News, Vision & Voice for the Advisory Community


Schwab connects CRM to account opening for RIAs

The software fulfiills some of Schwab Intelligent Integration's promise without the fancy cross-wiring

Friday, July 22, 2011 – 2:56 PM by Brooke Southall
no description available
Mario Hernandez: In the future, clients will be able to electronically sign. We can electronically take it to Schwab rather than using FedEx or a fax.

Schwab Advisor Services has found a way to allow its 6,600 advisors to automate their account opening process ahead of the launch of Schwab Intelligent Integration. See: Schwab unveils a plan to create a grand ecosystem of top technology vendors to RIAs.

The San Francisco-based firm is providing free software from Laser App (see instructions below) that makes it possible for an advisor to pull information directly from their CRM and have it populate account-opening forms. Eighty of the most commonly used forms will be available and advisors can submit applications online to obtain a Schwab account number.

The software has the additional benefit of knowing immediately when information is missing and flagging it to avoid having the forms bounced back. Nearly 20% of all completed account applications are rejected, often due to missing data.

“One of my pet peeves is having 15 pieces of data that all have to be reentered every time I do anything. Constantly rekeying data lends to concerns about errors,” says Kimberly D. Overman, president and chief executive officer of The Financial Well, Inc. who participated in the pilot program. “Laser App integration increases accuracy by validating account applications before you submit them. Any implementation like this is wonderful—it’s what I’ve needed for a very long time.”


Schwab started with a three-month pilot and has now moved to a beta phase with a greater-but-limited number of users. It will be made widely available to its clients of all sizes by year-end.

The new program amounts to a work-around to what otherwise might have been a momentous project, according to Steve Hirsch, vice president of institutional web services at Schwab.

“We could have reached out to all the CRM providers directly but we knew that would take a while,” he says.

Steve Hirsch: We could have reached out to all the CRM providers directly but we knew that would take a while.
Steve Hirsch: We could have reached
out to all the CRM providers
directly but we knew that would
take a while.

Laser App Software specializes in the areas of filling out forms and keeping them current and accessible. The company has spent the last 15 years working on seamless integrations with a wide variety of CRMs, according to Robert Powell, vice president of sales and marketing at Laser App.

Schwab is promising to save re-keying of data in the near future when it launches its ecosystem of software providers, Schwab Intelligent Integration. Advisors will not even get a glimpse of it, however, until the company’s IMPACT conference in November. It’s unclear when it’ll roll out. See: Schwab’s Project C now has two tiers and three new names

Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services already has pre-fill of forms for many advisors. according to its spokesman, Steve Austin.

“Today WealthCentral supports pre-fill of forms for our integrated CRM and performance accounting capability,” he says. Fidelity integrates with Siebel for CRM and Advent Software and Black Diamond Performance Reporting for performance reporting.

Reducing re-keying

Mario Hernandez, director of operations for Gemmer Asset Management LLC of Walnut Creek, Calif., says that he finds the Schwab approach to reducing re-keying to be preferable to achieving similar results using Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services WealthCentral. Gemmer uses Fidelity as a secondary custodian and Junxure for its CRM. “We don’t have to buy a new CRM” with Schwab, he says.

Fidelity has had compatibility with Laser App for five years, Austin added. The company declined to say how many advisors have access to this capability through Laser App or WealthCentral. Advisors have to pay for Laser App if they are Fidelity customers. The price for Fidelity Advisors who want to purchase Laser App directly is $399 for the first year, $199 for annual renewals.

The Laser App software is a big time saver for Gemmer because it is mostly a separate accounts manager and it tends to do more account openings than many conventional advisors. Gemmer has 800 accounts through other RIAs. He has been using the software for three months as a member of the pilot program.

Still, Hernandez won’t be satisfied until Schwab takes the new technology to the next level.

“Today it leverages our time. In the future, clients will be able to electronically sign. We can electronically take it to Schwab rather than using FedEx or a fax.”

Wizard guide

Advisors can currently log into Schwab Advisor Center to fill out forms. From the same screen that they use to select forms, they will see a “Save time with Laser App” message. When clicked, this message opens a wizard that guides the advisor to getting Laser app and lets him or her know what to expect.

When an advisor logs in to Schwab Advisor Center, he or she has access to a series of tabs to choose from. One of those is “tasks.” One of the primary task choices is “Forms & Applications.” That screen has the prompt to get Laser App.

Laser App’s history and facts:

  • Founded in 1995
  • Located in Ontario, California
  • 35 Employees
  • Over 25,000 forms
  • Over 100,000 users (reps, RIAs, agents)
  • Over 340 broker-dealers
  • Over 60 Software Integration Partners

Related Moves

Fidelity Investments loses Kathleen Murphy who largely caught up Fido to Schwab (near $4T) on the retail side by reversing net promoter scores

The 'no whining allowed' leader of the Boston giant's retail business, who oversaw $2 trillion in net new assets, was ready to exit but hung in through a year dominated by COVID-19 challenges

January 23, 2021 – 2:02 AM

Fidelity Institutional looks like a big TAMP after Mike Durbin removes last internal walls between products and advisors after 'meteoric' 2019 leap; two Fido RIA sales legends depart amid the shift

Rich Policastro and Tom Valverde are out after Fidelity Custody & Clearing assets leap to $2.6 trillion AUA, restructuring gets the credit -- and so restructuring gets extended.

March 13, 2020 – 10:36 PM

TD Ameritrade's board suddenly pushes out Tim Hockey after his big misread of RIAs; Tom Bradley name-dropped as successor

The CEO broke the TD promise never to compete with RIAs, took it back and got sent packing

July 23, 2019 – 4:30 AM

Capital Group miraculously recovered after deep 2008 dive but RIA help may get No. 2 American Funds through the next downturn under new CEO

Matthew O’Connor takes the CEO helm of the giant LA-based active manager from Kevin Clifford with conviction not to jam the rudder hard but to be open to new markets

November 2, 2018 – 9:26 PM

Mentioned in this article:

CRM Software
Top Executive: Greg Friedman

Laser App Software
Document Management
Top Executive: Ed Beggs

Frederick Van Den Abbeel

Frederick Van Den Abbeel

July 22, 2011 — 5:07 PM

Although I applaud Schwab for building the Laser App integration, this technology has been around for quite some time particularly in the Independent B/D space and other RIA custodians.

Some custodian firms have taken a further step with online account opening by introducing a truly paperless approach to new account creation and ACAT transfers. It appears based on this article Schwab has some more work to do from a technology front.

I commend all custody providers (both large and small) for investing in efficient systems to minimize the time it takes to establish accounts allowing the Advisor to fucus their energies elsewhere.

“Nearly 20% of all completed account applications are rejected, often due to missing data.” is quite inefficient.

Elmer Rich III

Elmer Rich III

July 22, 2011 — 8:51 PM

There is an interesting confidentiality question here. Are clients aware that Schwab has access to CRM data? Does this need to be fully disclosed with signed agreements from each client for it to happen? With all custodians?

If there is hacking of Schwab’s system is the advisor libel? Have these issues been addressed publicly anywhere?

We see a lot of unanswered quations.

RIABiz Directory

The Industry Sourcebook for RIAs

   |    LISTING

RIABiz Directory sponsored by:

Directory Sponsor Logo