Recently, a number of prominent advisors have asked me about several assumed limitations of Advisor Exchange. Many of the assumptions were simply wrong and required a quick demo of our application to clear things up, but others were due to misinformation shared by one of my competitors. So I want to take a minute to give you some background on Advisor Exchange and our application.
Advisor Exchange went live in 2006 with a goal to develop an open aggregation solution that pushed account information into virtually any third party application used by an advisor. Other companies were already aggregating data and sending this data into performance reporting software, but no aggregator focused on all the various technologies advisors deployed in their office.
During our first two years we did a great job for advisors who wanted a daily overview of outside accounts and the ability to view that information in CRM, financial planning software, and excel spreadsheets. It worked great for these advisors. But we weren’t as great when it came to sending this same data into performance reporting software. You see, screen-scraped data cannot be used in performance reporting software unless there is a middle component that interprets and corrects missing or incorrect account information. I’m not referring to the “normalization” techniques used to get data from multiple sources into a common format. I’m referring to a logical program that looks at a data set and determines what it means. And once that’s done, the program completes the data set by filling in and translating that data so it can be understood in the end system. When it came to this highly developed program to do this interpretation and translation… we didn’t have it. In these early years, we simply took the data “as is” from the financial institution and sent it down into reporting software. Well, it didn’t work. Advisors were left with page after page of reconciliation to work through each day. As you can imagine, they weren’t happy with us. We tried, they knew we tried, but it just didn’t work.
So in early 2008 we began developing our Reconciler solution. Head down, coding for two years. We had a lot to learn during that time, so we were very fortunate to have a few of those early adopters stick with us and test the Reconciler through dozens of iterations. The end result is a functional database that normalizes, translates and enhances position and transaction level details for delivery into performance reporting software.
Some of the key features of the Reconciler are:
- Transaction Mapping
- Custom Data Translation
- Security Management
- On Demand Exports and 30 Days of Data Always Available
- Data Files in a Common Format
Today, advisors have successfully deployed the Reconciler in offices around the country. They are using the Reconciler to harvest and translate transaction level detail from outside accounts on a daily basis. And advisors are reconciling the data we aggregate in a fraction of the time when compared to traditional manual collecting and entering account information from paper statements and trade confirmations.
To clarify some of the misinformation floating around:
- Advisor Exchange aggregates Balances, Positions and TRANSACTIONS on a nightly basis. We export this information each day into performance reporting and accounting software, backoffice reporting solutions, financial planning software, CRM, excel, and custom in-house programs.
- We don’t simply export aggregated, screen-scraped data. We translate and enhance the data prior to export.
- We provide the advisor’s client with a web-based portal where they securely enter their login credentials. The advisor never sees these credentials nor does the advisor have access to them. To take it a step further, nobody at Advisor Exchange has access to these credentials. Advisors who use Advisor Exchange are in compliance with the new custody rules.
Quick sidenote – As much as I want to call out the individual who shared the misinformation with these advisors, I won’t. I won’t because it would be embarrassing to him and his employer. I respect my competitors – I pat them on the back and give them praise whenever I speak to advisors. I let the Advisor Exchange technology and our customer service speak for itself.