This past week, Nate and Clint went to the annual TD Ameritrade conference, called LINC 2020, held in Orlando, FL. The conference features a number of keynote speakers, breakout sessions, one-on-one training opportunities with TD Ameritrade staff, access to various vendors, and demonstrations of new technologies. Here are a few observations we came away with:
TD Ameritrade – Schwab Merger
Tom Nally, President of TD Ameritrade Institutional, indicated that the deal between TD Ameritrade and Schwab will close in the second half of 2020. It will operate under the Schwab name. Due to antitrust laws, TD and Schwab are very limited in the discussions they may have prior to the closing of the sale. As a result of this, as well as the sheer volume of data and systems the two companies possess, Tom estimated that it would take 2-3 years for the companies to integrate together. He was definitely hopeful that the new entity would be one of the best financial services companies around when it is finalized.
A Changing Geopolitical Landscape
Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group, spoke at a keynote session regarding his thoughts on the worldwide economic and political environment. He sees an increasing departure from globalization and a significant technological divide between China and the United States. With China set to become the largest economic power, countries will have to decide what sort of technological backbone through 5G they will want to employ – do they prefer to go mostly through the United States or China? Bremmer sees more volatility in the markets and a general global slowdown, though not necessarily a recession imminent in the near horizon. He did not believe that there will ever be a version 2.0 of a trade deal signed with China. He was generally positive on the most recent update to NAFTA, which he pointed out was a good update to prior legislation due to technology improvements that have been made since the original version was signed. Bremmer kept the political prognostications to a minimum but placed President Trump’s chances are getting reelected at 60%. He was most concerned that we wouldn’t have a presidential choice immediately after the election due to the closeness of the race and the risks inherent in our electoral system if one of the parties refuses to accept the outcome.
Marcus Lemonis is most famous for his CNBC show where he invests in struggling businesses and focuses on “people, product, and process”. He opened his keynote address by disclosing to us that he has social anxiety, an eating disorder, and was molested by a family member as an adopted child. Despite all of this, he persevered to become the CEO of Camping World and a TV star. He encouraged the people he called on to share something that no one knows about them, a deep and dark secret to just him – which of course was seen and heard by literally thousands of people in the room. It was remarkable what people would share after Marcus would gently nudge them into disclosing past trauma in order to show others that many people share the same obstacles in their journey through life. The overwhelming message was encouraging people to connect on a deeper level, and to address their past and learn from it.
Technology as a Tool
TD Ameritrade always features an Innovation Lab at their conference, showcasing what a financial advisory office of the future may look like. We viewed a more customized waiting room experience, offering an iPad with curated content for the meeting attendee (we prefer an old fashioned approach – actually speaking with the client and offering coffee!). We also experienced a more interactive financial planning experience, with various flash cards being strategically placed to trigger images on various screens behind the client (this was very cool). This visualization technique was designed to immerse clients more deeply in the financial planning process, helping them to see their future value as more than merely a graph on the screen. Last, we viewed an advisor workstation desk that could automatically scan documents placed on the glass, highlighted by three large screens and stand-up capability. We also got to sit in an office chair designed by Ferrari. It was very nice, but at a price tag of $10,000, we’ll leave that purchase to the Marcus Lemonis’ of the world.
Clint Walkner and Nate Condon