Is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Client Lifecycle Management (CLM) the same thing?

The article below features in the latest Swiss WealthTech Report by The Wealth Mosaic. Click here to get your copy of the full report. Hope you enjoy the article!

Is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Client Lifecycle Management (CLM) the same thing?

No. It’s a distinction with a big difference, whose value to wealth management cannot be overstated. The difference is that CLM is an intelligent process that embraces increasing numbers of clients and keep them in the fold over a lifecycle that starts with prospecting, continues with onboarding, segues into investment and relationship management and servicing, and, ideally, culminates in re-engagement.

CLM starts with strategy and business outcomes. If you take a technology approach – it won’t work.

In a zero or even negative interest rate market, Swiss wealth managers across the board are looking for solutions to tie up their full client lifecycle to achieve better efficiencies and margins and ultimately be equipped to service their clients better – directly, but also by introducing value-added capabilities for certain segments and use cases (e.g. self-service tools).

While most wealth managers have solid core banking systems in place, many lack the tools in the front office to enable a truly efficient and quality service.

The challenge is that wealth managers currently manage the client lifecycle using a vast number of point solutions coupled with an array of manual steps, often implemented in silos, without an orchestration layer. This means it is not possible to have crucial information presented in a contextual manner to the client-facing relationship managers. Relationship managers need to be enabled, even enhanced by technology, not constrained and definitely not replaced.

Start with the outcomes you want to achieve.

If you take a technology-based approach, it will not work. Just digitising and automating cumbersome manual tasks will not improve a process – you first need to start with the outcome you want to achieve, and then adjust the process. Wealth managers are realising that if they want to retain existing and attract new clients, then they need to provide a superior customer experience that touches the entire client lifecycle.

The onboarding process is an example area of focus.

Most wealth managers recognise they need to make the onboarding experience much faster and more efficient, primarily to meet the expectations of today’s clients. Client data should only be entered once but utilised many times. ‘Right first time’ rates should be close to 100% to avoid the client being asked the same questions multiple times. The CEB 2017 Financial Services Technology Survey found that 52% planned to increase investment in onboarding technology over the following two years.

Providing a superior onboarding experience lays the foundation for a profitable and, over time, a more substantial client relationship. Failing to take this approach can lead to a lack of trust and loyalty.

According to the 2016 Wealth Management Technology Outlook, the benefits of cross-selling can be significant: 81% of successful cross-selling occurs within 90 days of onboarding, with 60% taking place within the first month alone.

But is onboarding the only challenge to be solved?

Onboarding is not the first step in establishing a long-lasting relationship with a client. It is the ‘middle step’ in the full client lifecycle, not the starting point. A client’s perception of a wealth manager begins at the point in which they become aware of them, how they perceive the brand, and the values of the firm. It is the role of your marketing team to make that first impression, and from the point in which the request for an initial meeting arrives. Routing the request for the first meeting, having a single view of that early stage lead, even routing the lead to the right person based on the information you know are all important steps in the early stages of the lifecycle.

Know your prospect (KYP)

The journey of the prospect in these early stages might be customised based on different client profiles e.g. investment preferences, stage of their life. The profile will inform the way you approach the client, the fee structure you offer, investment portfolio recommendations etc. Being able to segment your data and have visibility of these client groups, the connections to other clients, the insight on the potential value of this prospect, are all aspects of what it means to truly know your prospect and successfully manage this first stage of the lifecycle. The technology that underpins this initial stage needs to be closely linked to a single view of existing clients and reinforced by a data model that can represent the web of connections, and support the security restrictions that might be involved in allowing people a view of that data.

To support this approach, wealth managers need a fully integrated, digital Client Lifecycle Management (CLM) solution that addresses the entire end-to-end journey of a client’s life, from acquisition, to digital onboarding, to ongoing relationship management (up/cross sell opportunities) and incorporating regulatory compliance throughout the whole journey.

At its heart, CLM is not about ambitions to solve a specific problem like onboarding, but fulfils a wealth managers obligation and desire to understand the client, and to provide the best level of service and experience before and after onboarding.


Wealth Dynamix delivers Client Lifecycle Management solutions to the world’s leading private banks and wealth and asset management firms.


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