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Asset Managers and How They Power Their Businesses with Salesforce CRM

For our research project on VC/private equity deal origination, Renny Monaghan of Salesforce pointed me to a 2008 Dreamforce panel on Asset Managers and How They Power Their Businesses with Salesforce CRM. The video and Powerpoint are downloadable here. My notes follow.

I think the most interesting point came from Erik Yewell, who said, “We don’t (unlike Bloomberg ) currently offer ability to message any other Salesforce user. However, over time you’ll see more networking amongst Salesforce users.”


The panelists’ biographies:

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Jim Creighton, CEO, Creighton Capital

Jim’s career in the financial industry spans over 30 years. He has been Global Chief Investment Officer at 3 of the largest global investment management firms – Barclays Global Investors, Deutsche Asset Management and Northern Trust. He has also had ‘hands on’ roles in 3 successful startup investment organizations. He has extensive experience in the management and trading of carefully structured portfolios at the highest level of institutional scale.

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Mandy Allen, Senior eBusiness Manager, Fortis

Recently merged with ABN Amro. Runs Salesforce implementation

Mandy has spent the last 15 years in the Investment industry, managing global projects for Sales and Research business areas. She has implemented 2 previous CRM implementations (both in-house built) before implementing salesforce.com CRM for Fortis Investments in 2008. Mandy is currently the eBusiness Manager in the Marketing division responsible for Intranet and CRM program management.

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Brock Hubbard, Manager, Business Intelligence, Janus

Brock joined INTECH in November of 2003 and joined JanusINTECH Institutional in February 2006. He currently serves as Business Intelligence Manager. Prior to joining Janus Capital Group, Brock was in client service at Great West Life and Merrill Lynch. He received his MBA from Regis University and bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University in Business Management. Brock has 9 years of financial industry experience.

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Rodric O’Connor, CTO, Blum Capital

Rodric joined Blum Capital in 2003, and has been responsible for leading the internal technology and security group. Mr. O’Connor has 20 years of experience in information technology and development within the financial services and technology sectors and has been recognized as an InfoWorld CTO 25 honoree. Prior to joining Blum Capital Partners, L.P., Mr. O’Connor held the position of CTO at Putnam Lovell NBF, an investment bank. Mr. O’Connor has a BS (Joint Honors) in Computer Science and Accounting from the University of Manchester, U.K.

$3B AUM. Make strategic block investments into public markets, and sometimes then take those investments private.

Moderated by: Erik Yewell, Sales Engineer, Salesforce.com, Financial Services Vertical

Creighton

Using Salesforce since 2004. Started in 2004 in IR. Expanded to LP events tracking, web to lead. Custom objects for project management. We’ve also added in a research database that our PMs use to track portfolio companies and pipeline companies they’re thinking of investing in. Also use this for compliance.

Hubbard

Fully on Salesforce since June of this year for complete sales cycle. 24 month sales cycle for institutional investors. We have workflow implementation: certain triggers go to legal, implementation, etc. We have custom object to track investment accounts. We have customized a Gift & Entertainment solution for tracking our employees, consultants, etc, to help in compliance.

Allen

Similar to Brock. We’re now adding a client servicing module, which is used by our outside transfer agent. That’s available to all salespeople. Now upgrading our data reporting, since we’re working on integrating two merged companies. Fortis & ABN Amro had separate client bases with Chinese Wall between them (which we took down later). To enhance user take-up, we made the screens look a lot like Microsoft Dynamix.

Creighton

In my prior roles as CIO at big businesses, we had huge tech staff to build customized solutions for us. As a new, small business that was not an option for us. We started with sales process & client contact. We now have something very sophisticated compared with what I had before. Have expanded to position & activity side. During the Asian currency crisis at my old firm, I couldn’t see exactly what were my current positions.

Hubbard

We use a custom activities tracking feature that we built internally to capture how we service accounts. We saw that many of our clients have multiple accounts with us, which need to be serviced differently. So we built a tool that allows multiple investment accounts to be created. VisualForce allows us to see those accounts. We need to associate consultants with each account. Prior to VisualForce, users had to know the exact user account numbers. This allows both local and mobile
users to have data at fingertips.

O’Connor

BlueWolf spent 6 weeks developing this for us, including process mapping and training. 2 developers needed. Pull in data from ThomsonReuters via XML feed, to avoid rekeying. Use Informatica to pull in data from Advent Axys. We have read-only area to pull in market cap, current shares owned, basic description of company. We also have 20-30 custom fields our investment professionals want to track about the firm. Consensus estimates for 3-4 years embedded. Share price is end of day price.

Easy to see common board members.

Historically we incorporated with Intralinks portal. Intralinks breaks up the PDF file into LP-specific information that goes into the appropriate folders.

For the research database, we implemented Informatica Ipaq for Salesforce.

Implementing the ThomsonReuters XML feed was very complex; the integration with Axys was easy (2 days).

Yewell:

It’s not hard to get to integrated flat file databases, as long as you have integrated account numbers.

Hubbard

We use Informatica to push info out of Salesforce to our record-keepers. We use Biztalk for some ERS charges. We are working with S&P Money Market Direct to sync data with them.

Yewell:

Discuss user adoption.

Hubbard

Our primary concern is utilization of dashboards. User only cares about his data , not overall system’s data. We’ve put a lot more workflow into the system, so phone calls are less necessary. This pulls people into the system.

O’Connor

As always, you need strong executive support. The ability of different departments to absorb new technology varies by department. I’m a great believe in making the system as smart as possible for the users. Integrate, automate, innovate. Use triggers & workflows.

Show users that you’re responding promptly to their needs.

At a prior investment bank where I worked, we ran competitions with monthly & annual prizes for best idea. We encouraged excitement about the system, encourage people to think about ways system can be used.

We do upgrades all the time without any special notices. Very transparent.

Yewell

Was it hard to get executive support?

O’Connor

Easy

Allen

Our users were using lots of Dynamix, so there was no hardship at all. They were happy to get out of it. (laughter) We couldn’t make necessary changes in it. We could do changes in an afternoon with Salesforce. We had a strong senior manager who was a strong Salesforce advocate. We kept pushing ourselves to release new information. We changed a lot of screens to make them look like what people were used to.

Creighton

Very simple adoption, in part because we’re a small shop. We had to nudge a few people, but after a few days the better functionality was helpful to them. They like the ability to do anything anywhere in a secure way.

Yewell

What do you wish someone had told you that you were not aware of re: Salesforce?

Hubbard

Security. We now can tell service people: it’s your client, you’re the one to take action on a particular client. The security model supports that. Development time previously with SQL was slower-we were shipping data to India. We’re able to customize public info for outside consultants. That’s been a huge win. Investment people don’t want to see more noise.

Yewell

What have dashboards done for you?

Hubbard

We enabled dashboards so salespeople could see precisely what they’re being paid for. They can readily see if they’re meeting their goals, which drives compensation.

O’Connor

I try to look at AppExchange every few months. We use ComboMerge for some advanced Excel reporting. Availability of 3rd party developers has grown a lot in the last few years. If you haven’t tried it, build your own applications.

Q&A from the audience

Creighton

We rely very little on prime brokers now. We want to be independent of them. They have a lot of valuable stuff. The only tool we use routinely are the risk models.

Q: Are you integrating with a portfolio accounting system? Do you use Salesforce for newsletters, updates, etc.?

Hubbard

Informatica feed with our accounting system took about 10 days. Very smooth. In our previous CRM system we had 3 accounting feeds; now we have one. We do contact our clients out of the system, using ExactTarget (through AppExchange). We hit them with newsletters, current market environment updates.

O’Connor

Informatica did the integration for us. We don’t do any direct mailing to clients thru the system.

Allen

We are just in process of purchasing a mass email tool. Our French office heavily uses mass email. Compliance checks everything before it goes out. Email templates are pre-approved, set up in our system.

Hubbard


We turn off the email functionality for compliance reasons

Yewell

There is the ability within Salesforce to relay all emails via ‘Email Relay’, so the emails are sent via your email servers.

Q:

How did you define an account? In our firm we have 65 UBSs.

Hubbard

We have separate record types: home offices, branch offices, etc.

Allen

Only an account labeled a client is verified by finance system. Users can’t create a new account, unless it’s a prospect. Finance then converts that lead into an account. When we first launched the system, we were unsure who’s who.

Yewell

Record-types are a way to look at different types of accounts in a system.

Q:

Who does your administration? IT side, business side?

Allen

We have one person doing Administration, and he sits on IT side.

Hubbard

Administration/production is all in IT. We have a change review board that meets weekly. We have administration rights in Sandbox, to show IT exactly what we’re looking for.

Yewell

I really like the idea of a sandbox. Historically, Salesforce avoided IT departments, because we didn’t have toys to give them. But now we’re moving closer to them. Any integration with other data requires talking with IT.

Hubbard

You need a Sandbox as soon as you add a 2nd application, and particularly when you deal with integration.

Yewell

Sandbox allows you to clone your entire environment. There are easy tools to move changes from Sandbox into main environment.

Allen

We have several consultants working for us now, and each has his own Sandbox.

Yewell

How did Salesforce impact performance of integration?

Creighton

No problems with scaling.

Yewell

Some of our customers had millions of rows of data with Informatica. You can inject 18 streams of data at once.

Q:

Are any of you integrating with mobile? What hiccups have there been?

Allen:

We’re using Blackberries with Fortis. Had some issues with IT. We’re trying to do everything in our team. We find we need people working very closely with test & release teams.

O’Connor

We’re piloting, but not aggressively.

Q: What tool is your sales team using mainly for communication?

Allen

Outlook. We’re working on improving the integration, because people are cutting and pasting now. Previously with Dynamix, you had to duplicate everything, which meant your dentist

appointments got into Salesforce, which clogged the system.

Q:

Within financial services firms, there are certain areas where Salesforce seems better suited than others. What are the best areas besides investment management?

O’Connor

I’ve implemented this in many parts of investment banks. It’s very suitable for anything that involves interaction with outside people & companies. Our legal people use only custom objects; for them this is really just a generic build tool.

Yewell

We don’t (unlike Bloomberg ) currently offer ability to message any other Salesforce user. However, over time you’ll see more networking amongst Salesforce users. Currently we don’t focus on trading environment.

Q:

Have you run into anything that you haven’t been able to do with Salesforce?

Creighton:

We’ve had some limitations with Reporting, because of one child to every parent limitation.

Parting Thoughts – Ideas to take away


Try creating a custom application, it’s simple

Check www.appexchange.com every few months

for new apps to make your life easier

Dashboards are key to user adoption

Leverage the resources on the jobs board: developer.salesforce.com

Configuration is very easy

The security model is very flexible

Use automated email to notify teams of areas for training

Convenient to access wherever I am

The uptime is very good compared to in-house apps in big companies

The report writer is intuitive and easy to use, for business users

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