Since we help our clients create WealthTech platforms, it’s extremely interesting for me to talk to their clients—financial advisors. From such discussions I can better understand how the products we create help our clients’ platform users.
Recently, I learned from Alex Chalekian, CEP, that advisors don’t always need a whole bunch of features, as these may distract financial advisors instead of making them more efficient. Alex acknowledged that in most cases system usability is more important for him than having a number of features.
We noticed that some WealthTech companies go to extremes by adding as many features as possible, or by adding every feature requested by clients. In both cases, the resulting wealth-management platform may end up overflowing with one-off functionality.
If your platform provides a ton of features, you may have certain advantages over your competition. For example, your clients may get more for the same charge. This may be the deciding factor for some advisors.
Rarely used but principal features of your system may also be crucial for some advisors when they choose between your platform and your competitor’s.
However, you should bear in mind that when you try to provide maximum functionality, your software development may lose quality. If advisors try to use features that haven’t been worked out thoroughly, they will be disappointed and you may lose their loyalty.
For example, reporting tools are very popular among WealthTech platforms. Many of them try to implement as many reports as possible, but in fact advisors use only a few. If the reports they generate provide inappropriate data, incorrect results, or unsuitable visualization, the value of the reports goes down.
From this point of view, system usability might be the factor that inspires your clients to stay with you even though some features are idle. In relation to reporting, it is better to implement a few general reports properly. If possible, provide a customization tool to enable platform users to select which data and which types of charts should be used in their reports.
If you decide to provide as many features as possible with the aim of attracting a range of customers, select the most important ones and work rigorously on their usability. If your clients feel comfortable working with your system, they might excuse its shortcomings.
Pleasing all clients
You may choose another approach to building WealthTech software: asking your clients or prospects what functionality they require and build only what they need. In this way you may win their loyalty because your system will meet their requirements. You might even develop an ideal system. However, this approach could break the whole system as well.
Consider the following aspects:
- It’s easy to meet all the requests of a few clients. While your client base grows, their needs will also grow exponentially. You will be unable to fulfill all their requirements.
- Some advisors’ requests may turn out to be one-offs. For example, an advisor may ask you to integrate a new custodian into the system with the hope of winning certain clients that use the custodian, but in fact, never use this integration. If you meet each client’s every need, your system will again be full of useless features.
- Some requests may conflict each other. For example, a financial advisor may ask you to provide a forecast tool that would show end investors possible returns. Another advisor might ask you to disable the tool because they want to provide this information directly, bypassing the platform.
If you try to satisfy all clients’ needs, this may distract your business analysts (BAs) and software developers. They won’t understand the final goal, and as a result your software design and development will suffer.
How to make software development efficient
There are many resources out there that discuss product and project management. I just want to share several tips that we use.
When we develop WealthTech platforms from scratch, before we start software development we prefer to have a software requirements specification ready. It isn’t really important whether the document is written by our or our client’s BA, but it should be worked out together with the product management team. Even if it will be changed later, from the very start this document provides the development team with a roadmap for software development.
For efficient software development it’s important to work out the development process, establish communication, and assign responsibilities. At each stage, everyone should be aware of what’s being done, who’s responsible for which part of the work, and whom to contact with questions.
The roadmap should be modified only in case of critical queries. If you change it too often, the development team may end up rushing into hardly needed features and wasting their efforts. This may destroy the entire development process.
Usability is also important
Even if you create WealthTech software with extremely useful functionality, it won’t be frequently used if its user interface, where applicable, isn’t intuitive.
Listen to your Quality Assurance team. Unlike product managers and software developers, they mostly have fresh eyes on the product. In fact, they are its first users, so they may help you to significantly improve the system’s usability.
To build efficient and useful WealthTech software, you need to think about many aspects. Don’t try to build it all at once, and don’t try to satisfy each client’s every need, as doing so will ruin the concept of your product. Established development processes will help you provide efficient WealthTech software and win clients.