Alpha FMC Digital

CRM as a Competitive Tool: UK Investment Platforms

Emily Eleazar, Duncan Ng'enda, Tom Parish

How can UK investment platforms actively leverage CRM to turbo-charge their distribution and front office functions?

If you work in sales for an investment platform in the UK, our experience tells us that you are more likely to view your Client Relationship Management (CRM) tool in a negative light than a positive one. When we started working with some of our investment platform clients, they described their CRM tool as being time-intensive to maintain, and even an obstacle to what they want to achieve with their business.

Typically, this is because:

  • There is no single place in which you are able to get a complete view of your adviser relationships; this picture needs to be pieced together across a number of different technologies including email mailboxes, secure messaging, telephone logs and mass-emailing tools. This process is time-consuming and error-prone
  • Your CRM tool doesn’t allow your teams to focus on the most important value-adding tasks first by automating servicing for basic or repetitive tasks which could be just as well served by AI, Chatbots and similar technologies
  • The line between CRM and the core platform is blurry at best, leading to inefficient processes which sit somewhere between the two, can only function with lots of manual intervention, and which create confusion amongst teams
  • You don’t trust the data you see in CRM and end up going back to the core platform as the source of truth
  • Although the business has invested in ‘best-in-breed’ technology, there is no clear architectural strategy weaving it all together into a holistic suite which makes sense for the business and plays to respective strengths
  • You are concerned that you are falling behind the competition because your CRM tool doesn’t display flows & holdings data in a remotely digestible way, so if you want a complete view of your advisers’ activity within your platform, you have to stitch that together yourself

What do we need to understand about the industry to make sense of this challenge?

The rate of consolidation and transformation in the UK platform industry over the last two years is completely unprecedented, and it’s changing what it means to be an investment platform, and what it takes to win in this space.

This race to consolidate and transform is driven by four inescapable drivers:

  1. Cost pressures are driving the need for scale
  2. Smaller players have struggled to develop a competitive edge
  3. Original founder teams are reaching the stage where they wish to exit and retire
  4. Many need capital investment to upgrade their technology infrastructure – and they are seeking this from external funds

What this means for those platforms that are still in the game is a focus on their supporting technology, because either:


  • The firm has grown rapidly (either organically or inorganically) and needs to operate at a scale, and with an efficiency, for which their underlying foundations were not built
  • Everyone has an incentive to get their house in order, especially if you want to be able to absorb new books of business without costs rising exponentially

What does this have to do with the CRM solution used by platforms?

CRM should be considered a core part of the toolkit needed by any investment platform to achieve growth – and it is no different to core platform engines, in that it is likely to have suffered from underinvestment or simply being outgrown by the business.

The following are common industry pain points indicative of a CRM solution that is poorly adopted, inefficient to maintain, and ultimately difficult to scale as your business grows:

  • Is CRM a known core gap in your strategic technology architecture?
  • Is your CRM solution based on technology you can no longer support?
  • Do you feel as though you never saw a ROI on the CRM solution you chose?
  • Did it take too much customisation to make CRM usable for all your teams?
  • Do you feel frustrated that CRM tools don’t work ‘out of the box’ for the platform industry?
  • Is pulling together a sensible set of sales data always more difficult than it should be?

What could CRM look like instead?

The benefits to your business of an optimised CRM tool:


How can Alpha help?

Alpha is uniquely well-placed to support you in optimising your CRM solution; we have a proven track record of success in designing and implementing Distribution technology within the investments industry, and we have a rich understanding of the business needs & drivers of investment platforms. For example:

  • We have a highly skilled team with deep experience and understanding of the investment platform market in the UK
  • We have led numerous engagements in this investment platform space, assisting our clients to review, transform and migrate their technology, operations and distribution functions
  • We’ve conducted 60+ CRM engagements in the last 10 years, focusing solely on the investments industry

We can work with you to expand the vision for your CRM solution so that it does a true enabler for your business goals. Many of our clients like to start their journey with us with a ‘CRM Healthcheck’ which rapidly delivers a comprehensive set of analysis and insights alongside an in-depth strategy, architecture, and change roadmap.


Contact us

For more information or to arrange a meeting, please contact Bruce Davies, Head of Pensions & Retail Investments.

About the Authors

Emily Eleazar

Emily is an experienced Consultant, specialising in Distribution. Since joining Alpha in September 2016, Emily has supported a variety of clients in the investments industry to design and implement their optimal CRM solution. Emily also has experience across the broader range of Distribution specialisms, including client reporting, operating model design and the formulation of market strategies for D2C / retail customer segments.

Duncan Ng'enda
Senior Manager

Duncan is a Senior Manager at Alpha with over 7 years' experience, spanning across the Retail & Investment Banking, Wealth & Asset Management and Insurance sectors. Duncan's specialism is driving business and technology transformations to deliver specific business outcomes within budget and on time. Most recently, he has led several technology re-platform programmes, operating model optimisation, M&A transactions and integration programmes for a number of large enterprises in the retail investments industry.

Tom Parish
Tom Parish
Senior Manager

Tom Parish is an expert in Alpha’s Distribution practice, with 10 years’ experience advising Asset Managers, Intermediaries and Platforms on their Sales and Client Service strategies. Tom has also led a number of transformation and implementation projects to put these strategies into action; such as operating model definition, market entry plans, change management, CRM, portals, websites and marketing automation tools.