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Platform Wars: Dispatches From the Front

Fidelity has launched the latest salvo in the custodian technology wars. Late last month, the firm announced its multi-year development plan for “Wealthscape,” the firm’s new “total advisor” platform. Wealthscape is the combination of two legacy platforms, WealthCentral which was targeted at independent RIAs and Streetscape which served broker-dealer reps and hybrid advisors.

We believe that Fidelity’s development roadmap is a good indication of the direction that other leading custodians will be taking in building out platform solutions for their advisor clients. Key elements include:

1. Movement toward a comprehensive advisory platform that includes STP functionality from profiling to reporting that simplifies the technology architecture decision for advisors

2. Integration of more advanced financial planning into the platform

3. Increased sophistication of portfolio management tools including profiling, proposal generation, modeling, advanced rebalancing and reporting, as well as refinement in the communication portals for advisors and clients

4. Development of consolidated, multi-custodial data platforms that can provide a holistic view of clients’ holdings and that can be used for advanced client analytics

5. The addition of workflow management tools for both advisors and end clients that automate tasks such as client profiling and onboarding or client presentations

6. Increased flexibility to integrate third party solutions seamlessly into the platform

Fidelity’s Wealthscape initiative is another indication of the growing importance of technology to the advisory business. It also resets the bar for custodians, TAMPs and other technology vendors in the rapidly advancing technology market.