Schwab to enhance portfolio management system

Source: Charles Schwab

Next month, Schwab Performance Technologies (SPT) will roll out the latest enhancements to PortfolioCenter, the portfolio management system used by more than 3,000 independent investment advisors.

Advisors attending Schwab Institutional's annual IMPACT conference next week in Las Vegas will preview the new release, which is already in pre-release with more than 100 firms. The new release was developed to support advisors as their businesses grow and become more complex. Enhancements include improved reporting functionality such as reports designed for advisors who use separately managed accounts, support for the Microsoft Vista operating system, and new account transfer capabilities.

"As advisors continue to experience exponential growth and expand the kinds of wealth management services they offer, technology will play a fundamental role in helping firms achieve scalability and maximize productivity," said Dan Skiles, vice president of technology for Schwab Institutional.

This release is PortfolioCenter's second of the year and the fifth in three years.

Improved reporting capabilities

As many advisors oversee various types of accounts for their clients -- such as 401(k) accounts and 529 plans -- in addition to traditional brokerage accounts, PortfolioCenter will include a summary performance report that lists all the accounts, their balances and performance, for a single household on one page, making it easier for advisors to more clearly communicate a clients' entire investment portfolio.

There are also several new reporting features that will make it easier for advisors who use separately managed accounts (SMAs) or who design their own custom portfolios, including a "position roll up" feature that lets the advisor and client see the total balance in a managed account without having to list every single position.

"Advisors are increasingly using separately managed accounts as part of an overall asset allocation strategy and want to reflect these accounts as a single position for the selected strategy. The new SMA reports enable our clients to more clearly represent the role each managed account is playing in their client's overall investment strategy," said Skiles. "This capability will also benefit advisors who keep their own model portfolios."

Easier process for transferring accounts

Opening and closing accounts can be one of the most time consuming tasks in an advisor's office. The new Account Transfer Wizard tool in PortfolioCenter allows advisors to quickly and easily close out positions in one account and to re-open them in a new account, automatically transferring the original cost and trade date of each lot. Closing and re-opening accounts is a common occurrence following changes in advisors' clients' situations, such as divorce or inheritance. In addition, advisors with separately managed accounts (SMAs) can use the tool to more easily transfer accounts from one SMA manager to another.

"Automating the account transfer process is a good way to ensure that the data in your portfolio accounting system is accurate," said Skiles.

Support for new technology

PortfolioCenter will now support all major versions of the Microsoft Vista operating system so that advisors can take advantage of the latest technology improvements from Microsoft and/or use new hardware alongside existing systems while they upgrade.

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