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United Capital redefines financial services with Salesforce

“We partnered with Salesforce to provide a pathway for advisers who want to stay competitive in a changing landscape to robustly and dynamically engage with clients.”


Since its founding in 2005, United Capital has led a fundamental shift in how financial advisers interact with clients. “When we started this company, what we noticed is that the entire industry really viewed human beings like walking wallets,” said CEO Joe Duran. “And we just asked this very simple question: What if we can help people improve their lives by simply making better choices, and by helping them to not be as concerned with their wealth as with their life?” With that philosophy guiding every decision, United Capital has successfully distinguished itself as a financial life management company. The market has responded enthusiastically, making United Capital one of the fastest-growing financial life management firms in the United States, with nearly 600 employees serving more than 25,000 clients. Today, the advisory firm has reached $15 billion assets under management (AUM) despite a difficult financial climate. With robo-investing putting increasing pressure on traditional advisory firms to defend their value, United Capital has thrived thanks to an empathetic, human approach that can’t be replicated by algorithms. And yet, technology plays a key role: Because of Salesforce, advisers get to spend more time with clients while connecting, empowering, and engaging them more deeply.

United Capital began to rethink its technology when rapid growth and a series of acquisitions of like-minded local advisory practices quickly exposed the limitations of its homegrown CRM solution. After an in-depth search, Duran and his team selected Salesforce as the central technology platform because it had the flexibility to scale while being easily customizable to meet the unique needs of various offices. “It gave us the ability to grow not just in size but also in capabilities,” said Mike Capelle, Head of Platform. The onboarding process, data migration, communication between offices, and systems integration are now streamlined, with all 82 offices supported on just one primary, on-premises server. Advisers collaborate through Chatter, where they share ideas and strategies for helping clients. “All of our employees are on Chatter,” Capelle explains. “It helps us shrink the company, and keep all of our offices connected throughout the day.” Ultimately, efficiency allows United Capital advisers to spend more time doing what they care about most: connecting with clients. “Technology removes so much of the daily burden that it allows us to be freer, more empathetic human beings, and to have more time to connect and talk about what really matters to people,” said Duran. With Salesforce, the team at United Capital developed a unique system for getting to know clients and how they think about money, so that advisers can provide more personalized counseling and financial plans. Potential clients start by taking an online quiz, integrated with an app built with Salesforce App Cloud, to identify their financial mindset. Over a period of two years, more than 43,000 potential clients completed the Money Mind® analyzer, giving both them and United Capital a closer read on their emotional relationship with money. Using Marketing Cloud, advisers can tailor communications that are more relevant and timely to their clients and prospects. “Salesforce let us reach out to more people, and it let us grow and be nimble and fast,” said Chief Marketing Officer Gail Graham.

United Capital has found more than a vendor; it now has a committed partner in the Salesforce community. Said Duran, “It seems like everybody’s committed to a couple of things: Doing the right thing, making things easier and faster, making things more simple. And when we start telling people what we’re trying to do, everybody that we’ve met from Salesforce has been in sync with us, like, ‘Hey, we want to help you get there.’ I feel like they actually care about the mission we’re on to improve lives.” In turn, United Capital has been a key ally and guide in Salesforce’s development of Financial Services Cloud. “We partnered with Salesforce to provide a pathway for advisers who want to stay competitive in a changing landscape to robustly and dynamically engage with clients with Financial Services Cloud,” said Duran. The result, according to Capelle, is a solution that is custom-tuned for advisory practices, “using Salesforce Lightning to create a much more intuitive and engaging experience.” Graham finds Salesforce so flexible and dynamic that she doesn’t even see it as technology anymore. “When I first came to United Capital, I’d ask questions,” she said. “And the answer was always Salesforce. And I would ask, ‘What’s Salesforce? I thought that was a CRM.’ And they said, ‘No, it’s not just a CRM.’ So to me, Salesforce is like the Wizard of Oz. It’s behind the curtain, helping us make things happen. It’s where the magic comes.”

United Capital has now upgraded to digital versions of all the tools it uses to get to know new clients. Honest Conversations®, the firm’s unique card exercise used to lead conversations about life and financial priorities, is now an iPad experience linked directly to a client’s Salesforce profile. The exercise sometimes goes so deep that even longstanding married couples learn new things about their respective spouses. Those insights allow advisers to develop financial plans that are much better reflections of clients’ foundational values and priorities. All these conversations add up to the client creating what United Capital calls the Guidebook, which clarifies “what’s important to them, where they are today, and what steps [United Capital recommends] to get them on the right path,” according to Graham. Advisers measure progress against the client’s stated goals at regular intervals, driven by Salesforce. Today United Capital is working on its most ambitious, customer-centric product to date: The Guidebook is evolving into the GuideCenter, a holistic financial life management app that will be completely mobile and provide one more way to put clients in control of their everyday and long-term financial planning. “I think it’s going to change the industry,” said Duran. “It's a completely different way of thinking about your financial life. And Salesforce is embedded in that at its core.”


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