Innovation is the key to success in today's highly competitive financial services markets. Tilney Investment Management, the UK's fourth largest independent provider of wealth management services, is no stranger to innovation.
Through its 170-year history it has adapted continuously to changes in the economic and regulatory environment and remained successful.
The changes in the financial markets over the last decade have made innovation even more important. Increased competition and more stringent regulation of the financial services industry Tilney have had to find ways to sustain and improve its market share.
Tilney has transformed its new business focus to compete in the dynamic asset management market. The company has invested in new CRM technology from Sage to help support the change, and is now well positioned to continue its growth strategy.
Back in 2000, Tilney identified significant new business opportunities through third-party financial intermediaries – predominantly Independent Financial Advisers (IFA) but also accountants and solicitors.
A large proportion of the UK’s wealth is under the advice of intermediaries, which makes them a key force in the industry.
The company's new business strategy called for an approach based on a strong customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Close relationships with customers and intermediaries are central to Tilney's way of working and it needed advanced technology to support this.
"We have traditionally been quite innovative on the IT side and have designed many of our own fund management systems," explains Lee Wilson, group-marketing manager at Tilney.
"However, we decided early on that we didn’t have the relevant experience or timescales to build a full CRM solution in-house.”
Solution and implementation
Tilney needed, therefore, a flexible and comprehensive approach to reach this potential new market.
Wilson explained, "In highly regulated markets there are few clear product differentiators. Financial Intermediaries tend not to window shop, once satisfied their client’s needs are being met; service standards become the deciding factor.
We try to build a strong relationship with them and inevitably there is a significant dialogue between us. We wanted a system that could monitor and record the interactions between us."
While it already had some software support for CRM, Tilney wanted a more flexible approach that could adapt more easily to its business strategy.
Wilson said, "We initially used Goldmine - but it had been specified under a different application regime. We wanted something that offered development flexibility without us having to resort to expensive redesign."
Working with its partner, consultant CRM On-line, Tilney began its search for a suitable CRM solution at the beginning of 2004 and finally settled on Sage Software's CRM package.
Wilson added, "There were several reasons why we chose Sage - but the main one was the flexibility of the system.
“It’s impossible to completely specify a system at outset, and that combined with the rate of change in the industry meant our requirements were always going to be fluid. We also wanted to try the system before we finally made a decision."
Sage's hosted approach gave Tilney the opportunity to test the CRM software fully before it made a long-term commitment.
Wilson said, "We used the hosted version through a six-month evaluation period. It meant that, at the end of the evaluation we could either step back without any long term commitment or, if we decided to continue to implementation, we’d have a working blueprint of the system we would eventually role out."
The evaluation was an unqualified success and, at the end of the six-month trial on the hosted system, Tilney decided to install its own version in-house.
Although the hosted version filled most of Tilney's needs, the extra customisation it required could only be met with an in-house implementation.
Wilson added, “The hosted version met the initial brief but during the evaluation period we identified need for additional functionality and this was best addressed via the in house solution."
The changeover was remarkably swift and simple.
Wilson said, "The transition was seamless - people went home on Monday evening after using the hosted system all day and came in the next morning and used the in-house system. The only difference was improved performance."
The result is that Tilney's staff now have a highly flexible system which supports a broad range of users from marketing assistants right up to board directors.
Company executives can also access the system via a Web browser from their laptops while they are travelling. At the same time, Tilney can monitor its marketing activities more closely and make appropriate improvements when necessary.
Wilson said, "I can look at the metrics to see what material we send out and how effective it is. We like to segment our market rather than 'carpet bomb' people with irrelevant information. Now we can customise what we do and make it more effective.
He adds that the company has plans to expand the system and link to other company databases and said, "We are linking to our Oracle database at the moment - but we probably only use about 50 per cent of the functionality the system offers. We plan to link to other underlying data in the future."
The combination of flexibility and the ability to run a low-cost evaluation system confirms Sage's approach to CRM projects - giving Tilney exactly what it wants to support its new business strategy.
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