Article by Joan Walker, Managing Director at UNAPEN, Inc.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
– Charles Darwin
Change Will HappenPer the talking heads on the various news channels, the investor class is currently “fat and happy”. Volatility in the market is at 25 year low, the economy is humming and the unemployment rate continues to drop. If I didn’t know any better, I would think this was August of 2007… life was good and then that pesky recession happened. How about August of 2001 – my friend Tom said at a barbeque at his house– “It doesn’t get any better than this”. We lost Tom on 9/11. And let’s not forget October of 1987 – hopefully some of you who are reading this were born then. The term Black Friday was coined and Black Monday was resuscitated. People at the local pub were asking me what it all meant because I had a business suit on. Each of these dates have something in common – Change. Certainly the change was not all the same:
- - An economic bubble burst
- - A group of terrorists attacked the US
- - Global trading, timing and technology converge in the worst way.
Industry Growth and the Changing Face of Your ClientIn the five-year period leading up to August of 1987, the Dow Jones increased by over 100%, peaking at over 2600. I know this number sounds quaint by today’s standard but this was the true beginning of the long growth period of the last 3 decades. There are many factors that contributed to this growth. I would argue that a little piece of tax legislation called ERISA which was put into place in 1974 was one of the biggest. Up until that point, pension plans, savings accounts and bonds were what most people used to save for their retirements. ERISA brought about a seismic shift in who was investing in the stock market. For the most part pension plans were for unions, executives and very large companies. In 1980 there were roughly 250,000 defined benefit pension plans. Even though this institutional money was significant in the market, it was nothing compared to what was ahead. By 1991, pension and retirement funds owned 40% of American common stock but, by 2005 the number of pension plans dropped from 250,000 to 80,000. This change was coming from retail investment fueled in part by the massive expansion of the Mutual Fund Industry as a global entity. This changed the face of the investor class. What worked to manage clients in the 80s, 90s, or even the beginning of 2000s is not going to work now or in the future. My grandmother who passed away in 2003 at the ripe old age of 105 was a teacher so she had a pension, but knew little about its investments. She just cashed the check. Imagine if all investors were like my grandmother.
Changing Demands on Relationship ManagersDepending on your company’s focus, the average relationship manager must keep track of the basics associated to accounts – names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of interested parties. But they also need to track anything from birthdays, spouses and kids names, investment objectives, the number of accounts and dollars a particular Financial Advisor has brought to the programs your company offers, and now more than ever, all that is social media. Let’s face facts – the way and how we communicate is changing, therefore the way a client is managed is changing.
What Should Your CRM Do For Your CompanyI believe that the most critical function of a CRM is to help you manage change. This is where comprehensive CRM comes into play. When change occurs in the market, and we know that happens often, you need to be prepared and so should your CRM.
- - Mail Merge for Email blasts or old fashion letters
- - Note your Emails
- - Schedule your Meetings
- - Document your phone calls
- - Determine which clients and accounts will be most impacted by change to get that email or letter
- - Track who hasn't gotten an email
- - Establish your opportunities, next steps and potential revenue
- - Inform you of holdings and investment trending at the individual and firm level so that you are prepared for that phone call even when it is unexpected.
In this ever-changing financial world, CRMs are no longer a “nice to have” but rather a necessity. Don’t settle for anything less than exactly what your company needs. On that note, let me close with another wonderful quote.
“Change or die” – Alan Deutschman