Salesforce Financial Services Cloud Goes Live

The Salesforce Financial Services Cloud went live Tuesday with almost two dozen ecosystem partners already building solutions extending it to specific sectors of the financial services industry.

The new cloud, built on Salesforce's Lightning application development platform, offers a customer-centric interface to pull disparate information into one cohesive system, Simon Mulcahy, general manager of Salesforce's financial services division, told CRN.

Wealth management advisers in particular are growing increasingly frustrated trying to piece together comprehensive customer views from a hodgepodge of fractured solutions, Mulcahy said.

[Related: Salesforce Debuts Health Cloud, A Solution For Managing Patient Relationships]

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As the industry "knits itself into a new format," Mulcahy said, San Francisco-based Salesforce believes what's missing is a product offering a snapshot view encompassing market information, insights related to their book of business, detailed client information and analytics.

Salesforce solicited input from scores of financial firms of all sizes before spending roughly a year developing the product to help wealth management advisers and other financial professionals engage their customers.

While customers eagerly chimed in on exactly what they needed, Mulcahy said, "we got as much excitement from our partners as our customers."

Wealth management is the most natural use case, but the product can serve a wider variety of financial professionals, from big financial houses to brokers, retail banks and insurers, Mulcahy said. The name Wealth Management Cloud was abandoned to reflect the greater possibilities, he added.

Because Financial Services Cloud aims to unify a host of existing software solutions on the market, and drive development of new tools, support for a third-party ecosystem was an essential component of the product's development strategy.

Salesforce invested a great deal of effort in identifying technology and go-to-market partners it considers good fits for the product, according to Mulcahy.

"We're working for them, identifying how we can build a powerful long-term relationship with partners, then connecting them to Financial Services Cloud," Mulcahy said.

One is The Athene Group, a Salesforce partner based in Herndon, Va., that specializes in CRM implementations.

Dawn Reitz, senior vice president of product strategy at The Athene Group, told CRN the company was fielding a lot interest from current and potential clients as Financial Services Cloud was in development.

"The Financial Services Cloud really transforms Salesforce into something that’s much more useful to someone in the wealth management space," Reitz said.

The Athene Group has developed its own account aggregation plug-in tool for culling data from sources such as bank accounts and pensions.

The product goes beyond traditional CRM to provide financial professionals "a 360-degree view of the client, the household, and all their relationships and financial accounts," Reitz told CRN -- information wealth managers need at their fingertips.

Financial Services Cloud is "really a one-stop entry portal that allows a wealth manager to connect this to any other financial processing tools they have," she said.

Several tech vendors are building add-on products and integration tools to broaden the cloud's capabilities.

Salesforce has partnered with Informatica and MuleSoft to add data aggregation capabilities, and Docusign and eSignLive to integrate electronic signing.

Idio and WealthEngine extend the client acquisition capabilities. Smarsh has integrated cloud-based archiving, an important capability for compliance concerns.

Salesforce has also partnered with CipherCloud and Blue Coat to protect data.

While those tech partners have added distinct functionality, the initial batch of systems integrators that will be implementing Financial Services Cloud are also building their own accelerators and offerings around the product, Mulcahy told CRN.