If you want something done right, do it yourself.

That attitude prompted Crestar Financial Corp.'s trust and investment management division to develop its own computerized client management system.

The Richmond, Va., banking company installed the system about a year ago on the desktops of 257 trust officers and private bankers in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. The aim: to improve the way these employees track accounts and develop leads.

Crestar officials said the new system is already proving its mettle. The trust unit's efficiency ratio - expenses measured as a percentage of revenue - improved by nine percentage points from 1994 to 1995, said Thomas P. Krahe, vice president for trust marketing.

And Mr. Krahe said he expects to reap further benefits this year in the form of reduced paperwork, better information management, and a sharper focus on client needs.

The system has simplified evaluations of sales prospects because the lists are now gathered in one place, Mr. Krahe said. Previously, officers, bankers, and administrators maintained independent lists on paper.

"You're eliminating all these prospect lists," Mr. Krahe said. "Nobody knew who was doing what to whom and when. There was no viable analysis of the prospect process."

What's more, clients can gain access to the system from home to update their financial information.

"Once the customer inputs information," Mr. Krahe said, "other areas of the bank can go and extract that information without bothering an account administrator or private banker."

He said the bank designed its own system because it couldn't find the right product on the market. "I don't think a vendor can develop this," he said, "because bankers live the process. We have it work the way it needs to in a real-life environment."

With the Windows-based system, Crestar's trust and private banking executives can tap extensive information about customers, well beyond records of account activity.

For instance, they can look at logs of sales calls and client contacts. They can also gain access to documents on investment plans, details of family connections among various accounts, and lists of financial advisers involved with each client.

Michael W. Davis, vice president of trust systems, said the system frees up time to work with clients. "It's a lot like relationship management systems on commercial sides of banks," he said. "But you really couldn't find one in the trust world that incorporated retail banking sales reporting and tracking."

Despite its do-it-yourself approach, Crestar still employs a bank technology firm - SEI Corp., Wayne, Pa. Indeed, its proprietary system is integrated into a trust administration system operated by SEI.

Ann M. Luther, an executive vice president at SEI, said her company is developing a system similar to Crestar's that could be marketed to clients.

She said she is impressed that the Crestar system stresses sales tracking. "They are addressing a common need in the industry," she said.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.