Vasyl Soloshchuk
12 March 2020

Team and Security Issues When Integration Takes Place

LifeYield and AdvisorPeak, both WealthTech companies, announced an integration aimed at building a tax-smart rebalancing platform. We discussed the integration and aspects that should be considered when planning integration of Fintech platforms with the CTO of LifeYield Enis Simsek and the CTO of AdvisorPeak Darren Collins.

Building a new platform based on existing tools

LifeYield is known for its solution that makes risk-smart management of an investor’s entire household portfolio tax efficient. AdvisorPeak is a portfolio trading and rebalancing platform.

Enis Simsek, LifeYield
Enis Simsek, LifeYield

The companies are building a new platform scheduled to deliver in April. According to Simsek, the platform will make what “so many advisors desperately want”—to use AdvisorPeak’s trading and rebalancing platform (already in production) and to seamlessly incorporate LifeYield’s algorithms to automate long-term tax efficiency.

“This strategy is known as Asset Location Optimization, resulting in a Smart Household that improves after-tax returns and quantifies the benefits for the advisor to show their clients.” —Enis Simsek

“The new platform will have true cloud-native PaaS (Platform as a Service) architecture.” —Darren Collins

The partnership between the companies makes automating the Asset Location Optimization function possible. Simsek says that unlike most integrations in the wealth management space—where data is just passed back and forth, reducing duplicate data entry—they will truly enhance the benefits of rebalancing for advisors and their clients.

Should two teams working on one product be merged?

Both LifeYield and AdvisorPeak have their own software development teams. Although they are working on creating one platform now, they will not be merged. Both CTOs explain why.

Simsek says both teams will collaborate with the product management teams when building the integration and defining the user experience, which is why there’s no need for merging.

Darren Collins, AdvisorPeak
Darren Collins, AdvisorPeak

Because the new platform has cloud-based architecture, separated development will work well.

“Team integration and alignment of roles and responsibilities are huge factors in success or failure.” —Darren Collins

Communication is essential. Today, when more and more developers prefer working remotely, well-established communication helps distributed teams keep efficiency.

To be flexible and maintain good communication and collaboration regardless of physical location, LifeYield uses cloud-based technologies and tools like Slack.

To manage a distributed team at AdvisorPeak, remote collaboration tools are used heavily, and remote employees periodically visit the main development center.

Integration challenges and risks

Both companies are thoroughly familiar with going through the integration process and leveraging APIs. LifeYield integrated with such giants as Charles Schwab, Envestnet | Yodlee, Orion, and more. AdvisorPeak, formed less than one year ago, has already integrated with StratiFi and Bridge FT.

Neither CTO expects difficulties, but data format management may be somewhat challenging. However, Collins believes such issues are typically resolved within a day of discovery.

“Communication and early access to each party’s API documentation will be key factors in preventing issues during development.” —Darren Collins

To avoid security risks, both teams are closely monitoring the security landscape in real time, both in terms of data security and customer privacy.

“Both teams rely on a sound security architecture and draw on their collective experience gained by integrating with almost all the major players in the industry. We also partner with leading providers of application and network platform penetration testing to ensure our systems are evaluated by independent professionals on a regular basis.” —Enis Simsek

According to Collins, each system supports the same level of security management. This helps the teams predetermine all types of exploits they are likely to encounter and plan ahead as necessary.

“We recommend keeping abreast of exploit trends to stay in a constant state of readiness both at the SecOps and DevOps levels. Both teams must be in unison; otherwise, the discontinuity may create a weak system and a high potential for a breach. We define ‘system’ as the entire operation, including support and security personnel along with the technology platform. We define ‘platform’ as the technology delivering the service.” —Darren Collins

AdvisorPeak’s CTO admits almost all integrations experience bumps in the road. The most frequent problems are basic data issues such as missing data points or data misalignment. To deal with any issue, an exhaustive QA process, a vigilant support team, and a streamlined liaison process between support and DevOps teams should be in place.

Future plans and integrations

LifeYield’s CTO expects heavy interest from various Fintechs over the coming 12 to 18 months because more people are interested in smart-householding at different stages of their lives:

  • Mid-career
  • Approaching retirement
  • The decumulation stage

Collins says ‘symbiosis’ is a good term for integrations because they should bring equal value to both partners:

  • Solving a significant issue for the client
  • Presenting a high value in the sales and marketing process

Such partnerships help fill gaps in aspects or features without causing disruption in the process. The prospective client will then perceive congruity, continuity, and harmony.

Bottom line

Technology integration is a hot topic and was one of the primary issues discussed at the T3 conference. In addition to equipping advisors to better serve their clients and save time, the integration process involves a number of risks and challenges. LifeYield’s Enis Simsek and AdvisorPeak’s Darren Collins shared their experience concerning integrating two companies and together creating a new platform.