CRM Review: What and why brokers need them, and options to consider


CRM Review: What and why brokers need them, and options to consider

In today’s highly competitive and global business environment, forex brokers must deal with a plethora of issues that demand resources, while firms are constantly challenged to increase or even maintain existing profit margins. Unfortunately, an avalanche of new rules and regulations from the regulatory establishment has added to the burden, forcing brokerages to re-think their basic business approaches, when it comes to compliance, acquiring and retaining customers, and managing effectively sales and marketing staff.

Customer Relationship Management systems or “CRMs” can be the one “tool” that brings everything together, helping to coordinate your sales team and maximize every interaction with both existing clients and potential new customers. Gone are the days where simple spreadsheets could do the trick. Today’s world is about data and making the valuable information that lies within it available immediately when approaching a possible lead. Customer service personnel also need to be aware of what a customer has done, how long he has been trading, and generally how happy he is with his broker.

There are general, “all-in-one”, and industry specific versions of this powerful software tool. In the case of a forex brokerage CRM, the best ones operate like a complete broker management system, including back office tools, partner portals, and a traders’ room. It should make KYC compliance an organized task, integrate with trading activity, and manage all interactions with existing clients, potential customers, and Introducing Brokers, or “IBs”. It will also help you identify “prospects for up-sell or cross-sell, convert existing customers to new products or services, target new marketing, or even track invoices”.

In its September 2018 report, “CRM Software Market Research Report – Global Forecast to 2023,” market research firm Market Research Future forecasted “the CRM market to grow up to 35 billion by 2023”. It used to be that these sophisticated software programs were predominantly designed for large firms that could afford the package, as well as the internal staff to manage maintenance, training, and development upgrades. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) trends, however, have changed the industry dynamics. Larger firms are now capable of building their own proprietary systems, while small to medium sized companies can now take advantage of the “Cloud” to make CRMs feasible at lower cost levels by removing the need for large IT support staffs and hardware.

As a result of these technology advances, CRMs are now a real possibility for every size company in the marketplace, but deciding which one will best suit your enterprise’s needs remains a daunting task. As with any software implementation, the more work invested upfront reduces the cost burden down the road after issues begin to arise. Your IT and sales team must be involved from Day One of the process in developing options, testing demo systems, asking existing brokers that use your options a number of key questions about operations and cost, and all of this before a choice and implementation plan are ever devised.

It is essential that your staff develop its CRM strategy at the outset, as to how the customer will be served and what is needed to deliver on that task. These discussions will lead to whether you wish build your own CRM, buy a package and customize it to fit your needs, or choose a service that you can “rent in the cloud” on another firm’s servers. Some brokers sell their proprietary systems. Do you want to share your customer lists with a competing broker? Some systems come complete with chosen liquidity providers that suit the seller in the transaction. As you can see, the task can get complicated.

How do you go about choosing a CRM package that is right for you?

Like any other software purchase, you can search the Internet, review related software periodicals, attend industry conferences where vendors will market their products, check with other firms for likely candidates, or buy research from a firm like Market Research Future for specific forex related CRMs. PC Magazine recently published an article that it claimed to have put the “Top CRMs to the Test”, entitled “The Best CRM Software for 2019”.

Out of ten candidates, three received their Editor’s Choice Award. Two of the remaining seven were “free” or relatively free open source code type systems that they found admirable. We will list these five candidates below, with a few published details. These systems can work for you in a forex environment, but if you want to see five possibilities that specialize in foreign exchange support, we have also covered five firms in this arena, as well.

For general CRM system support, the “winners” are:

#1 – Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning Professional

MSRP: $75.00 at salesforce.com

Pros: Smooth workflow processes. Tons of advanced features. Highly customizable. Social collaboration. Robust third-party app marketplace. Free 30-day trial.

Cons: Lower tiers lack functionality. Steep learning curve. Expensive, especially when accessing more advanced lead generation and managerial features.

Bottom Line: Salesforce is among the first and most popular CRMs available. While that does mean a deep feature set along with a sometimes difficult learning curve, this platform offers everything you could want as far as capabilities, and you can make them work for organizations of any size.

#2 – Apptivo CRM

MSRP: $10.00 at Apptivo

Pros: Do-it-all, customizable solution. Affordable. 24-hour support. Great mobile app. Added OneDrive and RingCentral integrations. Granular security controls. New workflow and campaign management tools.

Cons: Integrations still custom rather than based on standard APIs.

Bottom Line: Apptivo does a great job of checking all your CRM boxes. A nice price, a friendly interface, and lots of customizable capability make this an easy pick for Editors’ Choice, especially for smaller businesses looking to get into CRM quickly.

#3 – Zoho CRM

MSRP: $12.00 at Zoho

Pros: Impressive feature set including gamification modules, Google integrations, and helpful reports. Free for up to 3 users. Powerful email marketing tools.

Cons: Google Ads integration and macros only available starting in Professional edition.

Bottom Line: A pioneer in the CRM space, Zoho CRM offers a comprehensive set of features highlighted by an intuitive interface with advanced features and third-party integrations that make it an easy pick for Editors’ Choice.

The next tier includes “free” to “inexpensive” systems, excluding add-ons:

#4 – HubSpot CRM

MSRP: $0.00, Free at HubSpot

Pros: Free version available. Very intuitive interface. Excellent email integration.

Cons: Gets costly when you start to add premium functionality. Relatively new, so some minor feature oversights, such as only allowing a single email address per contact record.

Bottom Line: HubSpot CRM is a good choice for smaller companies looking to get into CRM for the first time, especially since it’s free. But while it’s an easy step to take at first be aware that it can get pricey if you flesh our its features as your organization grows.

#5 – Insightly CRM

MSRP: $29.00

Pros: Convenient email tracking and template feature. Granular sharing settings. Expanded workflow management capabilities in mobile apps. Power BI integration enhances reporting.

Cons: No automatic email forwarding feature. Lead assignment rules can only be accessed in Professional and Enterprise plans. Pipelines are not available for leads. Lead and contacts are split into separate tabs.

Bottom Line: Insightly CRM serves the customer relationship and lead management needs of most small businesses with a solid feature set. This platform presents data gathering and project management tools, which aren’t common in CRM.

What are a few examples of forex specific CRM packages?

Last year in a guest post, Anya Aratovskaya outlined her view of this industry and gave these tips:

As someone who has been in the B2B FX Industry for over 10 years, I must admit that 80% of companies that provide Traders’ Rooms and CRM offer the same features; however, the design and implementation may be slightly different. Nevertheless, some are more stable than others, some have better customer support, and others are less expensive due to the location or / broker ownership. Don’t forget to ask for existing client references, support structure, years in business, and company background.

“Traders’ Room” is a general term in the industry. It can also go by the name of FX Client Portal, Middle Office, Trades Portal, or Client Area, but it is the web interface that an FX client would interface when opening an account and would necessarily need to integrate well with whatever CRM package was installed in the back office. There are cost considerations, depending upon your type of installation and whatever add-ons or additional services are selected. There are also roughly a dozen other feature considerations that go into the process of choosing the CRM provider package that will work best in a forex environment for your firm, as well:

  • Platform Agnostic: MT4 and MT5 should be givens, but what if you wish to add another service? The software should allow for this easy integration;
  • Sales Support: A must – tracking of leads and keeping your salesmen from tripping over each other is why you have a CRM in the first place;
  • Multi-level Partnership Management: IBs are part of the process. You need to be able to handle rebates and commissions easily;
  • Reporting: Review the basics, which should include reports on trading statistics, leads, revenue, dividends, and variable “free form” requests;
  • Compliance: KYC compliance is a must. The CRM should track the process, as far as client documentation is concerned and assist in regulatory audits, too;
  • Communication Tracking: Validate that every type of communication is tracked and easily reviewed by either salesmen or Customer Service staff;
  • Branding Customization: A “White Label” product must allow for your branding to predominate every screenshot to provide a professional look for each client;
  • Nature of Software Provider: Proprietary CRMs may not give you the flexibility you desire. If the provider is solely a software development shop, then you will be heard, and you will not risk handing over your customer data to a competitor;
  • Payment Processor Integration: You want deposits to be an easy and straightforward task for your clients. There are numerous payment providers in the system. Look to have an easy integration with each;
  • Service Partner Flexibility: Some systems require that you use a set of service providers, according to the systems provider. Look for flexibility. You may want other liquidity providers than what are offered;
  • Segmentation Tools: Client account records should allow for multiple classifications in order to allow for a variety of sorts on the data for whatever reason is needed. If the account record is restrictive, reporting will be, too;
  • IB Partner Portal: You will want a separate way of communicating with your Introducing Brokers. A separate portal allows for just that ability.
What are a few examples of forex-only CRM solutions?

Finding a specialty-oriented CRM platform that caters to the forex industry is definitely possible in this day and age. Many programs have been around for more than ten years and have stood the test of time. There is also a second wave of programs that have benefited from innovations without having to be tied down by legacy systems, but your choice will again be highly determinable by your own situation. A “one-size-fits-all” approach rarely gives you the flexibility that you may need.

As Ms. Aratovskaya noted:

As with most businesses, the operation of a Retail FX Brokerage involves a lot of moving parts that must be synced together to create an efficient and viable business. These would include Legal (KYC, trading agreements, dispute management, regulatory reporting), Trading Platform Administration and Management, Liquidity and Risk Management Provisions, IB management, Client Support, and, of course, Sales and Marketing.

We have put together five summaries for your consideration. Visit the websites to get more detailed information, but each of these five firms appear often in searches for the best forex CRM. Once again, “80% of companies that provide Traders’ Rooms and CRM offer the same features”, and many of these companies will claim to be the best, but due diligence is required to determine if there is an appropriate fit.

#1 – FXBack Office

Location: Nicosia, Cyprus

Founded: 2016

Website Address: www.fxbackoffice.com

LeapRate spoke last year with Dmitriy Petrenko, the founder of FXBackOffice, a newer entrant in providing CRM and office management solutions for brokers worldwide. The company has established a very strong customer base. FXBackOffice combines CRM, client admin, and partnership management all in one, and is compatible with both MetaTrader and cTrader, and is worth checking out. For executives on the go, the company also provides access to all reporting through mobile.

Conclusions: Great value for the money. Reliable CRM. Client area and IB portal designed specifically for Forex brokers.

#2 – Kenmore Design

Location: New York and Malta

Founded: 2007

Website Address: www.kenmoredesign.com

Trader’s Room includes a CRM that allows forex brokers to receive leads to sales and support agents to attend to their needs. Once signed up, traders, IBs, and other types of users interact with brokerage agents: attending to withdrawal requests and technical issues. Our custom logic keeps track of all lead or account history from inside the Trader’s Room and notifies agents in case any action needs to be taken on a certain task. Kenmore Design is a US & EU company with the main office in Malta (EU).

Conclusions: Fully independent. Start up friendly. Financial and Sales advanced reporting. Multi-level IB payout structures and strategies.

#3 – Dynamic Works

Location: Limassol, Cyprus

Founded: 2003

Website Address: www.syntellicore.com

Syntellicore is a powerful CRM and Back Office system developed for Forex Brokerages and Financial Organisations who are dedicated to offering a higher level of Customer and Partner Experience. Syntellicore is integrated with an intuitive Trader’s Room, can be customised to match the Broker’s exact business model, and optimised to match existing complex procedures through a user friendly approach. Dynamic Works is an Award Winning Web Application and CRM vendor.

Conclusions: Web design, Traders Room and CRM. Established firm with known track record. Licensed MetaTrader 5 Application Developer.

#4 – Qobo Group

Location: Nicosia, Cyprus

Founded: 2013

Website Address: https://qorefx.com/solutions/forex-crm/

The QoreFX CRM is advanced yet intuitive, built to handle the complexities of the industry. With our extensive experience in the Forex industry, we understand exactly how important the CRM is to your business, whether you are monitoring new Leads, processing Deposits/Withdrawals, Client/IB administration, Compliance or Marketing capabilities, we have built a Forex CRM that streamlines your processes and acts as a central focus point for your organisation. With QoreFX you can be sure of offering the very best in customer service.

Conclusions: Class-leading Forex CRM, a flexible and robust Trader’s Cabinet/Member’s Area, development of Forex Websites, and integration of all systems with trading platforms, payment gateways, and other systems.

#5 – UTIP Technologies Ltd

Location: Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Founded: 2006

Website Address: https://www.utip.org/crm

The UTIP Platform is a ready-made set of programs for business organizations in the currency markets. Platform automates all the necessary business-processes, contains built-In system of orders execution, and protects your data store from unauthorized access. Full interaction with the trading platform. Proven business processes are to attract customers and to maintain existing customers.

Conclusions: Along with the platform you will have high quality data feed and Trader’s room for the website. With a comprehensive solution, just in 24 hours you can start taking money and serving your customers. More than 200 clients all over the world and 70 employees.

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