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Fidelity's Platform Updates Get Thumbs-Up From Techies

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Fintech experts on Thursday praised the enhancements that Fidelity Institutional announced for its Wealthscape advisor technology platform.

The changes include the addition of multi transfer-of-assets (Multi TOA) and other improvements to its fully digital onboarding capabilities and a “refreshed” Fidelity Investor experience the firm says will help advisors “work more efficiently and deliver more value to investors.”

The latest Wealthscape updates arrive after Fidelity launched a new digital account onboarding capability and other new features in January, and then added multiple tools to the platform in May, which the firm said would make it easier for advisors to navigate, anytime, anywhere.

The ‘Killer App’

“The killer app here is the work around digital account opening,” Tim Welsh, head of the consultancy Nexus Strategy, told ThinkAdvisor. “That has been a historical key bottleneck for advisory firms, and those improvements will make RIAs want to do more business with Fidelity, simply because the technology makes it easier.”

Agreeing, Joel Bruckenstein of Technology Tools for Today called the digital onboarding enhancements a “relatively big deal.” Although several firms have been offering that feature for a while, “the first generation of a lot of the digital onboarding processes were, in my opinion, suboptimal.”

The enhanced capabilities are “remarkable and vital to Fidelity’s ability to maintain”  competitiveness with what Charles Schwab offers, according to Tommy Marshall, executive director of Georgia FinTech Academy.

“Onboarding of clients and transfer of assets has been a perennial issue for advisors,” he said. “Any steps to make this process more efficient has exponential positive ramifications to overall advisor office productivity. I expect the competitiveness of the custody provider space to only accelerate as the consolidation has occurred and all advisors in the USA will benefit as a result.”

Fidelity’s Priority 

Announcing the latest enhancements Thursday, Lisa Burns, head of platform technology at Fidelity Institutional, said: “Simplifying work for advisors and their clients has always been a priority for us, and it’s especially been a focus this year, beginning with the fully digital onboarding experience we launched in January and through to the platform enhancements we’re announcing today, as well as what’s on our roadmap for 2021.”

Advisors “rapidly adopted digital tools at the start of the pandemic and continue to look for ways to save time and deliver on client expectations in today’s challenging environment,” she noted, adding: “We’re helping them do that through our continued innovation.”

More Onboarding Details

Fidelity started rolling out Wealthscape’s digital account onboarding experience in January to save advisors time and simplify account opening, which more than one-third of advisors indicated was the most cumbersome part of client interactions, it said Thursday.

Since January, Fidelity has now added multi-account opening; multi-TOA capabilities that streamline account funding; and support for trust and other registration types (including joint, transfer on death and retirement) and more features (including prime brokerage, beneficiary and standing instructions).

It said the changes “further simplify workflows and enable advisors to seamlessly manage an even wider variety of investments and solutions for their clients.”

Fidelity “continues to expand the onboarding experience, with support for managed accounts, additional transaction types, and more integrations to provide streamlined end to end workflows,” it said.

Up next, in early 2021 will be a new, simplified investor signing experience that it said will further increase efficiency and minimize investor errors during account opening.

More Digital Service Tools and Fidelity Investor Details

Fidelity also continues to enhance the digital service tools it launched in May.

Those tools include Wealthscape Virtual Assistant, which uses artificial intelligence to predict what information users might need based on their activity and quickly delivers meaningful answers within the platform.

Fidelity, meanwhile, expanded the Smart Walkthrough integrated learning experiences it announced in May that lead advisors through the most effective ways to use the Wealthscape platform to drive digital adoption, ease transactional pain points and improve efficiency.

Fidelity is also now piloting a refreshed Wealthscape Investor experience that it said “makes it easier for investors to view their portfolios at a glance, quickly find the information they need, and engage with their advisors.”

That new experience features a “simplified design and customer-focused workflow, leveraging design techniques that improve accessibility and reduce friction for all users,” Fidelity said, adding it will continue to be enhanced based on client and investor feedback. Updates in the pilot include a simplified browser experience and a redesigned mobile app.

The Wealthscape Investor app, available for Apple iOS and Google Android mobile devices, provides investors 24/7 access to brokerage account positions, balances and transaction history from their mobile device (including support for biometric authorization). Fidelity is now piloting an updated app with easier navigation and a new look it said was “designed to meet the high expectations of today’s investors.”

— Check out Fidelity Plans to Merge 3 Funds, as Assets Hit $3.5T on ThinkAdvisor.