Like most financial institutions, FleetBoston, Fidelity and Berkshire Group of Companies are being charged with developing a strong technology platform that will allow them to cross sell their products and services. Below they discuss their solutions, advice and technology choices.
Cross selling financial products is no easy task. When FleetBoston Financial bought Quick & Reilly, Inc., a multi-channel brokerage firm that provides advice through 1,400 personal-financial consultants in 100 nationwide-investor centers, the question was how to maximize the ability of the firm to cross sell its products across all business lines.
Part of the task for figuring that out fell to Edward Garry, vice president of CRM solutions at Quick & Reilly (Q&R), which already has an extensive CRM system in place from Siebel, something Fleet lacked. The question was how could Quick & Reilly learn of Fleet customers that wanted information about financial products that the firm sells?
Garry knew that technology could solve that problem, as Q&R had already used the Siebel system to consolidate information and make its financial consultants more efficient. Before installing Siebel, Q&R's financial consultants didn't have a uniform system to track information or build an electronic calendar. Nor could they share calendars or their activities for the day. The consultants simply kept a book where they noted their customers' investment preferences, such as municipal bonds, which was used as a calling list when an appropriate investment became available.
By installing various components of the Siebel system, Q&R was able to provide its consultants with a comprehensive electronic view of their clients, including information about income and investment preferences. It allows them to reduce their paperwork and has improved productivity by 15 percent and enhanced cross-selling efforts by 5 percent.
To move to the next stage and add FleetBoston to the mix, though, is a challenge because, "The bank doesn't have a CRM tool on the retail-banking side," says Garry. Enter MarketSoft's Cross Sell Hub, which handles the routing and management of referrals. This system integrates with Siebel and includes a referral manager, a co-ordination manager, a delivery manager and a distributed-rules engine that allows firms to identify, create, deliver, track and measure cross-selling opportunities.
Garry says that the project is 75 percent complete and should be live within three to six months. "The ultimate goal is to break down the wall of the different lines of business" and improve the cross selling and up selling of products across the organization, he says. Then the firm will be able to track and report the penetration of its cross-selling efforts.
Cross selling is expected to play an important role in financial services moving forward. Global CRM spending by financial-services firms will reach $6.7 billion, according to Meridien Research, a number consistent with 2001. It's expected to start rising by 2004.
There's no shortage of CRM vendors looking to snag a piece of that pie. In addition to Siebel and MarketSoft, firms like FrontRange Solutions, which makes GoldMine, Interface Software, Inc., E.piphany, Inc. and x.eye Corporation are only a handful of vendors looking to provide technological solutions to better manage client relations.
Bernhard Klein Wassink, a partner and CRM expert at Accenture, says, "The challenge is figuring out how the end-to-end business system works" and properly segmenting clients and aggregating their assets so you know what products or services they could use. That means the front and back office has to be able to share the data in an integrated and seamless fashion. Get cross selling right, though, and it's rewarding, he says, noting that it "enhances the revenue side of things."
Craig Henshaw, associate vice president of information technology at the Berkshire Group of Companies, is investing in CRM technology and hoping to beef up his firm's relationship management and cross-selling capabilities.
Berkshire has 550 independent financial advisers across Canada and is busy installing x.eye.wealth.manager from x.eye Corporation.
He says that the consolidation underway in financial services means that firms like his need a competitive edge to go toe-to-toe with large multi-service organizations. "We recognized that relationship management was going to be key."
As the firm grew and acquired other firms, it inherited a mix of CRM programs, like Goldmine and Maximizer. It's not that they "weren't effective," he says, but Berkshire wanted something that would integrate across the organization - and with its back office - to gain access to portfolio information. The firm thought highly of the x.eye functionality.
Cross selling, says Henshaw, depends on a blend of contact management, a strong database and lead generation.
"It's making sure you know your client's needs inside out - knowing and understanding your client better and being able to track and manage client information more efficiently."
Sean Belka, senior vice president of the personal investment unit at Fidelity Investments, has also added MarketSoft to manage leads in conjunction with its Siebel CRM system.
"It will improve the overall customer experience and present an opportunity to offer customers additional products," he says. Belka says the rules engine gives firms the flexibility to route customer inquiries to a particular group of representatives, where they can be dispersed and matched according to the geographical location of the representatives or their experience in selling a specific product.
Garry says that advisers perform better when they have a qualified lead, rather than simply a list of names to work through and call over a period of weeks. They're "hungry" and will call a customer back within 24 hours if they know that the customer is ripe for a product they're licensed to sell. "It allows us to better serve customers."
When it comes to shopping for tools that help firms develop cross-selling efforts, "The most important piece of it" is the software evaluation. Garry says, "Don't over buy and don't under buy. Make sure you understand your immediate needs. If you're using consultants, make sure they're licensed and familiar in installing the software you choose."
Accenture's Klein Wassink adds that not only must firms have the integration and architecture down to manage and track opportunities, but they also need strong marketing talent and skills in place to maximize opportunities.
Garry adds, remember that it's a complex system you're building and will take time.