You hear the term integration all the time. In our industry, almost every advertisement boasts technology tools that are “fully integrated,” allowing users to have a “seamless experience.” But what does that truly mean?
First off, we need to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to marketing; just saying something is true doesn’t make it so. What’s known as the “hotel swimming pool” concept comes into play here. That is, there are certain features you just have to list in your marketing materials, even though most people will never use them, like a hotel swimming pool. True integration is different in that advisors will—and want to—benefit from it.
These days, open architecture is the phrase du jour mentioned by broker/dealers and custodians alike. The concept itself is a thing of beauty, best described via an example. Envision five doors, each with a certain software function behind it. In our industry, the five doors might be labeled as follows:
In theory, each of these doors or functions could have 5 software vendors behind it (25 total), all of which would work “seamlessly” with each other. But this is where theory and practice begin to diverge. And that’s where my vision of a truly integrated technology world for financial advisors comes in. That vision is defined as follows: