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Schwab Advisors Gain Access to TD Ameritrade’s Strategy Desk

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What You Need to Know

  • TDA Institutional’s Strategy Desk became available to Schwab advisors in a phased launch starting in January.
  • All Schwab advisors now have access to Strategy Desk's educational resources.
  • The addition comes as Schwab continues to integrate TD.

As part of Charles Schwab’s ongoing TD Ameritrade integration that includes a combined custody platform, Schwab advisors can now access free educational resources offered by TDA Institutional’s Strategy Desk.

Meanwhile, enhancements are planned for Schwab’s Trading Services offerings, according to Michael McKerr, director of trading services at Schwab.

Strategy Desk started as a service at TD Institutional in 2011 and had been offered free to TD advisors, McKerr told ThinkAdvisor. It started being rolled out to Schwab advisors in a phased approach in January, he said, noting that it is now open to all Schwab advisors free of charge.

The free Strategy Desk educational resources include one-on-one options strategy consultations for portfolio-specific needs, weekly trading-related webcasts featuring Schwab strategists and special guests, to earn CE credits on various topics, and the weekly newsletter Macro Monday.

Pointing to a recent Cerulli study, he said10%-15% of RIAs use options within their practices.

“We see trading as more than just the process of buying and selling,” according to McKerr, who joined TD in 2017 and shifted to Schwab in April 2021, after Schwab’s acquisition of TD was completed in October 2020.

“It’s a process of delivering our advisors personalized trading educational resources, cutting-edge trading technology platforms, enhanced execution services, and alternative investment solutions,” he explained, calling them the “cornerstones of our Trading Services offer” and noting that “our education resources are rooted in the Strategy Desk.”

The completion of the integration of TD into Schwab’s business is still on track to be completed within 36 months, John Tovar, managing director of wealth management services for TD Ameritrade Institutional, said in October.

Although the full integration of TD into Schwab’s platform isn’t expected to be completed until next year, TD reps can now advise their clients on Schwab products, the company disclosed in a winter business update webcast earlier this year.

Strong Demand So Far

The addition of Strategy Desk to Schwab advisors comes as “demand for trading education specifically with options has been almost insatiable,” McKerr said. And that is not just from retail individual investors but also by advisors, he noted. “I think advisors continue to seek education that benefits and betters them as an investor and a fiduciary.”

The Strategy Desk has a relationship with about 33% of the RIA firms at TD Institutional, he said.

Since it started being phased in to Schwab advisors in January, “interest has been quite strong and impressive so far in terms of [the] weekly webcast series,” he said. noting “the attendance there has more than doubled” so far this year compared with the same period a year ago and two years ago, he said.

“I would expect that that interest would transfer over to the one-on-one consultation offered” by the Strategy Desk as well, he added.

Also Planned

As announced shortly after Schwab announced its TD merger plan, Schwab is also keeping TD’s popular iRebal rebalancing Software-as-a-Service offering and thinkpipes advisor platform.

“iRebal and thinkpipes will make powerful additions to our trading technology platform landscape while we also aim to strengthen our third-party integration tools,” McKerr told ThinkAdvisor.

TD’s Block Desk, meanwhile, “will continue providing advisors insight into optimizing their best execution processes and sourcing liquidity for them to enter and/or exit larger equity and options positions,” he said.

Also, “our fixed income group offers proactive service, guidance, and research capabilities for our advisor audience,” he said.

The company is also expanding upon the alternative investment solutions available for advisors, including the Fully Paid Lending Program, he added.