Schwab Advisor Solutions has completed the beta testing phase of integrating the CRM application SalesForce.com into Schwab’s custodial and portfolio management systems, and is moving those beta testers, along with more Schwab-affiliated RIAs, into a pilot program this fall, with general availability for all of Schwab’s advisors by year-end.
In an interview on Monday with AdvisorOne, Schwab’s Brian Shenson, managing director of Advisor Services technology, reported that a dozen advisory firms participated in the beta testing of Schwab OpenView Integrated Office, the turnkey application that integrates SalesForce with Schwab’s custodial platform and Portfolio Center, Schwab Performance Technologies’ portfolio management software (PMS). Those same 12 were beta testers of Schwab OpenView Gateway, a modular application for SalesForce CRM users. Some third party consultants to advisors who help with technology integration were also included in the beta testing.
The CRM testing is the first in Schwab’s Intelligent Integration project that is designed, says Shenson, to provide RIA firms with a choice on how they will integrate their standalone applications into the Schwab platform. “Our view of the world,” said Shenson, “is that you need your CRM, portfolio reporting, and custodial platform” to be integrated into an advisory firm’s workflow to help advisors best leverage their business operations.
In an interview last October, Neesha Hathi, Schwab’s VP for Advisor Technology Solutions, described Intelligent Integration as an “ecosystem,” designed to help its affiliated advisors be more efficient in their use of advisor software so that any applications “works well with the applications that they’re already using.”
Schwab’s intent, Hathi said then, was to “focus on creating choice in the marketplace, creating relationships with a few different providers, but also creating integration with those providers.” (Hathi also wrote an article for Investment Advisor ‘s August 2011 issue on how advisors could use CRM as an “engine of growth.”)