From the November 2008 issue of Boomer Market Advisor • Subscribe!

Feeling overwhelmed? Get back to basics

The benefits of contact management systems are obvious, but why aren't more advisors using them? Given the turbulent market, and with so many clients looking for financial leadership, the use of a contact management system can help you calm nervous clients.

As relationship management becomes more complicated and your clients' lives more complex, keeping track of everything will continue to be a daunting task. The problem only becomes more profound in a multi-person or team, where consistency of the client experience becomes absolutely critical to maintaining the feeling of family, while at the same time creating the foundation for growth.

Let's go back to basics and look at some of the reasons why an advisor should use a contact management system. While every system is different in its capabilities, there are ways in which all of them help you operate more efficiently. The most significant benefit is to help you get organized, which will save you time. It's the difference between flipping through a stack of business cards when you need to call a client, versus simply typing in the clients first or last name, their address, the city in which they live, etc.

A critical aspect to being organized is keeping track of where you -- and others on your team -- need to be and what need needs to be done. Contact management systems provide calendars, to-do lists and alerts that will keep you focused on the day, week, and month ahead (and enable you to track the activities of your team).

A second, and equally important, benefit is that a contact management system can help enhance the relationships you have with your customers. For example, a contact management system can alert you or your assistant when a customer or prospect's birthday (or that of their significant other or kids) is coming up. Most contact managers also allow you to mine for opportunities amongst your current prospects or customers based on specific attributes that reside in the system. In turn, letters or a call list can be easily generated.

A third benefit is that contact management systems also help keep the team in your practice connected. When you or someone on your team communicates with a client, notes can be added to their file.

Selecting a contact management system might seem overwhelming, but there are three points to consider that'll make it easy:

  1. Keep it simple - There are a lot of different contact management systems in the market. Be honest with yourself about your current needs, but also don't forget to consider your future plans. Don't take on a significant implementation and expense unless your current or future needs absolutely warrant it.
  2. Talk to your peers - There are many others who have blazed the trail before you. Talk to them, read their postings on Web sites or blogs. Don't make the same mistakes and fall into the same traps that others have.
  3. Know your provider - You're not just making a choice to work with a particular contact management provider today -- it's a choice with which you'll live for the next two to five years. Take time to understand the financials of your provider, how they plan to enhance their product, and what support they provide.

Marc Butler is managing director with iNautix (USA) LLC, an affiliate of Pershing LLC in Jersey City, N.J. He can be reached at

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