In a Q&A with FTF News, Jiro Okochi, president of Tier1 Financial Solutions, argues that remote work environments reinforce the need for technology that helps manage all relationships.
(Client relationship management (CRM) systems have become a necessity as more financial services firms continue to function with staff and clients working remotely due to the pandemic-induced office closings. So says Jiro Okochi, president of Tier1 Financial Solutions, whose offerings serve firms in the capital markets and banking arenas. The pandemic conditions underscore the need for CRM infrastructures that can help firms effectively connect staff to customers, Okochi adds. An industry veteran, Okochi took time out of his schedule to answer questions from FTF News.)
Q: Has the pandemic-induced lockdown hindered CRM adoption across capital markets and banking?
A: It has actually had an opposite effect. In the current remote work environment, CRMs have become more of a necessity for financial firms as they need to have the right infrastructure in place to connect with their clients and prospects and effectively manage all their relationships. The global pandemic-induced lockdown has forced those banks who had not yet completed their digital transformation to more aggressively accelerate their plans to ensure their client-facing teams can continue to collaborate and provide seamless services, regardless of location or circumstances. Tools for collaboration, efficient data sharing, and surfacing insights are more important than ever. CRM platforms are also essential for management reporting, which can be hard enough to produce when staff members are at the office on internal systems but breaks when all of sudden 2,000 salespeople are working from home without the same hardware, let alone secure access to legacy on-prem solutions.
Q: How has the emergence of the new virtual technologies impacted CRM systems for banking and capital markets?
A: CRM has long been the cornerstone of financial institutions’ relationship management – far more than data aggregation, CRMs enable collaboration and insights. CRMs today, especially for capital markets and banking professionals, are more than just a digital Rolodex. They’re a foundational tool that streamlines daily workflows and mitigates relationship risk. In capital markets, a key value that banks deliver is corporate access to buy-side investors with both sides being customers of the bank. Because of the pandemic, everything from shareholder meetings, to investor conferences, to one-on-one meetings between the C-Suite and analysts are virtual now. These valuable interactions, whether over video or in person must be captured by the CRM for both regulatory and revenue-generating reasons. Capital markets and investment banking firms require a more systemic and integrated approach that enables collaboration and tracking of all interactions, consumption, deals, and insights. Tier1 provides event management and also partners with conference platforms and can seamlessly capture virtual and in-person interactions.
Q: How has the pandemic-induced remote staffing among your clients impacted the way that they use CRM?
A: The transition to the remote work environment has exposed a lot of operational hurdles for market participants. While many financial firms have anticipated the need for digital transformation, the pandemic is accelerating the process of making this happen. As a result, we’ve seen a significant increase in adoption of our mobile solutions among our investment banking and capital markets clients. In a virtual environment, the key to maintaining efficiency is to minimize disruptions to day-to-day operations, and maintain, if not increase, client engagement. Tier1’s user-friendly, secure mobile solutions bridge the gap of working from home by enhancing collaboration and allowing clients to expose proprietary data elements, which helps provide more value to end-users. Since the pandemic began, we have observed an increase in call report usage — by as much as 200 percent for one of our clients in particular.
Q: Why was it necessary for Tier1 to reach a broader market?
A: We felt the time and opportunity was right to take our purpose-built, best-in-class solution to the growing broader market. Tier1 has successfully helped enterprise clients streamline their relationship management processes and integrate with various data partners to serve their unique workflow needs more efficiently. However, after a period of bank consolidation, the landscape for capital markets and investment banking is changing with smaller boutique firms springing up to fill a need for specialized research or banking expertise. We want to help these firms grow and capitalize on their unique value by being able to deliver an industrial grade CRM solution tailored better for their needs. By delivering a modular CRM now in out-of-the-box packages, we are empowering all market participants to collaborate and leverage the digital tools required to drive efficiency and profitability. Additionally, we aim to help firms overcome the disruption caused from the global lockdown by enabling fast onboarding and ‘anytime, anywhere’ access to secure, mobile, and real-time client intelligence. For example, we have just deployed our product suite to Kadima Sun, a start-up hedge fund, which has allowed it to pitch its strategy more effectively to potential investors and identify new business opportunities, even during adverse working conditions this year.
Q: What did you mean when you said that your company’s offering “democratizes capital markets CRM?” Are you implying that CRM has been the realm of A-List firms only?
A: For smaller firms within the capital markets space, many do not have the resources or infrastructure to be able to support advanced fintech solutions. For example, a bulge bracket firm would have the necessary internal resources to integrate third-party customer data to their CRM or would hire a systems integrator for that complex work. Tier1 has partner relationships where the data comes pre-loaded making it easier and cheaper for the smaller firm without those resources. This third-party customer data is what drives the power of the CRM and we wanted to make it more readily available for all customers regardless of size which is why we feel we democratize CRM.
Q: How exactly does Tier1 work with Salesforce’s offerings?
A: In a nutshell, Tier1 helps with Salesforce user adoption in capital markets and banking. Tier1’s CRM platform augments Salesforce’s offering to provide highly optimized workflows across multiple lines of business helping banking and capital market participants strengthen their client relationships, support sales and research functions, and provide actionable insights to increase monetization and wallet share. By working on top of the Salesforce platform, Tier1’s purpose-built applications enable users to capture, manage, and analyze high volumes of client-related data, while leveraging this information into smarter relationship management, workflow, and compliance solutions.