Published On: Thu, May 7th, 2009

Brokers Should Embrace Their Software Vendors

I was speaking with an Executive Director overseeing electronic trading in Asia and the topic of vendors invariably came up. One thing that came away from the discussion was we both agreed that a good relationship with the software vendors was a great way to win new business. But how? Let’s suppose that the vendor has given her best sales pitch, promised some rebate in the future and guarantees the connectivity process will be a breeze. One of the questions the buy side will ask is “What brokers do you connect to?” How do you think Ms Software Vendor will respond? Do you think she will suggest the broker that rarely returns calls or responds to client complaints by always blaming the vendor or makes the least amount of effort trying to add a few more screens on her behalf ? I think not. She would be more inclined to offer the names of highly organized, astute brokers who indeed would guarantee the on-boarding process to be a breeze.

Software Vendors

How can you build a better relationship with the vendors? Well for one you can take them out for a drink once in awhile and get to know them. They are people too. Another way is to tackle issues without pointing the finger. Both broker and vendor will make mistakes or have outages at some point. Periodically meet to discuss past issues and come up with workarounds or fixes so they don’t happen again. Better still invite the client to these meetings and drill down to the root of the issue. Besides resolving the issue constructively and having a better understanding of some of the limitations each person has you will demonstrate that you are serious about resolving issues and will gain the confidence of your mutual client. When your client is pitched by rivals (and they will be) he may be less inclined to jump ship when you’ve demonstrated your commitment to them. Loyalty is a strong motivation when retaining business.

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Establish a blueprint for issue escalation and connecting new or adding more screens. Elements of the blueprint would include a list of contacts including email, office number, mobile number, Instant Messenger IDs, Twitter, Skype, or any other conceivable way to get a hold of someone. The list should also include the role of each person and the points of escalation. Anyone on the list in another time zone should constantly be updated and in the loop of what’s going on. 24 hour trading will guarantee they will be needed at some point.

Brokers should also appoint a Vendor Manager to follow how the issues are resolved and organize meetings and agendas. The vendor manager would then communicate back to the business or technology or whomever to share information and keep everyone on the same page.

Communication with the vendor will give insight into the scope and timeliness of upgrades. Don’t we hate surprises? You’ll learn of new features they plan to roll out or have a window to offer one’s you recommend. Hasn’t your client asked for some feature that isn’t yet available and has cost you some business? Vendors also have their ear to the ground. They follow the industry too and are great sources for information sharing. Additionally, you may also communicate to them that you are planning expansion into some market or product. The software vendor needs to sell screens and would be more likely to get on the phone to their customers/prospects who have been asking for those very products to trade. Or maybe the vendor will need to do some development to offer those new products. A good heads up from the broker could allow the vendor management team to allocate resources to take advantage of your expansion. A win win for both of you.

Embrace the Vendors

At the end of the day us brokers are all selling the same thing and it’s our differentiation at the service level that will set us apart. So go on sell side give your vendors a call and use a very simple and affordable channel to win more business.

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  1. Alastair says:

    The hardest thing is knowing how to balance the various aspects of functionality, reliability, support and cost across the various solutions on offer and making a decision that meets the trader’s needs yet doesn’t cost an arm and a leg for the firm to maintain.

    E-trading staff should know the value on offer after considering the above factors across every available vendor (or internal) solution for trading and work that to their advantage. As to taking them all out for drinks, I think that’s usually the other way around isn’t it?

    Oh and nice little picture at the end. So I take it we should all love our vendors (and hug frogs) …

  2. stevee says:

    Thanks for the feedback Alastair. The article was focusing on the value a vendor as a source of new customers which I think is commonly overlooked by the sell-side. I know the relationship is very one-sided and vendors are always buying the drinks and chasing after them. I think the sell-side should step back and leverage that relationship and try to become a preferred broker that you always refer new screens too. And yes that should mean buying a drink or two here and there.

    When you are talking to the buy-side and they ask what brokers offer your product who do you say first? The broker whom you have a good relationship with or the broker who calls to complain about every little issue?

    Don’t you like when the sell-side embraces you (like the frogs)?

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