Schwab’s Neesha Hathi believes that CRM tools are one of the least used things in a financial advisor’s arsenal.

How does she know? The senior vice president of technology solutions just helped her firm complete a survey on CRM and found that only 5.7% percent of independent advisors believe they were using it to “its fullest potential.” The first step to making the program flex its muscle, says Hathi, is to stop using CRM software just to store contacts. Hathi says:

“Most RIAs might have purchased CRM and implemented it, but only use it for contact information, or maybe notes to clients. But they’re not using business analytics or workflows to create a consistent experience for clients.

What we think is powerful are workflows. A lot of people have paper checklists of what they have to do. A new client comes on board, and what are all the steps? They may have that in their brain — hopefully not. But what’s cool with CRM is you can have automated workflows that can kick off and make sure that’s done step by step. Nothing falls through the cracks. If someone is out sick, it’s still in system. Advisor’s firms are growing, and as you add more people, you have to figure out how to transfer knowledge from three people to 10. The ones who have survived and thrived have figured that out. We think CRM is an important tool in helping financial advisors scale.

As a business analytics tool you can also figure out which securities you have the most exposure to, which clients are giving you the most referrals, or how quickly does the firm go from a prospect to closing a deal. It can help advisors focus on how long it takes from prospect to accounting opening.’

Advisors will spend the time evaluating technology and buy it, but they won’t really figure out how to use all its functionality and make sure everyone in the firm is using it. It has to become the hub in order to become the hub.”