We look for our client facing advisor team to grow revenue and retain relationships, but are we giving them the tools to achieve these objectives? Have we done enough to remove the friction that exists in dealing with disparate applications? Celent reported in 2023 that 73% of wealth managers found “it is more challenging to win and retain customers than it was 12 months ago.” Not having the tools to compete makes things even harder.

Engaging clients, managing a book of business, planning for growth and servicing day-to-day needs at scale requires a flexible, fully integrated digital ecosystem geared toward anticipating client needs. The CRM is intended to support our ability to cultivate relationships and should serve as a connection point for all front office functions. This would allow for a truly aggregated picture of a client with the ability to service them more easily. Advisors could more easily turn a prospect into a relationship without needing to rekey critical information.

What Problem Will This Help Advisory Firms Solve?
Broadridge’s 2024 CX & Communications report found that 70% of consumers believe most companies need to improve the customer experience, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. What is alarming is when asked about specific industries, only 14% believed the investment industry was doing it well. When trying to solve our CX problem, we tend to focus solely on the online and mobile experiences. The interactions that clients remember are the human ones. It is doubtful you accept your service provider putting you on hold for a few minutes, needing to call you back or engaging in boring small talk while they take the time to look up where that service request is. Then why do we expect our clients to do this?

As clients become more complicated, span generations and look for more services from their wealth manager, the need for a customer centric view becomes greater. Using a single system with all information—data on the client’s objectives, preferences and financial situation—will lead to more personalized client interactions with greater business efficiencies. It will also assist in addressing inefficiencies in the front office rooted in outdated technology, lack of integration and poorly designed workflow.

What Are The Benefits?
Many firms we work with consider one way integration from accounting to the CRM sufficient, which may be the case for some. The challenge is it only covers a portion of the front office requirement, requiring those individuals to use other applications to address simple tasks. Migrating to a tool with which you can initiate and approve transactions would provide a much better user experience and support a stronger client experience through more efficient service. Think about how much time your advisors would save by initiating and completing the onboarding process if it was based in your CRM. The reduction in effort and improved quality of the data is just the start.

Each touchpoint with the client must be meaningful and deliver value. Moving from just meeting expectations to delivering an experience is a must. Development of a true end-to-end solution embedded in your CRM provides greater transparency with a true picture of the lifecycle of a client and transaction. Offering a single tool to seamlessly integrate critical components of your ecosystem sets the foundation for scale. We know our goal should be to work smarter, not harder. Leveraging your CRM in the onboarding process will also reduce the effort spent by the advisor and lower the amount of back and forth with the prospective client by using previously captured data to complete required agreements and documented necessary to add a new client. Ultimately, improving accuracy and timeliness. EY found simply integrating an e-signature enabled electronic document delivery and execution cut processing time and thereby lowered onboarding costs by 20%.

What Is Our Call To Action?
Change is hard, transformation is harder. Integrating your CRM and transactional systems is not an easy task; however, it is a key component to digitizing your business. We see leaders setting the foundation for this type of solution by using a low code/no code workflow tool to integrate the open architecture of their CRM with the transactional system to use the strengths of both applications. Further, we suggest a three-step approach to maximizing the success of your journey.

Focus on incremental delivery. Many times, we look at our most complex problem and try to solve that first. That makes sense because it will provide the single largest benefit. The challenge becomes time to any type of benefit. If the goal is to automate the onboarding process, a good first step would be to deliver an improved asset transfer experience. By componentizing your use cases, you can move from simply developing a roadmap to creating a client journey.

Develop standards around the capture and maintenance of data. Inconsistent data is one of the root causes to inefficiencies in wealth management. Planning to integrate two applications that could be considered transactional with similar data will inevitably create up or downstream problems. A strong governance structure is the start. This must be supported by clearly defined standards around maintenance of client data and an understanding of the timing and subsequent impact of the integration. You also need to determine which system will be considered the “gold copy” for which data elements.

Use a client-centric approach to solving the problem. Start by looking externally at how your client is looking to engage to define the problem you need to solve. A journey map of the onboarding experience is a must. You need to know more. What channels will they use to connect with you? What types of questions can you expect? What is their comfort with digital engagement? This will support your advisors in demonstrating they understand the client versus simply knowing them.

Mike Tropeano, CFA, AIF, is vice president of wealth, bank/trust and retirement consulting at Broadridge.