Salesforce expects CRM to boost cross-channel referrals

Latest update to Financial Services Cloud looks to unify financial advice with insurance and banking

Sep 17, 2018 @ 2:00 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

Salesforce's latest update to Financial Services Cloud, the version of its client relationship management technology tailored to wealth managers, introduced new features, analytics and integrations that the company said will bridge the gaps between financial advice, insurance and banking.

A new commercial banking app gives insight into a client's business and commercial accounts, allowing larger firms to identify opportunities across channels. For example, a regional bank could find a client who could benefit from retirement plan services from its new RIA division, or a financial adviser could recognize a client who could benefit from investment banking services. Salesforce also introduced Action Plans, automated workflows for these cross-channel referrals.

In addition, Salesforce's new digital scheduling tool works across business lines. For example, a client looking for insurance help can schedule a meeting with an available insurance agent using the online portal or mobile app they already use with the adviser.

(More: Live Oak Bank starts its own RIA)

Rohit Mahna, Salesforce senior vice president and general manager of financial services, said the update reflects the company's vision of "unified financial services" — a converging industry with lines blurring between traditionally segmented businesses.

Banks are launching robo-advisers to serve mass affluent clients, mutual fund giants are expanding into retirement plan advice, and technology companies are trying to make it easier for advisers to offer insurance products. The idea is to keep as much of a client's assets at one firm as possible, and Salesforce believes it can be the key to making that happen.

"The industry is thinking less about lines of business and product, and more about serving individuals on their financial journey and building a solution for them," Mr. Mahna said.

He gives the example of a banking client who ends up launching a small business. That person goes from a simple checking account to needing retirement plan services. If the business does well, they will need wealth management services and maybe even investment banking.

(More: Morgan Stanley wants brokers to use new tech to chase $2 trillion in assets held outside the firm)

Salesforce is expanding its artificial intelligence capabilities with Einstein Next Best Action, which uses predictive analytics to recommend adviser actions based on client behavior. Again, these are designed to work across departments, triggering a recommendation that a client could use an insurance or banking product.

"You're going to see us really rethink how we can empower financial advisers around proactive ananlytics," Mr. Mahna said. Firms have lots of data across disparate systems, and Salesforce can help unlock them at firms of every size, he said.

Salesforce also is expanding its integration capabilities with third party vendors.

The CRM now connects directly with eMoney Advisor for bi-direction movement of financial planning and reporting data, and Jemstep to help firms launch a robo-advice product.

Jack Sharry, executive vice president of strategic development at LifeYield, agrees that the industry is evolving away from selling individual products and more towards providing a holistic solution that meets all financial needs at the household level. It's less about cross-selling, he said, and more about improving outcomes.

"The average investor has five or six accounts, managed by two or three advisers, so how do we get the most out of what we have?" Mr. Sharry said.

Optimization is the key, so when a client needs something like a mortgage or insurance or a new brokerage account, an adviser can recommend the best product using information about the client's unique situation and needs.

Moving from performance to outcomes requires a change on the operational side of the advice industry, and a CRM building an ecosystem is one way to get there.

"The new battleground is, who helps the investor achieve the best outcome, broad-based, across multiple accounts?" Mr. Sharry said. "A lot of firms are working on serving the holistic household with all the elements working together."

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