Twitter LinkedIn Facebook RSS Android

Salesforce to Offer Wall Street Support

By Michael Hickins     Feedback

UPDATED: Salesforce.com will offer a new wealth management tool and announce its Merrill Lynch win.

UPDATED: Salesforce.com  will announce a new customer relationship management (CRM) application tomorrow specifically tailored for the financial industry, according to company spokesman Gordon Evans.

The leading vendor of on-demand CRM applications is also set to announce that the first customer for this product will be the private client division of Merrill Lynch, which reportedly will roll the application out to 25,000 users.

The new wealth management application is a combination of Salesforce.com's core CRM application and features meant to appeal to financial advisers and brokers, such as real-time news, streaming media and real-time quotes. Salesforce.com is partnering with Thomson Financial and Dow Jones.

The new tool will enable professionals to manage client information in a CRM application within the context of market news and data, as opposed to toggling back and forth between incompatible systems.

The wealth management application also includes functionality to support team activities typical of financial services organizations, said Kendall Collins, senior vice president of product marketing at Salesforce.com. Features include team action plans, workflow rules and templates based on industry best practices and compliance regulations.

"We're providing the next generation desktop that's great for the business and great for compliance," Collins told internetnews.com.

The application has been priced at $500 per user per month, but Salesforce.com is expected to offer volume discounts of up to 40 percent.

In addition to the cash windfall, landing a blue-chip customer of this nature is likely to help Salesforce.com win additional contracts in the lucrative but clubby financial services industry.

Merrill Lynch analyst Kash Rangan noted that Bloomberg currently offers the financial market "limited CRM features," but costs approximately $1,500 per month. While the Salesforce.com application may not have all the financial features of the Bloomberg tool at this point, it could be enough for non-power users.

According to Rangan, there are more than 400,000 financial advisers working in the U.S. now who fit that description.

Salesforce.com is no stranger to the financial services market; in addition to boasting Bear Stearns and Chase Paymentech among its customers, the 20,000 new seats at Merrill Lynch bring its total number of users to 25,000 at that company, making it the single-largest implementation of Salesforce.com. Merrill Lynch will migrate all 25,000 users to the new wealth management edition when it becomes available in the third quarter.

The company also added Finaplex, a new wealth management CRM application, to its AppExchange partner marketplace last month.

Finaplex allows financial advisers to see their entire book of business in the Salesforce desktop, get reminder alerts driven by events in the client's portfolio, and seamlessly move into Finaplex OnDemand to act on reminder alerts.

It might seem confusing to offer two such similar applications for the same market, but Evans said that in addition to giving customers more choice, they could mash the two applications together to achieve "some combination of the two," he told internetnews.com.

Gartner analyst Ben Pring noted that Salesforce.com has to maintain a balance between driving customers to its native CRM application, which creates demand for its partners, and driving enough business to the AppExchange to keep those partners from leaving for greener pastures.

Pring noted that some partners have become disaffected by what they perceive as a lack of attention from Salesforce.com. "They don't want that ecosystem to wither away," he told internetnews.com.

It remains to be seen whether Finaplex perceives the new application as a stimulus to its offering or a competitive threat.

Collins said that the company's success is predicated on making its customers successful, too, but admitted that it may be a victim of its own success. "We're in an amazing growth period, and that means sometimes we're moving really fast. It could mean that we could do some things better," he said.

He added that he hoped that dissatisfied partners come directly to him. "I look at it as my responsibility to take care of that stuff."

This article was originally published on February 26, 2007
Close Icon
Thanks for your registration, follow us on our social networks to keep up-to-date