TD Ameritrade Demos How Its New Electronic Signature App For Clients Of Advisors Streamlines An RIA's Work

Thursday, December 08, 2011 16:57
TD Ameritrade Demos How Its New Electronic Signature App For Clients Of Advisors Streamlines An RIA's Work

Tags: client communications | cloud | custodians | document management system

TD Ameritrade Institutional (TDAI) just showed me its new system to help advisors get client signatures electronically.


To streamline the process of getting clients to sign account applications and other documents, TDAI integrated its brokerage recordkeeping system for investment advisors with LaserApp, an app for automatic form-filling used widely in the financial services industry, and DocuSign, an app for collecting electronic signatures securely.

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“Until now, advisors would print the account application and mail it to the client,” says Jon Patullo, director of technology product management at TDAI. “Time is wasted on getting accounts opened.”


With the integration, Patullo says the advisor pre-populates an account form with a client’s name, address, phone number, social security number, beneficiaries, and other data stored in Laser App’s desktop version.





The advisor sends the filled-in account form to DocuSign, which sends an email that can be personalized by the advisor to the client asking him to sign the document digitally.  The email to clients contains a link to the document, which is stored on DocuSign’s server.





Before a client can view a document that needs a signature, however, clients must answer identity verification questions, such as which of several addresses listed they lived in 10 years ago and which state their father owned real estate.






Clients click on a distinctive icon in the document where a signature or initials are required. Clicking on the icons are equivalent to a client’s signature.



Advisors have a dashboard in DocuSign that displays a list of documents awaiting signatures as well as those already signed.




Once the client finishes signing the document, it is sent to TDAI and stored on its servers.


A client can save a copy of the signed document for his own records on his computer, but its up to the client to encrypt, password-protect, and store it in a safe place with other financial records. An advisor receives a notification when this occurs.


Patullo says integrating Laser App and DocuSign e-signature capabilities into the TDAI’s custodial platform will make advisors less likely to submit incomplete account forms, which could improve TDAI’s clients.


It looks to me like this e-signature app will streamline account opening, but I’d like to hear from A4A readers about how much of a time saver it could be.   



Comments (9)

This is how we set up our accounts with TD Ameritrade. It works great and we've experienced few problems. Note that not all forms may be signed through DocuSign, but it certainly helps get accounts setup quickly and reduces paperwork substantially. And you still have to have a signature card on file if there's banking information (checking, debit, ACH) setup on the account. All-in-all, a substantial improvement for advisory firms looking to leverage technology.
Searcy , December 08, 2011
Thanks for this info. When you communicate with TDAI, remind them that AdvisorSites demo above is way ahead of the communications that TDAI has sent out on this. Advisors need a video from TDAI about this. Thanks for being ahead of them. And kudos to TDAI for these integrations. Of course, our clients assumed we had all of this back in 2003, but still, we'll take it.
JakePlanner , December 08, 2011
Funny. It occurred to me that my reporting on this would be better than the marketing info TDAI distributes. But please be assured that my analysis of news daily on A4A goes well beyond my work as CEO of AdvisorSites and Advisor Products. Just look at my coverage in the last couple of weeks about GenSpring's implosion in Phoenix or about Wealthfront becoming a competitive threat. Advisors get news and analysis on A4A that they won't get anyplace else.

I like what I do. And, for the record, as long as I behave with integrity and place the interest of advisors' above my own, I can cover wealth management faithfully for A4A readers while I also run Advisor Products and AdvisorSites.
agluck , December 08, 2011
I tried this out earlier this year and at the time seemed cumbersome. I tried it out again yesterday and the process certainly went much smoother. The opportunity to save time on opening new accounts is significant. I agree with an earlier comment that they really need a video to walk you through the first time.
kenplanner , December 09, 2011
I agree with JakePlanner. What is funny is why not allow the advisory firms to use the same online and electronically signed account opening application TDA uses for retail investors?

Why recreate the wheel? If the TDA technology was available, the advisor would not have to collect data from client, just send link.

brentb843 , December 09, 2011
Just to follow-up my positive post on Friday: I am not as positive as earlier, mostly due to the very poor instructions that TD is sending out on the process. The two applications I submitted on Friday have been rejected and I have spent a lot of time today trying to get things right. I am on round #3 of 'signing' a new application with one of my clients. I have told TD they need to send out instructions that take into account all of the nuances that their compliance department is insisting upon. This has great potential but TD needs to do a better job of training their adviser clients in how to use this.
kenplanner , December 12, 2011
I love it! Good honest criticism. And my guess is TDAI and Patullo will respond to your concern. Please keep us posted.
agluck , December 12, 2011
This method seems a little over-complicated especially when compared with Adobe's "digital signature" feature. The above program is only available to TD Ameritrade Institutional clients and advisers, whereas anyone with an internet connection can download a FREE copy of Adobe Reader and use this feature. Yes, free copy. With no other value-added features from TDAI available, seems to me I'd still stick with my current custodian.
stevenc862 , December 13, 2011
Ok, an update: still waiting to see my new account applications appear on VEO. I did try two Roth Conversion forms yesterday with two different clients. One went very smoothly and the conversion happened same day. The other one never received the e-mail from DocuSign but that could have been a spam filter. We re-did that one today with a different e-mail address and it worked fine. So, there is hope!
kenplanner , December 14, 2011

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