Tag Archives: CRM

Stop asking for referrals and use technology to drive growth

Asking clients for referrals can be damaging says one expert; use technology instead to drive your business growth.

Asking for Referrals Stresses Clients

According to Stephen Wershing, president of The Client Driven Practice, you need to stop asking clients for referrals.

Why?

Wershing did, after all, write the book on it.

Asking clients for referrals is counter productive, says Wershing, adding “you actually stress the relationship, maybe even diminish the relationship,” when putting clients on the spot by asking for referrals.

Technology-driven Referrals

Instead, offers Wershing, advisers should use technology intelligently to identify clients and prospects with common characteristics and then provide content and information that addresses their needs.

So what is Wershing’s favorite technology tool?

“The biggest one is your CRM program,” says Wershing.

He provides examples of highlighting client characteristics and key words to track unique things about each client. Collectively, your CRM can reveal trends and commonalities across clients and prospects which you can then use to identify concerns or needs shared by the group.

Solidify Your Expertise

With that information in hand, Wershing says advisers can reach out to them with helpful resources. Doing so “solidifies your expertise,” he says, adding “it’s more likely that you’re going to come to mind,” when clients do have the opportunity to make a referral among friends and family.

For all of Wershing’s advice on using technology to drive your referrals, watch the On Air broadcast embedded above (or watch the broadcast on YouTube).

referrals

Salentica feeds Schwab OpenView Gateway™ data to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. Or does it? I’m confused.

Not all versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM are the same

04/11/2013: Updated to clarify a LOT of my own confusion surrounding Salentica and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM comes in so many variants with and without third-party providers, I find myself scratching my head when trying to figure out the maze of buying the product, let alone use it.

I was saving this for Friday’s Bits and Bytes update, but as I started digging into the story, I found myself navigating a rabbit’s hole of strange logic.

If I’m confused about Microsoft Dynamics CRM, then I think you don’t stand much chance keeping this all straight on your own!

This story all started with the following press release:

Salentica Releases Schwab OpenView Gateway™ Solution for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Users from PRWeb.com

Ok, stay with me on this one.

Who is Salentica?

Salentica is a reseller Microsoft independent software vendor (ISV)/ Microsoft Certified Partner, and they provide a custom overlay to Microsoft Dynamics® CRM specific to financial advisers called Salentica CRM. If you use Salentica CRM and custody with Schwab Advisor Services, you’ve been able to use  Schwab OpenView Gateway™ to get real-time data from Schwab populated in Salentica CRM for about six months.

Great!

Wait. ISV vs. Reseller?

I was mistaken about Salentica’s role as a reseller. They’re an ISV. What’s the difference?

An ISV sells software they created that runs on a particular platform. In this case, Salentica CRM runs on Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but you don’t buy Dynamics from Salentica. You have to buy your Dynamics licenses from either Microsoft (for Dynamics in the cloud) or a reseller (for Dynamics on-premises or in a partner-hosted environment).

A reseller adds custom features and (very commonly) services to a particular product, then resells it as an all-in-one solution. This is how the Laserfiche document management product is sold. Advisers (excluding the very large multi-office multi-billion RIAs) typically buy Laserfiche from a value-added reseller (VAR), not from Laserfiche itself. Licensing, billing, customization, support, and more is entirely administered by the VAR.

Standalone Microsoft Dynamics CRM

But maybe you don’t use Salentica CRM, and instead have your own license of Dynamics CRM. You don’t get Schwab data. Well, Salentica just announced the general release of Schwab OpenView Gateway™ for Microsoft Dynamics® CRM, so now users of plain-vanilla Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 can also get real-time data from Schwab via Schwab OpenView Gateway!

Clear?

Not so Clear

Wait.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM comes in lots of versions, two of which primarily apply for advisers. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is the on-premises version installed locally on a computer, OR it can be in the cloud using a partner-hosted environment.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is the cloud version that retails for $44/user/month. It can be combined with Office 365 (which alone typically runs $150/year/user if you want the Small Business Premium version that supports desktop Word, PowerPoint, Excel and more). So you’re looking at just under $200/month/user for retail pricing for Office 365 and Dynamics CRM. Microsoft Partners may offer lower pricing, but you get the general idea of cost.

So, if you’re using Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (with or without Office 365), then you’re out of luck with respect to real-time data via Schwab OpenView Gateway.

If you want Dynamics in the cloud with Schwab OpenView Gateway integration, you first have to use Dynamics in a partner-hosted environment, THEN you have to use the new solution from Salentica mentioned in the above press release.

But wait. If your partner-hosted environment comes from Tamarac, you can’t integrate with Schwab OpenView Gateway today. Not yet, at least. A solution is coming soon.

The Salentica solution mentioned in the press release only works with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, whether it be an on-premises version or in a partner-hosted environment (minus Tamarac for the time being).

How to Buy? See a Reseller

I can’t even figure out how to buy the on-premises CRM version from Microsoft. It turns out you can’t. You have to work exclusively with a third-party reseller to get it.

So, say you happen to ask Salentica about buying Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for an on-premises CRM. Won’t you just get “upgraded” to Salentica CRM that already features the OpenView Gateway integration? No separate solution required.

So why bother releasing this new solution for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 users?

It turns out that there are customers who purchased Dynamics CRM from a reseller/Certified Partner and also want to connect it with Schwab OpenView Gateway. Pareto Platform CRM customers are a great example. How many potential customers fit this criteria, I don’t know. It can’t be more than a few hundred. Can it? But evidently there are enough for Salentica to build a solution for them.

My Digression on Press

So in the strikeout section below, I went off on a tangent about the Salentica press release potentially not being news. Clearly I didn’t understand the fact that there are users out there with Dynamics they bought from a reseller (Tamarac keeps coming to mind) but can’t integrate it with Schwab OpenView Gateway.

Salentica’s solution is new, and now those users do have an option to integrate  Schwab OpenView Gateway data into their CRM.

Subscribing to Salentica’s new solution costs $120/user/year.

So a thought just occurred to me: maybe this is just press for press’ sake, and there’s really nothing new here.

I found it odd that news of a new custodial integration came from the third-party provider rather than the custodian. Why would that happen? Wouldn’t the custodian also want to take some credit and boost their marketing profile with some news as well?

Perhaps if the “news” really isn’t news, then I can begin to understand why the custodian didn’t also jointly release their own marketing material. There’s no story.

But, take note, Schwab Intelligent Integration’s last press release is dated November 2012. Not exactly breaking news. But I digress.

 

(Salentica president Bill Rourke called me out for writing “tiny fraction” below. His response was that Salentica is the largest provider of Microsoft CRM for independent advisers. I get that. Only Microsoft CRM continues to fair poorly in financial adviser technology surveys, including Financial Planning’s 2012 survey (3%) and InvestmentNews’ 2012 survey (4.4%).)

If you’re one of the tiny fraction single-digit percentage of all advisers using Microsoft Dynamics CRM powered by Salentica feeding in data over Schwab OpenView Gateway, can you care to leave a comment on how well its working and how it’s helped your business?

Because I feel a little in the dark.

Market76 security, business model, and innovation discussion with co-founder Frank Eden

On Friday’s On Air broadcast, I connected with Market76 co-founder Frank Eden to discuss how the CRM startup is attempting to reinvent adviser use of relationship management software.

Note that CEO Ethan Eden was originally scheduled for the interview, but he had a last minute emergency that prevented him from appearing. Frank Eden was gracious to step in on last-minute notice.

Market76 is a new provider in the financial adviser CRM space, having launched its platform publicly in mid-2011. The company is still relatively unknown among most financial advisers, save a few reviews on RIABiz.com.

The main discussion points in the interview below include how Market 76 handles security of its clients’ data, monetizes the software to generate revenue (Market76 is free to adviser users), and pushes the envelope in what CRM software can do.

(click to view on YouTube)

TD Ameritrade Institutional Veo® open access now offers seven integrations with popular CRM software

Pareto Platform, Tamarac Advisor CRM, Junxure CRM and Advisors Assistant are now integrated with the custodian’s Veo® open access platform

In a press release today, TD Ameritrade Institutional announced that it has added four new integrations of CRM software to its Veo® open access platform, bringing the number of CRM integrations supported up to a total of seven.

Click to view the press release (at MarketWatch.com)

Existing CRM software integrations included Salesforce, Ebix and Redtail, where advisers can customize a dashboard to view total client holdings with data provided via TD Ameritrade Institutional Veo® open access connections.

In the press release, Jon Patullo, managing director of technology product management, TD Ameritrade Institutional, said, “Technology that helps an advisor manage a better client experience is becoming increasingly important. By integrating data between Veo and CRM systems, advisors are now armed with a more robust CRM system that can help boost productivity, improve client service, and streamline numerous tasks so advisors can spend their time on what matters most – their clients.” (see: TD Ameritrade Institutional’s Veo® Open Access to enhance trading, fee billing, and client on-boarding processes)

Since its launch in July 2010, Veo® open access now offers integrations with over 60 technology vendors spanning advisers’ critical systems including CRM, portfolio management, financial planning, and document management software. For more information about Veo® open access, visit TD Ameritrade Institutional online at http://www.tdainstitutional.com/

FPPad Bits and Bytes for December 7

Remember to watch today’s FPPad On Air broadcast at 4:15 pm ET with Blane Warrene.

Here are this week’s stories of interest:

Meet the wealth management firm of the future from Reuters.com

[Technology Tools for Today's High-Margin Practice is being released in early 2013 as the 10th anniversary of their original book, Virtual Office Tools for a High Margin Practice, nears. It was a privilege to be asked to contribute to the new edition, as I submitted a chapter on collaboration tools financial advisers can use in their business. Pre-order the book on Amazon to lock in the pre-order price.] When David Drucker and Joel Bruckenstein wrote a book about technology innovations for advisers in 2002, many readers were skeptical of their recommendations to use email and create a website.

Junxure Cloud – The Clear Choice for Advisors from Junxure.com

[I will be honest: I think Junxure faces an uphill climb when it releases Junxure Cloud next year. The desktop version has so much in its interface, between notes, tasks, assets, documents, action sequences, etc. that I can't help but be skeptical how it will translate to a web-based user interface. Junxure provided a sneak preview earlier this year (see: A sneak peek of Junxure Cloud), so take a look and decide for yourself. But give credit to Greg Friedman, the points in this article are valid; there are no overlays like there are in Salesforce, and support is handled internally and not farmed out to a third party. Will those benefits be enough to overcome the daunting interface?] Junxure attended Charles Schwab’s IMPACT® 2012 event, where we announced the spring 2013 release target for Junxure Cloud, our new web-based CRM solution. Attendees were treated to a preview demo, including how Junxure Cloud could help manage workflow, track a firm’s efficiency, and capture client documents and financial data through a wide range of integrations.

Why You Should Consider Online Meetings With Clients from RIACentral.com

[Again and again I counsel advisers that they need to be comfortable using online meeting tools like Skype, FaceTime from Apple, and Google+ Hangouts. Giving your clients options to meet with you remotely, when it is convenient for them, goes a long way in solidifying your working relationship. Here's a good summary article from RIACentral about four key benefits of meeting online.] Meeting clients online may seem like technological overkill. After all, it’s much easier to just pick up the phone and chat, right? But, in reality, online meetings solve a myriad of practical everyday problems for you.

PODCAST: Daily follow-up reminders help financial advisers maintain strong client relationships

Zvi Band, co-founder and CEO of Contactually

How did one financial adviser boost his client retention rate from 90% to 98%? According to this Wall Street Journal story, the answer was more client follow up.

So how do advisers target their most important client relationships with relevant follow-up reminders?

One way is by using a program called Contactually.

I’ve been a Contactually user for about a year (likely equivalent to a decade in “app years”). I first wrote about my experience with the program in January for Morningstar (see: Add Automation to Your E-mail Follow-Up).

I recently had the chance to connect with Contactually co-founder and CEO Zvi Band to learn more about how financial advisers are using Contactually to cultivate new and existing relationships and ultimately grow their business. Listen to the podcast of that conversation below.

[VIDEO] Redtail CRM launches new mobile apps and makes them free to advisers

The leading web-based CRM provider overhauls its suite of mobile apps and eliminates its monthly charge for access

UPDATE 07/09/2012: Users can now download Redtail CRM from the Blackberry App World

In an announcement sent to users today, Redtail CRM announced the release of completely new mobile apps for use with iOS, Android, and Blackberry devices. All mobile apps can be downloaded for free and the company has eliminated the monthly access fee it used to charge for use of its mobile apps.

In the spotlight video below, Redtail Technology CEO Brian McLaughlin tells me about how the company developed the new apps in-house, focusing on the security of web streaming but preserving the speed and responsiveness of a native application.

“Redtail first released a mobile application for accessing Redtail CRM in 2009.  Since that initial release and through subsequent versions of Redtail Mobile, we have been fortunate enough to receive invaluable feedback from our subscribers as to what we can do to make the mobile experience of Redtail CRM better,” the company said in its statement.

Redtail’s existing mobile apps generally received lukewarm reviews in the various app stores. Most notably, users expressed dissatisfaction that an additional monthly access fee was charged to enable mobile device access to CRM data.

Today you can download Redtail CRM for iPhone/iPad in the App Store, for Android in the Google Play market, or from the Blackberry App World.

(watch Redtail CRM: Announcing new mobile apps for iOS, Android & Blackberry on YouTube)

[VIDEO] How to use Redtail CRM like a power user

All-day training helps advisers and operations staff get the most out of the popular online CRM.

As you review the CRM you use to manage client relationships, you probably recognize that you’re only using a small portion of all the features the program offers. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get exposed and trained on some of the advanced features that improve your firm’s client communication (and your bottom line)?

Redtail CRM, the leading provider of web-based CRM software to financial advisers, provides an all-day training course to its users called Redtail University.

I recently met Redtail CEO Brian McLaughlin at a recent Redtail University event in Dallas and asked him about the value the course provides to advisers.

“With every new tool or software [advisers] get today, they’re only using 10, 20, 30% of the application. This is an opportunity to learn everything we have to do, take it back home, and hopefully implement one, two, or three new things,” said McLaughlin.

See the full video for more information about Redtail University, then view the schedule of upcoming training events.

How to address compliance deficiencies with technology: Part 1

Last week the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) released a statement addressing compliance deficiencies examiners frequently encounter when reviewing investment advisers. For the details of NASAA’s statement, click here to read Coordinated State Exams Identify Top Investment Adviser Deficiencies at nasaa.org.

In addition to citing the top five categories with the greatest number of deficiencies, NASAA recommended a “Best Practices” guide to assist advisers when developing compliance procedures. In today’s post, I’m going to review the first half of NASAA’s Best Practices and share my ideas how each can be addressed through the use of appropriate technology.

My aim is to identify tools, processes, and techniques designed to improve your advisory firm’s compliance practices as well as lower your direct expenses of following regulatory requirements (i.e. increase your profits). Note that not all of the Best Practices are below, since items like “Review and update all contracts” are fairly self-explanatory.

Let’s begin.

Best Practice: Prepare and maintain all required records, including financial records.

Solution: Document Management Software

If your firm has been examined recently, you’re familiar with the lengthy list of documents requested by examiners. They want records ranging from your company’s org chart all the way to your trade blotter for one or two years. While the specific documents requested can vary widely from firm to firm, you need an efficient system that enables you to store, search, and retrieve records. Without question, document management software is the best solution. Don’t only use it for client documents. As NASAA’s best practices say, you need to deliver financial records, too. So when you close your company’s financial books for the year, add in the final records to a company repository in your document management software. Doing so stores it for your later review, but also allows for easy retrieval (by those who have appropriate access rights, e.g. your CCO) during an exam.

Best Practice: Back-up electronic data and protect records.

Solution: IaaS, hosted servers, or online backup

This is not the first time you’ve heard this: you’re an adviser, not an IT person. So why do you continue to switch backup tapes on your server as a part of your morning routine? It’s time to adopt more progressive, cost-effective, and automated solutions to back up and protect your data. If you’re tired of managing your own infrastructure altogether, consider leveraging Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platforms where you can “rent” servers, install your custom financial planning or portfolio software, and operate as if the server was located in your office. Services from Rackspace, Amazon, IBM and more give you this flexibility. There are also providers that cater specifically to the needs of advisers like you, including True North Networks that I featured in this Morningstar Advisor column.

If you’re not comfortable with moving your entire infrastructure off-site, then online backup solutions may be a compelling alternative. You can still maintain your servers in-house, but you can back up critical data to online providers. Carbonite, Egnyte, Mozy, and CrashPlan are just a handful of the many providers that support online backup.

But a word of caution: even if you successfully back up all your data to an online solution, you’re not backing up your applications installed on your server. Realistically, you need some kind of mirroring or imaging solution for your primary server so that you can bring up a secondary server on demand that features all the same programs and applications you use. Data backed up online is useless if you don’t have the software program required to open it.

Best Practice: Document all forwarded checks.

Solution: Document Management Software

What do you do with checks sent in by clients? Photocopy them and file paper in a binder? Stop it!

Instead, scan all the checks you receive to an electronic document, then file that document in your document management software, indexed and labeled with appropriate information. May I suggest Document Type =  Client Check? Then you can retrieve all checks you’ve received by clients for any date range with a quick search in your document management software.

Best Practice: Prepare and maintain client profiles.

Solution: CRM

Most advisers know the value of a properly-implemented CRM system. But I suspect NASAA comes across a few firms that still don’t have a CRM, and thus, have a hard time delivering any kind of systematized profile information regarding the clients they serve. With CRM, so much of a client’s characteristics are captured and recorded, making them easy to access every time an exam rolls around.

Best Practice: Prepare a written compliance and supervisory procedures manual relevant to the type of business to include business continuity plan.

Solution: Document Management Software

Still have a paper-based compliance manual that sits in the CCO’s office? And what about your spreadsheets that show when your firm last tested its business continuity plan? On a server somewhere?

Consolidate all of your compliance-related paperwork and workflow into a central repository stored in document management software. Better yet, make sure that you have access to that compliance repository when away from the office and in the event your office loses power. Remember online backup and hosted servers I mentioned earlier? Your business continuity plan won’t do you much good if you can’t get in to your building to read it. Move it into a secure system that gives you the ability to access it remotely and quickly retrieve those documents you created to prove you’ve tested your procedures. Another solution to consider for documenting compliance testing is Compliance11, covered in this Morningstar Advisor column.

More Best Practices in Part 2

That’s the first half of NASAA’s Best Practices. Check back later for Part 2 of this series where I finish the list with additional tools and techniques to simplify your regulatory compliance.