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Salesforce Announces AI-Driven Enhancement for CRM

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Salesforce announced on Tuesday that it is enhancing its Financial Services Cloud platform with an artificial intelligence component called Einstein, which uses natural language processing and machine learning to determine the health of an advisor’s relationship with a client and suggest steps the advisor might need to take with that client.

Salesforce launched its Financial Services Cloud platform about a year ago, Rohit Mahna, senior vice president and general manager of financial services for Salesforce, told ThinkAdvisor prior to the announcement, and has been building on it since then to take the general Salesforce CRM and “[make] it much more appropriate for financial services.”

Salesforce is an 18-year-old company with customers in many different industries, including financial services. Mahna said Salesforce is used at nine of the 10 largest wealth managers, like Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, as well as nine of the 10 largest banks.

“They’re not just customers. They’re really partners,” he said. “We’re helping them solve not only technology challenges, but real business problems.”

One of those problems is how to handle the increasing number and complexity of relationships advisors have with clients and their families.

For example, it’s been working with Transamerica for about a year on building a platform to give its agents a single view of each client.

“Everyone is going back to the heart of why they became an insurance firm, why they became a wealth firm, and that is helping their end customers achieve more than just making some money in investments,” Mahna said.

Advisors have long known the value they bring clients is in the relationships they build with them, but as their firms have grown, it’s been harder to keep up with those relationships.

“The complexities around relationship management are really difficult now,” Mahna said. “Gone are the days where the advisor could just know it all in their head.”

Compounding that problem is the shift in who owns the assets advisors manage for their clients. There will be an estimated $6 trillion in motion over the next decade, Mahna said, as older clients retire or transfer money to younger generations.

“You can’t take for granted that that money is going to stay with you anymore,” he said. Building a relationship with whole families rather than individuals is an important way to prevent dollars from leaving the firm.

The Financial Services Cloud consolidates all of an advisor’s accounts with a client, including individual, household and business accounts. It also shows relationships with other family members, like aging parents and minor children.

“The best investment any advisor can make right now is investing in relationships,” Mahna said, but he urged advisors to “think about it inward” and look at how the technology in their firms supports the relationship aspect of the business. “How do you make sure you’ve got the right technology stack that allows you to think ‘relationship first, everything else second.’”

A tool that can clearly show the relationship between clients and their families, and the advisor, is especially important for advisors who have a team supporting them.

“How do you move away from the reactive notion and become more predictive and proactive?” Mahna said. Tools supported by artificial intelligence can help advisors “get out ahead of potential challenges or obstacles” for clients.

Einstein scans all the data in a client’s accounts and communications with the advisor, and makes recommendations for steps the advisor should take next. For example, if a client has recently canceled a meeting or mentioned a competitor, the platform will show that the opportunity with the client is slowing and recommend sending an email to reconnect. The advisor can open a new email from the platform that is auto-filled with language based on past communications that the advisor can further edit.

Mahna noted that one of the goals of the platform and Einstein is to be “part of the fabric of what an advisor does every day, make things more actionable [and] make the advisor smarter” in servicing clients, regardless of the firm’s size.

When Salesforce launched Financial Services Cloud in February last year, Mahna said, it discovered that “the business problems we’re solving for — that is, driving advisor productivity, giving them all this rich data, helping them build better relationships with clients — was relevant to firms of all size.”

The platform is available on mobile devices and has a client view.

— Read Investors in ‘Bullish Holding Pattern’: Merrill on ThinkAdvisor.