(Dow Jones) TD Ameritrade, looking to boost its business among registered investment advisors, has unveiled a unified management account program that it says will "revolutionize" how such financial vehicles are tapped.
Called the Unified Managed Account Exchange, or UMAX, the program allows advisors to utilize the accounts in two ways-either by choosing an already bundled UMA or by using open access to thousands of investment products to essentially design their own UMA.
UMAs are a tool for bringing a wide variety of investments, including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, stocks and other securities together in a single account in a way that can simplify rebalancing, reporting and billing. RIAs have generally had to look to outside managers for such accounts and have lacked the ability to customize them.
While not saying exactly how much they expect UMAX will boost its RIA business, TD Ameritrade executives indicate their expectations are high. At present, TD Ameritrade works with 4,000 RIA firms as a custodian.
"This adds another tool to the platform for any advisor," said Matt Judge, director of product management for TD Ameritrade's institutional division.
One industry analyst cautions against setting expectations too high: While interest in UMAs is growing, they are not yet widely embraced, says Jeff Strange of Cerulli Associates, a financial-industry research firm. His studies have shown that more than 80% of broker-dealers have yet to tap UMAs. Strange isn't anticipating that RIAs will be any easier a sell, especially since UMAs require advisor and client to become familiar with a whole new kind of account reporting.
"You put a client in this program and you're going to spend the whole time in your next quarterly meetings going over the account statement. Advisors see that as a drawback," said Strange.
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