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More than Managing Names and Numbers

Successful CRM requires more than information. It requires tools to use that information effectively and add value to the customer relationship.

Bryan Manzer and Jim Brown know that all eyes are on them as they revamp the way their firm's investment advisers interact with clients. Manzer, senior manager, client information systems, and Brown, vice president and director of information technology, both at RBC Investments, the wealth management arm of Royal Bank Financial Group, are in the middle of rolling out a new customer relationship management (CRM) system to more than 2,700 advisers. The system will support staff in more than 140 locations, including the firm's full-service broker, RBC Dominion Securities, and its discount broker, Action Direct.

"There's lots of anticipation," notes Manzer of the project, the largest IT undertaking ever for RBC Investments. At the center of it all is a system the bank calls ClientLink, software from x.eye of Toronto that integrates contact management with portfolio management, financial planning and analysis, and reporting tools. The project was initiated a few years ago, when management at RBC determined that the firm needed to update its CRM system. According to Brown, advisers previously used a range of products for managing client contacts, including Act and Maximizer.

RBC Investments evaluated big-name CRM systems, Manzer says, but felt that the costs were prohibitive. And the firm liked that x.eye's offering was closely integrated with portfolio management, which is at the heart of what advisers do. Additionally, with x.eye's solution, RBC would still obtain 70 to 80 percent of the functionality that it was looking for in contact management with less complexity than the more popular - and more expensive - systems on the market.

RBC began rolling out ClientLink last year. The key was training employees and getting them to use the system, says Manzer. He cites a group of "diehard" Maximizer users who "really resisted this new tool." After sending a team out to their office to show them some of the features, Manzer says he received an e-mail telling him, "This tool rocks."

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