SSO: What it is and why your RIA firm needs it

Man using SSO at his desk

Key Points

  • SSO (single sign-on) enables users to securely access multiple systems with a single set of log-in credentials. 

  • Financial advisors can use SSO to help streamline workflows—and work more securely.

  • SSO is possible when software providers are compatible. Check with your providers to confirm available features.


You probably use multiple software systems every day and each one probably has a login that slows you down or tests your password memory. What if you could login once and get to everything you need—email, CRM system, research tools, portfolio rebalancing software, and more? Your day could go a lot more smoothly.

Single sign-on (SSO) is an effective tool for helping you log in to applications and services while also improving security on your network. It allows you to move seamlessly between systems so that you can get information faster, offer outstanding service, and protect your firm's data.

How does it work? Let's explore.

What is single sign-on?

Single sign-on is an authorization technology that lets users log into multiple applications and websites with a single set of credentials. There are a few different technical approaches, but basically, it works by verifying your identity through an authentication token that's unique to you. Then, when you want to log into a site, that token tells the site that it's really you. For advisors, this means that once you log into one system that's integrated with SSO, you can do a lot without punching in another set of login credentials.

Key benefits of SSO

man and woman at desk

SSO can be a workflow gamechanger. Here's how it:

  • Improves productivity
    The seconds it takes to log in to each system you use can add up, especially if you frequently move between systems or struggle to remember passwords. (And we've all fumbled trying to remember a password when we're on a call or screensharing). By reducing the number of login events each day, you have more time and mental energy to focus on serving your clients.
  • Saves time
    Forgetting a password can be a hassle. While password recovery processes have gotten simpler in some cases, there's still extra steps/time/energy involved.
  • Improves password security
    Some people are notoriously bad at juggling usernames and passwords. They write them on sticky notes tacked to their monitor or reuse the same password over and over. Who can blame them? The average person has about 100 passwords.1 SSO can mean remembering less passwords, allowing them to cut out their password bad habits.
  • Adds another layer of protection
    SSO is almost always combined with multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA requires users to use another "factor" to complete the login. Many systems send text messages with a temporary code to the user's mobile device. The user then enters the code, which functions as a second password. Some systems require an authenticator app to supply a temporary code. And others prompt users for a physical token, usually a device that plugs into a computer drive and that works like a key, unlocking the computer or software.
  • Helps you monitor your network
    Because security is such an important part of SSO, many authentication systems include identity and access management, which can offer login monitoring, role-based access control, and risk-based rules that flag uncommon or suspicious logins.

Integration for the win

Single sign-on is a tech integration that can make life easier for you and improve your ability to serve clients. And combining SSO with other integrations makes it simpler to complete tasks efficiently, especially key account management tasks that can take up a lot of time. Teams with SSO typically love the convenience; and IT professionals and firm owners appreciate knowing there's another layer of security protecting the firm's data. Check with your software platform providers to explore what's possible and take your workflows to the next level.


What you can do next

  • Get convenient, secure access to Schwab Advisor Center when and where you need it with SSO. Learn more about single sign-on and explore the capabilities you gain when you integrate your software with our tools.
  • Make your tech work smarter with APIs. Explore all our integration capabilities.
  • Consider a custodian that invests in your success. If you're thinking about becoming an independent advisor, contact us to learn more about the benefits of a custodial relationship with Schwab.



1. TechRadar Pro, "Struggling with Password Overload? You're Not Alone," October 2020.