The Perfect Match
They say no man is an island – but is that true of the systems used by advisers and their paraplanners on a day-to-day basis?
I think it is safe to say that from a consumer perspective, there are high expectations that more and more systems / apps connect and talk to each other. But from an adviser business perspective, are we still literally running between (aka: “Nike”) systems with a spot of swivel chair processing?
Well, last year, we conducted research on this particular topic and what we found was that “integration between systems” was identified by advisers as the most significant challenge to the use of automation of digital solutions in the advice process. Indeed, just recently, an article in Money Marketing via Platforum found that 63% of advisers state that “integration of systems” is their main challenge and “advisers feel poor integration puts pressure on their time and profitability.”
The most common “Integration between systems” in an adviser’s office is that between the back-office system and the platform (or platforms). One leading back-office system supplier states on its website that it has over 400 integrations with a variety of system and app types. And our research supports this trend, showing that integration with digital tools (e.g. cash flow modellers) are certainly on the increase.
So, seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, we thought it an opportune time to explore these technical connections and find out if more systems would like to integrate with more systems. But what makes a #perfectmatch? A valuable and worthwhile integration, if you like? What drives systems to “get it on” with each other?
Two words: Adviser demand. They are often the matchmakers, suggesting the two sides get together.
With just the right amount of pressure, systems will take the time and money to work it out. It probably involves a bit of power-play tango dancing while the back-office, digital tool and or platforms study the user-base, size, profile and future opportunity. With those numbers, they can build the business case and if the numbers stack up, then generally the integration goes ahead.
Once the decision to go ahead is made, then there is agreeing the build, to which some will need to agree the standard (or not, and go bespoke, perhaps?), version of standard and any tweaks that will be incorporated. Then comes testing and eventually the Go LIVE.
Running alongside this work, and cited as a blocker, or at least as a significant cost and complication to an integration, is agreeing the legal contract – as our research revealed. Oops, don’t forget maintenance costs and constant regression testing…
Now, I must apologise for the above simplification of a typical integration process, nevertheless, you’ve got to admit that it all sounds a little bit unromantic.
So, for the sake of protracted business cases, costs, contract negotiations, worn trainers and the swivel chair dance how can we downgrade the current most significant challenge to adoption of digital solutions for the advice process and encourage more systems to connect to enable:
(1) improved data quality
(2) improved client servicing and
(3) reduced processing costs?
There has to be a better way to find and work with your perfect business match and integrate more systems, more efficiently.
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