Contact Management Systems

man looking at contacts on laptop
Contact management systems keep tabs on important clients and prospects. Dimitri Otis/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

To track their dealings with high net worth and corporate executive clients and prospects, many firms in the financial services industry have contact management systems in place. This is especially likely if the firm has segmented its sales force, and restricted contact with such persons to designated high net worth financial advisors, high net worth specialists and/or senior investment bankers.

Each time one of these representatives of the firm has had contact with the client or prospect (whether in person, by telephone, by e-mail or by postal mail), he or she is supposed to enter details of that contact into the contact management system (or CMS, for short).

The reasons for this tracking include:

  • To evaluate these representatives and set their compensation.
  • To ensure that the client or prospect is contacted with appropriate frequency, not too often or too infrequently.
  • To track results of these contacts, such as financial assets gathered, or investment banking engagements won.

As the final point suggests, inputs into a comprehensive CMS also should include notes on the results of these contacts, including the sorts of metrics that should be part of the firm's management reporting regime. The accomplishments cited by the professionals inputting into a CMS must be subject to independent confirmation.

Case Study: 

The high net worth specialists employed by the high net worth marketing department in Merrill Lynch, then known as Private Advisory Services, had a bonus scheme that was largely formulaic, based on household assets gathered. In Merrill Lynch's high net worth CMS, the specialists would enter the amount of assets that a client or prospect had deposited (or promised to deposit) with the firm, pursuant to their marketing efforts.

Subsequently, the controller of Private Advisory Services would monitor activity in the accounts of those clients to confirm whether or not those deposits had indeed taken place. Additionally, entries in the CMS would be used for the subjective portion of the bonuses, to evaluate how active the specialists had been in following up on assignments.

Moreover, entries in the CMS would be categorized with respect to specific marketing initiatives, such as Vintage Motor Sports, the Merrill Lynch Shootout and sponsorships of symphony or museum nights. This data also would be used to evaluate the financial returns from sponsorships and promotions.