November 12, 2013

United Planners on Its Tech: The Glue That Holds It All Together

Call it the Kumbaya of BD tech offerings; getting vendors to work well together

“Our master philosophy is ‘enter once, use many,’” Sheila Cuffari-Agasi says when describing the technology employed at United Planners Financial Services.

The vice president of partner development with the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based broker-dealer notes that she keeps a “small, personal” book of business to maintain a rep's perspective and a view of what they might need in the field. And what she finds is they need glue — yes, glue.

“From a technology perspective, United Planners is all about creating efficiencies through what we call the software glue, which helps various platforms integrate and work better together,” she explains. “We want to free up time for the advisor from doing all the administrative and compliance tasks so they can concentrate on marketing and spending time with clients.”

The firm's Advisor Front Office “seamlessly integrates with Pershing and TD Ameritrade’s Veo, among other custodians.”  It can pull statements, auto-archive them and even file them if needed, she notes, which is especially helpful during a regulatory audit.

“We have them here so it’s not a burden to the advisor during the audit process. It also means the administrative person doesn’t have to store, file, burn them to a CD or anything else at the advisor’s office.”

UPFS is able to the “back share” the statements and files to the advisor’s own repository in one of two ways: through its own proprietary system or through Redtail technology. The advisor gets a copy, the office of supervisory jurisdiction gets a copy and it’s saved to the client’s vault as well.

This is different from many of the larger firms with legacy systems, she says.

“What we’re saying is that the advisor doesn’t have to do it our way,” Cuffari-Agasi adds. “We can work with any system as long as they have an open API. If you ever decide to leave, just unplug and the system goes with you. And all of it is available through a single sign-up for the advisor.”

She then reminisces about “the old days of all these different files and copies stored at multiple locations” before noting that now advisor need only one username and password and they have access to every document they ever signed with the firm.

“We’re not married to any one vendor,” she concludes. “What we do is build the glue to have the systems work together more efficiently. If there is a problem, we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water; we instead change the water.”

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Check out 8 Steps to a Successful Succession Plan: United Planners on ThinkAdvisor.

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