Financial Blog

Tech Review: Redtail's New Edition

Category: Financial Planning
Published: Monday, 06 October 2014 17:22
Written by Super User
Hits: 654

Redtail Technology just released a major upgrade to its popular CRM application. Dubbed Project Tailwag, this version of Redtail — only the third upgrade in the company’s 12-year history — offers a host of new enhancements.

Redtail has grown from modest beginnings to become one of the leading providers of customer relationship management software in the independent advisory space, with more than 85,000 users. In fact, according to the most recent Financial Planning Technology Survey, Redtail CRM was the most widely used CRM tool.

There are a number of reasons that Redtail is so popular. One is that it was among the first industry-specific CRM products to adopt cloud technology. Many of its competitors took years to follow suit.

Another attraction is ease of use. Initially, Redtail was far from the most feature-rich CRM in the space, but it provided core functionality that was more than sufficient for a large number of advisors. By initially limiting the feature set to the essentials, Redtail was able to deliver a product that was relatively simple to learn and use.

Although the feature set and sophistication have expanded substantially over the years, the folks at Redtail have done a great job of maintaining the focus on usability.

A third area where Redtail excels is in pricing. Unlike many competitors, Redtail charges by the database, not by the individual user. A single database, which can accommodate up to 15 users, retails for $65 a month, with discounts available through many custodians and broker-dealers. That’s for anytime, anywhere access to your data, from both computers and mobile devices, and includes backups and disaster recovery.

MOBILE-FIRST DESIGN

The moment you log on to the new edition of Redtail, the contrast with the older version is striking. The new design is more modern, and was obviously built with a mobile-first mentality. Navigation is simpler. More of the functionality is exposed. And the elements on the screen are large enough so that they can be clicked with a finger on a touch screen.

At the top of the page, there are four boxes, each containing firmwide information: Assets Under Management, Reminders, Timeline (which highlights recent changes to the database) and Projects.

That Projects link is new to Redtail. In the past, separate niches held simple linear lists of tasks as a checklist; more complex tasks that are dependent on other tasks were separated as workflows. Now you have the flexibility to combine the characteristics of checklists and workflows into a single project. You can then link projects to a contact, an opportunity or
a seminar.

Projects can also be saved as templates for future use. Redtail says it plans to expand on the power of the project functionality in future releases.

As part of this new expansion of functionality in the area of projects and workflows, Redtail plans to allow custodians and broker-dealers to create libraries of workflows that Redtail can then make available exclusively to the relevant client base. For example, TD Ameritrade could create a set of workflows for its custodial clients, and LPL could create a separate set for its advisors. These could then be used as is, or as the building blocks by individual firms.

There are other nice aspects to the workflows and projects. When you add a step to a workflow, you can enter an expected outcome, so you can track whether or not the step achieved the desired result. Every task that you create becomes a calendar item, so if you create a task for your assistant and create a due date, that task is immediately entered in that person’s calendar.

The user can navigate through a detailed list of all projects, with each project’s name, status, estimated completion date and the current step in the process.

Below the four boxes at the top of the page, there are a number of additional sections. Most in my sample database contained information at the firm level, but at least some could be filtered to display a subset of the information. For example, the Pending Activities box could be set to display all pending activities firmwide, or filtered to show just my activities, everyone’s activities except mine, a team’s activities, or a specific type of activity. A box displays contacts by status, accounts by type, top accounts by balance, and upcoming opportunities.

WORKLOAD GRAPH

There’s also a new, distinctive workload graph. In the previous version of Redtail, you could track the workload of team members by duration, but you could not compare duration with expected duration. Now you can.