“APIs are one of the most important tools in digital business design,” Peter Wannemacher, an analyst at Forrester who specializes in digital strategy and the financial services industry, said in a February interview with Forbes. “Financial services providers have been relatively slow to recognize and act on APIs as an opportunity to transform their businesses and, ultimately, better win, serve and retain customers.”
In the hyper-competitive financial services industry, firms and advisors alike are eager for any way to get a leg up on the competition. Those who’ve kept a finger or two on the pulse of their target audience know that a website and social media can help them better engage with clients and prospects at every stage of the sales journey; identify and adopt new revenue ideas; bolster brand recognition; enhance field operations and processes; and stay nimble in responding to client needs — all while keeping compliance and risk reduction at the fore.
When it comes to technology, there are two primary kinds of solutions available to today’s B-to-B businesses: fully integrated or best-in-breed (BIB) software systems. But while everyone now has equal access to technological solutions, it pays (and saves) to remember that not all solutions are equal.
With one broad and all-encompassing structure, fully integrated systems bundle together several services such as websites, social media, email and CRM into a single, one-size-fits-all software solution. Integrated software providers are essentially “one-stop-shops” offering a single system that does everything for everybody.
While advisors of yesteryear may have been content to work with everyone and anyone, successful 21st century advisors know better than to try to be everything to everybody. Instead, they focus their energy on serving a niche they’re passionate about and customizing solutions for their target market using a variety of resources.
Best-in-Breed a Better Buy
Best-in-breed software systems work in much the same way as fully integrated systems, although they allow for customization. Based in the fast and flexible cloud and built using easily integrated open-source application programming interfaces (APIs), best-in-breed providers are highly specialized in their area of expertise, providing superior technology when compared to all in one solutions. Think of APIs like Lego blocks, seamlessly connecting technology solutions that are specific for your practice. Say, for example, you use Advisor Websites for your website design and Hootsuite for your marketing, Smarsh for compliance, and Redtail for your CRM. APIs connect these systems and allow data to be easily shared between them without having to make sacrifices to the quality of technology.
Best-in-breed systems are fast becoming the go-to solution for financial advisors and firms with a myriad of software needs, not only proving to be more efficient and effective, but also more affordable and agile. The speed of the cloud, along with open-source APIs, can make interacting with all kinds of technology not only possible but pleasurable. Below are four reasons top firms and advisors are choosing best-in-breed technology.
1. Get a solution specific to your firm’s needs.
You wouldn’t offer one-size-fits-all financial advice, so why accept technology you can’t tailor to meet your specific needs? Thanks to those sleek open-source APIs, best-in-breed systems offer endless options resulting in a solution tailored to your firm’s needs. With the power of APIs, you are able to plug various technologies together in whatever shape you like. This means you can design a solution to meet your practice’s precise needs as well as reflect your brand, level of experience and target audience. Integrated enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs), on the other hand, take a one-stop-shop approach to software, leaving you without much control over the ultimate “solution.”
When compared to the monolithic, one-size-fits-all approach of fully integrated software, best-in-breed providers offer nothing if not options. Prefer Marketo to Mailchimp? No problem. More comfortable with Salesforce? Done! An advocate of Advisor Launchpad over Emerald? Best-in-breed providers can make it happen with ease.
Conversely, adopting an integrated system means replacing all your current systems with the provider’s pre-prescribed solution, whether you need all of the pieces or not. This generally demands a significant investment in both time and money, and can be a very pricey way to get boxed into someone else’s preferences.
What’s more, customized best-of-breed software solutions:
- Can be implemented very quickly, allowing you to adapt to changes in the market, clientele or industry swifter than you ever thought possible.
- Are designed with change in mind. Not only is BIB flexible enough to integrate easily with your existing technology, but should you decide to make changes to any of these systems in the future, best-in-breed solutions can respond far more nimbly than could integrated technology.
2. Speed your firm’s growth and improve flexibility.