In the fast-paced world of investment banking, efficient client relationship management is crucial for success.
To remain competitive, differentiate your firm from other practices, and retain talent, investment banks must move away from antiquated time-consuming processes and legacy tools, including their overreliance on Excel, contact management systems, and other generic sales CRMs.
Finding and closing mandates in this competitive market is becoming increasingly challenging. Top investment banking firms are meeting this challenge by leveraging technology, especially a purpose-built relationship intelligence CRM. These systems allow organizations to spend their time building relationships, operating more efficiently, and ultimately closing more mandates.
With the right processes and technology, your team can focus on high-value work instead of being bogged down by time-consuming manual tasks.
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system designed for investment bankers can help your firm leverage its relationship networks to source more deals, manage your clients’ information, track mandates, and monitor interactions, leading to better decision-making and stronger client relationships.
With dozens of vendors offering similar features, navigating the (CRM) market can be overwhelming. Therefore, it can be challenging to sort through the noise and identify the necessary features you need in your CRM.
This article will shed light on the necessary functionality of an IB CRM while reviewing the questions you should ask vendors when evaluating systems. The last section will provide an overview of the leading CRMs for investment bankers.
What You Should Look For in an Investment Banking CRM
- Organize and catalog all your contact and mandate data to make it readily accessible to every deal team member.
- Gain insights into your team members’ collective connections to find mandates by determining your best path into a target company via a warm introduction.
- Streamline internal collaboration and communication by aligning all stakeholders and ensuring no tasks fall through the cracks.
- Track your opportunity pipeline to build a repeatable execution process.
- Streamline your transaction process by automating time-consuming manual tasks like data entry.
Most CRMs in the market come standard with contact and pipeline management capabilities, yet, they are designed for transactional linear sales processes rather than long-term relationship building, which is an integral component of an investment banker’s workflow.
Shoehorning a generic sales CRM to your investment bank will have the opposite effect, resulting in a lengthy and expensive implementation that bogs down your team with a steep learning curve and time-consuming processes such as manually entering data into the system.
When evaluating vendors, you must know if they have the proper functionality for investment banking teams.
We recommend you ask these questions during your demo with a CRM vendor to gauge if there is a fit.
- Is the system easy to use? What is the user experience? Investment bankers are busy professionals who don’t have the time to learn how to use a complicated platform. To ensure proper system adoption, the user experience should be intuitive and include the terminology your team already uses.
- What is the deployment and onboarding process? Deploying and onboarding a new CRM solution should not result in friction. Some CRMs have a cumbersome onboarding process that requires considerable training and customization work. Ideally, you should be up and running with your new CRM in weeks, not months.
- What customer support does the vendor offer? Does their customer support team understand your bank’s unique processes and workflows? Have they worked with other investment banks? Are they available around the clock via email? Via phone or live chat? Will their customer success team recommend how to best use the CRM platform based on your organization’s use cases? If the answer is no, consider a different product.
- Can my team easily customize the system? To get the most value from the product, your CRM should be easily customizable to fit your firm’s unique workflows and processes. Some CRM systems are only customizable by their in-house professional service teams or expensive consultants. If you opt for one of those systems, you must budget for ongoing customization and development work.
- Is data automatically captured? Investment banking deal teams should focus on building relationships and closing deals, not on data entry. When your team trusts the data in their CRM, they’re more likely to use the system. If they need to spend hours per week manually logging interactions and entering data, you have the wrong CRM.
- Can you create custom reports? Most CRMs do an excellent job at providing real-time reports and metrics focused on transactional sales and pipeline analysis. An IB CRM should allow users to create custom reports and dashboards to visualize and evaluate your firm’s business development process.
- What exactly am I paying for: Will you be paying for modules or functionality you will not use? Some CRM providers include features that add little to no value to IB teams, but you still pay for them. For example, customer support or inbound marketing modules. How does pricing work? Do you get a discount if you sign a longer-term contract? Are there any extra fees on top of the monthly subscription?
- Does it integrate with my existing tech stack? Most investment banking firms use various types of software, including virtual data rooms, research tools, project management software, etc. As the hub of your tech stack, your CRM should integrate natively or via API with the other systems you use.
- Does the CRM offer insights into your existing data? A CRM is more than just a place to store contacts and data. CRMs used by IB firms should include relationship intelligence technology to analyze your firm’s collective network to find the right connections and make warm introductions.
- Is data enriched? To always have the most up-to-date information, reduce time spent researching, and make better-informed decisions, your CRM should automatically enrich your data with high-quality data providers, including Pitchbook and Crunchbase.
Top Investment Banking CRMs
As an investment banker, you are busy sourcing mandates and building relationships. To simplify your evaluation process, we’ve compiled a list of the major investment banking CRM software companies.
As a legacy player in the CRM space for the capital markets, DealCloud is a well-known financial services software vendor. The platform is an all-inclusive financial services system with functionality spanning business development, relationship management, marketing, pipeline management, etc. Unfortunately, their capabilities lag compared to more modern and agile relationship intelligence investment banking CRM systems.
For example, DealCloud still relies on manual data entry over automation, meaning your team must devote considerable time to keeping the data clean & organized.
Due to its on-premise roots (not natively designed for the cloud), teams looking to implement DealCloud quickly should think twice since typical implementations can take up to 6 months and require considerable professional service work, resulting in lengthy and costly deployments.
Once the system is up and running, any further changes or customizations need to be handled by the DealCloud team, which can take months, depending on the project’s scope.
Since DealCloud lacks relationship intelligence capabilities, your firm must have a dedicated resource to keep data updated and organized.
If data is not updated, your DealCloud implementation will fail to deliver, as data can quickly become outdated. At this point, the system is no longer serving its purpose.
Common Complaints from DealCloud users:
- Lengthy deployment and onboardings
- A steep learning curve
- An outdated and difficult-to-use interface (UI)
- The need to manually enter data into the system.
No CRM list would be complete without including Salesforce- the largest and most well-known CRM vendor. Its ease of use and almost limitless customizability have made it a favorite of many large investment banks. Salesforce is a great product, and with the right time, resources, and customization work, it can be an excellent option for investment banks and other financial institutions.
Out of the box, Salesforce is a traditional CRM designed for sales teams. Still, with the proper customization, it can be a mighty financial services CRM used by deal teams, wealth management groups, and other departments across the firm.
Due to its complexity, most small to medium investment banks avoid implementing Salesforce mainly due to the need for extensive and expensive customization and maintenance services from a 3rd party consultant or a dedicated in-house Salesforce team. When bringing in a Salesforce consultant to customize the system, firms must budget for any additional enhancements or changes required after the initial implementation.
At 4Degrees, we recognize that some financial institutions are legacy Salesforce users and would like to have their investment baking groups use Salesforce as their deal management platform. For those cases, 4Degrees can integrate with Salesforce to augment the system’s capabilities by activating your relationship network to uncover more opportunities and eliminate data entry.
Common Complaints from Salesforce users:
- Expensive and lengthy deployments that can take months or years
- The need to have an in-house expert or work with an external consultant to customize the system
- Data needs to be manually uploaded and kept up to date.
This well-known marketing automation and website hosting platform also offers a robust CRM system that seamlessly integrates with its marketing system. Unfortunately, for investment banks, Hubspot’s CRM and other automation tools focus on transactional sales and are not ideal for deal-driven teams.
As part of their offering, they have a basic free CRM for small businesses that can be used by small teams that do not have a budget for a more advanced system. Investment banking teams looking at scaling their pipeline are better off starting with a relationship intelligence CRM designed for their use cases instead of an inbound marketing and sales-focused system like Hubspot.
Common Complaints from Hubspot users:
- A rigid system that is not easy to customize
- Slow customer support for lower tiers.
MadeMarket is a lightweight cloud-based CRM designed for dealmaking teams. Used by investment banks, private equity teams, and other financial services firms, Mademarket’s feature set includes deal pipeline management, an integration with Microsoft Outlook to simplify outreach, and other essential contact management and CRM capabilities.
Their website lacks information, and there are barely any reviews online, so it is challenging to effectively evaluate their offering and if they are the right solution for your firm. Based on the available information, they still rely on users manually entering data since there is no mention of relationship intelligence or similar capabilities.
Affinity is a CRM platform for deal teams to manage relationships and track their deal flow pipeline. Using proprietary algorithms, Affinity provides teams with insight into their relationships network, allowing them to find warm introductions.
Affinity claims to save investors hundreds of hours per year that would otherwise be spent on manual data entry. They accomplish this by automatically plugging into Gmail and Outlook and exporting email content into contact and deal profiles.
The team at Affinity has built a robust product; unfortunately, their relationship intelligence capabilities are still lacking compared with other players, especially 4Degrees.
For example, Affinity does not provide users with news and updates about their networks, making it hard for investors to stay engaged with their contacts and build deeper relationships.
Regarding data privacy, Affinity is very liberal in sharing users’ data by not giving users complete control over how it is shared.
Common Complaints from Affinity users:
- The need to purchase additional add-ons to get full access to their analytics capabilities
- An elevated entry price point compared to other similar products
- Lack of robust integrations.
Navatar is a legacy CRM used by financial firms built on top of the Salesforce platform. Their platform includes deal and pipeline management, business development, and project management modules.
As with other systems on this list, they are traditional CRM, meaning they lack the automation and relationship intelligence capabilities to manage non-linear long-term relationships that are common in complex investment banking deals. As a result, teams will spend hundreds of hours per year manually updating contact and deal records. The lack of relationship intelligence means your team will miss out on potential warm introductions that can result in more closed won deals.
Since it’s built on Salesforce, Navatar allows you to integrate with thousands of apps from the Salesforce App exchange. However, you will need additional work from a Salesforce consultant or implementation partner to ensure your CRM ecosystem works correctly and addresses your firm’s needs.
4Degrees is a relationship intelligence CRM platform built by ex-investors for firms in relationship-focused industries.
Designed to make you more efficient, 4Degrees eliminates busy work by seamlessly integrating with your firm’s existing workflows while automating time-consuming processes, including data entry.
As a full-featured CRM, 4Degrees allows your team to visualize your deal pipeline in a list or Kanban-style view, keeping you up to date on the status of every deal.
By automatically capturing all your interactions by syncing with Microsoft Exchange and Gmail and enriching contact data, 4Degrees serves as your firm’s single source of truth, ensuring effective collaboration and keeping your whole team on the same page.
At 4Degrees, we know the importance of relationships. The platform’s relationship intelligence capabilities analyze the strength of your team’s relationship networks to surface warm introductions and identify the best path to a company, expert, or investor in seconds.
To help you build stronger relationships, 4Degrees alerts you when people in your network have made investments, changed jobs, or other signals, helping you stay abreast of your network. With this information, you can nurture your relationships and source new opportunities.
To quickly surface insights and drill into data, 4Degrees has a robust analytics engine built for the unique needs of investment banking teams- empowering you with the data you need to make data-driven decisions and close deals.
With hundreds of investment banking clients, the 4Degrees Customer Success and Support teams understand your industry’s workflows and pain points and are always available to work with your team to get the most value and ROI from the product.
Which CRM Should You Choose?
Adapting your investment banking workflows to a sales-focused CRM without considerable customization work will not result in a successful implementation.
Your firm needs an out-of-the-box CRM built for investment professionals that is easy to implement and use. Dedicating additional time and resources to customize a CRM will detract from the platform’s primary role at your firm: to help you close more deals.
The CRM tool you choose should not only store contact information and track deals. Your CRM should streamline your deal process and empower you to leverage your network to find and close more deals faster.