It's a technological arms race to be sure. We noted this in our February issue, "Innovating in '11." Fideltiy validated our assertion in that story by showing up yesterday to give us a test run. (In our February issue, we said, "Practice management support is the name of the game for the big players in the custodial market. But while competition is fierce, innovations are small and gradual.") But add the innovations up, and you've got some serious fire power supporting RIAs and broker/dealers alike. In short, it takes a lot of time and money to improve b/d and RIA support. Yesterday, Sanjiv Mirchandani, Fidelity's head of National Financial, Fido's broker/dealer customer and clearing unit, dropped in to show us National Financial's new broker workstation.
Mirchandani, who took over recently from Norman Melo, who retired, said the the goal was to improve the design and navigation for Streetscape, for brokers, as well as it myStreetscap, which is Fido's consumer portal. The firm called the new look of the workstations as state of the art and more user-firiendly. The design was improved as was the navigation for the two portals. Fido's executives told us that the company improved conditional order and trailing stop trading capabilities along with extension of margin credit on international securities. Market data was also expanded as were research capabilities. In addition, portfolio reporting and enhanced money movement functionality were also improved.
"Our new strategy is about more than new features and functionality, it's about completely transforming the way advisors approach and conduct their business as well as manage their client relatinoships," said Mirchandani.
As we noted in our February issues, advisors are asking their custodians for more and more solutions --- from customer relationship management technology, to risk management and even compliance assistance. "The advisors are absolutely asking for it, and custodians are starting to step up with everything from practicemanagement that visit the advisors to newsletters and webinars and practice sessions," said Chris Winn, president of Advisor Assist, a consultancy.
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