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Meet the Hearsay Team: Garland Trice, Engineering Manager

It’s been a busy start to the new year and with all the excitement, it’s time for us to introduce you to another wonderful member of the Hearsay team. This time, we want you to meet someone from our headquarters in San Francisco, Garland Trice! Garland is the engineering manager for Hearsay’s 1-to-1 outreach, social and compliance products and features.
Favorite thing about Hearsay?
Our team is why I love working here. Everyone is extremely bright, driven and fun to hang around. I’ve learned and grown so much working alongside them as well as making lifelong friends in the process.
What has been your favorite team-building activity?
Our offsite to a winery in Napa was incredible. It’s just something about unlimited wine, bubble soccer and good music in a vineyard all to yourself that makes for some fun times.
What Hearsay value do you embrace the most? 
I’d say that “Plays Well With Others” is the Hearsay value that I embrace the most. As engineers, we’re constantly coming up with new ideas and techniques to do things. Without this value, our discussions around specific implementations wouldn’t be effective. I’m really glad that our team can and does have healthy debates to get things done the right way for our users.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love sports and I also like to keep my coding skills sharp, so I mashed the two together by making an app, SportsTroll. Go check it out! I also really enjoy snowboarding and playing Xbox.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
That is tough, but I’d have to say, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” It works in all walks of life. Even to this day, I forget it sometimes, but as soon as I remember things almost always get better and closer to what I’d like to achieve.
If you had to plan a spontaneous weekend trip, where and what would it be?
I’d probably just go home and see family or road trip around Cali and soak in the scenery. It’s beautiful along the coast and I haven’t been out there enough.
Favorite place for coffee/food/drinks in San Francisco?
Ramen: Nojo Ramen Tavern
Bar/Beer: District
Wings: Hot Sauce and Panko
Coffee: Philz
As a native San Franciscan myself, I’d have to second those suggestions. Thanks, Garland!
Check back next month to learn more about the people behind the scenes at Hearsay. Interested in being part of the team? Check out our career openings around the world.

How the FINRA Advertising Rule Applies to Emerging Advisor Communications

financial services online marketing digital

SIFMA’s Social Media and Digital Marketing Seminar took place recently on an unseasonably warm day in our hometown of San Francisco. The day-long event covered a variety of topics (read the full recap here); on the compliance front, legal experts from Hearsay, FINRA, Sidley Austin, Charles Schwab and Morgan Stanley held the coveted pre-lunch panel slot and had the challenge of maintaining the attention of the crowd as the aroma of garlic rosemary chicken spread throughout the room.
On a more serious note, the panel reviewed and clarified how FINRA Rule 2210 – which governs broker-dealers’ communications with the public, including retail and institutional investors – applies to specific use cases that are top of mind for marketing, compliance and sales distribution teams. Here are a few interesting highlights:

Testimonials/Social Media “Likes” Use Case

Thomas Selman, FINRA’s Executive Vice President of Regulatory Policy and Legal Compliance Officer, explained that FINRA does not regard unsolicited third-party opinions or comments posted on a social network to be communications of the broker-dealer or the registered representative for purposes of Rule 2210.
Despite FINRA’s guidance, some of the compliance leaders on the panel said they still treat certain social media “likes” and testimonials as endorsements, simply based on the potential associations consumers may make between the action (the “like”) and the original comment. The key takeaway was that, in deciding whether to allow testimonials or “likes,” it boils down to the risk tolerance of the financial institution, both from a regulatory and business perspective.

Native Advertising Use Case

sifma social digital 2018
(L-R) W. Hardy Callcott, Chris Fernandes, Robert Innes, Tom Selman

Native advertising is content on an online publication that resembles the publication’s editorial content, but is paid for by an advertiser and intended to promote the advertiser’s product. A native ad can take a form that mimics the news, feature articles, product reviews, entertainment and other material that surrounds it online.
The popularity of native ads is exploding: It is estimated that they will drive 74 percent of all ad revenue by 2021. (Read more about native ads from The Federal Trade Commission here.)
Selman reiterated that FINRA provides a principles advice-based approach, as opposed to providing prescriptive advice. History has shown that simply providing basic principles, while allowing technology and business innovation in the early stages of a new communication scenario, helps shape usage and best practices. With that advice-based approach, Selman highlighted that firms may use native ads that comply with the applicable principles of FINRA Rule 2210, including the requirements that firms’ communications be fair, balanced and not misleading.
A key issue with native ads now is that it’s hard for the consumer to tell if the content is sponsored.  Therefore, while it is allowed, there also needs to be sufficient disclosure. In particular, native advertising must:

  1. Prominently disclose the firm’s name
  2. Reflect accurately any relationship between the firm and any other entity or individual who is also named
  3. Reflect whether mentioned products or services are offered by the firm as required by Rule 2210(d)(3)

Video Conferencing Use Case

Video conferencing technology has become a necessity for internal and external business communications.
The panelists noted most firms allow video conferencing, but there are additional risk considerations. First, communications features within the technology (such as local chat and email) still need to adhere to the compliance standards set forth in the firm’s communications compliance guidelines, including recordkeeping requirements. Because of this, many firms disable the chat feature to minimize the chances of violations.
Secondly, the protection of confidentiality needs to be prioritized. A best practice to protect the dissemination of confidential information is to ensure all windows and program are closed in the background prior to starting the video conference.

Online Content Use Case

The panel also addressed issues when advisors post specific content online (hyperlinks to products, personal trip photos, links to corporate philanthropic events, etc.). While each scenario requires unique analysis, the main takeaway was that a compliance team needs to review the subject matter of the content and decide which content needs pre- or post-approval.
In addition, beyond regulatory requirements, a compliance team should take into consideration branding guidelines and whether content accurately represents the firm’s brand.

Considerations When Hiring a Compliance Vendor

When deciding on a compliance vendor, the panelists agreed that it’s important to factor in the interests of each of the business teams who are going to be involved. There are usually multiple points of contact internally who will directly or indirectly be impacted by the compliance solution.
Nubiaa Shabaka, Global Head of Cybersecurity Legal at Morgan Stanley, and Robert Innes, Associate General Counsel at Charles Schwab, both highlighted the importance of providing the points of contact an opportunity to present their considerations and concerns. A best practice is to gather the feedback through requests for proposals (RFPs) and ensure that each internal organization is involved in the RFP process.
In addition to the RFP process, it is also important to factor in the functionality of the technology itself. Chris Fernandes, Director of Legal at Hearsay, noted that even within a single organization, different lines of business may be facing different compliance workflows; not all may need to comply with broker-dealer regulations. Therefore, a solution needs to have flexibility and features needed to be able to address the considerations of multiple stakeholders.
This year’s compliance panel experimented with a new, more interactive Q&A format that seemed to resonate with the attendees. We look forward to next year’s discussion!
Disclaimer: The material available on this blog is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. We make no guarantees on the accuracy of the information provided herein.

Hearsay's March Product Release is Here

At Hearsay, we’re laser-focused on driving innovation with our Hearsay Advisor Cloud platform and enabling advisors to be high-tech, high-touch and data driven. By leveraging automation and building workflows that are specifically tailored to financial services, we are uniquely positioned to help your advisors succeed in an increasingly competitive industry.
Today, I’m happy to announce that our latest product release is now generally available. These new features across our Hearsay Advisor Cloud will continue to help advisors be more productive and drive more personalized client engagement at scale.
The new features include:

For Advisor Messages:

Additional Reminders
Our first Reminders workflow, released in January, enables advisors and their client support associates to automatically schedule and text billing reminders to their customers through the Advisor Messages Web App. In today’s release, they can now schedule and send texts for five additional types of client engagement touchpoints – event reminders, annual reviews, birthday announcements, policy lapses and anniversaries.
By increasing the number of workflows available to advisors, they can more easily scale client engagement with highly valuable and personalized content across their entire books of business.

For Advisor Social:

Enhanced Personalization for 1-to-1 Outreach
Our 1-to-1 Outreach tool, released in January, allows your advisors to leverage pre-written messages that they commonly send – like referral requests, birthday messages and holiday greetings – through channels that their clients prefer, like email.
With today’s release, advisors using the 1-to-1 Outreach feature can make the messages even more personalized. Advisors will see additional personalization options for the email subject line and personalized recommendations for the email itself, all based on client data we’ve captured from past advisor-client interactions.
Additionally, we’ve added attribution of referral traffic to specific advisor outreach activities, so that corporate marketing leadership can understand the ROI of their advisor digital programs. Specifically, they have metrics-driven visibility into how advisor-client engagement is driving traffic to different corporate-owned web properties. For example, when an advisor sends an email to a client using our 1-to-1 Outreach feature, and the client clicks on a link within that email that directs him to a corporate-owned web page, corporate marketing teams can see that the click came from that specific advisor’s email outreach.
Increased Efficiency for Dynamic Campaigns
Our Dynamic Campaigns feature has been incredibly popular since its release, and we’ve received great feedback from you, our customers, on how it’s being used in the field. We listened, and have further enhanced the ability to easily create and edit content for campaigns – making it easier than ever for your advisors to engage and stay top of mind with their clients.
Our team is excited to have these features up and running, and welcome your input! Thank you for your continuing partnership and invaluable feedback; I’m confident that, together, we can transform your advisors and help them thrive in today’s digital-first world.

Why Fintechs and Traditional Firms Must Collaborate

No one will disagree that in order to deliver the personalized experience that delights customers and keeps them coming back, you must have customer data. And financial services is in a unique position as far as collecting and accessing that data, because firms are required to do so in order to be compliant with regulations.
We know that the richest, most personal data comes from advisors and their client interactions. Advisors are on the ground floor and in the field, having in-depth conversations – online and offline – about their clients’ financial health, goals and concerns.
But a lot of this information isn’t captured by corporate leadership because it requires manual data entry by advisors into inelegant, siloed systems that serve just one purpose – customer relationship management (CRM), compliance, etc.
Advisors don’t get enough value from all this work, so they either just don’t bother or input messy data.
There is a huge opportunity to automate this data input and output process, to present “next best actions” that are valuable to advisors and hyper-specific to their workflows, and ultimately to create a differentiated customer experience.
How? The recently released 2018 World Fintech Report from Capgemini and LinkedIn argues that if traditional financial institutions are to provide a truly personalized, data-driven customer journey, they must collaborate with fintechs.
According to the report, which is based on a global survey of fintech companies and traditional firms (including banking and lending, payments and transfers, investment management and insurance), fintechs are redefining the customer journey in a number of ways that traditional firms must embrace or risk becoming obsolete, including:

  • Higher personalization, with the effective use of available customer data providing personalized offerings and services without being overly intrusive.
  • Increased speed of service, which is important because customers are used to getting things done quickly and digitally.
  • Improved convenience, via anytime/anywhere services through any device or channel.
  • Proactive insights provided by predictive analytics, which enable firms to understand customers’ needs in advance.

How Fintechs are Using Data in Their Customer Journeys

Exceptional customer experience isn’t just a matter of understanding the customer and providing relevant products and services. These days, it’s using predictive analytics to create an offering or recommendation that’s unique to each customer – and makes each customer want to return.
Following Amazon and companies in the retail space, fintechs are using predictive modeling and analytical tools that allow them to find “people like you” and “recommendations for you” based on aggregate data from similar customers and prospects, the report says. This allows them to provide ultra-targeted and tailored offerings based on customer profile and behavior.
Also borrowing heavily from the retail sector, fintechs boast design-based thinking and simple-to-follow user interfaces, making the customer journey fast, convenient and seamless.

Collaboration is Critical to Move Industry Forward

Since the 2008 financial crisis, banks have struggled with low-interest rates, declining revenues, customer distrust, lack of loyalty and rising expenses. Meanwhile, compliance with new regulations initiated since the crisis has stretched bank capital and dominated leadership mindshare.
Legacy technology issues have compounded these challenges. Most infrastructure investments were simply stop-gap solutions that were not designed for compatibility with the latest technologies. Rigid legacy systems lacked scalability and couldn’t process in real time.
These challenges don’t exist for today’s most successful tech companies – GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) among them – whose tailored products and services have raised the bar in terms of customer expectations. And fintechs, far more nimble than traditional firms, have followed suite, creating a paradigm shift in customer experience that eliminates multiple pain points across the customer lifecycle.
For traditional firms going forward, innovation with a central focus on the customer is vital for survival and growth. That focus means having empathy with the customer, earning trust, simplifying the customer experience, and aligning with customer goals and expectations. And all of these are enabled through data-focused initiatives and the prescriptive insights made possible by the latest developments in fintech.
Says the report: “Now more than ever, it is no longer enough for traditional financial institutions to focus on what has worked for them in the past.”
Watch Hearsay CEO and Founder Clara Shih, alongside leaders from Betterment, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, USAA and others, debate on these issues in a “Fintech Faceoff” hosted by Capgemini and LinkedIn:

For more information on the 2018 World Fintech Report: