“What really shocks me is how few advisors actually use CRM software. I think they’re missing the boat.” So says Timothy J. Watters, founder and principal of Watters Financial Services in Paramus, N.J.

Indeed, customer relationship management (CRM) software is one of the most important pieces of technology that can help sales-oriented businesses manage their current client relationships as well as prospect for new ones—but only if it’s used correctly and effectively.

CRM systems store and manage existing customer and prospect data, sales leads and other information in one location, usually in the cloud, which makes the information accessible to everyone in an organization in real time. There are several CRM systems on the market designed specifically for financial advisors, registered investment advisors, retirement planners, wealth managers and broker-dealers.

Financial Advisor asked several financial planning firms of various sizes to talk about the CRM software they use, its advantages and disadvantages, how long it took them to master it, and what they would advise companies of their size when choosing such a system.

Watters Financial, a four-person firm with $120 million under management, has used Junxure for many years. The firm first used the desktop version before switching to the cloud version several years ago.

Tim Watters describes Junxure as a “very robust CRM program. We have created several workflows for many of the tasks that we have to deal with on a regular basis. We have workflows for everything from sending money to people to dealing with a death of a client to the review cycle. You name it, we have a workflow for it. We have also created service levels for each of our clients based on the level of assets that we manage. Each one triggers its own cycle.”

While Watters describes Junxure as “one of the best CRMs out there and we have been very happy” with it, he says updating the workflows “can be cumbersome,” though he adds that many other CRMs are also rigid in that regard. He says it took several weeks for his employees to learn the system initially, although “our younger employees picked it up much faster.”

Watters says buying a CRM system from a large vendor costs more, “but usually in the long run is a better option,” adding that financial advisors should choose a system they can grow into.

“In a world where advisor and client communication must be thoughtful and organized, a powerful CRM is essential,” says Pete Engelken, chief operations officer at Allworth Financial, a financial advising firm with over $4 billion under management. “If used properly, it’s incredibly effective to document client information and interactions, organize, create a calendar, and measure activities and future tasks.”

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