Practifi is a Chicago startup developing business management tools for financial institutions and wealth advisors. Adrian Johnstone and Glenn Elliott, Practifi’s co-founders, jointly responded to questions about how customer relationship management tools might be applied to functions beyond the advisory realm.
How is CRM more powerful today than, say, a decade ago?
Practifi: There have been many advancements in the last 10 years that aggregate and support better business technology. Our architects are CRM veterans from 10 years ago, and way beyond. They’ve seen a ton of exciting changes in that time. Just to name a few, CRM today is way more automated, and puts the power of automation into the hands of day-to-day users. CRM has access to vastly more information because it’s better integrated through APIs. CRM is now mobile and always on, by default. And when it’s well-designed, it’s intuitive and a pleasure to use — that wasn’t true back in the day.
What’s a good way to think about how such tools enhance the CRM experience overall?
Practifi: If a wealth management division (whether in banking or another kind of firm) is looking for a CRM, they should consider a few key factors when vetting vendors:
Will it fit the unique needs of your division? Don’t just jump at an ill-suited platform that is incapable of supporting the kind of complex structures that wealth management supports. A cloud-based platform is a safe bet if you want to future-proof your company’s tech stack. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions allow businesses to expand their platform’s features at a moment’s notice. If your company increases the number of data sources that will need to tie in to the wealth management function, a cloud-based solution will allow for that scalability. Cloud-based tools mean you’ll never have to worry about your tech keeping up with your business.
Can it integrate with third-party software? Wealth managers rely on many different business applications to function, but all too often, these platforms operate in silos, effectively cut off from one another. Your CRM platform can’t exist in a vacuum if your advisors are going to get the most out of it.
Are you compromising too much, trying to buy a one-size-fits-all tool? Many firms will look to purchase one “big-box” CRM tool that is supposed to work for a very diverse team with unique needs that translate into various uses of that big-box platform in their day-to-day. CRM applications originally emerged as a way to help organizations keep tabs on their customers and sales prospects. The latest and most advanced solutions available have significantly expanded their capabilities beyond those narrow aims. Leading platforms function as comprehensive information hubs, giving the team of wealth professionals complete visibility into every client, provider and partner. They can also include a number of additional features to boost productivity and collaboration between internal teams.
How are tools like this demanded across age demographics?
Practifi: Younger employees definitely demand an experience that matches what they use on devices outside of work, which is driven by consumer apps in social media and mobile. They then bring those demands to the workplace, which impacts retention. The workplace as a whole has been evolving, requiring greater mobility and connectedness than ever before. Though retention and productivity are important to any business, they’re especially key for organizations looking to grow and differentiate from competitors (and wealth managers often are).
Regardless of age demographics, talented employees don’t stick around to help companies they don’t feel are investing in them. To generate the most revenue from firms’ business processes and the best value for their clients, they need to employ highly capable people. Then, they need to keep them engaged by improving processes, automating manual tasks, and giving them the tools they need to excel in their jobs.
What’s coming that isn’t quite ready for prime time?
Practifi: Like most SaaS organizations, we pride ourselves on delivering cutting-edge solutions that differentiate us from the rest of the CRM providers as a holistic business management platform. So, that kind of information is played pretty close to the vest. But, we can say we’ve been looking ahead to trends in AI, surfacing even richer analytics, supercharging performance, and focusing more on role-based functionality. We take many cues from our clients — where they want to expand, integrate and streamline.