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Leading by example: Empowering the next generation of distribution managers at GAMA LAMP 2014

March 25, 2014

“Leadership requires us to take risks and risks help us become great managers.”

So said Howard Elias during his opening keynote at GAMA International’s 2014 Leadership and Management Program (LAMP) conference. As GAMA’s retiring president and CEO of Guardian Life Insurance’s Wealth Advisory Group, Howard drew on his decades of leadership experience as he addressed the event’s more than 2,700 attendees. His session focused on the important role distribution leaders have in delivering value to their clients and in keeping the industry relevant to future generations. This was a sentiment that was shared by speakers throughout the conference.

Hearsay Social was excited to be among the event’s participants. Thank you to everyone who came to our sessions or stopped by our booth.  For those of you who weren’t able to attend, here are some of the best takeaways we discovered.

The value of transparency and trust

Robert Krumroy, founder of Identity Branding and creator and CEO of e-Relationship.com, reminded the audience that they need to build trust and foster relationships before the sales process can begin. “No one cares about your company, commodity or brand,” he said, “… you need to educate your customers. And if you’re not doing it, you have to ask who is.”

Other key points he addressed included:

  • “Stop sending drips and start sending tips.” The most effective advisors use the Internet to share financial information their clients may find useful.

  • “79% of people are more likely to buy from someone they have a connection with. You can’t set an appointment with a prospect until they have emotional safety.”

  • “Social media is not a replacement for social connection. Don’t dismiss the value of using your database to nurture relationships over time.”

Getting down at the Denim & Diamonds Bash
From left to right: Jean Paul LaBelle (Strategic Account Executive, Hearsay Social, @jplabelle), Bonnie Godsman (Vice President, Corporate Relations, GAMA), Clara Shih (CEO, Hearsay Social, @clarashih), Gary Liu (Vice President, Marketing, Hearsay Social, @garycliu) and Shawn Davis (Senior Vice President, Transamerica, @shawncdavis).

How social media and big data are transforming distribution

Next on the stage was Clara Shih, Hearsay Social’s CEO and Founder. In her session, Clara discussed how social media and big data are helping financial services firms address the challenges of the evolving industry.

“People don’t want to buy from institutions,” Clara said, “they want to buy from people they know.” Customers share over 1 billion buying signals each day and advisors who have insight into “three or more life events” are more productive, see an average of a 10% increase in sales and are more likely to get customer referrals.

Clara Shih at GAMA LAMP 2014

Establishing trust and relevancy have never been more important for financial services firms. “Social media is a key way consumers validate their purchasing decisions,” said Clara. “But consumers across all generations still prefer to engage with trusted advisors face-to-face. Today’s technologies should enhance your producers activity. Help them become more successful by encouraging them to tie their digital activities to their real world channels.”

The dawn of the superhuman advisor

In a special Leaders of Tomorrow and Today (LOTT) session, Jason Suen, Hearsay Social’s Director of Customer Success, was joined by Eileen Forrest, Head of Sales Support, AXA Advisors & President, AXA Network, Robert Keorkunian, Regional Director at Modern Woodmen of America, and Desi Doise, State Manager at Woodmen of the World. Their session focused on key tactics financial services firms could implement to drive social business success.

Not surprisingly, compliance was initially a key concern for each of the panelists and their firms. “We started our social media program three years ago as a pilot with a focus on compliance,” said Eileen. “Hearsay Social made it possible to use social media as a marketing program,” a transition that was echoed by the other panelists. As their firms began to embrace digital channels, social media training and access was offered to more and more producers in the field.

Other key takeaways included:

  • Top social networks: “Facebook and LinkedIn are the ones we use the most,” said Robert. Desi agreed. “We use LinkedIn a lot for recruiting,” he said. “By the time we speak with candidates, they already know something about our firm.”

  • Digital replaces other forms of advertising: “We’ve gone from Yellow Pages and mailers, to social where it’s all about giving our clients and prospects quick access to information,” said Robert.

  • Provide social media access and training: “We’ve rolled out our social business program to all of our advisors,” said Eileen. “But before getting access, they need to go through a three-part compliance training program. We also offer a weekly opt-in social media class that covers a variety of topics.”

  • Know your audience: To use social media effectively, advisors need to strike a balance between business, educational and fun content. “We encourage our advisors to share different types of content,” said Eileen. “There should be a 5:1 ratio of fun to business posts,” agreed Robert. “Keep your posts to a schedule and 3-5 posts per week is a good number to shoot for.”

Recruiting and retaining the next generation of talent

The issues of the aging advisor workforce, and challenges of recruiting (and retaining) new talent were discussed throughout the conference. In our next post, we’ll share the best advice we heard for attracting millennial candidates, effective recruiting strategies and empowering new advisors to be successful from day one.

Leigh Shevchik

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