Many financial advisers believe that their firm's customer relationship management systems could be better used to improve interactions with clients.
About 72% of advisers graded their firm's use of CRM as B or C in the Schwab Adviser Services poll of 1,608 independent advisers. The other 18% gave themselves an A.
Only 6% said they think they're using their CRM system to the fullest potential. What are they using the apps for? Around 98% said they store client contact information in their CRM software. About 61% of advisers use CRM to prepare and send client communication, and 58% use it to assign tasks to others at the firm and track completion.
The biggest barrier to using CRM systems more thoroughly is the difficulty of getting employees on board with the systems — at least according to 43% of those surveyed. About 33% think there are higher priorities for time and money than effectively using CRM, and 16% think employees are not seeing the value of CRM.
Advisers don't seem to be unhappy with their firm's CRM system, as 84% said the right technology is in place to make effective use of their CRM, according to the survey, which comprised advisers who were registered for one of the 12 Schwab Solutions 2012 conferences held around the country in July and August.
“We've heard for a long time anecdotally, and now the survey shows that advisers take the time to evaluate and buy a CRM system, but then they don't really figure out how to effectively implement and adopt it,” said Neesha Hathi, Charles Schwab's senior vice president of technology solutions.
Most are using it to store client data, but they aren't using it to deliver better service to the customer, Ms. Hathi said. She added that advisers don't tend to use the business analytics in CRM software that can generate information about the most profitable clients or ascertain which clients the firm is spending the most time servicing.
CRM systems can be used to automate work flow and make sure the process is consistent every time with every client. It also can help firms quickly pull up information for auditors.
Financial adviser Peter D'Arruda, principal of Capital Financial Advisory Group LLC, said one of the ways his firm uses its CRM system from Redtail Technology is to send a cake to every client on his or her birthday.
He said it's important that advisers have their staff complete the training offered with these systems so the technology can be used most effectively.
Ms. Hathi noted that one advisory firm uses its CRM system to send a case of wine to every client who refers a friend or family member.