Only 9% of financial firms make retaining customers the No. 1 goal of their customer relationship marketing (CRM) systems, a survey by GartnerG2, a division of Gartner, showed. But particularly in today's economy, customer retention should be the foremost goal of any CRM system, Gartner maintains.

Instead, 43% of firms' CRM systems focus on customer acquisition.

"Customer retention should be the first line of defense in a financial service provider's CRM strategy," said Kim Collins, research director at GartnerG2. "However, most financial service companies do not even have a clear definition of customer attrition, much less a way to accurately identify and respond to early warning signs that a customer is likely to exit."

Collins also noted that it costs $287 to acquire a new customer, versus $57 to keep one.

Gartner conducted the survey of 117 financial service firms over the course of the first quarter via the Web.

Subscribe Now

Access to premium content including in-depth coverage of mutual funds, hedge funds, 401(K)s, 529 plans, and more.

3-Week Free Trial

Insight and analysis into the management, marketing, operations and technology of the asset management industry.