June 21, 2012

RIA Technology "Integration" Can Mean Many Things


Assembling a "dream team" of technology partners and vendors helps form the foundation for long term profitability and enterprise value.  With so many powerful technology options available to the advisor today, constructing the optimal "portfolio" of tools has never been more critical.

This process includes understanding key points of integration among vendors. "Integration" is not a black and white concept, but rather shades of grey along a spectrum.
  • “Lite” integration, for instance, often simply means “single sign on” capabilities. Some integrations rely solely on data feeds between two programs, often with human intervention which has its obvious flaws. 
  • "Application Programming Interface" (API) or web service integrations expose data from one application to another (ideally 2-way delivery) on a daily (“asynchronous”) or real-time (“synchronous”) basis. 
  • “Full” integration will have all major functions updating in a real-time/2-way sync, with checks and balances and no human intervention.

Proper vendor due diligence includes developing a deeper understanding of exactly how integration occurs between two vendors.  The good news is that the prevailing winds call for more (not less) integration.  In the meantime, be sure to:

  1. Develop a "technology roadmap" that identifies your desired points of integration and takes into consideration future plans for your RIA
  2. Consider your workflows and processes prior to bringing on new technology
  3. Coordinate among technology partners to understand exactly how technologies fit together

What are the key points of integration within your advisory firm?  

Are there areas where you could envision improvement?

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