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How AppCrown got a big RIA footprint overnight by handling Salesforce implementations

TD and Fidelity are in with both feet but some are taking a wait-and-see attitude

Author Lisa Shidler February 27, 2012 at 5:02 AM
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Franklin Tsung: It is a messy business and not for the meek.


Bill Winterberg

Bill Winterberg

February 27, 2012 — 2:39 PM

Hats off to Franklin, Ted and AppCrown. They’ll face an interesting challenge of attaining scalability in 2012.

As I see it, no vendor or custodian wants to be a Salesforce expert and develop internal resources to customize Salesforce for wealth management. So who is out there that can step in as an intermediary?

There’s four that I can think of: Salesforce for Wealth Management (that most advisors find inadequate and expensive), Concenter Services (the XLR8 overlay provider), Schwab’s OpenView Integrated Office (brand new and priced at $10k for 2 users), and AppCrown.

Whatever AppCrown is doing, they’re making inroads with custodians and vendors.

Is Salentica a direct competitor to AppCrown? Sort of. Each company provides an overlay to web-based CRM, but the Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics environments are different enough that I feel they attract different advisory firms.

Again, AppCrown just has to outperform Schwab, Concenter, and Salesforce for Wealth Management.

Salentica’s direct competition is the MS Dynamics customization in Tamarac Advisor Xi.

Brooke and Lisa, feel free to contact me.

Ted Beshear

Ted Beshear

February 27, 2012 — 6:02 PM

My advice would be to wait 6 months or more before engaging AppCrown.

The quality of their support has been well below our expectations. They often take multiple days to respond to our inquiries and have not followed through on their commitments. Maybe they are focusing their attention on larger clients (we have 3 advisors and about $80M in AUM), but I would have preferred that they tell us they can’t provide us with the same level of support as larger clients rather than over promise and under deliver.

Contrary to the article, I hope that this growth spurt is affecting their client service. Because if it is it is hopefully something they will correct, otherwise they have serious issues.

Elmer Rich III

Elmer Rich III

February 27, 2012 — 6:39 PM

Excellent reporting job. RIABiz continues to have some of the best in the industry. Thank you Lisa.

This is brand new and unexplored territory for everyone. In addition, the ground keeps shifting as new technology is continually being created and adopted by clients and advisors, eg, social media, etc.

We could make a case for systems like Salesforce being old technology now.

The theme of the article, and this experience, seems to be the growing importance of partnerships outside of the advisors office and staff — that is always hard. It is always a challenge also when an advisor buys tech solution expecting it to solve a problem and finds it demands lots of other resources to work, eg, Salesforce.

Thus, the endless (it seems) search for and end to tech buying, implementation and finally getting to using the stuff successfully.

We are not technologists — neither are our advisor and other clients. But we are responsible for making the advisor’s systems deliver new assets and better experiences for clients. Generally, “There is not a technological solution for a relationship issue.” Generally.

Custodians clearly have a self-interest (which is not bad) in their advisors having seamless systems. The less “friction” attached to the assets, the better for everyone — especially on the asset gathering side.

It seems prudent to assume that all tech is imperfect and breaks — often at the worst times. That is the nature of any “mechanical” system — especially new ones. “Middle-wear” has always been a necessity in our business.

As pointed out, a new tech company serves many masters, all at the same time. The business itself is like a new child with incessant demands. Add in new clients, new services and offerings and new partners and there are a lot of “mouths to feed.” The principals wearing many hats at once is usually not optimal.

As the last comment above suggests — there are a lot of “mouths to feed” as a start-up.

Franklin Tsung

Franklin Tsung

February 29, 2012 — 8:02 PM

Thankful for the article and awareness about AppCrown, and the turnaround work I’ve implemented over the past 15 months now, it almost goes without say that any firm experiencing unprecedented growth will have to accommodate and invest in client service resources.

From the client examples in the story, the independent RIA (Lee Munson) to an national firm (Mercer Global Advisors), our team has learned the true value of client relationships. As an advisor, your returns may not be stellar, however it is everything else that instills confidence in a high net wealth family.

Taking from these lessons from our own clients, AppCrown has invested in client services, with new staff members and new processes to service RIA firms.

At the end of the day, growth is a great story, and it should instill confidence into our RIA’s that we are growing into an institution, and that AppCrown is on the right path to service an technology. The last thing you want as an advisor is to be concerned about the viability of the institution that is servicing your back office system. And with this story, I do hope the benefits are shown,

Now at the same time (Ted), per your comment, I encourage you to reach out to me personally or submit your inquiry to our new support system: Support@appcrown.com. In your subject title, please write your company name. This helps my service staff to respond adequately.

We never take the value of information for granted, advisors lives on notes, activities, logging calls, etc., – information and responsiveness is what sets the difference for an RIA, an advisor who tailors to the elite. As supporters of your business, we’ve taken the immediate measures to mature greater and faster.

Thank you for your support, and for this communities great interest in AppCrown,


Elmer Rich III

Elmer Rich III

February 29, 2012 — 8:46 PM

Growth is a sign of demand. Meeting demand is a separate set of challenges. There can be a great deal of demand for offerings that are unsustainable — “loosing money on every sale but making in up in volume” for example.

Then there are the external demands of a fast growing market/demand and the wholly separate challenges of internally building a sustainable business. Very tricky and statistics tell us most businesses fail at this. Well the vast majority of new business just fail — for many reasons.

Information and responsiveness is part of what makes a successful advisor. It happens to be the behaviors most easily measured and supported by technology. Best not to confuse what is easiest to measure and automate with what adds the most value.

Part of what is not easily measured and automated that is critical is trust and assurances with substance and evidence. Generally, the “elite” demand performance and data/proof before investing.

Finally, faster is not always better.

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Mentioned in this article:

TD Ameritrade
Asset Custodian
Top Executive: Tom Nally

CRM Software
Top Executive: Greg Friedman

CRM Software
Top Executive: Marc Benioff

AppCrown, LLC
Outsourcer, CRM Software, Tech: Other
Top Executive: Ted Tsung

Technology Tools for Today
Consulting Firm
Top Executive: Joel Bruckenstein

Mercer Global Advisors
Advisory Firm
Top Executive: David Barton

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