When it comes to letting advisors choose their own technology stack, TD Ameritrade Institutional is leading the way. The company’s Veo Open Access is considered by many to be the gold standard for an “open architecture” ecosystem—a platform that supports third-party technology integration.
More than 100 companies integrate with Veo in one way or another. Some just support single sign-on capabilities, while others go much deeper. TD even has an “integration analyzer” to help advisors make sense of it all.
Yet Grendel, a relatively small CRM technology company, is pushing the envelope by taking advantage of nearly every integration point Veo offers to show the full potential of the technology. The result, according to Grendel CEO Aaron Guidotti, is a complete system that combines CRM with portfolio management, performance reporting, trading, and supervisory controls.
“We’re the little guys still, but our application isn’t,” Guidotti said. “It’s the largest and most complex integration we’ve ever done.”
All from within the Grendel interface, advisors can manage client relationships, execute trades, perform cash transfers, and generate reports and fee billings. Grendel includes a client experience as well as as “command” functionality for office managers and compliance.
Guidotti added that in the process of building as tight of an integration as possible, Grendel engineers unlocked functionality in Veo that even TD’s team didn’t know existed, such as the ability to pull in the management fees the advisor receives to let firms view a full fee history.
“Advisors have been telling us that they need more efficiencies in their businesses and want a more streamlined approach to managing service requests for their clients,” Guidotti said in a statement. “This more deeply integrated solution is going to change how advisors interact with their clients’ accounts and relationships.”
Information moves in real-time between the two platforms. So, any action made in Grendel updates instantly on Veo and vice-versa. Grendel also uses aggregation technology to pull in outside accounts, and Guidotti said the technology is designed to build integrations with other custodians in the future.
Jon Patullo, the managing director of TD Ameritrade Institutional technology solutions, said technology like Grendel’s will be increasingly important as advisors look to integrate and consolidate the various technology firms they employ. His sentiments echo a report from the Aite Group, which found that improved integration is what advisors are most looking for from their custodians.
“Financial advisors are no longer satisfied with disparate applications that do not communicate with each other, yet they want to be able to choose certain elements of their technology stack,” Bill Butterfield, a senior analyst at Aite, said in the August report. “This is especially important for advisors doing business on multiple platforms to achieve a client-centric view. Vendors and service providers alike must respond by facilitating an integrated technology ecosystem as opposite to point-to-point connectivity.”
Guidotti said this is exactly what Grendel does. Whether it’s a client looking at their portfolio, an advisor drilling into a single household or client account; a firm manager looking at the entire book of business or a single advisor’s accounts, the integration with Veo creates a consistent user experience. Guidotti said this makes Grendel useful to independent RIAs or bigger teams with multiple advisor accounts.
Along with automatically pushing alerts from Veo to advisors, and nifty features like a trade pre-check that ensures everything is complete and properly filled out before a trade is executed, Guidotti says Grendel sets a new standard for a fully integrated advisor technology stack.
“We want [Grendel] to be the first thing they turn on and the last thing they turn off.”