Research from CEB TowerGroup has found that 67 percent of financial services executives expect to increase their technology spending through 2014.
"To say advisor productivity is a priority for the industry is an understatement. Firms are looking from the front office to the back office for opportunities to better support the prospecting and client service objectives of financial advisors," the CEB TowerGroup senior research directors noted in their report.
Many practice management experts recommend using CRM software as a focal point for a financial advisor's daily routine. Advisors who do so can deploy CRM software as their calendars, record-keepers, and workflow managers, standardizing their entire client-management processes in one application.
That is why many industry experts expect centralized CRM systems to be a key area for investment in the financial services industry. In fact, such systems were identified as a priority for many firms in an unrelated survey by SalesPage. The company's research found that the large majority of financial services firms know the necessity of centralized CRM systems, but fewer than half have one.
According to the research, 30 percent of brokers and dealers use multiple systems and spreadsheets for CRM functions. Nine percent are operating without any CRM systems at all, but are in the market for them.
Of the 15 percent of firms that said they didn't need a CRM system, the majority were small firms with fewer than 50 advisors. Larger firms tended to place more value in CRM systems to manage advisor relations, the research found.
And while 91 percent of firms identified back-office support and service for advisors as important, only 53 percent use CRM for those processes. The most common functions for which brokers and dealers use CRM solutions are recruiting (47 percent), lead generation and marketing (41 percent), and transition (41 percent).
To fill that gap, a number of firms have come out recently with CRM solutions that bring together the front- and back-office operations at financial institutions. With these apps, banks can create and capitalize on a single customer view across channels to generate greater sales opportunities and bring more visibility and efficiency to operational tasks.
"This 360-degree view of the customer allows banks to provide personalized pricing and relevant value-add offerings more easily and efficiently," said Colin Davies, managing director of Accenture Software, in a statement.