What You Need to Know
- Schwab continues to look for ways to expand Schwab Advisor Center digital functionality.
- The pandemic-driven increase in digital adoption has further cut down on the need for paper.
- The Schwab-TD Ameritrade integration would have been easier if one of the firms was much more dominant, Schwab exec Andrew Salesky says.
Despite the significant strides that have been made with digital adoption by advisors and their clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, some obstacles still stand in the way of totally shifting away from paper, according to Andrew Salesky, senior vice president and head of Digital Advisor Solutions at Charles Schwab.
“It’ll be a year we all remember,” he said Tuesday during an online “fireside chat” with Rich Cancro, CEO and founder of wealth management software company AdvisorEngine, which recently announced the completion of its platform integration with Schwab Advisor Center.
The pandemic really didn’t create any new trends — it really just “fast-forwarded the trends that already existed,” according to Cancro.
When it comes to digital adoption, however, “there’s a lot of different claims on how fast we’ve accelerated,” Salesky noted. For example, some believe digital adoption accomplished what would have taken five years in one year, he said.
One statistic he pointed to outside the sector also stood out: “Disney Plus achieved in five months what it took Netflix seven years to achieve,” he said.
The most significant impact over the past year came from the removal of certain obstacles, “some of them real, some of them perceived,” he said, pointing to over 200% growth in electronic signatures and the major expansion in Cisco Webex and Zoom usage.
“We’ve seen great adoption of our end client experience over the past 12 months” also, he said, predicting it’s “not something that’s going to dissipate.”
There was a “new trend and new set of momentum” set that “hopefully we’re going to benefit [from] for years to come,” he said.
The increase in digital adoption has helped to cut down on what he called “sort of the bane of this industry”: paper-based processes. This has increased efficiency for advisors and clients alike so it’s “warranting more investment,” he noted.
But “some of the obstacles” that remain “sit with us, the custodian,” he conceded. That is because, “in some cases, the digital processes are not complete,” he explained. For example, digital account opening is growing but not every account type offers it. Similarly, digital Move Money capabilities are being increasingly used “but not for some of the edge cases,” he said.