January 30, 2013

For Cambridge Investment Research, Technology Is Center Stage

Iowa-based broker-dealer mirrors tech industry innovation

Cambridge founder Eric Schwartz (center) at FSI OneVoice in San Diego. Cambridge founder Eric Schwartz (center) at FSI OneVoice in San Diego.

If you’re looking for the perfect technology “coming of age” story (and who isn’t?), Cambridge Investment Research just might have it.

When industry heavyweight Eric Schwartz founded the firm in 1992, the IT department consisted of a 16-year-old high school student.

“The kid would be at the office until midnight putting out a fire,” Schwartz relates. “That’s a lot of pressure.  If he couldn’t get it figured out, clients would not be able to trade the next day. Eventually his father came in and said it might be too much, and we agreed.”

Enter Ryan Reineke, now the firm’s senior VP of operations and technology. When Reineke joined the firm, it had just parted ways with the tech wunderkind and was in serious need of an upgrade, and upgrade it has.

“We’re about to release WealthPort, a best of breed integration platform for the back office, as well as proposal generation and trading for the front office,” Reineke told AdvisorOne at the 2013 FSI OneVoice Conference in San Diego on Tuesday.  “It is a multi-custodian lead into UMAs and other offerings.”

He added that competitors “have built the box,” but Cambridge offers choice and flexibility across the platform.

“It offers things like model management, model trading and reporting. But it’s fully scalable and can perform comprehensive book analysis.”

Noting the conference panel which focused on technology trends for 2013 that occurred earlier in the day, Reineke rhetorically asked, “What is a mobile strategy? How do you define a mobile strategy with an advisor base that has incredibly different value propositions?”

He explained the Cambridge is in the process of answering that very question and coming out with a mobile strategy that is flexible enough for any advisor business model.

“It will be for the iPad first, and then be multiplatform supportable.”

He added that an ongoing question involves the rollout of third party service providers within the broker-dealer.

“It ends up being a combination of building our own complex offerings in conjunction with offering the flexibility of outside products and services,” Reineke concluded.  “We want to make sure it is best of breed, but at the same time differentiated.”

Cambridge recently launched eSignature capabilities for use with clients by advisors, powered by DocuSign. It’s compatible with most desktop and mobile devices used by rep-advisors and their clients.

--------

Check out complete conference coverage at AdvisorOne’s FSI OneVoice 2013 enhanced landing page.

Reprints Discuss this story
This is where the comments go.