• Ruby Paramanathan, Director |
  • Pete Darnley, Senior Manager |
4 min read


Our recent publication on the evolving needs of the C-Suite highlighted the evolution of client centricity as a theme, in a year where all industries have experienced unprecedented change. For Wealth and Asset Management the client, institution and end investor are increasingly front and centre of business growth strategies. Knowing who your clients are and measuring the strength of your relationships with them requires a deeper level of understanding and reach to keep them engaged as their investment needs evolve. The expectation that your experience with a manager mirrors other aspects of your life, coupled with new entrants into the market with digital first experiences, are shining a light on existing pain points and challenges in client engagement. With firms pivoting more and more to digital services, this is an opportune moment to take a step back and look at your key technology investments and how effectively you are using them to delight your clients and predict their future needs.

The CRM platform and the role in an asset manager’s broader digital engagement strategy is increasingly in focus. Firms require not only agile Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to keep pace and grow alongside the wants of their clients and wider business goals, but a connected ecosystem that enables the enterprise to effectively engage the client continuously in a seamless way. Previously seen as a digital rolodex of basic client information, CRM systems are now, sophisticated engagement platforms — empowered by AI automation with cross-platform integration to deliver a full 360-view of the customer

Increasingly, the new capabilities of CRMs have aligned to the broader digital needs of Wealth and Asset Managers. Confluence’s Asset Management Report noted 82% of Wealth and Asset Managers felt that centralising data was increasingly important, and 62% described replacing manual process with automated capabilities an important overhaul needing to happen. These are notably core functionalities of a CRM platform, and their impact would not only save valuable employee time, but also redirect manages’ attention to more personalised, customer-centric activities.

Improvements to CRM systems aren’t simply for the benefit of the asset manager— clients expect high quality engagement across all touchpoints as a foundation nowadays. Alan Donnelly, Head of Financial Services at Salesforce cited that eighty per cent of customers say the experience of a company is just as vital as its products or services. With new levels of competition and consolidation across the industry, service and experience excellence are now an increasingly important differentiator that is key to attracting and retaining assets.

Behind the scenes of quality service, lies informed, personalised and clearly defined customer and client journeys – something modern CRM systems are continuously redefining. Forrester Research estimated seventy-five per cent of companies with CRM systems had better customer relationships than those without – and for good reason. From centralised information databanks to automated journey management, the influence of a company’s CRM platform is sending shockwaves across customer experience. 

Harnessing your digital strategy

A common misconception is that CRM systems are solutions of indefinite durability. As your business goals and direction develop—likewise, your CRM system needs to flex and evolve alongside. The influence of digital technologies like CRM systems are increasingly becoming embedded into the business – not as a separate entity to consider – but as a strategic enabler and integral component of the wider company strategy.

Therefore, companies must now have a clear digital strategy that is enduring, adaptable and rooted within the business’ strategic direction. When creating a foundational digital strategy, companies should begin with a minimum viable product approach – what needs are most pressing and necessary for the business. Defining the business outcomes required not only for Sales and RMs, but also Marketing, Client Servicing and importantly the leadership. This ensures a direct link from the delivery of the technology to the business growth and client strategy, so an agile delivery can start to be linked to successes in new opportunities, pitches, and strategic global accounts. Starting with the user experience is key to keep the business engaged and excited by what is coming, as they see relevance to their individual role.

Frequently, CRM systems that have been implemented in earlier versions of the platform, have subsequently been over-customised to achieve what Sales and RMs require. In fact today’s CRM has capabilities of a full digital client engagement platform, and there is a need to deliver a holistic, one stop shop for client facing teams that limits the need to connect to multiple interfaces to source information on your client, and is fully flexible, high performing and accessible.

Even if your firm has already implemented a CRM system, the MVP and value-based approach is still invaluable. Many firms with legacy systems suffer from the penalties of over-customisation. From duplicate business processes to defunct fields, this is one of the most frequent complaints regarding older systems. Whether you are planning to or have already implemented a CRM system for your firm, starting from a MVP streamlines your digital strategy and helps you prioritise where change needs to occur.

From KPMG’s experience of implementing CRM platforms as part of a broader digital strategy, and insights on where clients have achieved real business value, we see the following as a critical path for success:

Tip #1 – Pause and reflect

Digital systems like CRMs are not hardwired tools—they’re designed to change and adapt to your business’ needs. As such, system updates should be entrenched within your digital strategy. Ask yourself and your co-workers, is the CRM system working for:

  • Users
  • Customers
  • Company’s wider strategy

Take time to question business as usual-- and empower your team members to do the same.

Tip #2 – Understand your people

Your CRM system is ultimately built for people (users) to help people (clients). As part of your company’s digital strategy, there should be an open culture of discussion, feedback and questioning to ensure user-centric design is enmeshed throughout the system. Start with user experience design and journeys – get to know what the average day of a salesperson looks like; how does the marketing team handle or even struggle using the CRM for lead management; what crucial aspects is the client servicing team missing out on to deliver consistent client satisfaction?

Your digital strategy should have a holistic understanding of user experience across the firm entwined within its objectives. User-centricity ultimately drives increased performance, workplace satisfaction and client trust.

Tip #3 – Discover the art of the possible

CRM systems are rapidly evolving and in order to harness the new functionality, firms need to keep pace. This step can be taken in three ways:

  1. How can I use the current CRM system to improve other, non-digitised areas of my firm?
  2. What new features can be used to advance and improve current processes?
  3. What new distinct capability should be implemented into the current state system?

All three require open ears and minds, and an active awareness of new releases from your chosen CRM system. As part of your digital strategy, there should be a mindset that you have paid not for the current state product, but for a flexible system that will evolve through regular iterations. Keep up to date with the latest releases on the platform’s website, through trusted technology newsletters and through your chosen consultancy firm.

Tip #4 – Define your foundational 360 client view

The pursuit of a single client view has historically been thwarted by architectural complexity and conflicting perspectives on data mastery, however this is no longer the case. Open API CRM platforms increasingly afford organisations to leverage point and click integration patterns and pre-built connectors from ISV’s within the ecosystem in a fraction of the time to create a borderless architecture that can both master and mirror customer related data.

Unifying and de-duping this data within a unique CRM record, provides a strategic focal point, streamlining architecture to integrate the existing and the new, ever growing array of customer engagement data. Furthermore, defining a two-speed approach for real-time actionable insights to that of less time critical data feeds allows businesses with strategic CRM platforms to accelerate and simplify the journey.

Having established a connected business, operational and digital engagement view of the client, leading CRM’s will surface that single view to marketing, sales, client servicing and beyond. In turn, promoting next best actions, that with AI continually learn from new client behaviour and interactions across web, social and meeting insights ensures the next engagement is meaningful and informed.

Tip #5 – Listen to feedback

Feedback should be asked for—not told to the business users. In an increasingly digitised workforce, frustrations and problems can often be ignored, negated, or never mentioned by team members and clients. Therefore—companies need to seek it out.

In addition to keeping an open floor approach in the workplace, companies should be prompting regular feedback, for example:

  • Surveys – event driven and periodic (use anonymous surveys to foster frank honesty)
  • Focus groups – listening to and working with vocal customers and colleagues.
  • Fault Logging & Change Request – empower colleagues to escalate and poll for change, instilling confidence in resolution and ownership of their platform experience.

These shouldn’t be sparked by a known need for change, continuous improvement should become engrained in BAU culture to champion, own, and embrace change.

Whether the focus is Marketing, Sales and/or Client Servicing, strategic investment to design customer centric, colleague led digital experiences that are designed to change – not built to last, is fundamental to embedding agility into your CRM.

The right partner can not only quality assure and enable delivery of your CRM transformation, but also empower Business & IT to align on a strategic vision which is essential to achieving sustainable value realisation. The priority question we are continually asked today is how do I achieve the optimal ROI on my CRM platform?

Get in touch to find out how our knowledgeable team at KPMG can help align your Business and IT strategic vision to deliver a successful CRM transformation that will generate a tangible ROI.

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