It’s one thing to be familiar with the requirements of Phase 2 of the client relationship model (CRM2); it’s another to put those requirements into place for every client. The sheer volume of data that needs to be gathered, organized, communicated and stored as a record suitable for review by regulators is enormous. There may be significant help, however, from a new generation of software being developed specifically for this purpose.

Many financial advisors have yet to climb aboard the technology train. Whether they are not aware of the options offered by technology, are taking a “wait and see” approach or simply don’t know where to start is unclear. In any case, the majority of Canadian advisors are not yet compliant with CRM2, says John Easton, director of product management and strategic resources with Vancouver-based Maximizer Software Inc., which offers software for professionals in the North American financial services sector.

Earlier this year, Maximizer conducted a study of licensed financial advisors in the U.S. and Canada. As Easton notes about the results: “Our statistics show 40% are not using a customer relationship management system at all, and 20% more are using Outlook [software]” – which, he believes, doesn’t provide an effective way to comply with the new CRM2 rules.

Maximizer’s CRM Wealth Management Edition software provides more than 400 custom fields that capture and manage information on each client, from the “know your client” forms to insurance, mortgage and asset/liability information. The software includes a field for every date-based event that will happen in a client’s lifetime, starting with his or her birthday and including reminders of key dates, such as when the client turns 65 and 71 years old. Every interaction with each client is tracked, and all team members have a shared view of all updates and activities. With browser-based mobility, the software can also work on all smartphones and tablets.

Paul Walker, CEO of Mississauga, Ont.-based IFS Global Technologies Inc., says the investment industry “lags many industries in terms of how it services its customer base with the aid of technology. The only way to cope with the volume of regulatory change that’s coming down the pipeline now and in the near future is with the aid of technology. The sales process is becoming too cumbersome with too much paper. So, the solution is a cleaner sales process, one that is supported by technology – and, primarily, mobile technology.” (The CRM2 software offered by IFS provides access on tablets and will be available using a smartphone in the future.)

IFS designs software, says Walker, that creates a point of convergence at which the advisor, client and staff at their firms can all log into a portal at the same time. A range of documents, including disclosure documents, fund details, benchmark information and how the advisor gets paid, is accessed in one place.

Notes Walker: “It becomes a central spot where all of your compliance-related documentation resides, is shared and is retrieved easily and intuitively.”

Lake Success, N.Y.-based Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc., which provides technology-based outsourcing solutions to the financial services sector, offers two platforms that deal with CRM2 issues: Dataphile and BPS. Dataphile features unlimited online history, data validation and synchronization, query tools and full correspondent processing with support for those regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

“We have already built the vast majority of things that are needed to comply with [Fund Facts point-of-sale disclosure] and CRM2,” says Giles Anderson, sales director with Broadridge in Toronto. “We can make it a seamless experience for the advisor [as CRM2 deadlines come into force]; there’s no great disruption to the advisor’s business. So, whether you look at it from the advisor’s perspective or the dealer firm’s perspective, we can take care of all the headaches and allow them to focus on their day-to-day business of gathering assets and managing those assets.”

Anderson emphasizes the fact that his company is prepared for the new regulations a year in advance: “We’re ready now. It’s a huge amount of work for the firms, so we recognize that the solution needs to be in place now so that they can put it in place.”

With so many regulatory changes on the horizon, adds Anderson: “You really have to turn to outside support to be able to meet those changes in an economical manner.”

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