Client Overview

The Financial Services Institute (FSI) is an association dedicated to ensuring everyone has access to affordable financial advice, products, and services. FSI has a small staff, but they serve more than 100 financial services companies with over 35,000 individual employees and members.

Key Insights

Refusing to Replicate Their Old System

meant new solutions for old problems

Improved Reporting

empowered their whole team

Migrating to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Online

gave them access to instant updates

The Challenge

One of the biggest challenges, when FSI came onboard with Cobalt in 2016, was their old system. Their former database was messy. The data structure was broken and it was time-consuming for them to try and solve problems in the backend database. Even worse, after all that work, their reporting capabilities were still very limited. 

FSI knew they needed a new CRM partner and a reliable association management system that could streamline their access to data and reporting. Thankfully, they were committed to finding a new solution instead of just replicating old workflows and headaches.

The Approach

We knew that the biggest challenge initially would be to upgrade their system and database. They badly needed a data structure that would allow them to get all the insights they need. We helped them explore the benefits of the reporting tools and advanced find features of Microsoft Dynamics 365 as well as benefits from leveraging Power BI analytics. 

In the end, they saw that the online version of Dynamics 365 was a great investment for their team, so we started making a plan for implementation. Walkthroughs were some of the most critical collaborations in the process. The Cobalt team got to see how the FSI team had structured their work. Most importantly, we were able to really understand the problems under the surface. That meant we were able to build new solutions, instead of just replicating their workflows, processes, structures, and all the problems that went with them. 

Explore the modules used in this project


As an association, membership renewals were another important focus of the new system. With time and testing, we were able to develop a more efficient process that saved the FSI staff time and energy and significantly improved their end users’ experience. Once again, they were committed to digging in and focusing on the nature of the problem, which gave us the leeway and insights to come up with a creative new solution that benefited them and their members.

The new reporting functionality has made a big difference for FSI. With their old system, all the reports had to be generated by the staff in the accounting department because nothing was intuitive or easy to use. Today, most of the FSI staff have the access and confidence to pull the information they need to do their day-to-day work. 

We were also able to implement some helpful new integration with their content management system. Through Cobalt’s Web Elements software, the entire FSI team gained the ability to embed self-service member portals on their current website. Their members get a seamless experience with consistent branding and interface design, and the FSI team was empowered to implement custom work on their own site without needing to call a vendor or developer.

Our old vendor was unresponsive to the issues we had. Cobalt is always there when we need them and provides excellent customer service. When they came in to meet with us, it didn’t feel like a typical sales pitch. They were very clear about what their product and team could and couldn’t do, but we didn’t hear a lot of “Well, the system does it this way … “ kind of talk. They really took the time to listen to what we needed and why we needed it so they could build us a custom implementation. We knew there would be challenges and bumps along the way — and there were — but it was good to be able to work through them with Cobalt. When something needed to get fixed, it did get fixed. The relationship and people at Cobalt are important to us because it’s easy to work with them.

Matthew Epstein, Customer Relations Systems Coordinator, Financial Services Institute