Schwab is no longer providing price file downloads that some Axys users have relied on for decades.

When I set out to write this, I had some trouble deciding on the title.  At first, I considered “Schwab Hamstrings Pricing for Advent Users”, but that’s inflammatory and not entirely accurate, so I couldn’t do that.

I could just as easily have titled this blog “Stubborn Axys Users Refuse to Embrace Benefits of ACD Interface” or “Axys Users Slow to Hire Consultants to Address Schwab Point-to-Point Interface Changes”, but in truth Schwab is discontinuing their support for Axys in the data they provide directly to their customers via the Schwab download, so I had to go with “Schwab Discontinuing Support of Axys Point-to-Point Interface – Again?”  Besides, picking one of those other titles would have made me write a blog with a different message.  In advance, I’d like to clarify that this issue only impacts the Schwab point-to-point interface and has no effect on those that receive their Charles Schwab data from Advent’s ACD interface. 

I need to apologize to those who have read my blog regularly in the past.  First, I am sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while.  Additionally, I must apologize that this blog may not seem particularly newsworthy for some.  You may even be thinking, Didn’t this happen eons ago.  The answer is yes and no.

About twenty years ago, there was some drama about the point-to-point interface that Charles Schwab provided to its customers and Advent, being Advent, may have been perceived as attempting to screw Charles Schwab and its customers to make more money.  Schwab, being Schwab, sued Advent – to paraphrase the judge said, “You can’t do that to Advent.”

According to what I can dig up now, the firms quit wasting each other’s time and money nearly seven months after that preliminary injunction, coming to a compromise that allowed Schwab to continue to provide their point-to-point data for a period of time.  In my recollection of the events, it seemed much more drawn out.  Fast forward twenty years, and now everyone that is still relying on this particular set of data directly from Schwab’s download is back to square one.

Back in 2020, the underlying issue was that Advent didn’t want Schwab to continue providing the data without going through ACD and Schwab wanted to continue providing the data to satisfy their existing customers, who had grown dependent on getting that data via the point-to-point interface.  From the perspective of those Axys customers, it is easy to understand their position then and now…  it is pretty much free, and it works.  Why would we want to change that?

Somehow, for more years than I would have thought possible these holdouts that either saw no reason to fix something that wasn’t broken or were too cheap to move to ACD continued to do what they had been doing for decades.  I never thought this would have gone on as long as it did.  Alas, as they say, all good things must come to an end.  That is apparently what is happening now.

Schwab is in the process of stopping production of the files that feed Dataport for this subset of Axys users.  Last month, they stopped producing the price (CSMMDDYY.pri) files; they are also planning to stop producing other key files, such as transactions, sometime in 2023.  The sudden inability to create a price file no doubt caused some difficulties for those still dependent on them.  As a result, a couple firms reached out to me.

After a brief discussion with the first firm, I agreed to automate the creation of the missing price file.  According to my customers, both Advent and Schwab were unwilling to assist them with the issue.  Advent’s not planning to make changes to their interface to take in the new Schwab files, and Schwab’s not planning to help clients transform the files into something that can be ingested directly into Dataport.

It sounded way too easy for someone with my experience, and I thought it would only take a “few” minutes.  Somewhat embarrassingly, I spent a few hours creating the automation necessary to do the translation.  However, in a subsequent implementation for another customer, I was able to have a meet-and-greet call with them and a follow-up call to implement and test the solution in their environment very quickly.  All of it was accomplished in a couple hours, and on the very same day the prospective customer contacted me, leading me to believe that future implementation may be performed in a matter of minutes.

Those dealing with what is currently limited to a pricing issue have a handful of choices, none of which are fun to deal with when you need yesterday’s prices now:

  1. The most obvious choice: consider implementing the Schwab Interface via ACD.  It might be worth it.  I am not kidding.  I have plenty of clients that use ACD.
  2. Use a third-party pricing service like IDC/ICE or Telemet.
  3. Key the prices in manually.  I am not recommending this, but it is certainly an option.
  4. Utilize automation to recreate the missing price file (CSMMDDYY.pri) from the security file (CRSYYYYMMDD.SEC) now provided by Schwab.  This isn’t very difficult, and that is what I have done for those who have asked me to resolve the issue for them.

Addressing the pricing issue alone is a stop-gap solution at best.  The larger issue down the road is translating the transaction files, which will need to be done in 2023.  At my clients’ request, I have agreed to look into doing this for them as well, and I will most likely do it.  With my experience building Axys interfaces and doing the requisite transaction mapping et cetera it probably won’t be that big a deal, but it will certainly be more complicated and time-consuming than the Price File Translator was to create.

As always, if this issue is something your firm needs assistance with, please feel free to contact me directly.


Kevin Shea Impact 2010

About the Author: Kevin Shea is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Quartare; Quartare provides a wide variety of technology solutions to investment advisors nationwide.

For details, please visit Quartare.com, contact Kevin Shea via phone at 617-720-3400 x202 or e-mail at kshea@quartare.com.