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Advisors Look to the Future

New tech tools and trends were on parade at TD Ameritrade's annual conference.

Joel P. Bruckenstein, 02/11/2010

(Editor's note: Joel Bruckenstein was a paid keynote speaker at the TD Amertrade Conference.)

I just returned from the TD Ameritrade Conference and I'm going to make a real effort to curb my enthusiasm, but it is going to be difficult. I'm supposed to take a balanced approach, but there were so many positives and so few negatives about my recent experience at the TD Ameritrade Institutional 2010 National Conference in Orlando that it is difficult to find fault with the event.

As is traditionally the case, the pre-conference day was dedicated to workshops highlighting TD Ameritrade tools and services and those of third-party providers that TD Ameritrade has a relationship with. One session I attended dealt with the Veo Portfolio Rebalancer. This tool, developed by Advisor Software, Inc. and provided free to TD Ameritrade Institutional advisors, has been much improved and refined since I last looked at it. The rebalancer, which is integrated into the TD Ameritrade advisor website allows advisors to create proposals, rebalance individual accounts, rebalance a group of accounts, or rebalance a household.

TD Ameritrade recently announced a number of enhancements to the Veo Portfolio Rebalancer that were detailed during the workshop. One is the ability to add a cash buffer at the account level. This means that you can now assign a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of the portfolio value as a cash constraint at the individual account level. As a result, the advisor can ensure that there is cash on hand to cover regular cash distributions, management fees, and other cash needs.

The ability to create custom security equivalents is another enhancement. By tagging equivalents in a portfolio, advisors can potentially reduce portfolio turnover and transaction costs when rebalancing against a model.
One frequently requested enhancement is the new ability to override the default style or sector designations. Previously, the system assigned the style/sector designations, and advisors pretty much had to accept them. Now, advisors have the ability to override the defaults and customize the settings to their liking. Once a change is made, it is reflected in diagnostics, and proposals. The settings are saved, so they persist in future rebalancing sessions.
Restricted securities alerts are another new feature. Advisors can create a list of securities that will generate an alert should they be included in a rebalancing session. This feature can be used to accommodate "do not buy" constraints at both the firm level and the client level.

Additional enhancements include the ability to include a firm logo in client-facing proposal reports and the ability to save advisor data in the system so it does not have to be re-entered each time a new session commences. 

The "Leveraging Portfolio Management Software Systems to Improve Efficiencies" workshop, presented by Orion and IAS, did not break any new ground, but it offered, among other things, a compelling look at the efficiencies and ROI that can be achieved by outsourcing portfolio reconciliation, software, and reporting functions to an outsource provider.

In another first, TD Ameritrade invited an outside expert to give a keynote address on technology and operational efficiency during the pre-conference day. Since I was the speaker they invited to inaugurate this new addition to the conference, I cannot find fault with their selection.

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