All it took was a 30-minute van ride to the
airport from the faux (but quite nice) Hawaiian hotel at Universal Studios in Orlando to remind me why the independent advisory business is such a wonderful one to be in and yet such a frustrating one, too. On that trip were three advisors who began discussing the software they use in their practices, the limitations of each, and the new applications they had seen demonstrated at the first annual conference of the newly merged TD Ameritrade Institutional. Each of the three had a different business model, each had come into the independent advisor business from a different place, and each used different portfolio management software. Each also used more than one custodian for client assets, and each had horror stories about custodians they’d used in the past who had attempted to poach clients. All were struggling to figure out the best tools to use in a highly competitive climate with a growing compliance burden.
All three were also quite excited–in a restrained advisor-like way–with the TD Waterhouse-Ameritrade combination, since they were convinced already that Tom Bradley and his TD Ameritrade staff would be enjoying additional resources that would translate into better products and services for advisors who choose to custody with TDA. That improvement was already evidenced, they said, by the new client statements that Waterhouse displayed and would be implementing soon, especially the cost basis that would now be appearing on those statements, similar to the statements, said one TD Ameritrade tech staffer pointedly, enjoyed by customers of a certain company named Merrill Lynch.