5 CRM functions advisers ignore at their peril

These tools could help advisers improve ROI

May 22, 2019 @ 1:12 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

Client relationship management (CRM) software is one of the most popular and vital components of the modern adviser's desktop.

The 2019 InvestmentNews Adviser Technology Study found 85% of advisers are using a CRM, and many have these systems acting as the central hub of their technology ecosystems.

Software like Redtail Technology, Salesforce and Junxure are large, sophisticated pieces of technology with a ton of features. Outside of a few power users, though, most advisers probably aren't aware of most features on their CRM or how they can increase productivity.

In a recent webinar, SEI Independent Advisor Solutions head of practice management John Anderson and Redtail Technology's training team lead Rick Williamson shared the top five CRM functions that advisers might be overlooking — and how using them might help a firm grow.

1. Customization

CRMs provide dozens of fields for entering client data, but advisers may not be aware they can tweak these fields to match the exact terminology used in the office. By customizing the data fields, a CRM can be even more effective at segmenting clients and delivering targeted messaging to those segments.

"The idea with a CRM is it's your data, it's your clients," Mr. Williamson said. "You should be able to track the things you care about."

He recommends advisers define some high level statuses they can assign to each person — items like prospect, client, spouse, child or inactive. From there, firms can select various service levels or designations.

For example, perhaps one person is an "AA client" and "confident investor" who doesn't need much help during market turbulence. Or, grouping clients in custom age groups can help advisers send different marketing materials to millennial clients versus older investors.

2. Personal Time Machine

When used correctly, a CRM can act as an adviser's DeLorean through the history and future of client interactions. Recording comprehensive meeting notes, entering future events into a calendar and archiving conversations all provide a paper trail of working with a client.

This can help an adviser demonstrate value to clients, if they ever ask, as well as demonstrate fiduciary duties, should a regulator ever come knocking. With states passing their own fiduciary rules and the SEC looking at its own best interest regulation, this could help prove that decisions are being made for the right reason.

"It's all about showing your work," Mr. Williamson said.

3. Referral Tracking

While many advisers may use a separate tool for marketing, a CRM can help track campaign effectiveness by tracking growth and where clients are coming from. Advisers can take the information from the CRM to look for patterns. Some tools, like Salesforce, include artificial intelligence capabilities to do this automatically.

(More: Redtail CRM data breach exposes personal client data)

Advisers also can use the CRM to look for commonalities between clients for new growth opportunities. For example, if several clients share a common accountant, the adviser can reach out to that CPA to see how they might work together.

4. Seize on "Micro-moments"

A CRM can help advisers seize on what Mr. Anderson calls "micro-moments" to deliver custom, targeted messages to select clients (or groups of clients) rather than sending generic communications to all.

In the event of a major market move, advisers can look up their clients identified as "nervous nellies" and proactively reach out to each of them before they have a chance to panic. If other clients have an interest in bitcoin, a major news story can provide a chance to touch base.

This does require advisers and others at the firm be diligent about how they enter information into the CRM, Mr. Williamson said. As the old saying goes, "garbage in, garbage out."

"Organization is key to getting information out of your CRM," Mr. Anderson said. "If you're not doing it properly, you're going to have a hard time."

5. Workflows

Instead of relying on memory and what Mr. Williamson called "tribal knowledge," CRMs let firms put businesses processes into concrete terms. By writing them down and recording them onto a CRM, advisers can create formal workflows.

(More: Advisers face pressure to automate workflows)

Workflows can help firms be consistent in how they interact with prospects, onboard new clients and provide ongoing service. That consistency allows for efficient, repeatable service that can help a firm attract and work with more clients.

"Run your office like a well-oiled machine," Mr. Williamson said. "Now when you're facing the client, everybody gets the same experience. Everybody gets that same tailored client review experience. Everybody gets that relationship."

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