Salesforce to Offer Wall Street Support

Michael Singer

Updated · Feb 26, 2007

UPDATED:  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'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. 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
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

The application has been priced at $500 per user per month, but 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 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 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. 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 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

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

Gartner analyst Ben Pring noted that 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 “They don't want that ecosystem to wither away,” he told

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

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.”

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  • Michael Singer
    Michael Singer

    Michael Singer is a career coach, podcast host, and author to help you step into a career you're excited about. Currently, He is a coach and trainer helping entrepreneurs and executives achieve business and leadership success. He is also an award-winning business journalist focused on the intersection of technology, Big Data, Cloud, SaaS, SAP, and other trending technology.

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