Sunayna Tuteja of TD Ameritrade Sunayna Tuteja of TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade has launched Android Auto and Echo Auto voice-activated capabilities for retail investor clients with smartphones, so they can use voice commands to track market news and account details while driving. Apple iPhone users, though, will need to wait about three to six months for similar tools.

Beyond its DIY clients, the new in-vehicle experiences are “definitely on our roadmap to extend … to our institutional advisor [and] advisor clients,” according to Sunayna Tuteja, head of strategic partnerships and emerging technologies at TD Ameritrade.

Investors looking to trade stocks hands-free while driving, however, will need to sit tight longer, Tuteja told ThinkAdvisor on Monday.

“It would definitely be months,” she said, adding the company is “very quick in terms of” studying client feedback and “doing iterative launches” to add more features and functionality.

“The reason we wanted to kind of take more of a prudent approach with this is, one, this is a new modality,” Tuteja explained, adding: “In-vehicle experiences are just something that are nascent, and they’re just starting to get rolled out.”

In addition, “safety is critical” to consider, “so we wanted to learn how our clients’ behavior would evolve with access to this type of information before we kind of added transaction” capabilities to it, she said.

Trading Plans

The addition of in-car stock trading by voice command will also require “a little bit of technical work,” including authentication, Tuteja noted.

Still, there’s no significant technological leap between voice-command-based trading on Alexa devices used outside the car — a capability already provided by TD Ameritrade — and stock trading done via voice inside the car, she explained.

The new in-vehicle TD Ameritrade solutions represent a “natural next step” in the company’s efforts to use new and popular technology to allow investors to “engage with the markets when and where they choose,” the company said in a statement. The solutions will “help investors maximize their time and productivity safely.”

After being “the first to offer trading over the phone, on a desktop, and through a mobile app, late last year TD Ameritrade was also the first to announce voice-activated investing” via Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, the firm added.

Apple Innovations

Clients using Apple CarPlay can now keep track of the latest real-time market news through a new TDAN Radio app from the TD Ameritrade Network, which can be accessed using Apple’s popular CarPlay software.

Although no Apple CarPlay voice-command capabilities are being made available today, “that is something that we’re exploring adding to CarPlay as the next step in our roadmap,” Tuteja said. 

Competitors’ Plans

Whether TD Ameritrade’s rivals planned similar solutions for their customers wasn’t immediately clear. “We continuously work to enhance our native applications for Apple, Amazon Alexa and Google platforms,” Fidelity spokesman Robert Beauregard told ThinkAdvisor. 

But, Beauregard added: “Currently we do not offer in-vehicle market or account access. In terms of future plans, we do not discuss them.” 

Other competitors didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

American drivers are spending a growing number of hours in their cars, including a massive amount of time sitting in traffic, TD Ameritrade notes. 

Pointing to a February report by INRIX, TD Ameritrade said American drivers lost an average of 97 hours in 2018 because of congestion. 

The same report estimated that the cost of sitting in traffic nationwide was almost $87 billion last year — an average of $1,348 per driver, TD Ameritrade said. 

However, for investors who follow the financial markets closely, that loss is “compounded by untold missed opportunity,” it said.

“In a connected world like ours, we have to meet investors where they are, whether at home, in the office, or on the go,” Tuteja said in TD Ameritrade’s announcement. “In-vehicle technology offers a new type of connectivity that further breaks down barriers to accessing financial education and markets.”

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