CRM: A Competitive Advantage in Financial Services


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March 3rd, 2009…Boston, MA… Financial services firms are constantly under pressure to produce results, and more than ever, are looking for new innovative strategies to remain competitive, create growth opportunities, and gather valuable insight into customer needs and preferences.

The five month study, performed by AbleBridge in partnership with Microsoft Corporation was conducted from October 2008 through February 2009. Interviews were compiled from a targeted population of over 2,000 small, mid-sized and large financial services firms resulting in over 600 completed interviews from key Sales and Marketing executives in retail banking, wealth management and insurance brokerage services.

CRM STRATEGY- Not Everyone’s Doing It, But Most Acknowledge the Value

Results revealed that 5 out of 10 firms (51%) currently use CRM systems to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their sales staff. In addition, 8 out of 10 firms (82%) acknowledged that a properly implemented CRM system would have a direct impact on their ability to retain customers, earn more of their business, and deliver superior customer service.

In terms of market activity, nearly a third of the companies interviewed indicated they were either buying or investigating a new CRM system or upgrading an existing CRM system over the next six to twelve months.

The study showed a variety of software brands and technology platforms competing for the business with over 14 software vendors mentioned. 4 out of the 14 software packages were the most popular packaged software choice for the financial services sector. The same 4 brands fall into “industry leading” CRM packages as defined by independent technology and market research companies. The majority of firms acknowledged the software was configured to their specific business processes.

HOME GROWN vs. PACKAGED – The Tides are Changing

Results revealed a large majority of financial services firms utilize some form of home grown CRM system that was 3 – 5 years old on average. The top three challenges for this segment was 1) older technology 2) user adoption 3) difficult to make changes. The top three benefits were 1) internal IT support 2) integrated with internal systems 3) standardized for internal processes.
The study also showed that 14% have recently implemented or upgraded their current homegrown CRM system and 18% were in the process of investigating packaged software options to replace their current homegrown CRM systems.

According to one Insurance Executive, “Our CRM strategy is comprised of a blended approach of both packaged and homegrown CRM tools. In the past we built everything from the ground up because there weren’t a lot of other choices at the time. Now we’re wise to the fact that investing in a vendor supported packaged platform is a smarter decision. The tools we design, specifically around reporting and trending metrics are specific to our business but they sit on top of the packaged software platform.”

CRM ADOPTION – Rates Remain High

It’s no secret that gaining internal support and user adoption for a new CRM system can be challenging. Financial Services firms have historically been early adopters of CRM strategies; therefore, their overall adoption rates seemed to be higher than most other industries. The current study showed 3 out of 4 respondents, who currently use a CRM system, indicating usage rates in the 70-90% range.

This, according to Ryan Plourde, a Principal with AbleBridge, is attributable to the direct value each customer brings to the Financial Services industry. “The value placed on strengthening the trust relationship with each customer by understanding their preferences, needs, and objectives has laid the foundation for a solid CRM strategy. Where other industries tend to struggle in this area, the Financial Services industry can quickly realize the benefits of CRM technology.”

“IN THE CLOUD” vs. “ON-PREMISE” – The Trend Follows the Data

When asked about their opinion as to the future direction of how financial services firms would access their CRM systems, web based access was the clear winner with the majority of the respondents indicating this was very important.

Web access in conjunction with an “On-Premise” deployment to ensure the security of sensitive customer data would be the most ideal model. Only 12% picked “In the Cloud”, where their data would be hosted by a 3rd party company, with the remaining 7% undecided.
The leading reasons cited for choosing On-Premise included “Data Security”, “IT Control and Ease of Management” and “Superior Integration Capability”.

A high number of respondents expressed concern that highly sensitive data would be transmitted over a network other than their own with an “In the Cloud” deployment model. However, many also acknowledged the fact that data security breaches could also happen with an On-Premise deployment. The overall perception clearly showed the majority of respondents more comfortable with an On-Premise CRM deployment solely based on data security concerns.

About the Study

Time frame: October 2008 – February 2009
Objective: 15 Question Survey focused on CRM use in Financial Service Firms
Target Sample: 2,078 Financial Services Firms
Sample Size: 603 Completed Surveys **

**Answered >10 Survey Questions

Distribution by Sub Segment:

o Banking Services 15%
o Insurance Services 55%
o Investment Services 30%

Sampling Error: +/- 5%

To request copy of the completed survey results please email: [email protected]

About AbleBridge

AbleBridge ( specializes in helping companies streamline their business operations and improve business results by leveraging the features and capabilities of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform. AbleBridge’s consultants have more than 30 years combined experience in the CRM industry. This expertise, in conjunction with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, helps them affordably tailor a solution resulting in increased sales, improved customer connections, enhanced productivity and greater business agility.

AbleBridge’s Core Competencies include: Needs Analysis, Business Process Management, Installation and Configuration, Data Migration, Customization, .NET Development and Training Services.

About Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM gives every customer-facing employee the information they need to truly impress customers. With Microsoft CRM, you can create a centralized repository of customer data that sits neatly alongside Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office Outlook—the applications your employees probably use every day. From Outlook, employees access Microsoft CRM sales, marketing, and customer service modules to make sales decisions, market products, solve problems, and get strategic views of the business. It’s CRM that works – because it works the way your users already do, works the way your business already does, and works the way technology should.


Jared Brown
[email protected]

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  1. It is true that CRM is a competitive advantage for Financial Services firm. It is becoming more critical for them, now that the markets are rebounding. However, they need to do more with less.

    You have provided some statistics about firms using CRM solutions “In The Cloud”. is the leading Cloud platform today. Navatar Group is a reseller of services, within the Financial Services industry. For more information on how is being used in Financial Services, read this interview from ThinkEquity:


    Allan Siegert
    Navatar Group


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