|Clients:||Financial Advisors, Advisory Firms, Wealth Managers|
|Value proposition:||Customer relationship management for advisors|
|The executive team:||Mary Ferguson, Chief Executive Officer|
XLR8 Concenter Services is a customized Salesforce-based CRM system built for Financial Advisors. It combines what are arguably the best-existing integrations with Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and leading Portfolio Management Systems offering clients the advantages of a cloud-based CRM with the flexibility and power of Salesforce.
Mary Ferguson, CEO of Concenter Services, laid out the inner workings of XLR8 and showed me how it can serve advisory practices.
Ferguson has a deep background in information technology, specifically the application side of development. Over the course of her career, Ferguson has worked for Sprint, Verizon, the Boy Scouts of America, among others. In 2010, she heard about a software product that was for sale. This product would eventually become XLR8. Ferguson uses her technical expertise and knowledge of billing, sales, CRM, and other systems to help clients grow their advisory businesses through CRM efficiencies.
Migrating existing client data to XLR8
As part of the package, Ferguson and her team help clients migrate to the XLR8 platform. She says that data migration can be tricky; some CRM databases aren’t very migration-friendly, meaning they were designed so clients can’t easily leave. Thankfully, the experienced XLR8 team sorted out most issues as they became familiar with most CRM products on the market.
Where does the difficulty arise?
Because there are no standards when it comes to CRM data, fields and data objects differ from system to system. Of course, there’s also the problem of custom fields and data. Ferguson says that Connector Services’ data analysts and project managers work with clients to make sense of the data, mitigating problems when it goes live.
XLR8 was built on the premise that advisors need to see certain things “at a glance.” For example, most advisors want to see assets, liabilities, and net worth directly on the home screen of their platform. As such, XLR8 integrated with Black Diamond, Orion, MoneyGuidePro, as well as other leading providers in the space. There are numerous other integrations including the always popular Laser App.
“When we first started, the message was that no Financial Advisor was going to use Salesforce. And the Financial Advisors were saying, ‘I don’t know about this cloud thing. I don’t know that I trust it.’”
It was only after Charles Schwab came out with Schwab OpenView Gateway—followed by TD Ameritrade’s TD Ameritrade Institutional—that Salesforce became accepted by advisors and financial institutions. Today, many vendors and firms have deep integrations with Salesforce, which Ferguson happily leverages into XLR8.
Ferguson says there are three paths, or “roadmaps,” that her team follows. The first is created without their input—the Salesforce side. Annually, Salesforce releases three major updates with as many as 600 pages of platform enhancements. The XLR8 team bases its product strategy off of these new features, often communicating with clients about what can be leveraged and what should be left out.
The second roadmap comprises clients and client-generated requests. The XLR8 team looks at market trends, asks clients what they’d like to see, and creates a strategy to implement those features.
“Our roadmap is focused on what our clients want as far as Financial Advisors want. What is it they want, and what is it that they need?”
The third roadmap comprises custom feature requests by individual clients. Ferguson highlights that clients have three questions: they can ask XLR8 Salesforce consultants to build what they want, they can go to another Salesforce consultant company, or they can build it themselves.
“Our clients have the ability to create cases with us to […] ask for help if something’s broken or they forget how to do something. Or they can open an idea. And so we track every idea, and we look at the things that are asked for multiple times.”
Currently, Ferguson and her team are implementing the new Salesforce user interface, Lightning. This change has consumed most of their time over the past year because it’s an entirely new product that requires training and tweaking, but is the future of the Salesforce platform.
Like most WealthTech, FinTech, and IT companies in general, the biggest challenge for XLR8 is finding the right people. For Ferguson, her team is the cornerstone of the company’s success. Thanks to a good team and good customer service, XLR8 has achieved the Highest Customer Satisfaction rating for three years in a row on the survey sponsored by T3, Bob Veres Insider Information, and Advisor Perspective)
“We strive to make the customer happy. We went from an environment [where] people were skeptical of [us, the cloud, and Salesforce] to where we are today. And the way that we did it was really through the old-fashioned way of really good customer service, quality, and care.”
The second major challenge is keeping up with Salesforce. XLR8 is more than just a Salesforce customization; it includes consultant–client interactions aimed at keeping the customer happy. This includes teaching clients how to use the platform and solving issues as they arrive.
WealthTech Club takeaways
In some ways, Salesforce is like Windows. It’s a powerful system with practically infinite possibilities, insofar as anyone can build applications for it. XLR8 is more than just a piggyback off of Salesforce. As Ferguson showed me, XLR8 includes integrations with most major FinTech companies and her firm offers many services others don’t —flexibility, training, implementation assistance, ongoing support.