Integration Is Expected, Look For Differentiation Elsewhere

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I know, I know. Your integrations are real. Not like those other guys. You integrate with more vendors, or you have more APIs, or you’re the one who’s really seamless.
Tough love moment: Integration isn’t a differentiator anymore.

It’s just a buzzword. Jargon. In the past few years, media fatigue has completely drained the word of any meaning or importance.  At this point, it’s simply expected.

Bah, humbug.
We’re hearing from advisors that integration is oversold and undelivered so often, they now think it’s simply lip service. They’ve been promised over and over again that a software solution will integrate with their custodian. But if the custodian hasn’t fully committed to developing seamless functionality or bi-directional data, the solution doesn’t work. If the advisor has to make the connections, the effort is doomed to fail.

Technology isn’t the only problem; the service model behind integration is largely nonexistent. Advisors aren’t told what to expect, how it works, or who will help them when it inevitably breaks. They spend hours speaking to each integration partner, and eventually just try to fix it themselves or give up.

If you really, really have to say it.
What if integration is an essential part of your message—a story you truly have to tell? Then make sure your solution does all the work for the advisor. Be explicit about your service model: is there a single service desk (like Orion Advisor Services Tier 1 Support)? Be honest about how easy and deep the integration will be. There are a few companies who actually do this very well (follow #T32017 for a head start on identifying these companies). You need to be as good, or better.

Looking back, I sometimes wonder if integration was a wild goose chase. Maybe advisors would have found products that better matched their needs if they had focused on something other than chasing a mirage. I think advisors are wondering the same thing.

That’s why integration isn’t a differentiator anymore. Find your true competitive advantage and focus on that.