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CRM for investment banking: A quick-start guide

Customer relationship management (CRM) software has become an integral part of doing business today. From startups to enterprises in sectors as diverse as higher education, healthcare, and construction – the need to have a complete understanding of how customers interact with your company is critical for success. CRM software has come a long way since it first emerged as a software category in the 1980s. No longer is it simply about digitizing your contact lists, but instead it has become a sophisticated and powerful tool in understanding and managing the entire customer journey with your firm in one central place.

Modern CRM software allows you to automate many of your repetitive tasks to save time. This might mean automating parts of your marketing through email drip campaigns, lead scoring or moving prospects throughout the sales pipeline stages. In addition to this, many now include the ability to use AI and machine learning in a number of ways, such as chatbots to assist in customer service, automated business intelligence, and predictive analytics to help with sales forecasting accuracy.

Leading CRMs for investment bankers

What are some of the leading CRMs for investment bankers?

There are a number of CRM solutions available that are well suited to the needs of investment bankers. Which ones might be right for your firm will largely depend on the size and primary focus of your business. The best choice for a bulge bracket bank is not necessarily going to be the right pick for a boutique M&A-focused firm. And there is no shortage of options to choose from – CRM is the fastest growing sector within the software market, projected to be worth USD$96.5B by 2028.

With that in mind, we have put together a short summary of some of the standout CRM software solutions for the investment banking industry, with a mix of established names and two that are newer but look promising.

Salesforce, Navatar, Microsoft Dynamics 365

The big names

Salesforce

With 19.5% of the total CRM software market share, Salesforce is significantly ahead of their nearest rivals. A big reason for this is the flexibility and power of the software to meet the demands of almost any industry, and investment banking is no exception. Salesforce is set to become even more attractive to this sector with the imminent release of their Corporate and Investment Banking for Financial Cloud offering. Some of the specialized additions include tight integration with the Einstein Relationship Insights tool, enabling bankers to utilize AI to uncover connections with existing contacts and the ability to manage compliance issues through better control of who can access sensitive information.

Navatar

Although Navatar is built on Salesforce technology, it warrants a separate mention due to the specific focus on the investment banking industry. It offers an out-of-the-box experience, tailored specifically for the needs of investment banking and they handle all aspects of the implementation, training, and support within the subscription cost.

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is part Microsoft’s enterprise cloud software ecosystem that, like Salesforce, is adaptable to many different industries. In the case of investment banking, Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services is a good starting point to see how it may work for your firm.

4Degrees, Affinity

The upstarts

4Degrees.ai

4Degrees is a cloud CRM with an emphasis on deal flow. It uses AI to analyze your existing business relationships and help you use your network to find new connections and opportunities. It also offers automated business intelligence research, tracking industry news and events to help you make the right first impression when reaching out to new prospects and existing clients. While it functions as a CRM in its own right, it also integrates with other popular CRMs to allow you to take advantage of the best of both systems.

Affinity.co

Affinity solves the pain point of having to manually enter or import customer data from your existing contacts by automatically importing the contact information from your entire team’s communication tools capturing every interaction. Affinity then utilizes AI to make sense of all this, creating a wealth of contact information going back as many years as you have the data for. This allows you to quickly make introductions without having to resort to cold email outreach. With great reporting capabilities and a wealth of integration options, it is a CRM worth keeping an eye on.

Implementing a CRM for your investment bank

What to consider when implementing a CRM for your investment bank

After your firm has the necessary stakeholder buy-in, the next important step is to begin the implementation strategy. Something to keep in mind is that no matter the promise of the software you are choosing, the key to success is making sure it is implemented correctly for your business needs. A 2017 study reported by CIO magazine found that on average a third of all CRM implementations are considered failures. While this number seems shocking, it should be reiterated that CRM software is a tool, and not a magic wand to automatically generate sales and remove inefficiencies.

The safest way to ensure that your business doesn’t become one of the failure statistics is to work with an implementation partner with experience in CRM for investment banking. The CRM software itself is usually not cheap by any standards, it can in some cases exceed $1000 per user, per month, although most fall well below this number. However, in addition to this ongoing expense, it is wise to budget for the one-time cost of an expert team to help implement your CRM to make the most of your investment. When implemented successfully, there is the potential for a pretty dramatic ROI – a 2019 IDC report on Salesforce CRM customers showed an impressive average return of 300-500% within four years.

A successful implementation, whether done in-house or with a partner, involves more than just the technical aspects of configuring the software to streamline your company processes. It will often also involve integrating it with other critical business software to minimize the amount of time employees spend switching between systems, allowing them to be more efficient.

Finally, properly training your team on the CRM software is a vital step. The usefulness of a CRM is largely dependent on the quality of data that goes into it, and there are numerous reasons why employees may be hesitant to embrace a new system – making sure that they see and understand the benefits of using it will ensure that the true value of the software can be seen.

Conclusion

Digital transformation is well and truly underway within the banking industry and understanding your customers and their needs fully with the use of CRM software is an important part of the process. While your specific needs and budget may vary depending on whether you are a boutique bank or part of the bulge bracket, investing in a CRM solution along with a well planned implementation has the potential to deliver a substantial return.

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