Tech platforms love to use terms like “revolutionary” and “game-changing.” The talk is big, but the solutions too often end up being difficult to integrate with your existing processes. Once in a blue moon, however, an innovation comes along that changes the entire technology landscape for advisors.
The Wealth Tech industry has truly been “revolutionized” through APIs – the invisible frameworks that power a large part of our digital experiences. But what is an API, and how does it impact tech experiences for financial professionals and their clients?
An API is an “application programming interface.” In essence, APIs allow different pieces of technology to “speak” to one another based on a set of predetermined rules. We’re seeing this more and more, especially with third-party payment platforms like Venmo, CashApp, and PayPal. The people paying you aren’t putting money directly into your bank account – they’re sending it to you via technology built with APIs. The aforementioned apps use APIs to speak to one another and get your money where it’s supposed to go.
Most SaaS (software as a service) companies use some form of API. You’re benefiting from APIs when you look up directions on Google Maps, share your thoughts on that NFL play on Twitter, build a playlist on Spotify or sign up for news alerts from the Associated Press. It’s a big world of APIs – and it’s only getting bigger.
API systems provide a wealth of benefits, including:
Open APIs allow for integration with a wide range of top vendors and partners, providing greater flexibility and customization options across technology solutions.
An open API technology platform encourages innovation by allowing developers to build new applications and services on top of the existing platform, or take advantage of solutions built by other platforms. Advisors are ultimately the ones who benefit most from this innovation.
Give your clients a comprehensive financial snapshot of their plans. With APIs, advisors can create a broader ecosystem of software by integrating them into a single contact point for a user. Plus, you can customize the client portal to deliver a personalized experience each and every time.
APIs allow software developers to build on top of each other and scale work – deploying new updates and integrations faster – and without sacrificing your client data.
Ultimately, APIs give your firm access to integrations that can better serve you and your clients – leading to scalable growth.
Kartik Srinivasan, Director of 3rd Party Integration and Digital Advisor Solutions at Schwab, believes that advisors face a significant challenge in finding tech that can grow with their firm. As more assets are added to the firm, the existing tech stack often fails to properly accommodate shifting needs.
“It’s all about what technology provides advisors the scale and ability to grow,”
Srinivasan says, noting that the solutions advisors choose need to support their goals of a better client experience.
These platforms give advisors quick and comprehensive overviews of client accounts, access to models and algos, including the ability to quickly create and customize performance reports.
CRMs allow firms to organize client data, streamline communication, and enhance marketing efforts.
From cash flow management to ongoing client education, financial planning tools aid advisors in mitigating risk, analyzing outcomes and identifying areas for growth.
These metrics help advisors ensure that client portfolios are aligned with client risk preferences and limitations.
Trading and rebalancing tools facilitate portfolio optimization by automating the trade execution process.
APIs are at the heart of these tech stacks, encouraging innovation and hyper-personalized experiences in trading solutions and technology options.
In the buffet of tech options available to advisors, outsourced trading solutions stand out on a silver platter. Outsourced solutions can increase efficiency, reduce operational costs and even eliminate the need for middle and back office functions – saving your firm time and money along the way.
Third-party software can also be helpful when transitioning or restructuring portfolios for new clients or moving existing clients to a new strategy. Transition management software can aid advisors as they manage risk, performance and tax planning, giving your team further access to a broader range of investment strategies. Enabling your advisors to efficiently manage a higher degree of client complexity is the key to scaling your firm.
One of the main benefits of outsourcing is that it’s not an “all or nothing” proposition. Firms can choose to outsource some of the trading operations without handing over every step of the process.
For example, an advisory firm could utilize OMS technology to automate order routing and allocations when transmitting trades. OMS tech is available through APIs, so advisors can integrate other wealth management solutions and create a fully customized software solution. In this case, the advisor still handles the majority of the trade procedure, but no longer has to manually transmit that information.
Flyer FT offers such technology through our Co-Pilot software, which automatically allocates block trades and communicates those allocations electronically to your custodians and brokers. Co-Pilot can reformat files as needed, provide receipt of delivery, and even integrate with your accounting systems to ensure all portfolio data is accurate in real time.
Our automation also takes into account the various factors that affect trades, like full vs. partial orders, different allocation distribution methods, and average pricing tactics. Firms need software they can trust to aid in the trading process, freeing up their time to focus on client experience and positive results.
As you explore tech solutions for your RIA, consider the benefits of cloud-based trading platforms. Most significantly, cloud-based trading allows traders to work from anywhere and at any time (as long as you have an internet connection). That flexibility became especially necessary in recent years, where many teams were forced to embrace remote work.
From the perspective of the tech vendors themselves, cloud-based technology is also an improvement because it allows providers to consistently deploy updates to users without worrying about the install or upgrade process. Every update is seamlessly deployed to clients en masse via the cloud.
In addition to location flexibility, cloud-based platforms offer scalability. For example Amazon’s AWS platform “monitors your applications and automatically adjusts capacity to maintain steady, predictable performance at the lowest possible cost.”
Moreover, advisors can expect an added layer of security with additional protocols and measures provided directly by vendors rather than software hosted on your own servers.
Scalability doesn’t stop at software performance, however. It also extends to how that software gets updated. By leveraging cloud-based technology that is constantly being improved with no-update-required upgrades, your firm no longer has to manage a closed internal system that can quickly get outdated. Even with APIs to integrate systems, managing a system on your local server is not an ideal situation.
Lastly, cloud-based trading platforms are the perfect roommate for your software, providing a low-maintenance solution that keeps its side of the equation updated and well-maintained. Cloud-based technology means software updates are pushed to you automatically – so there’s no gap in your service, and no need to remember to click “update” and risk being out-of-date.
In all, cloud-based tech allows your firm to leverage partner APIs and connect with custodians, brokers and other tech solutions. The result? A faster process for daily tasks for advisors and better user experiences for clients.
Firms that automate trading with API-based solutions are better equipped for growth and client satisfaction than their old-school counterparts. They also have access to the most accurate data possible in real-time from anywhere in the world.
Regardless of your firm’s size or goals, Trading APIs can future-proof your processes, leaving only one path forward: growth.