Fidelity Investments recently announced the launch of an integrated, single sign-on technology platform designed to help independent RIA's simplify workflow and increase operational efficiency. The platform is being developed on .NET, a Microsoft web based technology. Fidelity expects the initial release of the platform later this year, with an enhanced version to follow in early 2006.
   Fidelity is currently the second largest provider of custody services to RIA's. As of Feb. 28, 2005, they custodied $132 billion on behalf of 2,600 advisors. The new launch is part of Fidelity's ambitious program to overtake Schwab Institutional as the top custodian of independent RIA's. Fidelity Brokerage President Ellen McColgan made it clear to advisors attending the firm's annual conference in Palm Beach, Fla., that Fidelity was willing to continue to take more steps to increase their market share.
   According to Patrick Jancsy, Senior Vice President, Fidelity Registered Advisor Group, the initial release will integrate Integrated Decision System's (IDS) portfolio management and trading tools, NaviPlan financial planning software from EISI, and Fidelity's existing Advisor CHANNEL platform.
   When the platform is fully built out some time in 2006, it will offer contact management, account servicing and practice management support in addition to trading, portfolio management/reporting and financial planning capabilities. No decision has been reached yet with regard to CRM software partners. According to Jancsy, Fidelity is currently conducting research to determine what systems are being used by their RIA clients today. "Although no decision has been reached, I would not be surprised if we aligned with multiple third party CRM providers", he said.
   On the account servicing side, Jancsy expects the platform to eventually automate new account set-ups and asset transfers into Fidelity from other custodians. He also expects to offer advisors the ability to electronically more money between Fidelity and their clients' accounts. So, for example, if a client required monthly cash disbursements, the advisor could electronically move the money from the client's Fidelity account to the client's checking account on the appointed date.
   Practice management support will include access to third party providers from within the platform. For example Fidelity already offers a business transition program, access to a third party compliance provider, and discounts on a range of other services used by RIA firms.
   "Integrating industry leading technologies in a single platform is going to significantly help advisors simplify workflow and increase operational efficiencies" said Jancsy. "Fidelity Advisor CHANNEL is not just about the capabilities it provides; it is also about the way the capabilities are delivered. Having the flexibility to access, manage, and act on information in a way that is consistent with how they do business is critical to the independent advisor".
   For further information about Fidelity's services for advisors, visit