Joel Bruckenstein of T3 and I just released the 2021 T3/Inside Information Advisor Software Survey, which includes user ratings and market share statistics (and year-on-year changes to both) for more than 400 different software products and services in 32 different categories. You find all the CRM tools in the marketplace down to those with less than 1% total market share, and the same for tax planning software, college planning tools, financial planning software, portfolio management tools, enterprise content/document management software, bill paying and cybersecurity solutions and a lot more.

Our annual goal is to provide the advisor community with a truly comprehensive guide to the profession’s diverse and complicated software support ecosystem.

We owe a debt of gratitude to, among others, Advisor Perspectives for sending out invitations to participate in the survey. In all, we collected 5,255 responses, making this, by several orders of magnitude, the most statistically relevant report in the profession.

As you might imagine, the process of taming more than 5,000 individual responses covering 400 software products is basically an exercise in putting your head down and letting the data emerge in charts and graphs – and then we look at the charts and graphs that we’ve produced and are inevitably surprised by what we see. For instance, we thought that Redtail’s 62% market share in our 2019 survey might have been a fluke, but this year 61.86% of the respondents who are using a CRM program in their business life told us that they use Redtail. And they like it; the program achieved an average user rating, on a scale of 1-10, of 8.06. Anything over 7.0 is excellent in our survey, because there are inevitably a few grumpy advisors who can’t seem to bring themselves to give anybody or anything a rating above a ‘5.’ Only a very few programs achieve ratings above 8.0 – which makes it even more remarkable that Concenter Services’ XLR8 program, one of Redtail’s smaller competitors (2.49% market share) achieved a user rating of 8.85 – very nearly the highest in our survey.

This, in turn, illustrated another recurrent theme of our annual exercise: Many times the highest-rated programs are not the market share leaders. In my commentary below and between the charts, I encourage advisors who are looking at upgrading or adding a software tool to scan not just the most popular programs at the top of our list, but also the average user ratings down the list. Redtail doesn’t have many dissatisfied users looking to switch, but the other 38% of advisors, and those (very few) who are not currently using a CRM program, might consider the XLR8 Salesforce overlay based on its overwhelming popularity with users.

Speaking of Salesforce, its Financial Services Cloud program was by far the leader in “programs that respondents are considering” – another data point we collected from respondents. The idea is to find out who is generating the most interest among dissatisfied users in each category, which might be a sign of which programs will be adding market share. (Redtail finished second on this “considering” chart, which means it may, if possible, become even more dominant next year.)