How to Choose the Best CRM for Financial Advisors

The Best CRM for Banks


  • Customer Relationship Management for financial institutions is unique when compared to other industries. To maximize client relationships at scale, an industry specific technology solution is needed.
  • The best CRM for financial advisors is designed to accommodate industry requirements such as client onboarding, KYC, FORM account management, guided selling, strategic account management, UHNW concierge programs and in-system regulatory governance.
  • At a slightly broader level, the best CRM for banks and advisors as measured by market share and market growth, includes Salesforce Financial Services Cloud, Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services and Pega. Each has different strengths and weaknesses.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

Strong client relationships directly correlate to business growth and profitability for bankers, insurance agents, wealth managers and financial services advisors.

Growing customer relationships at scale requires Customer Relationship Management – which is both a customer strategy and enabling technology. In this article, I'm going to focus on the technology side and share a proven process to find the best CRM for financial advisors. The process can also be used to find the best CRM for banks.

Most financial services firms have some form of Customer Relationship Management software. But for most it's more of an electronic rolodex than a tool that systemically aids advisor productivity and grows customer relationships.

Sometimes that's because the business model has changed since the application was implemented. For example, the most successful financial services firms have shifted from a self-centric, product-centric or transaction-based business model to a client-centric model. And many times, their technology is unable to support that new business reality.

Fortunately, several customer management systems are expressly designed to accommodate financial services firms and customer focused business models. Because of their industry fit, they deliver the specific capabilities needed by bankers, financial service planners and wealth management advisors. They also reduce the need for software customization and prolonged training.

In this article I'll share these essential capabilities and the CRM applications that deliver the highest fit and ROI.


Increase Customer Acquisitions

Selecting the Best CRM for Financial Advisors starts with technology that increases client acquisitions. Below are some of the most powerful technology-driven capabilities to achieve this objective.

  • Lead Lifecycle Management
    Acquiring new clients requires an inflow of leads. Most applications include a marketing cloud that performs digital lead tracking, lead acquisition, lead scoring, nurture campaigns and lead transfer to advisors when those leads become qualified or sales-ready.
Lead Management Loop

For new leads that are not yet sales-ready, the marketing cloud nurtures them with a drip campaign until a lead demonstrates clear buy signals. The marketing clouds may use lead distribution models such as round robin, but more often direct leads to a designated agent or advisor based on bank location, territory, specialization, financial product interest or a combination of these factors. Lead lifecycle management ensures new leads are automatically scored, distributed to the right person and acted upon timely.

  • Client Onboarding
    New client onboarding is a unique, and too often time-consuming process, in the financial services industry. Fortunately, CRM for financial services firms automates onboarding and KYC with pre-filled forms, OCR character recognition input, guided facilitation, and workflow processing to manage outside department requests and approvals. It automatically produces and distributes documents, tracks the approval status and next steps, and notifies advisors and others when tasks and approvals are complete. Or when tasks get delayed, the workflow creates escalations. And all these activities and processes maintain compliance with regulatory requirements.Client onboarding improves staff productivity and speeds time to revenue. The best CRM for banks and financial service firms extrapolates some of the onboarding and KYC data to the contact profile record and the Account Plan page so the advisor has a jump start in growing the customer relationship and AUM.
  • Guided Sales Processes
    The right technology helps private bankers, insurance brokers, financial service advisors and wealth management professionals grow their book of business. And this is an area where the best CRM for financial advisors really stands out. There are a lot of application capabilities to consider, but most of them are negligible. Based on my three decades of experience in implementing CRM for financial services firms, I routinely deploy the following capabilities that collectively deliver substantially higher sales win rates.

    • Digital dashboards optimize time and improve staff productivity. When correctly designed, they prioritize actions based on what's most important at any point in time.
    • Process Guides display guided workstream diagrams at the top of contact and sale opportunity screens. They are very effective in adding context to otherwise static records. Instead of just viewing a client account or sale opportunity record in isolation, the process visualization shows the record history (what's been completed up to this point) and the record destination (what are the next steps to achieve the desired outcome).
Dynamics Guided Process Flow
  • Content Management Systems (CMS) integrate to the customer management system to deliver information in context. Consumer demand for more specialized products and a shift to more product agnostic fee-based models have created more products that advisors discuss with clients. But no advisor can be knowledgeable on everything. So, having on-demand access to product-based literature, specification documents and fact sheets is helpful. Some Customer Relationship Management systems have their own content management systems while others provide packaged integration to SharePoint or a cloud solution. CRM for financial services should display dynamic and contextual links to relevant information based on the client type, customer interest, position in the sales cycle or other context. These solutions deliver the right information at the right time to the right people.
  • Another area of significant differentiation is the applications capability to support strategic sale methodologies. Top producers have shifted from ad hoc or informal selling to strategic selling backed with a sale methodology. Finance advisors with sale methodologies always achieve higher sales conversions than those with informal sales methods. The best CRM for financial advisors is designed to integrate the sale methodology with the application software activity and opportunity management records.
  • Sales Best Practices are born from research. They show what actions deliver results and which don't. That also makes them helpful in determining what not to do. The best CRM software for banks, insurance agencies and wealth management firms displays contextual best practices using workflow tools or the previously mentioned Process Guides. The later approach aligns the best practices with defined sales steps or processes where they are most relevant.
  • Competitive Intelligence capabilities vary greatly among systems. Centrally managed competitive intelligence eliminates the redundancy and inconsistencies of advisors maintaining this information on their own and provides all who need it with the most up to date and accurate information available.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) aids and accelerates sales actions and decision making. This technology is built in to most customer management systems so it can suggest highly relevant and personalized Next Best Offer (NBO) recommendations or next best actions based on client life cycle dynamics. AI is the tool that shifts data from hindsight to foresight.
  • Sale opportunity records tend to be much more streamlined than in other industries. Keeping the opportunity form simple keeps it current. Or put another way, there is an inverse relationship between complex forms and updated forms. When forms are too cumbersome or complex, advisors often ignore them.

Increase Client Share

  • FORM for Client Relationship Building
    FORM is an acronym that stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation and Monetary. These four categories are part of a system contact data segmentation method that captures customer data and converts it into relevant financial product recommendations that grow client revenues and AUM.
  • Customer Intelligence for Customer Growth
    For financial services advisors, the quality of their customer growth strategy is equal to the quality of their customer intelligence. Accurate and complete customer intelligence correlates to higher lead conversions, shorter sales cycles, higher conversion rates, higher customer lifetime value, improved customer share and increased customer retention. For most financial services firms, customer intelligence will include a 360-degree customer view, customer segmentation, client insights and household data. For some of the more advanced sales organizations it will also include personas, journey mapping and an ideal client profile.
Customer Insights Integration to CRM
  • Householding
    Financial services customer households are extremely effective at growing customer share. These groups of related accounts are typically based on family units or preexisting relationships. This may include a client, his or her spouse and their children. Household members are logically connected in the system so that advisors can aggregate or roll up select data such as savings, checking, brokerage, loans, credit cards or AUM. This gives the advisor a broader perspective to understand client financial goals and recommend financial products that benefit the client and his or her extended household.
  • Strategic Account Management
    This is another highly effective client growth method but also a method where most customer management systems struggle. Financial services Strategic Account Management is a systemic approach to identify up-sell and cross-sale opportunities for key clients. This client account growth method creates forecasted account plans that identify potential future period sale opportunities. The software manages the data to feed the strategic account plan, make highly relevant and personalized recommendations for up-sell and cross-sale, and methodically increase customer relationships and client share.
  • Concierge Programs
    Financial services concierge programs are personal, high touch services generally offered by private banks and wealth management advisors to assist affluent customers, their families, or businesses. They are exclusive services directed to HNWI and UHNWI to create differentiation and deeper customer relationships. They are less about managing client wealth and more about aiding the client lifestyle and quality of life. Research our own experience show that these programs can be very effective at increasing AUM.

Increase Client Retention

Client service, not investment performance, is the top reason cited by clients for switching financial services and wealth management firms (Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Unprecedented Opportunities, Plan Your Approach: Global Private Banking/Wealth Management Survey.)

Two effective programs we routinely implement at financial services institutions such as banks, hedge funds and insurance agencies to improve customer retention are shown below.

  • Client Self-service
    Clients have lots of questions, especially during periods of market volatility. Customer self-service portals can answer these and other questions on-demand, 24 by 7, and without incurring customer service labor cost.The best CRM for banks and financial services firms offers self-service knowledgebases, chatbots, virtual agents and other tools that when properly implemented can manage up to 80 percent of routine customer service questions or issues.
  • Client Churn Prediction
    The ability to improve client retention delivers significant and sustained revenue growth. To aid that goal some systems can automatically calculate client health scores and use AI to identify clients most at risk of churn.Even better, knowing why clients leave permits companies to fix causes of churn and prevent attrition before it happens.
Customer Churn Prevention Framework

The Top 3 Systems for Financial Services Institutions

While understanding how to choose the best CRM for financial advisors is important, the most common question I'm asked is, "What is best CRM for banks and financial services?"

The short answer, based on market share and my experience from having implemented these systems at financial services firms for more than two decades, is Salesforce Financial Services Cloud, Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services (part of Dynamics 365) and Pega. The longer answer and a deeper analysis is available at the top 3 financial services CRM systems.