Top 3 Takeaways from TD Ameritrade 2011 National Conference

By Joseph Murphy, EVP Sales on Friday, February 18th, 2011

I recently had the pleasure to escape the ravages of winter in Boston and visit sunny San Diego to participate in the annual TD Ameritrade Conference. While at the show, I enjoyed a number of very powerful sessions addressing an array of issues in realms of practice management, custody, compliance, technology and more, including Colin Powell’s enthralling speech on leadership (which I’m sure many of you have already been reading about).  Returning to Boston, though I was unable to bring the warm weather back with me, I did manage to salvage some valuable souvenirs to share with you all, in what I deem the top three takeaways from the 2011 TD Ameritrade National Conference for an RIA to consider.

Get automated and expel redundant, costly manual systems.
Invest in CRM, PMS, Performance Management, Financial Planning and aggregation technology that suites your practice, but above all else, act versus analyze.  Do not necessarily rush into the fray uneducated or undefined, but get going.   Follow the path of interactions throughout your relationship with your client, and the paper flow from an initial client engagement thru monthly reporting, reconciliation, and the performance management process (Can you really service your clients effectively if you are doing things manually?).

Use systems technology to achieve business goals, not just for automation sake.
Some relevant examples include:
The whole question around Rule 206(4)-2 and whether or not you take custody. Once this business decision is made there are a number of ways to effectively put in systems to safeguard yourself and your clients.

Electing to either outsource your operations or to build them yourself (Including using cloud technology where it works for your firm).  Consider using an outsource model for performing operations until you have the size and sufficiency of staff to bring systems in-house.

Decide whether you want to be a true wealth advisor, or an asset manager.

Both are fine answers, but to be a true wealth advisor you need to have data on all your clients’ assets— not just those held at your main custodian.  (Are you seeing the retirement aspects of your client’s assets, i.e. 401K- 529’s-variable annuities, and all other held away assets?) 

As a final note, each of the above deductions nods to the theme of the conference’s ultimate takeaway—one of constant learning and constant improvement—that we live in a world spun by perpetual change, and as such we need to constantly tweak and improve our operations today, if we hope to meet the requirements that will best serve our clients tomorrow.  Good luck, and please let us know how we can help you along the road to the next day.

Click the videos below to hear  what advisors had to say at the TD Ameritrade Conference!

Carol Williams, Guardian Wealth Management

Joel Shaps, Bedford Capital Management

John Gill, Financial Data Systems

Jeff Harris, ByAllAccounts Client

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