Ameritrade, a relatively new player in the advisor services arena, is hoping to boost its presence in that industry with the recent introduction of bond and separate managed account services.

The firm is touting the new services as competitively priced and easy-to-use alternatives for advisors in the $5 million to $50 million asset range, which is the company's focus.

The two services have been among those most frequently requested by clients since Ameritrade entered the advisor market three years ago, says James Wangsness, senior vice president of Ameritrade Advisor Services.

"These products not being available was keeping us out of the higher level accounts," Wangsness says. "We've rolled them out because that's what our advisors have asked for."

The services have been added to the Ameritrade platform through third-party agreements. The bond-trading capability is provided by TheMuniCenter LLC, a centralized Web-based marketplace that touts a $6 billion inventory of municipal and corporate bonds, Wangsness says. The firm is a joint venture of a group of Wall Street firms including Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers. It offers live pricing-"When you hit 'Bid,' that's what you get," Wangsness says-and a non-proprietary sales desk.

The separate accounts are offered through ADVISORport Inc., whose platform offers access to more than 25 money managers utilizing more than 40 different capitalization and style categories.

Ameritrade Advisor Services is hoping the new offerings help it continue its steady growth, Wangsness says. While still dwarfed in size by the likes of Charles Schwab, Fidelity and TD Waterhouse, Ameritrade saw 366% growth in its advisor-managed assets last year and 135% growth in its advisor client base. It currently has about 1,000 advisors using its services with assets under management totaling about $2 billion.