Here’s how our scoring methodology looks at applications’ integration support across three criteria:
|Integration Breadth||How many other applications are integrated with this one, and are they applications that are popular among wealth managers?||25%|
|Integration Depth||How “feature rich” is each integration? Is it simply a “Single Sign On” or something deeper?||50%|
|Technical Capabilities||Security certifications, presence and functionality of GET and POST APIs, authentication protocols, developer support including developer portal, sandbox, quality of documentation, etc.||25%|
Breadth measures how many integrations that an application has, regardless of their depth. This criteria makes up only 25% of the total score, which we deliberately kept low to avoid vendors gaming the system by creating lots of single sign ons (SSO) to increase their score.
Breadth is the only criteria that is a relative calculation within each category. The highest number of integrations in each category becomes the denominator for the rest. This means that an application’s score could go down even though they didn’t make any changes if the #1 application in the category builds new integrations since the breadth denominator would increase, slightly lowering everyone’s breadth score in the category.
We also provide a boost for integrations to the list of key applications, which are listed below.
|1||Single Sign On – After having signed on to the application being scored, it is possible to sign on to the other application with a single “click”. The login information is transferred from the scored app to the integrated app without the need to provide additional credentials. However, the two applications do not share or transfer data. This is the most common “integration” (in part because it is easy to implement).|
|2||Ability to perform one or more functions from either of the applications while “inside” the other. Typically allows for creation/viewing of reports or iframes. Data is not transferred between the two applications.|
|3||Transfer of (some) data from either application. The assumption is that the integrator will have determined which direction the data should move based upon the categories of the applications they are integrating with. For example, since CRMs are usually the golden source for contact data, this information should into other applications like financial planning, digital marketing, etc. Similarly, the score generated by risk tolerance applications should flow out and into CRM, financial planning, etc.|
|4||Transfer of (some) data both to and from the applications (aka bidirectional sync). For example some client data entered into a CRM can be transferred to a financial planning app, which could also send data back into the CRM. Bidirectional transfers are almost always implemented via GET and POST API calls.|
|5||This is the highest level of integration. But this may differ from category to category. Striving to make every integration a “Level 5” is likely not an effective use of development resources.|
We originally considered calculating an application’s total depth score as a simple average of all its individual integration ratings. However, this penalizes those applications with a large number of integrations, when some are not of the highest level.
Consider two apps, one with 5 integrations at level 5 and another 5 at level 1, and the other with 5 integrations at level 3. If we just took the average they would both get the same score! So what we did was use each higher level integration to offset a lower level integration if one exists.
Consider two applications, X and Y. Both integrate with 10 other applications, but those that X integrates with are used by far more advisors than the ones that Y integrates with. All else equal, it seems reasonable that X should receive a higher integration score than Y because their integrations will be useful to more advisors.
As part of our scoring methodology, Ezra Group developed a list of two dozen applications and custodians that are popular with advisors. These include the big three custodians (Schwab/TDA, Fidelity and Pershing), CRM apps (Redtail, Salesforce and Wealthbox), financial planning apps (eMoney, MoneyGuide and Right Capital), plus other apps such as Albridge, Black Diamond, Morningstar Advisor Workstation, Orion, Tamarac, etc.
We created this list based on several surveys including T3, Kitces, Financial Planning Magazine and others, and we intend to revisit it on an annual basis.
|All in One||Black Diamond, Envestnet Tamarac, Morningstar Office, Orion Advisor Services|
|CRM||Redtail, Salesforce, Wealthbox|
|Custodian||Fidelity (National Financial), Pershing, Schwab, TDA|
|Financial Planning||eMoney, MoneyGuide, Naviplan, Right Capital|
|Investment Analytics||Morningstar Advisor Workstation|
|Office Application||G Suite, Office 360|
|Risk Tolerance||Riskalyze, Risk Ecosystem (Finametrica)|
|Stress Testing||Hidden Levers (Orion Risk Intelligence)|
Ezra Group has developed two badges to recognize products that have integration scores of Excellent or Superior. When either badge is awarded, vendors are encouraged to display them on their websites or in marketing materials.
Vendors must complete the Ezra Group Integration Vendor Survey for their products to be awarded a badge regardless of their score. If you have completed a survey within the previous 12 months, you will receive a separate email with your badge image and information.
The badges are assigned for Superior and Excellent scores according to the following table:
|Score – Rating reference|
|Superior Badge||8.0 – 10.0|
|Excellent Badge||6.0 – 7.99|
|Average – No Badge||4.0 – 5.99|
|Needs Improvement – No Badge||0 – 3.99|
All changes made to the Kitces AdvisorTech Directory are synchronized to our database with a one month lag. This means that when the Directory adds/changes/modifies any product, we will mirror those activities as well, which may require rescoring multiple products.
When new products are added to the directory, we will calculate their integration scores and send them to Kitces.com one month later.
The best way to increase your score is to build more integrations to the key applications (see list above) and/or expand your API set and improve support. You can also fill out the Ezra Group Vendor Integration Survey to help us recalculate your score more accurately.
Ezra Group’s experienced team can assist your firm with increasing your score by building new integrations and APIs, enhancing existing code, documentation and testing. Click here to learn more about our integration development services.You can also increase your score by filling out our vendor integration survey, which you can find here.