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Financial Marketers: Questions to Ask Tech Vendors

December 23, 2015 | By Robert McKinnon

  • Ask about regulatory compliance as early in the process as possible
  • Data security should be evaluated before piloting any new tech and should include an audit of the vendor’s security features, processes and procedures
  • Be certain that the vendor’s offering can be fully integrated with your existing archiving platform

A technology vendor comes to visit your company to demo a new and exciting technology platform that is providing tremendous results in OTHER industries. Sitting in the conference room, you and your colleagues can immediately see how effective, efficient and measurable the vendor’s offering could be for your organization. This new platform could make you twice as impactful in half the time! However, as you look around the room, you know someone in that room is going to spoil all this excitement with one simple question. You sit quietly hoping you can just avoid the giant elephant in the room. Then all of a sudden, Jim from compliance rudely interrupts and asks, “Is your offering FINRA approved?” The vendor representative stutters.

For marketing leaders in financial services, this is an all-too-common and frustrating occurrence. Therefore, questions of compliance should always be addressed early in the process. In financial services, the first question to ask any technology vendor should be:

  • Can you document the offering’s compliance with the relevant regulations in my industry?

In many cases, the vendor will already have stamps of approval by the relevant regulatory bodies. It’s not the end of the world if they can’t document the offering’s compliance, but it will definitely make your life easier. If it is worth the effort, you may want to guide them through the process and work with them and your compliance department to overcome the hurdles. But the question of compliance needs to be asked early to avoid a lot of wasted time.

The second question financial services leaders need to ask isn’t necessarily unique to the industry, but is especially important for financial services organizations:

  • What is the technology’s track record with regard to the security of corporate and customer data, and what is the process for identifying new potential security threats?

When evaluating any technology, assess the security of any company and customer data. A vendor should be able to provide you with both a track record regarding data breaches and a documented process for identifying potential risks and working with clients to implement updates. I know this may seem tedious, but as any financial services marketer knows, “past performance is not an indicator of future performance.”

Finally, for most marketing technology platforms there will be a requirement to archive all customer interaction. Before selecting a vendor’s offering, these capabilities need to be evaluated. Ask your vendor:

  • Does the offering have its own archiving capabilities, or can it be easily integrated with our existing archiving platform?

If you are like me, the answer to this question will make your head explode with tech jargon you never wanted to attempt to understand. It may be painful, but the last thing you need is an issue integrating any new technology with your existing archiving efforts.

In our excitement – when deploying a new technology that should help our marketing organization by more efficient, innovative and impactful – financial services marketing leaders often forget to ask questions that can identify common hurdles. I find it is easier to just get them out of the way early in the process in order to limit wasted time. In fact, these are probably good questions to use as screening questions for any interested vendor, in any industry.

Robert McKinnon

Robert is Research Director, Marketing Executive Services, Financial Services at SiriusDecisions. He is a marketing and sales leader with a background in asset management, corporate banking and brokerage. At SiriusDecisions, he works with marketing leaders in the financial services industry on organizational and strategic alignment, marketing compliance, marketing investment and budget and content strategy. Follow Bob on Twitter @robertmckinno10.

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