Salesforce, the world’s leading CRM platform provider, announced today the release of a new bundled solution for financial services professionals. Dubbed “Grow Client Relationship Fast Start” the bundle, will be offered directly by Salesforce to advisory firms. It addresses a number of issues that may have discouraged small to mid-sized businesses from using Salesforce in the past: price, customization, integrations, implementation and support.
The bundle consists of three components: A “lite” version of Salesforce Financial Services Cloud, a custom offering from Skience (formerly the Athene Group) that provides data aggregation, data normalization, and a custodial integration feed from one of four major RIA custodians (Fidelity, Pershing, Schwab, TD Ameritrade), plus service and implementation from a third party.
Salesforce currently has an agreement in place with NexGen for service and implementation, but they anticipate adding two more shortly. NexGen, has gone through the full process of being included as the implementation partner of this program. This includes understanding the Financial Services Cloud and Skience implementation process as well as an approved statement of work bid that covers the baseline services needed (data migration, adoption training, etc.). It should also be noted that the Skience component is limited in scope versus being the full version. For example, instead of unlimited data aggregation and unlimited integrations, just one custodial data source and one integration of the advisor’s choice is included. Dashboards are not included in the base offering as Salesforce has heard that many firms prefer to build their own. Additional services including data feeds, dashboard construction, and integrations are available at an additional cost.
One additional benefit of the Skiance component is that it offers built in integration with at least two of the industry’s leading financial planning software vendors. According to Tony Leal, President of Envestnet MoneyGiuide: “It offers deep integration with MoneyGuidePro.” A Salesforce spokesperson confirmed that it also offers integration with eMoney.
Salesforce declined to provide pricing, but it encouraged interested parties to contact Salesforce directly. Expect pricing to be competitive. According to Andy Wang, Global Head of Wealth & Asset Management at Salesforce: “During our research it was evident RIAs needed a comprehensive solution – features that made sense for independent wealth advisors, integrations from systems they use, data loading from where they custody, and implementation and pricing that meets the realities of RIAs. We are confident this solution addresses what advisors want.”
Wang says that the development of Financial Services Cloud, as well as the “Grow Relationship Fast Start” bundle are driven by four trends that Salesforce has identified that are impacting the financial services business. One trend is the shifting regulatory landscape. Financial Services Cloud helps address this in a number of ways. To cite just a few examples, advisors can incorporate into client deliverables all of the necessary regulatory disclosures within Salesforce, and firms can mandate certain fields as mandatory to satisfy regulators.
Another trend is shifting client preferences and behaviors. Client expectations are changing, and that implies that service models must change as well. The days are gone when the advisor dictates how and when clients will interact with them. Now, the client dictates how and when they want to be contacted. Salesforce is well positioned to manage those client expectations. For example, if a client says: “I want to be contacted by email at this address if such and such happens, Salesforce will track those preferences and, in many cases, trigger an alert when the event happens so the advisor can act.
Modernizing the business of growth is changing as well. According to Wang, financial advisors’ businesses are getting bigger, as are client relationships. Principals at advisory firms need a holistic view of what is going on at their firm so they can manage effectively, and advisors dealing with more complex, multi-generational households need all the information at their fingertips to manage those relationships.
Finally, the emergence of new business models and new competitors are changing the landscape. Big Tech and FinTech firms will continue to look for opportunities in wealth management. Trust, transparency and convenience are the ingredients that will attract and retain clients. Salesforce Financial Services Cloud allows advisors to deliver convenience and a better transparent, overall client experience which in turn builds trust.
Although Salesforce is still thought of primarily as a CRM solution by most advisors, it now offers much more than that. Once an advisory firm has all of the relevant data entered into the Financial Services Cloud, the question becomes: What can you do with the data beyond traditional CRM usage to add value? One answer is that you can make use of artificial intelligence (AI) to create embedded data analytics. For an additional charge, advisors can add algorithms and dashboards to provide insights. Analytics can answer some fundamental data related questions that advisory firms should be asking such as: What happened? Why did it happen? What may happen? What should I do?
The AI acts as a virtual assistant to surface insights that the advisor might otherwise overlook. For example, the AI can help identify which clients, if any, pose the greatest flight risk. With a list of the most risky clients in hand, the advisor can proactively reach out to such clients, schedule a meeting, and perhaps avoid losing the relationship. With client acquisition costs high and rising, a tool for retaining an existing client can provide a high ROI.
From T3’s perspective, the rollout of “Grow Client Relationship Fast Start” is welcome news and it is long overdue. Anyone who follows the advisor space knows that, previously, Salesforce largely discounted the needs of small to mid-sized RIA firms for many years. They have made various efforts to reach small and mid-sized firms through intermediaries, but those efforts have met with limited success. This disconnect can be attributed at least partially to lack of understanding of the RIA market by decisionmakers at Salesforce. With Andy Wang as Global Head of Wealth and Asset Management, Salesforce finally has someone with a deep understanding of the wealth management space in a leadership role. This, in my opinion, bodes well for their ability to compete for RIA’s business in the future.
Learn more at: Salesforce.com