Larger lessons from the booming SaaS industry

December 8, 2017 by Andy Penkalski

about the author:

Andy Penkalski

Director, marketing

Andy oversees the breadth of go-to-market initiatives for Advicent, including product marketing, lead generation, public relations, and partner learning and development. He is interested in always discovering new tools for brands and businesses to more effectively reach their audience and improve metrics for success within their own organization.

At Advicent, our business strategy is primarily informed by the shifting trends and evolving needs of the financial services workforce. Be it DOL compliance or the challenges of fee compression, our finger must always be kept on the pulse of our marketplace's needs to ensure that we succeed in our overall mission of enabling everyone to understand and impact their financial future.

While the topics discussed here primarily focus on these industry-aligned challenges, our internal teams are equally tapped into goings-on of a broader industry in which we are participants — the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry.

Competition among SaaS providers

SaaS providers have serviced a range of industries since the nineties when the Internet began to enable greater remote hosting opportunities. Since then, the public cloud services industry has evolved into a $209 billion industry that is expected to grow another 18 percent by the end of 2017.

Regardless of the industry that a SaaS organization serves, the capacity for these providers to be truly disruptive in nature has diminished over time. If competitors are not bountiful in a particular space, mergers and acquisitions likely are.

Even if a SaaS provider is not jockeying for position against a direct competitor during any given sale opportunity, they are likely jockeying against other pieces of software for budgetary allocation. Now more than ever, SaaS providers must identify methods to demonstrate ROI to their users, and this often evolves past the tool itself.

Demonstrating ROI to varying audiences

At Advicent, we benefit from key differentiators within our technology that allow us to remain inherently competitive within the marketplace. With the most robust calculation engine in the marketplace developed over nearly five decades, our NaviPlan® financial planning software is able to cover the breadth of planning needs — from simple retirement plans to complex high-net-worth planning.

Still, placating any incumbent software provider can often be an uphill battle. Due to their knotted organizational structures and complex implementation processes, many large financial institutions may continue to rely upon antiquated technology because it is the easier choice even though it may not be the smartest.

This is why our method for ROI demonstration adapts to our buyer type. While NaviPlan allows for advisor efficiencies and product recommendations that boast a self-evident ROI for independent advisors, we need to put a greater emphasis on implementation results through our change management process — a model for adoption that we have developed to ensure minimal impact to new customers.

Lessons for firms about demonstrating ROI to clients

As advisors continue to face growing competition from both large institutions and tech startups, what can the smaller shops of the world do to continually demonstrate ROI — not just to long-time customers but also prospects and younger clients? If your client demographics have evolved over the years, your clients may now require sophisticated services, such as estate planning, that you must provide to retain business. For younger clients, they may evaluate ROI based on new confidence barometers made available by technological disruption — like portfolio management informed by artificial intelligence or 24/7 access to their plan progress.

Advisors — not unlike SaaS organizations — cannot approach ROI demonstrate as a one-size-fits-all litmus test. And as advisors are continually forced to identify new buying centers to remain competitive, how they are able to demonstrate ROI for any type of client will continue to be essential to long-term growth and retention.

To learn more about how financial planning software can increase your ROI, click here.

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