CRM vs. Institutional Investor Databases: Why You Need Both

Is this a familiar scene? It’s a Monday morning and time to start your outreach for the week. To be successful this week you need to get started setting up meetings and making calls right away. Then you look up and half of your morning is gone and all you’ve done is update data to find exactly who it is you should be calling. 

If the answer is yes, we can confidently say we feel your pain. Updating a CRM is a headache, and one we’ve all dealt with. However, for most of us, it’s something we can’t do business without. 

When it comes time to evaluate your firm’s needs, budgets, and software subscriptions, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. What gets the most use? How will you prove there’s real ROI? What will make your team the most efficient? Chances are, your CRM tops that list.

There are countless options within the investment industry, but we’ve narrowed it down to two essentials we think will benefit every firm: A CRM and an institutional investor database.

Of course, as a database provider ourselves, we think there’s a real benefit to having both a CRM and an institutional investor database in your sales toolkit, but we’re here to help you decide for yourself.

At Dakota, we’ve been at this for fourteen years, helping our investment partners raise money for their strategies. After spending over a decade compiling information on the right people to call on for those matters, and tracking it in our own CRM, we know first hand how hard it can be getting everything you need all in one place. 

However, we know these things can add up, and not everyone’s budgets look the same. In this article, we’ll outline the functions of a CRM and an institutional investor database. We’ll walk you through how you can use them separately or together to strengthen and streamline your sales operations. 

By the end of this article, you’ll be one step closer to deciding if a CRM, an institutional investor database, or both are right for your firm.

The function of a CRM in the investment industry

The function of a CRM in the investment industry is to house all of your accounts and contacts, as well as storing all of the information about those accounts and contacts. They track your activity and allow you to run pipeline and opportunity reports. Truly, a CRM helps you run your business and organize yourself. 

What are you missing out on by not having a CRM? 

Without a CRM, you don't have the benefit of having your client and prospect information all in one place, leaving you scrambling to determine which of your marketing efforts are working and what isn’t. This can leave you and your team feeling disconnected and disorganized, which is inefficient for everyone. 

With a CRM follow up is easier, outreach is easier, and reporting your progress is easier. Without a CRM, you’ll find it very hard to track your prospects or your clients. This means no mass emails, because you likely won’t have a robust email list, and no effective tracking for the one-off emails you do send. 

Additionally, without a CRM, you don’t have insight into the activities of your sales team, which can prevent you from keeping up with their progress.

The function of an institutional investor database

While CRMs are without a doubt an essential part of any successful business, they are missing some key things when it comes to the investment industry in particular, which is where an institutional investor database comes in.

Most CRMs are highly customizable but do not contain the fields necessary for investment sales professionals. A good institutional investor database should have all of the key accounts and contact information necessary to your firm, as well as account and platform descriptions. An institutional investor database also contains all of the investment preferences for those accounts (about one hundred different fields).

A database allows for a level of granularity that isn’t possible within just a CRM. A database for hire — an institutional investor database — has the time, resources, and capabilities to provide and continually update those crucial fields. By providing an up-to-date curated list of accounts and contacts,, an institutional investor database ensures that your team knows exactly who to call on and when. 

What are you missing out on without an institutional investor database?

While there are plenty of benefits that come with having an institutional investor database, the primary thing you’re losing out on without one is time.

While we know that no one can spend 100% of the time setting meetings, it is possible to eliminate much of the unnecessary time that you spend researching those buyers to ask for meetings. 

Reducing the time that your sales team spends on research allows them to focus on what really matters: setting up meetings and calls with the right people. With an institutional investor database, you can filter and narrow down by metro area, AUM, and other details. This makes it incredibly easy for your team to know exactly who would be willing to meet with them.

Do I need both a CRM and an institutional investor database?

The most ideal situation is for firms to have both a CRM and an institutional investor database. 

A recent study done by Forrester Research recently found that a CRM functions much more strongly in an ecosystem than it does on its own. 

CRM users on the frontlines can't serve modern customers using only core CRM. They struggle with duplicate work or manual call wrap-up procedures, which decrease their productivity and limit their effectiveness. CRM vendors have invested in application exchanges. These application exchanges contain an ecosystem of point solutions such as eSignature capture, automated data capture, dialers, and schedulers — to name a few — that extend and enhance the power of core CRM. CRM vendors invest in and curate these application exchanges to varying degrees. 

A database is critical, and a true complement to your CRM. Using an institutional investor database means someone else finds all the information, keeps it accurate, and keeps it up to date. If you can bring all of this information accurately into your CRM, it will allow your team to act most efficiently in tracking, planning, and keeping up with clients and prospects alike. And at the end of the day, this means more leads and more business won for your firm. 

The difference between a CRM and a database is that with just a CRM, you and your team are doing the work inside the CRM to keep your key fields updated and growing. With an institutional investor database, you’re hiring someone to do that administrative work for you. By integrating your database with your CRM, you’re making your sales team more focused and efficient.

Who is a CRM right for?

The short answer: everyone. 

If you’re a business with clients and prospects, a CRM is a necessity to help you manage all of those relationships with ease. The standard fields can be customized to fit your needs, and a CRM allows you to track engagement across platforms so that you can keep a finger on the pulse of what’s working and what isn’t.

Who is an institutional investor database right for?

A database is right for investment firms who like raising money for their investment strategies. They’re appropriate for firms that are perpetually raising capital for their investment products. 

If you find that your team is spending valuable time correcting and finding prospects and contact information, a database is the solution. When you take away the noise and leave yourself with just the accounts and contacts you want to be talking to, your team will not just be more efficient but more successful. 

Bringing on a CRM or database

If you think an institutional investor database might be necessary for your team, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of databases, as well a breakdown of three of the most popular contenders in the industry. Full disclosure: we included ourselves in this one!

If you don’t yet have a CRM, this list of top investment industry CRMs might help inform your choice.

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Written By: Gui Costin, Founder, CEO

Gui Costin is the Founder and CEO of Dakota.


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