Why you should use account aggregation

Lindsay Faussone, Director, Business Development

E*TRADE Advisor Services

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Offering account aggregation is an effective way to add value to your client relationships, deliver better service, and set your firm apart from the competition. It provides a window into your clients’ overall finances by gathering data across financial and custodial accounts, as well as checking and savings, retirement plans, college savings plans—and even credit cards, mortgages, and other loans. This data is then presented to you and your clients in a comprehensive, convenient online view.

Account aggregation helps provide more holistic guidance across all aspects of clients’ financial lives, not just on the accounts for which you are the advisor of record. Clients may view this capability as a differentiator.

Let’s explore a few ways account aggregation can help enhance the client experience.

Build strong client relationships

When you can easily view your clients’ overall financial picture, you are better positioned to provide more comprehensive guidance and advice targeted to their specific needs. If you only focus on accounts under your direct supervision, you can’t fully understand a client’s risk profile or financial priorities. Account aggregation assembles a comprehensive and up-to-date picture of a client’s total assets, liabilities, net worth, spending habits, and goals.

This tool produces more dynamic and informative client meetings. By coordinating account aggregation capabilities with your portfolio modeling or financial planning tools, you can analyze spending and investment patterns over time and provide insights on spending, savings, and investing.

Add value to your practice

Account aggregation also streamlines client onboarding. By enabling your new clients to share their held-away account information from the start, you simplify account setup, identify assets you may have overlooked, and establish a collaborative, proactive advisor-client relationship from day one.

Fully integrated solutions streamline back-office operations so advisors no longer need to manually gather and track outside account information. The program can seamlessly share data to expedite billing and reporting. In return, this frees you up to potentially spot opportunities that can provide value-added services or products to your clients.

Choosing the right tool

In selecting the right tool for your business, there are several considerations to keep in mind:

  • Compatibility with a wide range of financial institutions. Today’s account aggregation solutions provide access to more than 10,000 institutions, along with direct feeds to major custodians. Ask vendors if new institutions can be added and how long this takes. Also find out how to add new client accounts to your system as well as maintain existing accounts.
  • An easy-to-use portal. The tool should be easy to get up and running and ready for client use, and should include functionality to help you and your clients stay on top of the account linking process. Make sure the online interface is well organized and easy to access and navigate.
  • Seamless integration. Ideally, your account aggregation tool should work seamlessly with your investment platform and financial planning and billing applications. Look for systems that can be fully integrated with your existing platform and systems beyond just the single sign-on capability.

Enhance your opportunities for growth

Used strategically, account aggregation is a powerful tool to help grow your business. In addition to providing better service to your clients’ existing accounts, it monitors and attracts additional client assets and charges appropriate fees for advice given on held-away assets. By demonstrating the capabilities of aggregation during prospect meetings, you will be able to close new accounts more easily.

Contact us to learn more about E*TRADE Advisor Services, and follow us on Twitter (@etrade4rias) and LinkedIn for the latest advisor insights.

A version of this article first appeared in Advisor Perspectives       

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