You need 100% access to the people who give you new files and ensure you keep in touch.
So, what do you do?
You can’t have a pile of staff in the office, at least not for the foreseeable future. And moving forward, who knows what the new rules will demand? Even if done right the question remains about what sort of office you’ll need.
You need to watch over office performance while at the same time being able to start and contribute to the process of completing files. You need to be able to do these things wherever you are.
What does a future financial services office look like?
You need systems that watch all prospect or client requests and ensure all those requests are completed in the time you set, so you don’t lose clients.
You don’t want to type much so let’s have a system the enriches the data so an email address and company name turns into a full company profile, background, size of company, staff, locations and even news so you know who you are dealing with.
Let’s make sure everyone in your team does their tasks so you are free to focus on the important stuff.
You need to have your website connected to your system so you can jump on new leads as they arrive.
You need systems that watch for events like new leads and enquiries, guaranteeing they all get a quick response.
You need a method to streamline processing of new files to get what you need quickly and in a systematic way, so you can rapidly decide if the file can be actioned or not.
Let’s make it easy and ensure the system is connected to Microsoft Outlook or Google so emails can get turned into files for easy management.
You need to profile leads and contacts so you can keep in touch through a marketing campaign or newsletter in addition to the personal calls you make. You need to keep top of mind.
You need simple lists of people to call and follow up – wherever you are.
Let’s make sure you can see it all on your mobile phone or tablet so you are always in touch.
The themes here are ‘anywhere, simplicity, reduced data entry, security and delegation’.
What we can see above is the need for a system that makes sure you have a way to engage with your clients and new leads, which also provides a systematic process to convert those requests to commissions.
The goal should always be an engine that makes money and allows you to scale to whatever level you want.
There is a new opportunity here: Location is no longer a boundary.
Many of the financial specialists we have spoken to over the years have felt bound by the people in the office and its location. This meant for example, I’m in Melbourne so therefore that’s where I work and grow the business.
With COVID, these rules were smashed.
Video conferencing is normal. Business over the phone is normal.
You are not limited to local business and clients or those within easy flight times. Far from it. You can set up partnerships with like-minded people across the country, acting as one using digital platforms. This gives you the strength you need so your book of business is larger, giving you more leverage.
After all, whoever owns the client wins. Yes, the vendors handle the transaction, but you need to own the client not the transaction.
The Strategy of using a CRM to solve problems – diving deeper
Let’s change gears a little and look past COVID, dealing with some of the specific problems that the strategic use of a CRM can help solve.
With increasing compliance costs, a fluid regulatory environment and an expanding digital ecosystem, you need to be more agile than ever. Single software platforms offering a one-size fits all approach often fall short, being too large or inflexible to provide the right customer experience.
In contrast, we’ve learned though working extensively with our clients in the Financial Services sector that the use of CRMs can solve many common problems.
To be fair, a CRM is not a silver bullet but used strategically it can lighten the burdens on your business.
The Financial sector is one driven by compliance needs, from ensuring your clients are informed and updated, that the correct documents have been presented and signed, that your staff are maintaining their qualifications to being able to deliver fully auditable contact history and more.
Designed around the concepts of full client management, CRMs allow you to capture all the touch points with your clients and automate routine activities that take time and money to complete.
- Use the CRM to digitally record all client interactions, providing a clean communications history whenever you need
- The need to manually record or transcribe notes is removed, reducing the number of mistakes and double handling
- Digital signing technology ensures all key agreements are authorised
- Centralised storage provides a single source of truth and prevents duplication or document versioning problems
- Automatic escalation of events, issues and requests ensure time-critical activities such as renewals are never missed
- All actions and records are fully auditable
As the sector grows, so too does the complexity of operating a profitable business. Since no single tool can realistically offer the range of functions you need, more and more businesses find themselves breaking their activities down to application-sized solutions. Do you need marketing? Use an EDM tool. Surveys? Digital signing? Prospectus or account management? The list grows.
Our clients benefit from the CRM’s ability to integrate with many other operational systems or even standalone databases. While the CRM doesn’t replace the functions of these tools it acts as a kind of Swiss Army Knife, leveraging the data into a single, easy to use platform.
- Using the CRM’s ability to integrate with operational systems and other data sources means clients have access to a single hub, rather than having to go hunting for information in different systems
- Modern CRMs are web based and user friendly, offering mobile-app versions – all of which have intuitive interfaces
- Depending on need, CRMs are customisable so that only the features that are needed are shown, reducing visual clutter and improving efficiency
- All actions and records are fully auditable
Understanding Client Behaviour:
By measuring client interactions over time the CRM builds a model of how and when clients are most likely to engage.
With full contact tracking against customer journey maps, your business can articulate a clear and easy to follow path of critical next steps to increase the value of your relationships.
- Clients are becoming more educated and moving toward self-serve modes of engagement. CRMs are client-centric and designed to provide not just data but actionable insights.
- AI tools in the CRM detect patterns and proactively make suggestions around interaction.
- Customer journey mapping allows advisors to know how clients are progressing towards better service levels.
- Reports and real-time dashboards show client behaviour either as individuals or in groups or segments.
Driving Client Engagement:
CRMs often have embedded or tightly integrated marketing and communications features, accessible from a common interface. These may include Electronic Direct Mail, social campaigns, integrated webinars or training tools. Since they share a common data set, the results of campaigns and even specific Q&A sessions from webinars may be recorded against the individuals who attended, providing your team with a history of your engagement and insights on how to improve.
- Unlike operational systems, CRMs are design to drive and measure client engagement.
- Use the CRM’s marketing capabilities to construct and deliver mail campaigns, social media and more.
- Capture, segment and follow up client response by aggregating behaviour from campaigns in the CRM.
- Full contact history means advisors are fully informed about a client’s needs whenever they are communicating.
Developing a custom CRM for Financial Services
Sometimes an out of the box solution isn’t able to offer the full range of functions you need. The good news here is that some CRMs, such as Sugar CRM are fully extensible and designed for deep customisation.
In the case of Sugar CRM, which is an open source platform we have added deeply customised features to satisfy our clients’ unique requirements. Leveraging the core capabilities of a system designed to be client-focused allows our clients to use the CRM as a scaffold onto which they can build what they want without having to start from scratch.
The lessons learned:
- There are many nuances to the above list, as every business has unique needs.
- The key take-away is modern CRMs form part of an eco-system of tools, unifying existing processes while adding capability.
- The result of this strategy is reduced costs, higher compliance and greater opportunities for growth.
- So, if you have an interest in owning the client, want a capacity to grow instead of shrinking and accept that COVID could and should be the trigger to expand, then maybe we should talk more. We love to disrupt and have fun while give you the advantage you seek.