I’ve tried to make my new RIA as heavily reliant on cloud technology as possible. Anything that I could push into a cloud technology solution I have. However, I’m still wrestling with one of my basic needs: a CRM system.

At the previous RIAs I have worked at, I worked first with a proprietary CRM and then with Junxure. I enjoyed using Junxure, but it didn’t make sense to use it in my one-man setup; it’s just too big for me. (The initial price tag is out of my price range, and it has a three-user minimum.)

I took a trial run on Redtail, which is used by many firms -- both solo and larger practices. I was shocked when I saw the interface, though; it was uninspiring and simplistic.

I couldn’t imagine how advisors can manage their practice from a system that seemed so basic.

That brought me to a tough choice. I was hoping that one of those two systems would work for me as I was going to use all of their available integrations. But now I had to search for another system.


Going to various technology surveys and NAPFA forums, I saw that some advisors were using Salesforce, so I signed up for a trial. I had some trepidation, after being disappointed with the other systems, but was pleasantly surprised when I found the AppExchange, which gives me the opportunity to integrate many of my software programs with the CRM. The colors were appealing and it was a nice surprise to find the add-ons designed specifically for the financial services community.

Even after a three-month search, though, my solution is imperfect. I signed up for Salesforce during the company’s incentive period, and can access the software’s API and workflow add-ons, but I was only able to purchase the standard version. I’m now looking into moving to the Wealth Management version or using the XLR8 add-on, which is customized for advisors.

The journey’s not over yet, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Dave Grant, CFP, a Financial Planning columnist, is the founder of Cary, Ill.-based planning firm Finance for Teachers. He’s also the founder of Fee Only Consulting, which focuses on developing the skills of Gen Y planners. In addition, he’s the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for young, fee-only planners.

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