Customer relationship management is more than just an industry buzzword. In fact, for advisors it can be the difference between a profitable business and a really profitable business.

Neesha Hathi, a vice president at Schwab Advisor Services, said during a keynote session at the T3 Conference in Florida that advisors that better utilize CRM can really distinguish themselves.

Ten years ago the average advisor was using one to two applications in their office, today that has increased to five or six applications.  Those applications have gotten very good at the service they provide, but integration is where there is a lot of room for improvements, Hathi said.

“CRM can develop more than 15% time savings, yet it is under utilized by RIAs,” she said.

While 97% of advisors use CRM to store client contact information, things like business development, storing client reports and integrating with other solutions had less than a 50% adoption rate.

“Mostly everyone uses it for contact management,” Hathi said.  She showed that task management, client communications and prospect communications are at the next tier of utilization.  Document management, mobile access and business development are proving to be a later stage of adoption.

Hathi said, “If you want to grow, you need to focus on grow and then you need to scale your business to grow.  Work flow management is so important, creating consistency in your process.  It also frees you from not being dependant on someone that might have gone on vacation or left the firm.  In doing so, you institutionalize the functionality.”

Business analytics is another way to look at staff time used.  It helps determine where more resources should be spent and on which types of clients.  It can also give dates to make those types of decisions.

“Know who your top ten clients are.  Know what your open tasks are.”  Hathi said. “You can leverage CRM for business development too.  It is easy to track leads in CRM.” 

Along with prospects, advisors can prioritize clients based on profitability.

Cross application integration is something that Schwab is working hard on as integration supercharges CRM.  Hathi confessed, “We really believe that mobile access is something that advisors are going to want to use when they are away from the office.”  Intelligent integration is so important to design the best work flows.  It is important to work with technology that is already out there being used.

Haithi highlighted the Foster Group in her presentation as a firm that uses CRM to capture all aspects of their office activities.  This is something most of advisors can aim for, as it is clear that this tool is being underutilized by most.

Mike Byrnes founded Byrnes Consulting to provide consulting services to help advisors become even more successful.  His expertise is in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas.  Read more at