3 Traits Family Offices and Financial Institutions Should Look for in an Innovative Fintech Firm
The ever-changing fintech industry has family offices and financial institutions facing increased pressure to deliver modernized client experiences and customer-friendly technology solutions. In order for your firm to remain competitive in such a rapidly evolving industry, it’s critical to source a technology provider that is committed to continuous product innovation.
While we’ve written a lot about finding the right fintech solution (read our posts on knowing the right due diligence questions to ask, evaluating the system’s integration capabilities and creating a technology proof of concept), one thing that’s worth highlighting is finding a technology solution that will adapt and extend to exceed your clients’ expectations.
As an award-winning fintech provider with decades of experience, we have an innate commitment to make sure we design and develop innovative products that evolve, improve and simplify the way our clients do their jobs. This calls for an attuned ear towards user feedback, an aggressive product roadmap and a constant pulse on industry trends. We believe that this is how all fintech providers should operate, but this isn’t always the case.
In reality, over time, some software companies slow their development cycles, limit their solution innovation and settle into a “this is the way we’ve always done it” attitude. These software companies oftentimes brandish lower costs and brand-names to attract prospective clients, but lack the forward-thinking of a truly innovative fintech firm. As a result, clients who expect state-of-the-art technology and streamlined processes instead endure a disproportionate amount of dissatisfaction.
To help you find a fintech firm that is acutely aware of the importance of product growth and innovation, we’ve identified three basic traits to look for as you evaluate potential solutions:
Strong Customer Focus
At the epicenter of every innovative company is the customer and their needs. Without customer buy-in and approval, product or service solutions will never be successful. So, naturally, it makes sense to put them as a firm’s focal point when building out new solutions. By analyzing customer satisfaction and feedback – what do users like or not like, how can we help our clients scale their business of tomorrow, can you eliminate clicks to complete a task, what tool would help them better perform their job, how does our software help them be more efficient – innovative technology firms are more adept at building useful solutions.
As you evaluate potential solutions for your family office or financial institution, look for ways in which the provider collects client concerns, questions, requests and solution enhancements.
At SEI, we utilize customer focus groups, online enhancement request forums and face-to-face meetings between software users and our relationship managers to allow our clients to have their voices heard. Using their feedback and suggestions, we build solutions that address genuine client needs while moving our family office platform forward in tune with the broader industry’s expectations.
Malleable Product Roadmap
A product roadmap is a fundamental tool used by fintech firms large and small. It provides collective guidance on the direction of the platform and solution, it helps teams prioritize product aspirations and, as an added bonus, it can serve as a tool during the due diligence process as prospective clients ask “What will the solution look like one year, three years and five years from now?”
It sets the direction not just for the product and engineering teams but for the entire firm.
Without it, firms can easily lose focus of the platform’s ultimate goals resulting in disjointed product releases and incremental enhancements that don’t deliver widespread, notable efficiencies for users.
That said, a product roadmap doesn’t always need to be set in stone. Technology development and innovation occurs at lighting speed so a product development roadmap should not be criticized if priorities shift to meet client, prospect and industry demand. A product roadmap is an ever evolving document. It requires continuous adjustments based on feedback from both internal and external stakeholders and it balances development of new, progressive features with the enhancement of existing, foundational functionality.
Awareness of Industry Trends
While a strong product development strategy requires a keen focus on feedback, it’s also important that your potential technology provider stays current with fintech and overarching technology trends.
To do this, many family office technology and service providers participate in the same membership-based communities and conferences as family office professionals and HNW family members. Through these partnerships and events, firms are able to gather feedback and knowledge about emerging technologies like blockchain and machine-learning, hear first-hand what financial services firms are looking for in their technology and service solutions and gather insight into what’s on the horizon for the industry as a whole.
By interacting with members of the industry who may have different needs and wants than their existing user-base, technology teams are in a better position to diversify and build out their product functionality.
As you evaluate technology providers, ask them what conferences they attend. Do they go to industry conferences to understand the evolving needs of family offices and financial institutions that work with HNW families? Do they attend large-scale fintech conferences where they can gather ideas for future product innovations? Do they understand the entirety of the technology landscape – and how they can leverage other tools to create efficiencies in their own product suite?
Identifying technology providers that keep an open mind towards product innovation, gather and implement customer and prospect feedback and are willing to pursue new ideas will help you find a technology partner that can grow in stride with your own firm.
SEI Family Office Services is proud to be part of an organization of people determined to deliver transformative fintech solutions. SEI’s commitment to innovation stems from a culture that empowers our team to find new answers, solve complex problems, inspire each other and learn from both our successes and our failures – so that we can continue to move the market forward.
As we embrace this commitment to innovation, we are excited to share our ongoing enhancement to the Archway PlatformSM. Read our latest announcement here.
Originally published March 26, 2020, updated Mar 29, 2022
Product Design Manager, Product Development – SEI Family Office Services
Mel is responsible for managing product enhancements through the full software development life cycle – from inception to market. She leads a team of business analysts in the practice of collecting user stories, refining requirements, and defining acceptance criteria. In her role, she also works closely with the development team, removing ambiguity from requirements and pivoting solutions based on technology. Additionally, Mel oversees inbound and outbound integrations with the Archway Platform.
Mel holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University and a Bachelor of Arts from DePauw University. She enjoys travelling, watching her two sons grow up, and spending time outdoors.