I had a good laugh when industry insider, pitch man and consultant Tim Welsh sent along a prepared statement a few weeks ago.
It was titled in a way that only he could or would write it: “Your Silver Bullet to End Membership, Continue As an Industry Information Resource ~ Industry Mission to Promote Technology Integrations Completed Successfully.”
At first I cringed — an image of a former president standing on an aircraft carrier deck immediately came to mind.
That emotion having passed, I started to consider the significance of the information.
You see, YourSilverBullet.net was the first attempt I'm aware of within the advisory industry to establish the next best thing to industry data and technology standards; that next best thing being a process-based approach to creating integrations between software and web-based applications.
The prepared statement simply aimed to get the word out that YSB, the “community of independent software companies,” had ended its vendor membership drive and that “the site will continue on as an industry informational resource website through the end of the year” (www.yoursilverbullet.net).
I encourage everyone with interest enough to be reading this and who has not already done so to visit the site before it is gone.
Here at InvestmentNews, a former colleague of mine first wrote about the site six years ago when it started in a bit of an off-kilter fashion, as if the group were attempting to displace or provide competition to the then pretty dominant back-office provider in the space, Advent Software Inc.
I have since included the site in several stories and recommended it to numerous advisers as a resource when selecting software for their firms.
Sixteen mostly small technology companies remain listed on the site, many with long-established track records, industry profiles and large customer bases. They chose to work with one another to build integrations between them to please and retain clients and hopefully spur additional sales.
While not easy to build the integrations, the premise behind the site is simple enough to explain.
Let's say you have or are interested in financial planning application “A.” The YSB site will display for you which CRM provider “B” already is integrated with it and vice versa.
While its former members represented only a fraction of the total industry landscape, it was a noble effort — the results of which came at the price of a lot of work by vendors themselves and significant resources devoted to ongoing marketing.
“The objective behind the formation of Your Silver Bullet six years ago was to provide a community and venue for adviser technology firms to collaborate on integrations and provide advisers with a single reference resource,” wrote Greg Friedman in the statement. He is a YSB co-founder, chief executive of CRM Software Inc. (makers of Junxure) and principal of the wealth management firm Private Ocean.
All this has changed, the statement went on, given the new landscape being created by the major custodians — each of which is developing its own platform with its own constituent third-party vendors.
In my opinion, each of those platforms remains its own silo and is nowhere close to an industry standard. The closest among them is the fairly open approach being taken by TD Ameritrade Institutional and the 60 other third-party companies it is actively working with.
That effort provides direct access at the application programming interface level to TD's Veo account management platform.
Theirs and other custodians' efforts, though, fall very short of the “community” and “reference resource,” Mr. Friedman mentioned.
During their time together, the YSB member companies strived to develop a standardized approach to working with both portfolio management and CRM systems among themselves.
The statement closed with the rationale that the collective vendor resources dedicated to the effort could be better applied to other areas “in support of technology integration.”
My own opinion, based on lots of chats with members of the group over the past five years, is simply that it was an extraordinarily time-consuming effort for the firms' developers.
And the effort netted, at best, only modest payoff in terms of new customers. Many participating vendors also expressed to me privately their fervent desire to have seen marketing efforts go far beyond what they did.
All that aside, I raise a glass and suggest we all toast YSB. A similar endeavor will not soon come again.
For more information or to see it before it is gone, visit YourSliverBullet.net online.