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Hearsay’s April Product Release is Here

At Hearsay, it’s our mission to drive field production by enabling every advisor to be high-tech and high-touch at scale. Our laser focus on financial services field distribution guides our product roadmap as we constantly seek ways to improve the advisor-client experience.
Today, I’m excited to announce that our latest product release is now available. With this new release, we’ve focused on tightly integrating Hearsay into the systems of record that matter most to your organization while continuing to improve the advisor-client experience.
The new features include:

For Platform Interoperability:

New APIs
A core value that Hearsay provides is the advisor-client engagement data generated through our applications. With our new APIs, firms can uncover deeper, more holistic insights about their advisors’ client interactions through Hearsay and their core systems. As an example, customers can integrate contacts and activity data with their custom CRM systems or they can build a seamless integration into their advisor portal.
Microsoft Dynamics Connector
We are excited to announce that Hearsay now seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Dynamics. We’ve made it simple to capture essential field-level data that powers insights and financial services workflows to grow your business, increase CRM adoption, and improve the client experience. With our Microsoft Dynamics Connector, organizations can accelerate advisor productivity while enabling corporate sales and marketing teams to quickly acquire a deeper understanding of their advisors’ client engagement activities.

For Advisor Messages:

Wealth Management Reminders
Our Advisor Messages reminders utilize automation and predictive workflows to allow advisors to send timely, high-value texts to their clients. We’ve now expanded these reminders to enable wealth management advisors to proactively schedule pre-written reminder text messages to clients for critical activities like IRA contributions and distributions, bond maturation, and portfolio rebalances.

For Advisor Social:

Hearsay Content
We’ve launched Hearsay Content to enrich your content strategy. We leveraged years of data insights to deliver curated feeds of the most engaging content for your business. Now, your advisors can build trust and credibility by selecting content from a combination of industry (e.g. taxes, retirement) and lifestyle recommendations (e.g. technology, travel) updated daily from trusted sources like Forbes, Wired, and The Economist. As of this release, Hearsay Content is currently available in North America only.
And for those looking for actionable best practices and tips for corporate and field teams to fine-tune their advisor social media programs, please check out our hot-off-the press 2018 Social Media Content Study.
1-to-1 Outreach Enhancements
As we continue our deep investment in enabling advisors to connect their social media activity to meaningful 1-to-1 conversations, we’re excited to announce key enhancements to this critical engagement channel. Email Scheduling allows advisors and their assistants to compose emails and schedule them for delivery at a specific time, so clients and prospects receive them when the timing is right. Lexicon Check improves engagement by helping ensure that emails adhere to your organization’s compliance policies.
Our team is proud to release these enhancements to our organizations and advisor community. For customers interested in leveraging our APIs and connectors to integrate with your core systems, please reach out to your account team to learn more.
As always, we welcome your input from the field and thank you for your continuing partnership as we seek to transform the modern advisor-client experience.

How to Manage Facebook and Video Conferencing at Banks

This article was originally published in Forbes.
Financial advisors want to communicate the same way as their clients do, whether by Facebook, text or video. That presents challenges to the compliance departments of financial services firms who are responsible for keeping their firms compliant with various rules and regulations that impact communications to clients.
At a recent event, W. Hardy Callcott, Sidley Austin LLP asked Christopher Fernandes, Hearsay Systems, Robert Innes, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., Thomas Selman, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and Nubiaa Shabaka, Morgan Stanley & Co, LLC, the following question: “How can the compliance department support the business yet keep the film compliant?”
Here is a summary of some of the answers.

The Latest Social Media Guidance From FINRA

Social Media and Digital Communications: Regulatory Notice 17-18 is FINRA’s latest regulatory guidance for social media. Among other topics, guidance on native advertising, which is paid content that matches the tone of editorial content, was included for the first time. FINRA is seeing it more and more.
“It’s becoming part of the fabric of all the social media sites,” said Selman. Selman went on to explain that native advertising is permissible if the broker-dealer’s name is prominently displayed, the relationship between the broker-dealer and the entity mentioned is disclosed, and the advertising is fair, balanced and not misleading.
The Notice also clarified how firms should treat hyperlinked content. According to FINRA, when reps or firms hyperlink to specific articles, they have “adopted” that content. That means that firms are now responsible for that content, which means that advertising and supervision rules apply. Although ongoing hyperlinks (where there is no direct control) are not considered to be “adopted,” firms still need to make sure that hyperlinks do not include misleading or fraudulent information.
And finally, FINRA does not consider updates on social media about topics such as charity events or employment opportunities to be “business as such,” so record-keeping and supervisory requirements may not apply. FINRA’s goal is to allow technology to flourish, said Selman. Rather than take a prescriptive approach to social media that might stunt the growth of technology by firms trying to meet specific requirements, FINRA’s principle-based approach has allowed solutions to develop organically.

“Likes” On Facebook

Selman also discussed the regulatory impact of “likes” on Facebook. He explained that if associated persons “like” specific content, and people looking at their Facebook page can see those links and that content, FINRA considers that content to be “adopted” and therefore the firm is responsible for it.
However, if a Facebook page is “liked” in order to simply follow it, that’s the equivalent to a hyperlink over which you have no control (discussed above) and hence the firm hasn’t “adopted” it. Therefore, if firms allow the use of “likes” by their associated persons, there may be a distinction between “liking” specific content and “liking” a page itself.
Interestingly, Selman concluded that “although FINRA has certain principles, the firms often go well beyond our principles for these and other considerations. A lot of times, broker-dealers complain that we’re too tough, when it turns out that it’s their own compliance department.”

Challenges of Using Video Conferencing for Associated Persons

When financial advisors use video conferencing to “meet” with clients, many of the same regulatory issues that pertain to social media apply. These include requirements to archive and supervise business communications and to manage information security and privacy, according to Innes.
Innes explained that advisors and a small, but growing, number of clients like to use video for meetings. However, there are challenges of capturing and archiving native messaging communications within the platforms as well as protecting what clients and advisors share with each other. Specific risks include the inadvertent leaking of firm proprietary or client information when sharing the desktop. He suggested that advisors be trained specifically on how to conduct video meetings with clients. For example, advisors need to learn to spend time before their meetings to line up documents that they wish to share and minimize everything else.
Shabaka agreed. Procedures, ongoing training and attestations that the training is understood, are all important. She said that firms should consider adding disclosures for external parties, limiting the attendees of the meetings, and making sure that advisors are licensed to sell products in the states that they are having conversations. From an information security and privacy perspective, she suggested that firms think through who can see the information that the advisor is sharing. Consider instituting processes to report incidents of unauthorized access to certain personal information via video.
Firms should also evaluate their processes around supervision and monitoring to make sure people are following the policies at the firm. Think through all the details in advance to mitigate risks of leaking data when using video conferencing, concluded Shabake.
From a regulatory perspective, Selman added that FINRA would treat an ongoing video as a public appearance under the rules, which means pre-review of the content is not required. Using Facebook Live as an example, once the video is complete, it appears on the person’s feed and would be treated like an interactive communication, which doesn’t require any kind of pre-approval.
However, the video would require some type of risk-based review to make sure that it meets FINRA’s advertising standards. As a reminder, firms may not use networks where the video immediately disappears or disappears soon after it’s made, if business records can’t be captured, supervised or maintained.
Fernandes concluded the session by reminding firms that when social media and video communications are managed by multiple departments, firms need to make sure there’s synergy across the organization about the rules and responsibilities. As video becomes a larger and more important component of business communications going forward, the rules of conduct are going to become more and more important over time.

SIFMA Social 2018 Fireside Chat: Hearsay and Morgan Stanley

Hearsay founder and CEO, Clara Shih, recently sat down with Erik Jepson, head of digital marketing at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, at SIFMA’s Social Media & Digital Marketing Seminar in San Francisco. Listen to the audio recording of the fireside chat here, with an introduction from John Maurello, managing director of the private client group at SIFMA:

Read our post, “SIFMA Social 2018 Recap: 3 Ways Digital and Social Are Shaping the Advisory World,” for more learnings from the event.
Listen to Clara’s keynote address, “SIFMA Social 2018 Keynote: 4 Requirements to Lift Advisor Production [Podcast].”

SIFMA Social 2018 Keynote: 4 Requirements to Lift Advisor Production [Podcast]

Hearsay founder and CEO, Clara Shih, recently delivered the keynote address at SIFMA’s Social Media & Digital Marketing Seminar in San Francisco. Listen to the audio recording here, with an introduction from John Maurello, managing director of the private client group at SIFMA:

Read our post, “SIFMA Social 2018 Recap: 3 Ways Digital and Social Are Shaping the Advisory World,” for more learnings from the event.
Listen to Clara’s fireside chat with Erik Jepson, head of digital marketing at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management: “SIFMA Social 2018 Fireside Chat: Hearsay and Morgan Stanley.”

The Financial Advisor’s Challenge: Balancing Relationships and Efficiency

As a former financial advisor, one thing in particular stood out to me at this year’s SIFMA Private Client Conference: No one was talking about investing.
At the heart of the panels, roundtables and discussions I participated in, it was clear that real advisor value was being driven through client intimacy. Whereas 20 years ago, the core responsibility for an advisor was selling mutual funds and bonds, now they set up trusts, consult on real estate portfolios and business transactions, and provide advice on elder care. What rang true across the conference participants was the need to embrace scalable digital tools that enable advisors the capacity to provide all these differentiated, value-add services.

The Longevity Revolution

By 2030, one in five Americans will be in retirement age. As our population gets older, costs associated with longevity can drastically alter a client’s wealth profile, potentially making them susceptible to financial abuse. In response, advisors are now being asked to specialize in complex areas such as elder care, generational wealth transfer, and advising across multiple marriages, according to one of the panel sessions, “The Longevity Revolution: Is Your Firm Invested?”
In order to meet these growing demands, execs from SIFMA, Raymond James Trust, Hilliard Lyons, Wells Fargo Advisors and Northern Trust agreed that advisors must automate where they can to maintain capacity.
To avoid any suggestion of financial abuse of the elderly, there must be a reasonable effort to obtain the name of a trusted contact person. Building artificial intelligence-driven prompts that remind advisors to send a pre-built “trusted contact form” during these situations is precisely the type of workflow that industry-focused technology providers, like Hearsay, look to drive.

Empowering the Advisory Field

As advisors rise to these growing challenges, they also must balance demands from the home office. This year’s conference included a number of regional and complex managers from around the country, many of whom were eager to empower their advisors with the tools they need to be successful.
For this group, a few common pain points emerged:

  • How to recruit and retain top talent
  • How to activate home office programs at scale
  • How to manage compliance risk in their territories

There is a clear appetite for advisor productivity tools and technology that free up advisors’ time so they can focus on what really matters: creating the most value for their clients.

How are Top Advisors Embracing Digital?

With personalized communications tablestakes these days, where are the areas that are ripe for digital transformation?
During her keynote, Hearsay’s founder and CEO, Clara Shih, shared findings from conversations and on-site visits that our team held with thousands of advisors across the country. From those discussions, it was clear that top-performing advisors had four things in common:

  • Automate and delegate 1-to-many: Advisors that “autopilot” their top-of-funnel demand generation – by taking advantage of tools that dynamically post relevant content to business social media profiles and websites – saw meaningful efficiency gains.
  • Facilitate high-value 1-to-1: For conversations that require a deft personal touch, advisors that embrace a variety of digital channels, including social media, text, advisor websites and email, can engage with speed during critical money-in-motion moments.
  • Make compliance built-in: It is critical to integrate new technologies into existing supervision workflows to maximize advisor uptake and avoid unnecessary redundancy.
  • Capture data for actionable analytics: Digital tools that connect to a firm’s CRM or system of record not only increase the quantity and quality of data available, but drive advisor productivity by saving them from nearly one hour a day of manual data entry.

It was illuminating to hear leaders in the private client space say that managing portfolios is not where the most value is created for clients. Instead, it is the experiences that a financial advisor makes possible that will prove the difference. Ultimately, technology will play a critical role in transforming the business and how advisors are able to connect clients to what they want.

What’s Next for the Fiduciary Rule? 2,000 Compliance Pros Weigh In

SIFMA compliance legal

For SIFMA’s recent annual Compliance and Legal Seminar in Orlando, Fla., attended by close to 2,000 compliance professionals, the theme was, “A Constant Voice Through 50 Years of Change.” (See the documentary-style video that set the stage for the conference.)
There definitely was change in the air.

During the second day, a Nor’easter threatened to blast the northeast coast with heavy snow.  Many attendees scrambled to reschedule their flights before cancellation. My flight from San Francisco to New York was preemptively cancelled. I wasn’t too worried though; Florida is quite pleasant this time of year. Or so I thought. Once in Orlando, a heavy rainstorm accompanied by what felt like hurricane-strength winds forced the evening cocktail reception to be moved indoors.
The unreliable weather patterns on the east coast weren’t the only things that were rapidly changing. The anticipation of change within the compliance world was simultaneously brewing – stirred by the abandonment of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) fiduciary rule just days prior to the conference.
That decision, made by a 2-1 vote from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, brought a renewed energy and interesting discourse among the panelists and attendees. People were excited, concerned and, to a certain extent, validly frustrated. For years, financial institutions have been dedicating enormous amounts of time and resources in adopting new procedures to comply with the fiduciary rule. The resounding question on attendees’ minds throughout the three-day event was, “Now what?”

Countdown to May 7

The DOL has 45 days from the March 15 entry of judgement decision to appeal for an en banc – or full court – review by the Fifth Circuit Court. (The original decision was made by a bench of three selected judges from the Fifth Circuit Court.) The DOL also has the option to petition the Supreme Court to grant a writ of certiorari (review of the lower court’s decision).
Top of mind for several panelists was how the U.S. president’s position on the fiduciary rule (and how it “may not be consistent with the policies of [his] Administration”) might affect the rule’s future. The consensus – based on President Trump’s prior orders directing the DOL to reconsider the fiduciary rule – was that the DOL will likely not appeal the Fifth Circuit’s decision or appeal to the Supreme Court. As of April 16, the DOL has not yet taken any action.

Possible Post-May 7 Scenario: An SEC “Best Interest” Rule

Many legal and compliance experts, including Hearsay’s team, believe that even though the Fifth Circuit case may not be challenged, the “best interest” portion of the DOL fiduciary rule may still be carried forward – just through a different government agency.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is planning on releasing a proposal in 2018 with a goal of requiring brokers to apply a customer “best interest” standard to brokerage accounts. This authority was given to the SEC in 2010 under a provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. During a 45-minute question-and-answer session with SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, president and CEO of SIFMA, Ken Bentsen, asked when the agency would release its version of the rule. “Soon is fair,” Clayton responded. “From my perspective, the sooner the better. I’m not sitting on this.”
It’s also important to note that the SEC will have to provide a notice and comment period on its proposal as well, further delaying much needed guidance.
Uncertainty continues to linger like a dark cloud over the future of a “fiduciary” or “best interest” rule, leaving financial institutions left out in the rain and unable to plan their next steps. The overall consensus among many law firms, panelists and conference attendees: Do not make changes to current policies and procedures already adopted regarding the fiduciary rule until the dust settles come May 7.
Check back for more updates.

Why Every Financial Services Professional Needs a Personal Online Brand

Were you ever curious about a person and looked him or her up online? You might’ve come across his or her social media accounts, personal website, pictures and work. While doing this casual research, did you notice that you were beginning to develop an opinion or understanding of who that person is and what he or she is all about?
This image, oftentimes curated, is a personal brand.
In the digital age, anyone with an online presence can have a personal brand, whether it’s intentional or not. The act of personal branding is the deliberate marketing of yourself and your career. It’s a constantly evolving process of establishing in the mind of others the impression you’d like them to have of you.
As one might imagine, without careful curation and thought put into your personal brand, your professional work can easily be misinterpreted in a way that you might not want. Simple things like having a website that’s not mobile friendly or a Facebook business page that hasn’t had a new post in a week could easily become personal brand (and career) killers.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, you have to understand the importance of your personal brand, and then actively work to build and promote it.

Personal Branding in the Financial Services Industry

What people take away from your brand can have real business implications. Online branding is more than just logos, ad copy and talking about why your products and services are the best – it’s all about letting your personality shine through the noise and showing prospects what you have to offer. The more people like what they see and hear about your brand on social media, the more they will be inclined to check out what you have to offer.
When it comes to the financial services industry, your online personal brand can make or break your business. Why? It comes down to trust.
According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer study, trust is significantly declining across all industries. They say 2018 will be the the year for the “Battle for Truth.” Distrust is high in the U.S. and it’s up to organizations to continue being proactive about building trust with their constituents, including advisors in the financial services industry. It’s great that the public’s trust of the industry is improving (albeit still very low), but it’s up to us to not rest on our laurels and to keep this momentum growing. A powerful way to do that is by making sure your personal brand is as professional and trustworthy as it can be.

How to Build Your Personal Brand

To begin building your personal brand, you need to first define your brand’s personality across different online channels. It’s important to determine which social profiles you plan to use for business purposes and ensure that your pages are all current and consistent across platforms.
As you think about developing your brand, think of these questions and prompts to help you get started:

  • What would you like people to associate with you when they think of your name? (e.g. trustworthy, knowledgeable, etc.)
  • What is your subject matter expertise?
  • What general qualities would you like to link to your brand? (financial services/insurance, dependability, honesty, etc.)
  • Describe your brand’s personality. (Trusted, dependable, long lasting, etc.)
  • How do you deliver high-quality customer service?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Keep these qualities and associations in mind when working on more public-facing online channels like social media and your website, but personal branding should be something that is incorporated into everything you do. This includes what you write in private messages, texts, and emails, too.

Once you have an idea of what you want your personal brand will be, here are a few social media action items to implement these learnings.
1. Interact with Your Online Networks
Scan your newsfeeds and timelines for important posts to interact with. Social media is a place for you to share your thoughts, but commenting on, liking, and sharing others’ posts are just as important to building your brand.
2. Demonstrate Thought Leadership
Post engaging, timely and thought-provoking content to build your reputation as a thought leader in your field. Your brand can be anything you want it to be, but having the goal of being a thought leader isa  general best practice as it cements your reputation as a trusted and well-informed professional.
3. Post About Life and Office Successes
This one might be a little intuitive as you’re trying to build up your professional career. However, a large part of building trust online is by being vulnerable and personal. This doesn’t mean you should start treating your professional networks like they’re your personal pages, but it’s highly encouraged that you let yourself be a little human online. Feel free to post about exciting life events (having a baby, buying a house, hobbies) and fun happenings in your office (birthdays, outings, office remodeling).
These are just a few suggestions/examples, and might not apply to whatever personal brand you come up with! So be sure to continue to revisit your answers to the questions above and see if the tactics you’re using are matching up with your brand strategy.
With this foundation, you can stay one step ahead of the competition by curating your online presence. You’ll have an awesome personal brand in no time and prospects will flock to your business because of your trustworthy reputation.
Are you a current Hearsay customer? If so, join our newest webinar, “How to Build and Promote Your Personal Online Brand,” on Tuesday, April 17, at 8am PST / 11am EST / 4pm GMT. Our very own Customer Education team will provide tips on how to create a strong brand strategy by focusing on your strengths and letting your personality shine through your social media efforts. Learn how to develop your unique voice on social and build a personal brand to connect and grow your audience!

Salesforce Wealth Management Basecamp: AI is Mission-Critical for Business Growth

Those of us who’ve been in the financial services industry for years are well aware that our business is extremely unique – but the broader tech world is just beginning to take notice.
Tech titan Salesforce recently hosted an event in Chicago specifically for wealth managers who advise high net-worth clients, and invited Hearsay to join as a finserv specialist partner. More than 200 attendees gathered to learn and exchange ideas with Salesforce executives and the company’s ecosystem of partners, with a particular focus on how advisors can effectively leverage technology to drive business.

The event kicked off with a keynote from Ilan Davidovici, Salesforce’s Global Head of Wealth and Asset Management and an expert in harnessing the power of technology to drive smarter customer engagement.
Davidovici’s talk focused on building client trust with “relationship intelligence” – essentially, technology designed to generate actionable insights based on data from relationship-building activities like email, phone calls, meetings and other sources.
How can this approach apply to the everyday financial advisor? Here are three takeaways I thought were key for advisors to know.

1. AI can help advisors personalize, automate client relationship-building and grow AUM at scale

A successful advisor prioritizes building strong relationships not just with one primary client, but with the client’s entire household and broader personal sphere – including aging parents, dependent children, business partners and more.
For busy advisors, this is much easier said than done. According to Davidovici, today’s artificial intelligence (AI)-driven technologies – particularly those that are purpose-built for the wealth management industry – can automate and optimize many of the tasks required to deepen those relationships. Platforms like Hearsay can sync data from multiple digital communication channels and then leverage this data to help advisors be more personal and productive, like automating common actions such as requests for annual reviews or referrals, sending birthday wishes and more.

2. Advisors who leverage the right technology generate 78% larger books of business and 46% greater revenue/production

Technology is a foundational element of the modern equation for growing client relationships, so it was no surprise to learn that, according to an Aite Group industry survey cited at the event, advisors with integrated technology generate around 50 percent more financial plans and investment proposals, which translates into 78 percent larger books of business and 46 percent greater revenue/production. According to recent research by T3, 43 percent of surveyed advisors see their CRM program as the all-important software hub of their businesses.
However, the key to making these statistics real for wealth management companies is to ensure advisors have a platform to use that is easy for them. Many companies roll out technologies that get very little adoption from advisors because they are not built for the way advisor’s actually work.
Davidovici highlighted Salesforce partners, including Hearsay, that work together to automatically sync all client interaction data across social, mobile and the web directly into Salesforce, removing the need for advisors to spend time on tedious data entry. Eliminating manual data entry has been shown to free up an hour a day of an advisor’s time, so he or she can focus on more high-value client interactions.

3. AI can boost client satisfaction a whopping 200 percent

Relationship intelligence can be activated at each phase of the advisor-client relationship to create a lasting experience that consistently exceed expectations, said Davidovici. According to Salesforce, advisors can expect a 200 percent increase in client satisfaction by using AI.
In the early relationship-building stages, AI can help capture complex client relationships and roles. As the relationship continues and more data is collected, AI-powered technology can suggest personalized, next-best actions for advisors – for example, a reminder to send a happy anniversary note to a client, queued up to be sent via a text message because this particular client prefers texting – to create an effortless client journey and improve satisfaction.
Compliance driven advisor-engagement platforms are uniquely positioned to gather this relationship intelligence because they capture all digital client interactions across social, mobile, email and more for regulatory purposes.
Given the increasing need for advisors to connect with today’s digitally savvy clients and exceed their changing expectations, advisor-client technology that feeds relationship intelligence is really what it’s all about. As Hearsay’s CEO, Clara Shih, recently stated, “the future of financial advice is high-tech and high-touch at scale.”
Learn more about Hearsay’s Advisor Cloud and CRM integration capabilities, and check out the Hearsay Connector listing on the Salesforce AppExchange.

New Survey: Top Advisors Gain Nearly $8M in AUM Through Strategic Social Media Use

According to the fifth edition of Putnam Investments’ Social Advisor survey, more advisors than ever before are using social media to grow their business.
The survey, which included 1,014 U.S.-based financial advisors and was conducted in November 2017, found 86 percent of advisors reported that social media activity helped them gain new clients, up from 49 percent in 2013. Additionally, while the average amount of assets gained that advisors attributed to social media remained flat at $5 million, top advisors ($100 million+ in AUM) reported $7.8 million gained through their social media use.

While social media has been recognized as a key communication channel for advisors for several years, the survey uncovered a few new trends related to how advisors are using this channel to grow their business.
First, nearly nine out of 10 (88 percent) advisors reported that social media has changed their relationship with their clients. Two thirds indicated that social media makes it easier to share information, and nearly 60 percent have increased the number of touchpoints they had with their clients throughout the year.

Second, 54 percent of advisors indicated their plan to go deeper with their existing social network presences, with a majority of high-AUM advisors indicating that they wanted to add new social media team members and connect social in a more meaningful way to their marketing automation efforts. While grassroots and “DIY” efforts were sufficient in the past, more advisors are recognizing the need to have a strategic approach to their social media use today.

Finally, more than 80 percent of advisors indicated that their social media use helped them shorten the time required to convert a prospect into a client. This finding suggests that strategic social media usage not only helps advisors attract new clients, but also do so in a more efficient way than through other traditional channels.
To download the full survey report and learn about Putnam’s Social Advisor Maturity Curve, visit