The first in a 3-part CRM series summarises a podcast interview on the topic of CRM in financial services.

Hesmur Director and Partner Chris Hess, was invited to speak on RocketPod, a CRM podcast, to share his thoughts on the radical changes happening in financial services. In this interview, he sheds light on the role of CRM in successful digitisation.  

Chris explains why wealth management must make this digital shift sooner rather than later and why CRM should be considered a critical component of digital transformation amidst rising consumer demands and changing industry regulation. 

This article at a glance

  • The digital transformation happening in financial services
  • The drivers of change: digital shift, rising customer expectations, changing regulation
  • The existing issue with CRM in financial services and how it’s occured.
  • Why organisations have to address these issues now.
  • How to get started with this change – start with your people


Overview of CRM in financial services

The use of customer relationship systems or CRM in financial services is nothing new, and beyond this sector CRM software has been around for decades, evolving from a simple contact management system to today’s highly developed data management tools that can store, manage and leverage data in a fashion that helps businesses drive efficiency and connect better with customers and leads. 


CRM technology has become an essential component of a business’s IT infrastructure in this increasingly digitally enabled world, regardless of sector. And whilst some industries have embraced the recent digital shift with ease and are reaping the benefits of modern CRM technology, others are still playing catch up two decades on. One such industry is financial services, a broad sector which, in some areas, is still very much a laggard in digital adoption and the use of modern CRM technology.  


Hesmur Director and Partner Chris Hess, a financial services strategist and digital transformation expert was invited onto a CRM podcast RocketPod to share his thoughts on the radical changes in financial services. In this interview, he sheds light on the role of CRM in successful digitisation.  

Chris explains why wealth management must make this digital shift sooner rather than later and why CRM should be considered a critical component of digital transformation amidst rising consumer demands and changing industry regulation. 


RocketPod interview with Chris Hess of Hesmur

The digital transformation of financial services

“The financial services (FS) sector is undergoing radical changes and is under significant pressure to digitise its sales and distribution operations to deliver the experiences customers expect, with the standard set by other sectors. It could be said that broadly FS is somewhat of a laggard in digital adoption and how it uses CRM to enhance the customer experience, especially within wealth management. Yet, as we uncover, change is definitely underway. 

The sector is very broad, and the way providers interact with customers varies. Whilst some have excelled – especially where they have direct relationships with customers, such as retail banking and Direct to Consumer (D2C) trading platforms other sectors are struggling and still trying to transform to a more customer-centric way. This is particularly difficult in intermediated markets with multiple levels of the customer relationship. 

CRM in FS has always played a role but doesn’t have the best reputation for several reasons. The first is that many FS customer data systems don’t offer a holistic view of customers (sometimes even within one provider). In the intermediatory space specifically, there’s a real gap between the provider, intermediatory and customer. 


Drivers of change in financial services

This sector is seen as a laggard, but in recent years there’s been a move to drive things forward, partly due to the impact of the pandemic, which has forced FS organisations to think of new ways of interacting better with customers via digital channels. Change is also driven by the customers’ expectations of how they want to interact; When they want, wherever they want, in the way they want. 

People are time-poor, and face-to-face conversation is less desired. They want the ability to simplify and speed up their personal finances and administration, and the industry needs to cater to these changing customer needs in a much more flexible and responsive way. Hesmur’s syndicated research has demonstrated a general desire for greater flexibility in engaging with advisers, from video chats to digital tools and a range of self-service options. Other market research has indicated the vast majority of customers view digital as a key component of any proposition. 

There are also a whole series of regulatory drivers, specifically in the UK, introduced to ensure that the right things are done for customers – these customer care improvements are coming as part of the Consumer Duty Regulation changes delivered by the FCA, due to come into force in 2023. 

Advisors and providers will need to have a more holistic overview of customer requirements and also be able to ensure products and services are suitable to their needs by carefully managing risk. 

Looking at the wealth management sector specifically, this sub-sector highlights many issues concerning knowing and supporting the customer. It highlights the product silo challenge, the need to provide a 360 up to, date view of the customer, and the need to help the customer navigate channels seamlessly between provider and intermediary.  

Whilst navigating and addressing these issues may seem challenging to providers and intermediaries, CRM offers many opportunities to address this product silo challenge and improve the customer journey. Replacing long, drawn-out processes with more pleasant speedier experiences. 

Whilst the buyer journey can be viewed as complex, the approach to improving the customer journey is quite simple. CRM is about enhancing the customer journey and tracking and managing that whole process to deliver a better experience for advisors and clients. However, the implementation of change isn’t as simplistic. 


The CRM problem in financial services

CRM in financial services has historically been viewed as a negative experience, as it has not always lived up to its promise, or it has simply been a basic contact manager or MI tracker rather than helping deliver value to the customer. Too often, a solution has been shoehorned into a remaining infrastructure like a square peg in a round hole. And it simply doesn’t work, partly because it hasn’t been built for the customer or the user, which causes frustration and more admin for operations staff and advisors. But it is possible to have a system that adds value and works for advisors and customers with intelligent planning. 

Another historical issue is that many CRMs were built with rigid processes. While that may have suited the business culture and rigid processes of the past, this approach doesn’t work anymore. Flexibility has to be a key feature of the next generation of CRM systems in order to deliver true agility to business operations. It’s not simply about talking lean; it’s about being lean in practice. 

The cost and complexity of historic CRM implementation projects are additional problems, particularly with larger firms. In many cases, a CRM implementation has been a waste of time and money, as the end result simply isn’t fit for purpose. For this reason, simplicity and lower cost of ownership are other priorities. 

Historically, many CRMs were also very much standalone systems, with little integration, which caused real problems such as siloed activity and siloed data sharing. We can now see how powerful combined sales and marketing CRM can be, as they are transforming communications through personalisation to improve the customer journey and adhere to the tightening regulations previously mentioned. 



Why have these CRM issues arisen?

Many of these problems are often down to the fact the executives don’t know what good looks like and don’t necessarily know the complexity of their own operational processes or what needs to be done to improve matters. In addition, not fully understanding the true cost of failing to get the CRM platform right is another major barrier to progress. If the true business cost had been realised, action would have been taken to remedy these problems far sooner. 

The cost is easy to see if you’re there in the day-to-day and can see the real negative business impact of unnecessary administration, inefficiencies, lost opportunities, poor compliance and poor customer satisfaction. Moreover, not having a good information base means not being able to evidence duty of care to clients when the regulators come calling. And this last point is especially relevant, as we approach some key milestones in terms of the consumer duty regulation changes. 


How can leaders address the pain points

The solution is simple, but the more pertinent question we should be asking is, ‘why now?’. 

Digital adoption is accelerating, and the industry needs to provide advisors with better tools to reduce administration, spend more time helping customers and build rich customer insights.  

The crux of the issue is that the building blocks of core customer data and customer management simply aren’t in place. And without the core backbone, i.e. a good CRM, you can’t do all the other smart things that will address the issues and help operators operate in a more agile, customer-focused way. Therefore, it’s important to do it now.  

What’s more, the regulatory changes coming into force in 2023 demand that financial service providers not only ensure good outcomes for customers by understanding and serving them better, but regulators will want to see evidence of such. 


Where do you start to begin positive change?

It is just as much about the people in the organisation as it is about the system.  

The best place is your people; understand how they work, the day-to-operations, the customers and how your employees interact with them, rather than looking at simply the MI you want to see and the database design. Place the people at the centre of your project, and you will have a greater chance of success. 

You need to engage people in the process, demonstrate how the system will make their lives easier, and then deliver a system that serves your people rather than the other way around. Approach it simply and ensure it is supported by strong leadership right from the top. 


Who is this relevant to?

The consideration of CRM as part of a digital transformation is just as relevant to smaller distributors as it is to big providers. A simple and intuitive CRM can support the goals of smaller organisations as much as it can the larger ones, but obviously, the cost-benefit is somewhat different. 

For operators or distributors considering their tech investment and wanting to drive their CRM improvements forward, they can start by thinking about what good could look like. Sit with teams, get familiar with the pain points and focus on the fact that things can be simplified, as there are solutions that can deliver what you need, if you what it is you need.” 


Takeaway message

The old way of doing things and old systems don’t need to keep harming FS organisations. Modern CRM tech can be a true facilitator of change that will help financial service providers and operators meet rising customer expectations, adapt to digital adoption and adhere to tightening regulatory change. 

The full ‘CRM in financial services’ conversation can be listened to on RocketPod, Rocket CRM’s podcast. 



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RocketPod is delivered by the CRM experts at Rocket CRM, famed for going the extra mile and making CRM simple. 


CRM series

CRM Series article 2: 5 reasons Dynamics 365 is a good CRM solution for wealth and pension providers and distributors in 2023

CRM Series article 3: Why a single source of truth matters to financial service providers


About Hesmur

Hesmur is a digital transformation and strategic management consultancy firm helping financial service organisations navigate and adapt to a rapidly changing data-driven world. 

Hesmur and Rocket CRM have recently launched a joint venture focused on developing Microsoft Dynamics based customer relationship management and marketing automation solutions for the wealth and pensions sector. Together we bring practical industry experience together with deep technical expertise across the Microsoft ecosystem. 

Chris is contactable on LinkedIn, or you can contact Hesmur at or email 

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Follow Christopher Hess on LinkedIn 


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