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A Turnkey Trading Platform for Your Brokerage: 5 Rules for Choosing a White Label Software Provider

Making trades online on the smartphoneIt’s a lesson that mass-market retailers learned a generation ago: white-label products sell.

Grocery stores offer store-brand versions of everything from cereal to pasta sauce for less than the bigger names, consumer electronics retailers sell customers on lower priced generic components, and even small banks are increasingly outsourcing back office functions such as check processing to white-label providers.

In all cases, though, the concept is the same: take a product or service that’s been developed by one company and market it under another company’s brand name. It gives the reseller a product they can sell without having to invest time and money in product development, and it gives the manufacturer or developer a new outlet for their product with a ready-made revenue stream.

Even software companies offer white label solutions.

Often referred to as Software as a Service or Infrastructure as a Service, white label software allows customers to resell software packages under their own brands, building their own customer base while adjusting the look, feel, and sometimes even the functionality of the software to meet their needs. This type of arrangement has become common in digital marketing, customer service, market research and other industries in which business-to-business software packages are adjusted and rebranded for more consumer-facing audiences.

The benefits for brokers

“Companies using white label software apply it in one of two ways: Either to start a new business, taking advantage of the low start-up costs, or to expand the services of an existing company,” writes Bryan Rainey, the CEO and founder of ValidBrands, a white label software services directory, on his company’s blog. “Existing companies may be looking to add a new services or enhance those services already in place.”

Either way, white label software enables businesses to bring high quality, highly scalable digital products to market quickly and easily.

“This is crucial in an industry that requires speed of product deployment to stay competitive,” Rainey says.

For brokers, white label software has emerged as a popular tool for building and deploying client-facing trading platforms, allowing providers to offer their clients a software solution that doesn’t sacrifice anything in the way of features or functionality. This is critical for small and independent brokers because it allows them to compete directly against the major players and the more established houses immediately, without having to invest in expensive IT development services.

Truth is, technology means a lot when it comes to winning and retaining customers. The good news is that now even the smallest of operators can afford to offer their clients a world-class trading experience.

The in-house alternative

In fact, white label software actually makes more sense for most brokers than in-house development, according to Drew Gainor with the Young Entrepreneurs Council. Custom software—while seemingly an ideal solution on paper, allowing the broker to get exactly the product that they want for their clients—is an ill suited solution for what most in the industry actually need.

  • It’s extra work: Why spend time and money reinventing the wheel when others have come before you and worked out all of the kinks?
  • It’s slow: Software development takes time, and debugging all of that software once it’s finished can drag the process out even more. All of that delays your time to market, and increases the possibility that you’ll miss out on critical opportunities in the market while you build out your software platform.
  • It’s expensive: The costs for software development can add up quickly, and the final bills for custom solutions can be significant. It’s also wasteful. Why develop proprietary tools and solutions to suit your needs when similar products already exist?
  • It doesn’t include the specialized support you need: Any qualified software developer can build you the product that you want, but will they be around to support you a year or more down the line when you need to make adjustments or changes? And, if they aren’t experts in your industry, will they be able to recommend upgrades and additional features to maintain your leadership position? They’ll build what you ask them to, but will they know enough to design the features you don’t know you need yet?

On the other hand, a white label trading software offers a turnkey solution for brokers looking to get up and running with minimal fuss and downtime. Consider the advantages of the typical white label package:

  • It looks like it’s yours: Even though its an off-the-shelf product, a good white label software package is easy to brand and customize as your own, fully integrating into your existing digital systems complete with your logos, copy and look and feel. Future changes are just as easy, as many white label developers are willing to make custom adjustments as users’ business needs change and evolve over time.
  • It’s cheaper and easier to deploy: Developing proprietary trading software for your brokerage is a little like ordering custom cabinets for your kitchen. They might be great, but the prefabricated cabinets from the home improvement store will get the job done just as well and for a fraction of the cost. And don’t forget that custom software requires extensive testing and debugging after it has been installed, time that you’ll be paying for as well. White label software is effectively ready to go on day one, with all of the kinks and pitfalls already ironed out. All you have to do is customize it to your needs and go.
  • It’s hands off: Brokers are not software engineers. They have better things to do with their time than project manage their trading software packages. But software implementation is what white label firms do every day. They’ve integrated their tools many times and know exactly what needs to be done in order to get the job done right, on time and on budget, the first time.

At the end of the day, white label software allows brokers to focus on building their brands and their businesses, without spending excessive time and money on software development. What’s more, white label platforms often deliver a better, more effective product than custom-designed software, and one that’s future-proof as your business grows.

Choosing a provider

But, just as all software developers are not created equal, so too are there many choices on the market when it comes to white label offerings.

Some products are better suited to enterprise users, while others are dialed in for independent brokers. Be sure you know what you’re getting when choosing white label software or outsourcing any technology development services.

What should you consider when choosing a provider for the white labeled software for your brokerage?

  • Do they know the industry? One of the primary benefits of white label trading software is access to knowledgeable, expert developers who know the financial services industry inside and out and can tell you not only what your competitors are doing but what you need to do to stay ahead of the curve. They can also help you better understand what today’s customers are looking for from trading software and make sure that your firm’s implementation measures up.
  • Is their product easy to customize with your brand? When choosing a white label software provider, you need to consider both the front end look and feel of the product as well as the administrative tools on the back end that you’ll be using on a regular basis. How easy is the software to customize with your logo and copy? How many options do you have access to when personalizing the package for your business? And, perhaps most importantly, how seamlessly will it integrate with your existing systems?
  • Is the user experience a positive one? You want a trading tool that you clients will be happy using and not one that they feel holds them back or is a chore to use. It should be seamless and intuitive for them, including everything from the account management tools to the support information. Can your provider offer this?
  • Are their costs reasonable? Among the many advantages of white label software, it’s important not to overlook the significant cost savings that comes with off-the-shelf trading software. But are you saving enough versus developing your own custom platform? Make sure the products and services you get from your provider live up to the fees they charge for them. And shop around, as contract fees can vary from provider to provider, depending on the specific services you need.
  • What kind of support do they offer? No white label software contract should be considered complete without a significant ongoing support agreement in place. This is their software that you’re going to be using, you need to know that they will be available to help with any concerns or issue that you may have with it. Further, they should also be actively developing new services and features for the software that you will be able to take advantage of going forward. Will they be there to help you grow and scale your installation as your business grows?

What do you think? Have you used a white label trading platform at your brokerage and been happy with it? Do you think it’s a good solution for independent brokers?

By Roman Zrazhevskiy
Entrepreneur, marketer, strategist, and developer. Roman handles product strategy for ETNA and graduated with a BS degree from Stony Brook University. He loves to write about technology and emergency preparedness, and on the weekends you can catch hi ...
 

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