Any business is built on relationships, so how do you stay on top of yours? By picking the right CRM (client relationship management) system.

Why you need it

  1. It’s a collaboration tool; everyone in the firm can access the same client data and history, says Henry Kluska, owner of Ottawa-based CRM4Advisors.

  • It lets you profile clients and prospects any way that matters, such as by demographics, type of assets, and size of portfolio. That helps you target information.

  • by facilitating contacts, you can increase how frequently you reach out to clients.

  • Don’t do this

    Avoid being dazzled by a system’s bells and whistles. “People use 10% of the features 90% of the time,” says Adam Burns, co-founder of Vancouver’s 45 Robots Inc., which provides CRM solutions to financial advisors. Focus on your actual workflow, he says, “Just look at what you can do more efficiently and effectively.”

    types of products

    Choices include:

    • off-the-shelf CRM products
    • off-the-shelf that you can customize
    • specialized CRM products for the financial industry.

    Good to know

    Your office can start with a free trial: “Just set up dummy accounts, and if you don’t like the way the system works, dump it,” says Burns.

    Additional problems

    There will also be costs for transferring data (if you’re not doing it yourself). Most CRM providers will transfer standard-format data at no charge. Custom data, such as notes, portfolio info, policy values and statement history may require third-party assistance, which is usually charged hourly. Kluska estimates $100-$125/hour. Usually, estimates are provided before the transfer is completed. Simple transfers can be as low as one hour or as high as 60 hours.

    One Toronto financial advisory recently spent roughly $50,000 for a CRM solution for 18 users. But there are cheaper options. Burns touts web-based “cloud” systems that run $50 to $150 a month, but you don’t have to maintain a server, and require only minimal (or no) IT support.

    How often

    Consider upgrading or changing CRM systems every four years, suggests Kluska. With cloud-based systems, you simply pay a monthly fee to access software that, notes Burns, “is constantly updated.”

    Who can help

    Burns suggests checking, which provides vendor lists, articles, tools and more about software and technology for financial advisors