Advisors: Financial Tech Habits of Baby Boomers

,

Between the years of 1946 and 1964, it is estimated that 76 million babies were born in America. Known as the baby boomers, many are reaching their retirement years in a drastically changing economy. This demographic owns over 80% of all the personal wealth in North America’s financial institutions, making them an important group for financial services and investments.

As baby boomers transition from workplace into retirement, they are looking for planning and advice to successfully move their assets from an accumulation phase to an income generation phase.   As they approach retirement, there is a huge opportunity for Advisors to reach new clients. The baby boomer generation is now more important then ever and yet:

The Internet is the most important source of information for Boomers when they make major purchasing decisions (Zoomerang, 2015), which means Advisors need to be up-to-date on their online marketing game in order to reach this demographic, and stay ahead of the competition. This series of articles will focus on how Advisors can gear their marketing to the baby boomer generation. But first, let’s take a look at the Infographic below, courtesy of eMoneyAdvisor, which validates that this demographic has a huge online presence, and are in need of financial advice.

 

financial-tech-habits-of-baby-boomers

Financial Advisor Marketing: A Blueprint for Success

, ,

This post was authored by Marie Swift and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

————————————————————

Many financial advisors become so entrenched in daily routines and heavy workloads that they fail to adequately plan for the ongoing success of their business. As the New Year comes into view, smart financial advisors will take a “planning break”. They step back, get away from the office, turn off email, texts and social media for an hour (or two or three or even a day or a weekend), reflect on where they’ve been and where they’re headed, journal a bit, and create or refine their strategic plan for 2015.

Some financial advisors will want to include their management team, a partner, or their assistant in these reflection and planning efforts. They may even include a coach such as Ed Jacobson, Ph.D, who has years of experience working with financial planners and coaching advisors in the “appreciative process”, often asking, “What’s good here, and what do we want more of?” Motivational speaker Brian Tracy may have said it best: “Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it.”

YOUR LASER-FOCUSED MARKETING PLAN FOR 2015

Loring Ward’s William Chettle, who oversees all the firm’s marketing and communications efforts, often quotes Antoine de Saint-Exupery saying, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” In the age of robo-advisors and other competitive threats, financial advisors cannot afford to simply “wing it”. There is too much at stake. They must have a clear vision of what they want to do, why they want to do it, whom they best serve and why they are uniquely qualified to serve those select markets.

The most important element of a marketing plan is defining the specific markets to be served and then developing the messages and methodologies to reach those targeted markets. Steve Wershing, the “referral doctor” and author of the industry-specific book for financial advisors, “Stop Asking for Referrals: A Revolutionary New Strategy for Building a Financial Service Business that Sells Itself”, likes to say, ““the biggest mistake advisors make is not having a clearly defined niche or two. Without a clear and specific target market definition and a compelling value proposition, you’ll be diluting your message and wasting your time.”

To create a laser-focused marketing plan, take out a blank notebook or open a new document on your computer. On page one, the table of contents, write down the five essential steps:

  • Step 1: Target Market Definition
  • Step 2: Message Development
  • Step 3: Marketing Methods
  • Step 4: Time and Money Budget
  • Step 5: Timetable and Steps                                   

Now take one of those “planning breaks” (and not just 20-30 minutes) to flesh out each section of the five steps.

  1. Target Market Definition: Who is your ideal client and why? What unique needs and mindsets do they have that no other group has? Where do they congregate, what do they read, whom do they trust? What are their pain points?
  2. Message Development: To what key words and benefit statements will this group of people best respond? Why should they do business with you right now? Why should they trust you? What are your proof points?
  3. Marketing Methods: How will you reach this group or groups? There are a few methods to choose from. Which one resonates with them? Do you have the knowledge to effectively use that method?
  4. Time and Money Budget: How much time will you spend on “free” activities such as serving on boards, networking in the community, writing articles for your blog and/or the local newspaper, then amplifying any “earned” media occurrences through social media channels (where your content is actually “shared” with relevant others)? How much money will you spend on “paid” activities such as advertising, sponsorships, seminars, directory listings, radio shows, and the like? How much will you invest in “owned” channels such as your own website and blog?
  5. Timetable and Steps: Get out a calendar and pencil in key dates and events. Think about the seasons and recurring mindsets that are likely to occur throughout the year—New Year’s resolutions in January, last-minute tax strategies in March, graduations and weddings in May and June, summer vacations and back-to-school in July and August, year-end tax planning in October and November. Work backwards to ensure that key promotional dates and in place.

PLANNING PAYS OFF

Lewis K. Bendele said, “A man without a plan for the day is lost before he starts.” Creating a detailed marketing plan can provide the roadmap financial advisors need to reach their desired destination by helping them:

  • Understand the types of clients they are best suited to serve
  • Define the unique value they bring to these clients relative to their competitors
  • Identify specific barriers they may be facing
  • Identify the most appropriate tactics for their firms
  • Line up the right resources and execute effectively
  • Stop wasting valuable resources via uncoordinated marketing efforts

Visit GuideVine’s About Us page to learn more, and if you’re interested in joining the advisor network, Click Here.

 

book_button_contentwriting

How Advisors Can Market To The Millennial Generation: Responsive Design

, ,

A Millennial weighing in on how to market to the Millennial Generation. 

This is the third article in a series of tips and techniques for Advisors trying to reach the Millennial Generation. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 before moving on.

This instalment will focus on why having a mobile strategy is key to reaching this demographic, as well as the the significant changes that Google is making to their algorithms come April 21st.

————————————————-

We, Millennials, have adopted digital like no other. It should come as no real surprise that mobile is our choice. Today’s Millennials are the most mobile device population. So, just how much time does this demographic spend with their beloved smartphones? Here’s what us Millennials are saying about mobile:

  •  90% of Millennials have a mobile phone. (Cohen, 2014)
  • The average Millennial checks his or her smartphone 43 times a day. (Entrepreneur, 2014)
  • Mobile search will surpass desktop in 2015. (eMarketer, 2014)
  • Millennials spend 14% more time (than any other group) interacting with their mobile devices during the average week. (Cohen, 2014)
  • 47% of Millennials access businesses via mobile at least once a day. (USA Today, 2014)
  • 36% have made a decision on where to spend money or have switched companies based on what they let them accomplish on mobile (USA Today, 2014)
  • 14% say they wouldn’t do business with a company that doesn’t have a mobile site or app. (USA Today, 2014)
  • 86% say there are still a lot of websites without good mobile functionality. (USA Today, 2014)

 Actionable Millennial Marketing Tips

Advisors that don’t speak mobile are losing out on business.

With 90% of Millennials saying their phones never leave their side, it would make sense that Millennials turn to their mobile devices to research and find the information that drives their buying decisions. However, surveys suggest that this group is not always thrilled by the mobile experience that they receive from businesses. Millennials expect, even demand that your business be accessible by mobile, and if it isn’t, they will leave.

Advisors looking to target Millennials need to adapt to mobile in order to best reach them on their preferred devices.   The first step for Advisors is to ensure that their website is mobile by designing it responsively. Responsive website design refers to a website designed to adapt to any device a visitor is using. It is a single website that intelligently adapts to the screen the visitor is on without compromising functionality or aesthetics.

A responsive website is crucial for Advisors to reach the Millennials, who access the web through their mobile devices at an increasingly high rate.  If your website isn’t mobile friendly, most Millennials will assume your practise is out of date, and will likely leave your website for one of your competitors. Offering a great mobile experience on your website helps you stay relevant and competitive, and makes for a great user experience.

What change is Google making to its algorithm on April 21st?

In 2015, the number of mobile users will overtake the number of desktop users. Google has released a statement that starting April 21st, Google will begin considering mobile friendliness as a factor when determining how to rank your website in Google searches. This will help users to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices. If your website is not responsive, expect your search engine ranking to take a hit in just a couple weeks.

How do I know if my website is mobile friendly?

It is actually really simple to test your website and check whether it is mobile friendly or whether you need to update it. All you need to do is run your pages through the Mobile-Friendly Test.   Click on the test and input the URL of the website you would like to check, hit the blue ‘’analyze’’ button and the tool will determine whether your site is mobile-friendly.

————————————————-

To find out how you can go responsive, get in touch with the Digital Agent team today!

How Advisors Can Market To The Millennial Generation: Part 2

, , ,

A Millennial weighing in on how to market to Millennials.

In Part 1 of this series, we became better acquainted with the buying and browsing habits of Millennials. In part 2, we will take a look at one of the ways in which Advisors can reach this tech-savvy generation. As with each generation (and being a Millennial myself) this group comes with their own set of interests, expectations, and abilities.

————————————————-

Millennials are known to be constantly checking their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.  Our generation has become so attached to our smartphones that when we have to put our phone away for an hour, we don’t know what to do with ourselves.   The average Millennial checks his or her smartphone 43 times and spends 5.4 hours on social media per day. Some would say we are a Marketer’s dream – always plugged in.

So, what are Advisors to do?

Look beyond the traditional marketing strategies and utilize what the Millennial generation has invented. Millennials are the inventors of Social Media and it has quickly become their link to the outside world, far more then even television. It is not going anywhere; so creating a great online reputation on Social Media will only help to build a future with these Millennial clients.

When it comes to marketing and education, Advisors who want to reach this generation will need to embrace Social Media; but benefiting from this avenue is all about knowing how to use it effectively. A great strategy is all about mastering communicating in the language of the Millennial.  Advisors can do this by creating content that is centered around their values and goals.  Most are getting married and buying houses later in life, and a small percentage have started saving for retirement. As a Financial advisor, your topic is wealth and management.  However, you can place your expertise in the context of what Millennials value.

So, what do Millennials value and where are they dishing out the dollars these days? Jeff Yang (CNN, 2014) suggests that Millennials are much more likely to spend their money on things and experiences that they can share with friends; such as a nice dinner out, a weekend road-trip, or a one-of-a-kind experience. They tend to spend their money on creating memories and experiences, rather than owning big and expensive materials.  In Yang’s article, he discusses the top 3 things that Millennials are spending their money on:

  1. Travel. Millennials travel more then any other group, taking on average 9 leisure trips a year.
  2. Technology. Millennials are redeploying their spending from televisions to mobile devices. 45% of twenty something year olds say it is important to them to have the latest features or styles in smartphones. They don’t see this as just a gadget but as the primary way they connect with friends, family, and the outside world (social media).
  3. Training.  Millennials are one of the most well educated generations and are spending more on education then prior generations. The average millennial graduates with a $30,000 student loan burden.

As an Advisor trying to connect with a Millennial, why not share your expertise through the currency that they value (experiences, travel, concerts, food, digital media, education) and through the medium that they communicate (social media). Although you are an Advisor, and your expertise is in finance, wealth and management, position your Social Media strategy in the context of what this generation values most based on their spending habits.  Create and share content on your Social Media platforms that speak about how to save for a vacation, or school, or point out the experiences that they may miss out on if they don’t manage their money effectively. Below are some examples of some great topics that would tie together both your expertise and Millennials interests:

  • Creative ways to save for a vacation
  • How to save money while travelling
  • Should you invest or pay off student loans?
  • Strategies to dig yourself out of student loan debt
  • 10 tips to save money for leisure activities
  • How saving can fuel your travel bug

Advisors: Establish a presence on the avenues that Millennials are spending the most time on, and tailor your created and curated content to information and insights that are relevant to us, without being overly commercial. First, understand and speak to the values that drive Millennials.  Second, understand their lifestyles and experiences and find ways to amplify their reality.  Millennials can be a difficult yet rewarding demographic for Advisors.

 

How to Drive Sales Using the Customer Buyer Journey

Use These 3 Buckets of Financial Blog Content to Attract Prospects

, ,

This post was authored by Kristin Harad and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

————————————————————

If you want to build your online presence and attract an interested following of prospects (as well as existing clients) you may have launched a financial blog. But after the initial rush and excitement of starting out, are you keeping up with your posting? At a minimum, you should be posting content twice a month, with a more ideal pace of once a week to get the results you desire.

How can you possibly generate that much content and will you run out of things to say? Not if you try filling and using these three buckets with ideas that appeal to your target client.

1. Financial Topics

This may be the easiest of all the buckets since you deal with these topics every day as a part of your practice. Technical and educational, these posts cover the issues and questions your target audience must consider when it comes to their finances: retirement, cashflow planning, risk management, estate planning, taxes, investments and any other financial topic that matters to them. The key to success with this content bucket is to deliver specific information for your audience. So for example, instead of “The 4 Types of Insurance You May Want To Skip”, consider “The 4 Types of Insurance Recent College Graduates May Want to Skip”. Dig into the needs of your audience.

2. Emotional & Lifestyle

Many of us may have to step outside of our comfort zones to create this personal content. One way to start is think about your ideal client. What do you know about this person? What keeps her up at night? What does she enjoy? What does she do day-to-day? What scares her? The answers to these questions will inform your qualitative pieces. Provide your perspective, share your experience, dare to be vulnerable, and open up by discussing the softer side of money. You can also demonstrate how finances fit into your client’s lifestyle choices and values. If your client desires “multiple-week, international escape vacations” then you may want to write a post “What to Consider for Your Next International Adventure” or share a personal experience, “My Tips and What I Learned From 3 Weeks in Italy”.

3. The Planning Process

This catchall category dives into the operational, practical end of planning. You use this content to demystify the planning process and help overcome objections or resistance to engaging a professional. You can shape content from the CFP Board’s Six Steps in the Financial Planning Process, with the specifics of your firm’s way of doing business and the experience your clients can expect.   This type of content may include advice for organizing financial documents or keeping track of savings goals, or you may share tools, websites, or other resources that would be helpful for your audience.

Once you jot down ideas for content to fill each bucket, create titles for your posts, prioritize and organize your content calendar, limber up your fingers and start writing!   You will find yourself filling 52 weeks of content in no time.

————————————————————

Visit GuideVine’s About Us page to learn more, and if you’re interested in joining the advisor network, Click Here.

book_button_contentwriting

The Top Reasons Why Your Business Needs A Responsive Website Design

, ,

The mobile takeover of online surfing is growing rapidly each year.  Consumers now expect their online experience to be consistent no matter what device they are on.

Have you ever tried accessing a website from your mobile device only to find that it is slow to load and difficult to read? If so, this means that you have landed on the site of a business that has not yet adapted responsive website design. Responsive website design refers to a website designed to adapt to any device a visitor is using. It is a single website that intelligently adapts to the screen the visitor is on without compromising functionality or aesthetics. With the increasing amount of Internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it has become clear that responsive design is no longer a trend, but a must for any website. Businesses that have not designed their websites with mobile users in mind are set to fall behind the pack but fortunately, responsive website design is an easy solution.

Is your website responsive? If not, what is holding you back?  What are the top reasons why your business should hop on the responsive website design train? Marketpath outlines the following 8 reasons in the Infographic below:

  1. Mobile usage is on the rise.
  2. Shopping on mobile devices is steadily growing.
  3. Social media increases mobile visitors.
  4. Responsive sites improve SEO rankings.
  5. Responsive designs adapt to multiple sizes.
  6. On site is easier to manage and increase R.O.I.
  7. Responsive sites provide a better user experience.
  8. A better bathroom experience. (Say what?)

Responsive Design

Portable Services and Liferay

,

Applications evolve. Every developer realizes this fact after a few years of writing code. The trick is to write applications in such a way that there is always room for evolution. While the necessity for code refactor is sometimes inevitable due to several different reasons, applications that have been designed following a few well-known principles are less likely to be completely re-written due to requirement and architecture change.

Portability is the principle that motivates this text. There are definitions of software portability that can be found in different sources, but let us keep it simple and just say that an application is portable if it can be moved from one infrastructure to another with minimal change. For example, a portable rich client application can be converted to a web application by changing the user interface only. A portable web application should be moved from one web server to another with no change to code. To make it possible, the application should not be dependent on the underlying infrastructure code. If that is inevitable, the infrastructure-dependent code should not be allowed to spread across the application; it should be contained behind, say, an interface.

Applications start small, and they should if one would like to minimize risks and deliver a minimum viable product as soon as possible. When designing such applications, architects frequently refer to the the now classic three-tiered model: a front-end tier that contains the user interface code, a back-end application tier that contains the business logic, and a database tier that manages the application’s data. The back-end tier is frequently designed as a three-layered application, with a service façade to communicate with the user interface, a business service layer and a data access layer to interface with the database tier. This model works well when designed properly and, if the tiers and layers are respected, they may be ported to a richer environment as the application grows larger.

With success comes opportunity. A partnership with a third-party service provider may emerge from all the traffic drawn to our application. For instance, someone representing a large company may ask us, “how would you like to see your content on the screens of all subway stations in the city?” Wouldn’t that be sweet? However, there is catch: our partner has its own set of services that need to be integrated with our application. A precedent is set as yet another interested partner is brought in and they also have their own services. Now our well designed application has to communicate with not only its database, but also these inumerous services. What now?

Instead of reaching out to them directly, an integration tier is adopted. All partners communicate with each other through this tier and never directly. The integration tier in turn calls the services exposed by each provider. On the other hand, each service is unique across the environment and is unaware of any other service. A Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) solution is born. And how does SOA help our solution? Through scalability. But scalability is not the word of the day; portability is. So we will leave SOA alone for now.

Let us go back to the beginning and use a more concrete scenario. This time we are designing a Liferay Portal-based application where content, websites, pages and users are maintained. These features are provided out-of-the-box; however, requirements often mandate that they have extra information. On top of that, features not supported by the portal may be requested. Therefore a few extra services are added to the project.

Application developers sometimes regard Liferay as not only a portal and portlet container, but also as a platform, almost an Enterprise Application Server. That is completely understandable. After all, Liferay allows developers to use its security layer, make services join its transactional context, create configurable data sources and more. The motivation for leveraging such infrastructure has already been mentioned here: applications start small, and the facilities offered seem very attractive. The portal even provides the Control Panel as a user interface for many out-of-the-box and custom features. So why not use Liferay as a launching pad?

Liferay recommends the use of its Service Builder to write services deployed in a Liferay environment. The Service Builder is very useful, easy to use and well described in the Developer Guide, but it has a downside. Anyone who has used it probably noticed the dependencies to Liferay code, meaning that custom services are doomed to be only deployable in a Liferay environment. And that is not very portable (this is not entirely true but the code remains dependent on Liferay libraries nevertheless). Liferay-dependent services are okay in a SOA environment because what stays deployed in the portal is only portal-related code such as website and page management. Non-related services are deployed somewhere else. But in our illustrative example we are not there just yet; we are still designing a starter application and our fictitious budget does not support additional infrastructure.

Building our solution, while looking ahead at opportunities for growth beyond the Portal, requires a few techniques, which are illustrated here with an example. Regardless of building the application as a set of portlets or a Javascript front-end communicating with a JSON over REST back-end, the architect has decided to design our application as a set of services.

Services are often built to maintain an entity that is defined by the application domain. That means, if our application defines a user entity and its attributes (name, email, address, phone, roles), there should be a service responsible for maintaining these user attributes. Basic operations are often referred to as Create, Retrieve, Update and Delete (CRUD).

A typical service is designed as a three-layered module. It has a service façade layer which can be either a Struts action, a Spring controller, a JSF backing bean or a RESTful web service. The façade invokes the business service layer which contains the business rules. The service layer persists data by either invoking the data access layer, if it is stored locally, or by invoking a service provider interface to communicate with the data host. The whole service module is transactional. If the service only retrieves data and presents it to the client, then the transaction is marked as read-only. It is also secured by the architect’s framework of choice. Services are then packaged as regular Liferay plugins.

The important aspect here is to keep the service code decoupled from the underlying infrastructure. The first thing to keep in mind is to package it as libraries and configure the plugin to import them. Second, these libraries should not have any dependency on Liferay code, even if the application uses out-of-the-box features such as workflow. If that is the case, then wrap the feature invocation with a service provider interface and write the implementation in a separate, Liferay-dependent library.

Our architect came across a few concerns related to infrastructure while designing the application. Fortunately, there are a few tools available that minimize development or make it easier to do. The following aspects were considered. I will only enumerate the concepts behind them and not go into details as they are all described in the Developer Guide, unless stated otherwise:

  • Security: Register custom entities as Liferay resources by configuring resource-action files. The Control Panel offers a user interface to define permissions on these entities. Most security frameworks validated by the industry offer interfaces for permission evaluation. Provide one that invokes Liferay security services.
  • Workflow: Register custom Workflow Handlers. The Control Panel offers a user interface to configure workflow definitions to be applied on these entities. Wrap the workflow engine invocations in a service provider interface to facilitate migration.
  • Transaction: Register a transaction interceptor in an advice chain configured by a service bean auto-proxy creator, defined in the plugin’s Spring context (see kaleo-web source code as an example). Make sure that the chosen transaction attribute source, such as a Transactional annotation, is Liferay-independent. The Spring annotation is recommended.
  • Liferay out-of-the-box feature maintenance requires synchronization with custom feature: Use service wrappers.
  • Custom feature maintenance requires synchronization with Liferay feature: Use Aspect Oriented Programming (AOP) advices. Write Liferay service calls in a separate, Liferay-dependent library.
  • Custom feature is fundamentally related to the Portal and is not expected to change in the foreseeable future: Use Service Builder. Make sure services not dependent on Liferay do not reference Service Builder-generated code.
  • Custom feature extends existing out-of-the-box feature (example, new page and website attributes): Use Expando Bridge.

I will cover the topics above in more detail in the near future, always from a perspective that takes portability into account.

Applying these techniques will most certainly help scaling solutions to a larger, more diverse environment. While Liferay offers an excellent starting point for small applications, the time may come when most services need to be transferred to external application servers and inter-communication becomes handled by an integration tier such as a service bus. Keeping application and Liferay code decoupled will ease the transition and minimize development time and cost.

 

The Business Case for Liferay

How Advisors Can Market To The Millennial Generation: Part 1

, , ,

A Millennial weighing in on how to market to Millennials.

What, exactly, is the Millennial generation?

Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort of individuals born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. There are more than 80 million of them in the US alone, making their generation larger than Baby Boomers and 20 percent larger than Generation X. Based on research conducted by Millennial Marketing, we know the following about this generation:

  • Millennials include some of the earliest digital natives.
  • Millennials are interested in participating in your marketing.
  • Millennials are known as content creators and users.
  • Millennials are ‘’hooked’’ on social media.
  • Millennials grew up in a socially networked world.
  • Millennials have an estimated purchasing power of between $125 billion to $890 billion

Millennials As the Young Investor

Young and potentially wealthy millennials can be an extremely profitable segment for Advisors and present an excellent opportunity for Advisors to expand their client base. Ironically, they also seem to be a large segment of the population largely overlooked by financial firms. Many Advisors are business people following the money as they seek higher fees and more commissions. However, any Advisor building a business for the long term should find solid opportunity in the millennial group. Advisors can build a relationship with them as they continue to grow and aspire to be high-net-worth retirees someday.   According to Time, millennials are saving more now than boomers did at their age. They know that they must manage their own financial future and want someone to guide them in a way that makes sense to them.

I am, in fact, a Millennial. I rely on very specific marketing avenues for information in order to make my decisions.  So, how should Advisors market to me? In part 2 of this series, I will look at the most effective ways Advisors can reach millennials in their marketing efforts. Hint: Content is King.

But first, let’s take a look at Millennial’s buying and browsing habits in this Infographic courtesy of AdWeek. One common theme is that Millennial’s expect technology to work and will go elsewhere if it doesn’t (hint: importance of mobile optimized sites, which we will cover in part 2).  So, how can you reach the Millennial generation? In one word……online. 

How to Market to Millennials

 

After perusing this Infographic, was there anything that was surprising to you?

 

How to Drive Sales Using the Customer Buyer Journey

Join Veriday at the upcoming TechLeaders Conference!

, ,

Veriday is excited to be sponsoring this year’s Financial Services Management Technology Conference in Irving, Texas. The conference will take place from March 23rd-25th at The Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas.

The TechLeaders Conference is one of the only conferences to showcase the latest and greatest financial services technology innovations. TechLeaders is focused on one deliverable—introducing financial services management to business-changing technology solutions. With no conflicting agendas addressing investment products, or compliance updates, attendees can focus on discovering new ways to help grow and streamline their businesses.

How TechLeaders is different:

  • A platform to launch the latest B/D technology, with instant, onsite reaction.
  • A forum for developing and sharing ideas and strategies with those who are in the field, every day.
  • An opportunity to speak directly with developers in open conversations about what really matters.

We invite you to connect with us and visit our Digital Agent booth to learn more about our innovative digital marketing platform developed to solve Advisor and Enterprise branding and compliance challenges.

About TechLeaders

TechLeaders, the annual broker-dealer technology conference —unlike any other event—has an agenda dedicated only to presenting the technology solutions that best serve the needs of the financial services community—Broker/Dealers, in particular. The conference is designed to give attendees and sponsors exposure to the technology vendors who are solving the problems that Broker/Dealers and their Representatives are facing every day. TechLeaders is supported by discussion groups, online user forums, and direct access to the technology vendors creating new solutions in direct response to user need.

How to Troubleshoot 3 Common Jersey Exceptions

, ,

When building a web application, web services are an intrinsic component; without web services to supply data to the browser, the application is very limited in delivering value to the user.

Web applications have come a long way from the days of writing XMLHttpRequest objects from scratch and configuring basic Servlets to respond to the requests – there are many frameworks available that can simplify the web service interaction and save precious development time.

The Digital Agent tech stack includes Backbone.js in the front-end and the Jersey module supplied by the Spring Framework in the back-end. Together these two frameworks make implementing web services a breeze, but there are a few common exceptions that can be frustrating if you’re new to the frameworks and don’t know what they mean (or how to resolve them).

When developing with and debugging Jersey, you may have come across these exceptions (these are all HTTP 500 responses). I’ll use a simple ‘User’ web service to illustrate:

Exception 1: NullPointerException

  • @Controller annotation missing

From what I understand, for Spring to allow Jersey to handle requests to a given URL and utilize service-level classes, the ‘@Controller’ annotation must be present in the list of annotations immediately before the class declaration:

@Controller
public class UserWebService

If this annotation isn’t present, Spring isn’t aware of how to properly handle the request using the declared services. My first experience with this exception was writing the web service class from scratch, instead of ‘smartly reusing’ another working web service class.

Exception 2: Runtime Exception – com.sun.jersey.api.NotFoundException: null for uri: http://localhost:8080/delegate/services/user

  • @Path of web service class missing or web service class not deployed

If you’re just created a new web service and are anxious to see it interact with the front-end of the application, you may run into this exception…because you either missed the @Path annotation or didn’t deploy the most up-to-date web service classes. The class declaration now looks like this:

@Controller
@Path("/services/user")
public class UserWebService

The end result is the same – the front-end makes a request to a URI that Jersey isn’t aware of. Check that the necessary annotation is present and deploy those JAR files!

Exception 3: Runtime Exception – javax.ws.rs.WebApplicationException

  • Terminating Rule – @Path of web service class satisfied, but @Path of method not satisfied

This exception can surface when you are adding endpoints to an existing (and working) web service and fail to supply all of the path parameters, such as the ID of a resource.

@GET
@Path("/{id}")
public UserDto getUserById(@PathParam("id") long id)

The root cause is the @Path annotation of a method not being satisfied, in the case of a User web service, a ‘get by ID’ endpoint would require the ID of the user in question – if it’s not supplied (either due to user input or mis-use of a framework), this exception will be thrown.

Bonus! If you see a 404 response from your web service request, the fault is not that of the back-end. Check the URL that your front-end framework is making a request to, chances are it’s incorrect – either a missing leading ‘/’, or a typo in the path parameters.

At the end of the day, despite a few cryptic exceptions, these frameworks will drastically improve development times for web application projects. If (and when) you encounter an exception, it’s a huge time saver if you or someone on your team knows what the root cause is, and can translate the stack trace to plain English for you! Hopefully I’ve provided some human-readable assistance for you and these tips help you out!

The Business Case for Liferay