10 Steps to Vet a New Tech Provider
Financial technology delivers exciting and essential opportunities to advisors.
The possibilities are endless: you can streamline operations, save time, increase profitability and even look better while doing it.
There’s only one problem:
How can you ensure these promising new tech providers are worth their salt?
While using your own best judgment, start by following these 10 Steps To Vet a New Tech Provider:
- Reputation & Track Record
Many tech providers are startups, so it can be difficult to weigh the promises of their products against the reality of actual results. Before you pull the trigger with a new company, try to tap into the provider’s current customer base. Get practical, non-technical explanations for what the company’s products and services actually deliver.
In short, find out if their clients are happy.
Seek a realistic assessment of what it’s like to be their customer—how are they treated? Do they get prompt responses to emails and phone calls? Are the provider’s products as effective as advertised? Once you gain the facts from actual clients, you’ll have greater confidence before investing in a provider.
- Infrastructure Security
With every technological opportunity comes multiple points of potential vulnerability.
We’ve all read the headlines of massive corporate hackings and security compromises. When you’re vetting tech providers, hold them to the highest standard of security. Find out how they review and monitor their security systems.
Do they have a self-hosted infrastructure? Networking firewalls? Vulnerability scanning?
These are only a few of the essential infrastructure security measures needed to protect your business and your clients.
- Security Oversight
While security protection is key, security oversight is equally important.
When vetting tech providers, ask about how they monitor their systems, how they train employees to protect data, and how they divide duties to engender maximum quality assurance.
These are all specific inquiries that may catch sales representatives off guard. That’s a good thing. If they are unable to confidently provide satisfactory answers, you’ll know it’s time to move on to another provider.
Performance is key. A tech provider may offer amazing solutions, but they must be reliable to fulfill their promise.
Start the information-gathering process by asking sales reps the following questions:
- What percentage of the time are your products up and running? (anything less than 99.999% is a bad answer)
- If there are ever scheduled downtimes, how long do those periods last?
- If there are security issues, how fast is the response time?
- What are your next steps following a possible cyberattack?
In the technological era, the value of agility and response time cannot be overstated.
- Verify Cost
“Cost isn’t an issue.” We get it: you’re willing to pay whatever is necessary to maximize your
results. But before you jump in with both feet, make sure you have a clear understanding of all potential costs.
In the sales process, many providers will initiate a smokescreen of “integration” fees that seem exorbitantly high. This is often by design. When the sales team inevitably waives these fees, they create a false impression of added value that distracts from the reality of the total cost.
Protect your firm by negotiating a trial period that provides an escape hatch if the services
aren’t worth the cost.
- Seek Adaptability
The most successful tech providers are future-focused. Their products should not only promise short-term results, but they should pave the way for an increasingly bright future.
Seek providers that have the foundation to seamlessly evolve with the times. Ask them how they envision the next five (or more) years, and how their technology fits into that vision of the future.
- Demand Customization
Tech solutions are only as effective as their ability to be customized. Be wary of tech providers that speak generally or paint your business with a broad brush.
Challenge the provider’s sales team or representative. Ask how their solutions will specifically help your individual firm. As you investigate a firm’s track record and reputation, ask for client success stories that speak to a business situation that closely resembles your own.
So, how can you avoid getting lumped in with other businesses? Present specific requests.
- Present Specific Needs
A word to the wise: if you don’t tell a provider what you want, they’ll tell you what you need.
Whenever you approach a meeting with a new tech provider, have a tangible list of business
requirements ready to go. Develop an itemized document of objectives and put them to the test.
This will quickly eliminate any providers or products that don’t directly target your stated goals.
- Compliance, Part 1
Q: What happens at the crossroads of Compliance and New Technology?
A: Friction (as you may well know).
You have a lot on your plate as it is. You certainly don’t need extra compliance concerns as you start to incorporate new technology. While you vet new tech providers, ensure they are confident in their collaboration with regulators.
Test them to see if they’re aware of the latest compliance demands and developments. The more they’re up-to-date, the more confident you can be in their ability to handle complex compliance issues as they arise.
Your tech providers should have answers to questions you haven’t even thought to ask.
- Compliance, Part 2
Finally, seek tech providers that offer on-premise support for regulatory surveillance.
What exactly does on-premise support deliver? By keeping everything under one roof, it allows your firm to keep data and processes in-house and managed by your own IT infrastructure.
This ensures your firm is seamlessly synced with industry changes and best practices.
Ultimately, the vetting process boils down to one question: does the company provide custom solutions that will achieve your goals over an extended period of time?
At First Rate, we provide comprehensive, custom, and scalable solutions to help you thrive.
We understand that both your firm and your clients have specific needs. That’s why our solutions are tailored to fulfill the full breadth of your firm’s potential.
Click here to learn more about our holistic services. Or, if you’d like to reach out to our team, you can get started below: