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Accelerating out of the pandemic


Today, as we slowly emerge from the pandemic, every firm needs a vision for the future beyond COVID-19. Now is the time to determine how you will come out of the crisis. By shifting from stabilisation to strategic planning you will be able to forge ahead when the time is right. In capital markets, where high volatility and unpredictability have characterised the crisis, that includes being ready to protect against client attrition risk and to prospect effectively, while also strengthening your operational efficiency.


Post-pandemic digital readiness?

Many sell side firms are still focused on the status quo, concerned that any project will cause significant disruption and preferring to struggle on with manual work-arounds and labour-intensive fixes for the sake of protecting day-to-day continuity. How can you overcome that inertia and start putting in place essential capabilities which will help define your post-pandemic success?


If it ain’t broke…

…doesn’t mean to say it can’t be improved. The acceleration of digitisation during the pandemic has advantaged those who can leverage joined up analytics-driven decision-making and that will only increase as the world opens up. Being able to identify your top 20 clients, your best performing analysts, the salespeople who add the most value, trending research topics and any number of other metrics at a glance will put you in a stronger position to leverage the upturn. If your firm is to excel, you need to find the time to make the change, cognisant of the risks and disruption. 


How do you keep your key people? 

Generally, people have been staying put during lock down. A few stars have moved. As the world emerges, people are tired of trying to showcase their best work on fragmented technology that doesn’t let them highlight key clients, target them with expertise, in person conferences and expert, focused research resources. They are at risk of walking if you continue with poor technology – just as you will lose clients to your competitors.


Based on our 300+ projects carried out for sell side clients over the past 11 years, here’s Singletrack’s checklist to help you make the leap:



Be clear on your objectives so you can assess whether the potential disruption is merited. It’s worth remembering that the ROI of a good CRM is magnified by volume. For example, if you’re missing 10% of your interactions because of manual processes, with the market uptick that could mean missing 100 interactions instead of 20 in normal times, and the cost of those becomes significant. On the flipside, there are scalable benefits to a fully automated and unified CRM, which can handle any number of interactions without needing a break! If business is slower than you’d like, a modern CRM still gives you competitive advantage in helping you to focus on client retention and defence of revenue.



Look for a partner who has deep experience of this process, who understands the ROI of their solution and the timeframe required to reach it. A longer implementation means greater disruption. It can take several years to spec, build and test a robust and feature-rich industry-specific CRM, not to mention the opportunity cost of taking revenue producers off the trading floor to explain their requirements to IT. Selecting a packaged CRM, but one which is capital markets-specific, eliminates development completely, cuts down implementation time and ensures your team is productive on the new system fast. Furthermore, if you look for a solution with high levels of configurability in the data model, you will have a solution tailored to your requirements.



Sometimes you simply can’t afford to take people away from the day job. Consider a software provider who offers a white glove service for the tricky tasks that are resource hungry and complex. Data is the single biggest stumbling block – interactions, client details, interfaces with aggregators – a competent firm will handle this for you as well as training, UAT, setting up KPIs and reporting and offer extra support for your go-live.



Of course you have expertise in house, but those people already have jobs! Sourcing and retaining additional necessary expertise is costly and time-consuming. If you work with a vendor who has capital markets knowledge, you benefit from their experience, not only through the solution itself, but also in customisation for your particular workflows, integration with other systems and data sources. A specialised provider can make available expertise for specific requirements, which could include market structure, regulations, industry trends, technology and more.



Of both people and system. The ideal solution is fast to deploy but customised to your needs. Possibly something modular, which would allow you to scale up in the future, or a solution with staged implementation to enable you to address specific issues immediately and enhance later. This would be hard to achieve through your own build, but it is attainable through an off-the-shelf solution.



Building an in-house CRM ties up a large team of internal and outsourced resources. Costs can easily spiral, or resources get sidetracked. A capital markets ready-made, hosted solution has a known, transparent cost and no step change of new infrastructure. Support resources are predictable and the ability to grow should be inbuilt. From a capital expenditure viewpoint, if you choose a cloud-based platform, it reduces overhead on systems and storage costs.



Any good CRM must stay compliant with local and regional regulations. A vendor supplying an outsourced solution has every incentive to survey the marketplace and ensure that the offering is future proofed for market trends and regulations, such as jurisdiction-specific data protection and privacy standards. These costs are typically spread over the client base. If you select a cloud-based solution, then the technology is more easily managed and kept current.



Buying not just for today but for the future – you need to be reassured that there’s a roadmap for the solution which addresses industry and regulatory requirements. You also need to know that there’s an infrastructure in place to look after you and your team and help you grow. 


Who would have thought, 18 months ago, that remote working would be the norm – and yet we have all adapted. The next big shift will be adapting to the world opening up again, and although, counterintuitively, while the markets are working well and there’s little incentive to change, now is the time to plan for digitalisation and the new norm. There is an opportunity to create a new way of looking at your clients and prospects in the round, unlocking siloed information and leveraging client intelligence to gain critical advantage. History has taught us that the bounce-back after a crisis has winners – who have adapted – and losers – who did not. And of course, on a personal level, a successful project will be career-enhancing for the project sponsor.  


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Published: 03/08/2021