Saratoga Systems, a supplier of enterprise customer relationship management (CRM) systems, is beta testing a new CRM package, Avenue Mutual Fund, designed specifically for the mutual fund industry. After years of customizing its core product, Avenue, for its mutual fund clients, the vendor elected to build a system that would meet 80% of their needs, and require only 20% customization, says Michael Broyles, director of product marketing. The product is slated for release in December.
"In the past, we have taken our core system, and our professional services group, using only a couple of included templates, would have to customize the solution for each mutual fund client," Broyles explains. "Our goal in this venture was to create solution that was already customized to meet the needs of the mutual fund marketplace."
After interviewing 28 mutual fund firms, some clients, some not, and working in conjunction with Arthur Anderson, Saratoga has developed a system that speaks both to the mutual fund wholesaler, which sells to independent agencies, and the mutual fund consultant, which sells directly to institutions and individuals.
Avenue Mutual Fund will incorporate data from Money Market Directories (MMD), a company that provides data and information on approximately 53,000 investment plans and their sponsors. Typically, MMD comes in massive books or as a simple flat text file, but never before has there been any methodical means of querying the resource. Saratoga has created an import mechanism which allows an Avenue Mutual Fund user to drill down into the information so that the manager can best seek out new relationships.
"We worked with MMD to create a set of screens by which all that data can be imported directly into the Avenue MF directory," Broyles says. "That allows the user to use that information for marketing activities. They can rate and rank the results in our system, and, based on that rating, they can upgrade that lead to a qualified prospect that can be followed up by a specific mutual fund salesperson."
Avenue Mutual Fund has not yet been priced, but Broyles expects it to be in the $15,000 to $25,000 range. An Avenue MF user will have to pay MMD separately for the license to its data. The system runs on Microsoft Windows NT or 95/98, and can utilize databases from leading vendors like Microsoft, Oracle and Sybase.