech discoveries

Nevin Freeman, RIABiz's chief technology officer, has spent the summer mainly developing technology related to the RIABiz website. But a new breed of technology is starting to catch hold with RIAs and it intrigued him enough to take a recess from code writing. In a sense, what Nevin observes is a democratization of the high-end technology associated with hedge funds and the like – or at least good beginnings of that trend. Nevin looks at this phenomenon through the lens of two companies. Expect to see his articles published in the next couple of days in tandem.

Speaking of technology, Lisa is also working on an article appearing this week about software that has long been used at the enterprise level by Schwab, LPL and others. The software’s creator is now prepared to take it directly to advisors. Stay tuned.

Toward the end of this week, you’ll see us posting reports from a busy conference week. Dina is venturing to Coral Gables, Fla. to cover the MarketCounsel event, which includes speeches by the heads of the RIA units of both TD and Pershing, Bradley and Mark Tibergien. See: MarketCounsel, CFDD, T3 and Schwab vie for advisors to attend their fall conferences.

Puttin’ on the Ritz

I’ll be at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco Wednesday to catch a couple of speeches at the Tiburon Strategic Advisors CEO Summit. I’ve had good luck in the past coming back with a few high-level thoughts. The host of the event, Chip Roame, leads off with a speech that often includes valuable insights and RIA news nuggets.

My persistent flu notwithstanding, Tim Welsh and I will be meeting up with Philip Palaveev, president of Fusion Advisor Network this evening. He’s making a visit from Seattle and, on Tuesday, will be having lunch with TrustFort CEO Atindra Barua and his colleague, Surajeet Deka, in from Woburn, Mass. I consider Philip to be one of the better thinkers about RIAs and TrustFort is a technology firm that I have little knowledge of but appears to be big with IBDs. I’ll pass along any insights I gain from those meetings.

Mentioned in this article:

TD Ameritrade
Asset Custodian
Top Executive: Tom Nally

LPL Financial
Asset Custodian
Top Executive: Bill Morrissey

Consulting Firm, Specialized Breakaway Service, Compliance Expert
Top Executive: Brian Hamburger

Tiburon Strategic Advisors
Consulting Firm
Top Executive: Charles Roame

The Ensemble Practice LLC
Consulting Firm
Top Executive: Philip Palaveev

Financial Planning Software
Top Executive: Atindra Barua

Trust Company of America
Asset Custodian
Top Executive: Joshua Pace

Nexus Strategy
Consulting Firm
Top Executive: Timothy D. Welsh

Share your thoughts and opinions with the author or other readers.


Bill Winterberg said:

October 12, 2011 — 6:37 PM UTC

TrustFort is an odd entrant in the RIA space. They’re essentially a back-office portfolio accounting reconciliation and report generation service bureau, so their competitors include Orion Advisor Services, Black Diamond, and others.I’ve yet to come across any RIA that outsources their portfolio accounting to TrustFort.

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