Junxure CRM has a long history in the independent RIA market. Originally created by financial planner Greg Friedman and his partner Ken Golding for Friedman’s California RIA, Private Ocean, Junxure now has more than 10,000 users and boasts of a client retention rate of about 96%.

Over the years, Junxure has added a few additional products, including ClientView, a client portal service, and Junxure Mobile. But the one component it’s been lacking is a cloud-based CRM product, which it’s been working on for abouty two years. Those efforts are about to bear fruit.

I recently tried the beta version of Junxure Cloud. I expect the final product to be available before year’s end, perhaps as soon as this month. It’s too early to offer a conclusive opinion, but it’s far enough along in development to form some preliminary opinions.

FIRST LOOK

The folks at Junxure suggested I use Chrome to log in, and that’s where Junxure Cloud appears to operate best (at least for now). I’ve been assured the product will perform well in all major browsers in its final release. (Full disclosure: Junxure is a sponsor of my Technology Tools for Today conference.)

Once you’re logged in, you’ll notice that the home screen has a very different look and feel than the existing Junxure products, with a Windows 8-style appearance and an array of tiles populated with dynamic content. The tiles contain links to the most important, and most recently accessed, information and activities such as actions, opportunities and records.

Actions refer to tasks and activities. From the homepage, users have one-click access to all past-due and due-today actions, as well as those that are pending and the last 20 actions. Opportunities refer to new business opportunities. The records section holds information about prospects, clients, vendors, etc. The homepage tile highlights all incomplete records that require attention, as well as the last 20 records accessed.

There are a number of other important tiles on the homepage as well, including a static one linking to the dashboard screen. The dashboard itself is similar to the existing Junxure dashboard and comes configured with a number of widgets that focus on how the firm is performing. These include firm AUM, accounts by investment model, top clients and new AUM (by firm and by advisor). The cloud version can link more easily to a wider range of data from integration partners. Although only a limited number of widgets are available now, I expect that, over time, advisors will be able to customize their layout and choose from a larger library.

The assets link on the homepage takes you to a list of all assets managed by the firm. The list can be sorted by any column — asset type, custodian, etc. To save space, only the most widely used column headers are displayed in the default view, but users can choose from an extensive list of options.

Users can also export lists to Excel or save customized views as a template. By default, the list contains only the information indicated by the column headers, but if the user clicks the plus sign next to an entry, the entry expands to provide additional information: contact information, clients’ pictures, and names of primary and secondary advisors. Double-clicking on an entry brings up the full asset record.

Across the top of every record screen in the program is a menu of common tasks: add an action, asset, opportunity or insurance, correspond, access reports and add a new record. The insurance link, for instance, takes you to a list of all of a client’s policies.

INTEGRATION HOPES

The company expects Junxure Cloud will have some live integration links at launch, with additional ones added later. My beta version had four tiles on the homepage (Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Orion, Envestnet), but none were live yet. The first integrations are likely to be the portfolio management products (Orion, Envestnet, Portfolio Center and Advent/Black Diamond), and a couple of document management ones (Laserfiche and Docupace), followed by MoneyGuidePro and custodial interfaces to Schwab and TD Ameritrade.

The integrations will not be identical. Initially, Junxure says, the Schwab integration tile on the homepage will log the user into his Schwab Advisor Center account; the Schwab integration should also feature the OpenView Gateway interface to access live position data, alerts and reports. Junxure plans a link to a TD Ameritrade customer’s VEO portal, with access to live position data.

The Orion integration is slated to include a homepage login tile for the advisor portal, Orion Connect. Client records should also feature links to corresponding views within the Orion site, such as reports, assets, billing information and the like. The Envestnet tile is set to allow users to navigate into Envestnet’s platform. Record-level views will be viewable within the Junxure Cloud user interface, Junxure says.

Links at the bottom of the homepage point to the reports section, the workflow setup, correspondence and document templates.

The workflow section allows you to group workflows into categories (such as general, business development, client service or compliance) so they can be retrieved easily Advisors can also assign workflows to co-workers.

CORRESPONDENCE HELP

The correspondence section includes multirecipient emails and history. To get started, select one or more records and launch the wizard. You pick the type (email, letter, envelope or label), confirm or edit the recipient list, and select the correspondence template. For email, you’ll provide a subject line.

The application performs the mail merge and presents you with a finished product for review. If approved, emails are sent and recorded, while letters and labels are downloaded for printing. The wizard is quick, simple and efficient.

Individual client records are well designed. The top of the record contains core information, including name, address, contact info and important text alerts. Below that are three levels of links — one that allows the user to add actions or assets, another that sorts by type of information (profile, actions, documents, financials, opportunities or emails), and finally a context-sensitive list of tabs related to the section you are in. Under the profile section, for example, you’ll see tabs for contact info, personal info, employment and referrals. Under financials, tabs include assets/liabilities, insurance, income/expenses and taxes. Again, everything is laid out logically and is easy to navigate.

POSITIVE IMPRESSION

At this stage, I have as many questions as I have answers, but this is clear: From an interface and user experience perspective, Junxure Cloud is a success. The look and feel of the program is modern and aesthetically pleasing and the interface feels more intuitive than past versions. Novice users should have a much easier time.

Although integration with custodians and third-party providers is not complete, I expect the synthesis to be smooth given the firm’s technical knowhow, as well as that of its partners. Integrations with Pershing and Fidelity do not appear imminent, so if your primary custodian is not Schwab or TD Ameritrade, you might want to delay purchasing Junxure Cloud for a few months.

Junxure’s reporting capabilities have always been a strong point, although ease of use on the custom reporting side has been a problem. Although I wasn’t able to test the new reporting functionality, I expect it to be similar to the existing version’s — and I hope it too will get an interface upgrade.

The dashboard holds great promise, but the number of widgets currently available will not satisfy many advisors. Junxure should add more, but it is not clear when those might come. Still, I think the potential exists for this to become a really powerful feature.

My version of Junxure Cloud was a little bit sluggish at times, but this is often true with beta versions of cloud software. It does appear, however, that large mail merges could be slow, even in the final product.

The folks at Junxure will be trying to market Junxure Cloud to two different audiences: users who do and do not use the desktop/server version of Junxure.

I’d strongly advise those who are  new to Junxure to give Junxure Cloud a try. It will not include every feature Junxure offers, but it will have enough  for most users — and the ability to use a cloud-based product with 24/7 access from multiple devices is a great benefit. The software’s intuitive appeal should also make it easier to learn and use.

For existing Junxure users, the decision will be more complex. Advisors already comfortable with their version, or who require some of the features available exclusively on the desktop version, may not want to jump in right away. Over time, I expect Junxure Cloud’s feature set to expand to the point where it satisfies all but a small minority of users.

At $75 per user per month, with various volume and other discounts available, Junxure Cloud is not the cheapest cloud CRM offering available, but the price seems fair for the value.

As is often the case, the devil is in the details, so I’ll withhold final judgment until the production release is available. But based on what I’ve seen, I’m optimistic Junxure Cloud will be well received by advisors.

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