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Cetera Partners With Hearsay; Advisors Can Now Compliantly Text Clients

We’re delighted to share that Cetera, a leading network of independent firms supporting the delivery of objective retail financial advice, is rolling out Hearsay Relate, our new solution that enables advisors to compliantly text and call their clients and prospects from one dedicated business number. The rollout to all of Cetera’s network firms is expected to conclude this August.
In a press release issued today, Cetera chief marketing officer Michael Zuna said, “Texting is a high-priority communication tool in both our personal and business lives. Studies show that we respond faster to text messages than any other type of outreach. Our new texting solution is another example of Cetera understanding what advisors need to be successful and stay connected with their clients. … We are excited to team with Hearsay Systems, a proven leader in promoting client engagement in our industry.”
Hearsay Relate’s powerful supervision and compliance features – including the ability to to monitor, archive and access complete text threads, as well as block all inappropriate or risky text messages before they are sent to clients – were a critical consideration for Cetera. According to the press release, the “texting solution is fully compatible with [Cetera’s] existing electronic archiving system, enabling the storage of all messages in a manner consistent with FINRA regulatory guidelines.”
In addition to “conforming to the highest possible standards of security and regulatory compliance,” Hearsay CEO and founder Clara Shih noted that with Hearsay Relate, Cetera advisors can “leverage time-saving features like pre-built workflows that automate common industry-specific tasks,” including pre-scheduling annual review reminders.
Zuna concluded, “Cetera’s new texting solution provides our advisors with a crucial tool for increasing transparency and connection to their clients. Today’s announcement builds on a foundation of consistent and seamless communication designed to deepen the relationships our advisors have with their clients.”
We look forward to a long-term partnership with Cetera, and to advance their mission to help their advisors develop meaningful, trusted client relationships!
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4 Digital Best Practices to Boost Advisor Productivity and Client NPS

Financial advisors are often known for their people skills, which are essential to maintaining the confidence of clients and winning the trust of prospects.
However, when it comes to leveraging those skills using digital communication methods, many salespeople and senior managers are falling behind – which is unfortunate, given how these tools can significantly improve advisor productivity and client NPS (Net Promoter Score).
Financial advisors have long had an online presence, and many have used social media to share ideas to grow their businesses. But the advisor’s digital toolkit has grown in recent years, giving financial services companies more opportunities to save time, improve the quality of communications, and create more frequent touchpoints with both leads and current clients.
As such, financial leaders increasingly recognize the importance of using high-tech systems to foster high-touch relationships. Between websites, social media, online messaging and texting, there are a multitude of ways that advisors can boost engagement with clients and prospects, as well as take mundane tasks off their plates so they can focus on what will really move the dial.
Here are four digital best practices we’ve heard from the leaders in this space.

Tip #1: Think “Digital-First”

The term “digital native” is often associated with millennials who prefer to communicate by text or chat versus over the phone or in-person. Given the influence this group has had on communication preferences for all age groups, financial advisors and business leaders would be wise to start thinking like digital natives, too.
Paul LaPiana, senior vice president of MassMutual, suggests that advisors develop a “digital-first mindset” – essentially, be where clients are to connect with them on their terms. In practice, this might be as simple as wishing them happy birthday via social media or using text messaging for real-time communications.
Texting, specifically, has become an area of focus for more financial services companies. Recent studies show that 98 percent of texts are read/opened, versus a 22 percent open rate for mass marketing emails. Embracing text messaging has helped Prudential, a Hearsay customer, achieve better engagement between advisors and clients, with advisors reporting “how intuitive it is to be able to send a text message to a client,” said Birdia Chambers, Prudential’s Head of Social and Digital Strategy.
Learn how Prudential rolled out a winning text messaging program for its advisors
Popular financial advisor authority Bill Winterberg says, “as advisers pick up more digital-savvy clients, those clients are going to demand texting because they use it with every other professional in their lives.”
Rohit Mahna, SVP and GM of Financial Services at Salesforce, a Hearsay partner, says that “technology has vastly changed the way customers expect to interact with financial institutions, so wealth management firms need to provide more personalized and engaging experiences to compete.”
But the lessons here aren’t limited to advisors and clients. Many financial services leaders feel that email alone isn’t enough, forcing them to find more modern ways of communicating to their organizations and beyond.

Tip #2: Get the Whole Organization Involved

Digital channels were once thought of as the marketing team’s domain, but that’s no longer the case. Today, everyone – from the CEO to the advisor to the back office – must embrace a modern way of communicating and collaborating.
It all starts at the top, with firm leadership walking the digital walk. Just as Tim Cook uses social media, business leaders in financial services need to embrace the use of digital channels like texting and social media in appropriate ways, and not limit their own communications to in-person, email and voicemail.
MassMutual’s LaPiana makes it a point to “lead by example” when it comes to adoption of digital tools. He notes that it’s inauthentic to ask employees to use new communication platforms if he’s not using them himself.
LaPiana uses and encourages advisors to use Hearsay Advisor Cloud to engage deeply with clients through social media, but also to align processes such as website lead collection (Advisor Sites) with new digital advisor-client engagement tools like texting (Hearsay Relate).
Digital also has the power to transform clients’ user experience, which can take time-consuming tasks off advisors’ plates. “20 percent of incoming advisor calls are password reset requests,” says one executive vice president. Solving the system access problem at a digital experience level will allow advisors to spend more time “engaging with clients in a relevant, valuable way.”
Corina Roy, assistant vice president of digital at MassMutual, points out that “retail has really set the bar that other businesses have to shoot for when it comes to digital. Firms such as Amazon have revolutionized our ability to obtain what we want with fewer steps.”
As a result, MassMutual is working with partners like Salesforce to build a platform that enables advisors to deliver a compelling user experience, such as an online quote that doesn’t require any paperwork; clients can e-sign and be set up with a policy in a matter of seconds.
Adopting these digitally-driven efficiencies won’t only result in loyal, delighted clients and higher NPS metrics – it frees up advisors’ time for activities that build their businesses and keep clients happy.

Tip #3: Create a Marketing-Sales Data Feedback Loop

When it comes to leveraging digital, advisors can usually look to their marketing team to provide air cover. But what really creates marketing-sales alignment, not to mention higher client NPS, is the ongoing sharing of data and insights from the marketing organization to the field, and vice versa.
“What we’re trying to do is use digital as a test bed,” says Amanda Rierson, head of digital for Farmers Insurance, noting that advisors tend to want to see data in order to feel confident about a new digital strategy. “You’ve got to show success, show positive customer interactions – then you can scale widely (to the field) when you have some points on the board.”
Jon Pauley, interactive strategy and chief digital officer at Ameriprise, lists several instances of using data to drive better practices in the field – from proving that a professional headshot drives more clicks on advisors’ websites, to discovering that advisors using social media had 250 percent higher net flows and 400 percent more high-value acquisitions than advisors who abstained.
“We were challenged by our CEO to make marketing and sales act as one organization,” says Pauley, who admits they had a rough start of it when they handed a digital framework to advisors without backing it up with data. But when they began to test and measure, then pass those reports to sales, “advisors started to listen.”
And sharing insights isn’t a one-way street. Marketing teams who leverage the field for testing and data gathering can learn valuable lessons for their broader efforts. “The more you can help advisors test and learn, you can figure out what capabilities you can leverage and do at scale,” says Jennifer Atkins, head of marketing strategic capabilities and insights at Wells Fargo.

Tip #4: Embrace Digital Tools to Save Time

Financial services industry expert Michael Kitces often shares tips on how technology drives advisor productivity. He famously wrote that he’d gladly pay $100 to save him one minute a day, observing that “one minute a day is actually five minutes a week, or 20 minutes a month, or a non-trivial four hours a year,” and can be a 900 percent ROI for a busy professional.
Kitces challenges us to do more, noting that if you spend 10 times that amount (about the cost of some leading, cloud-based productivity platforms), you would save the equivalent of a full week of work per year.
MassMutual’s LaPiana states that digital technology should be used to “get activities off the advisors’ plate” so that they can focus on the interactions with clients – a fair point, given the fact that 70 percent of advisors’ time is not spent meeting with clients.
LaPiana adds that the future of wealth management – while marked by fee compression, since consumers will be able to make price comparisons more easily – will require “more personal interactions with customers to guide and coach them to the right decisions.”
Prudential’s Chambers notes that Hearsay’s texting technology helped their advisors not only to engage clients better, but also led to a significant boost in productivity – advisors or their support staff can easily pre-schedule meeting reminder texts instead of leaving voice messages, over and over. Digital platforms like Hearsay’s can give a major boost to advisor productivity and client NPS, for example by automating workflows, making touchpoints more frequent, and automating and delegating tasks to the advisor’s support team.

A Digital Culture is a Productive Culture

To be relevant and competitive in today’s digital world, where real-time responses are the norm, leaders must adopt and embrace digital platforms. But beyond platforms, leaders must follow best practices that bring marketing, sales and the enterprise together to engage clients in a modern way, power productivity gains, and deliver superior client experiences.

How to Realize the True Value of Your CRM [Part Two]

In part one of our two-part blog series, we discussed the six steps you can take to increase your customer relationship management (CRM) technology adoption, as well as how issues surrounding data could impact the usability and value of your CRM. In this conclusion to our series, we explore how traditionally slow-to-adopt-change, century-old financial services enterprises are undergoing sea changes in both culture and technology to get the maximum value from CRM systems.

Mindset: From Silos to Collaboration

At Hearsay, our engineering teams live and breathe a process you may have heard called Agile. But Agile goes beyond software development methodology and can be applied to the whole organization. One of the best descriptions I’ve seen is by Steve Denning in this Forbes article:
“The Agile organization is a growing, learning, adapting living organism that is in constant flux to exploit new opportunities and add new value for customers … all parts of the organization are continuously exploring how to add more value to customers. This not only creates meaning for those doing the work and delights those for whom the work is done: it results in generous returns to the organization itself.”
He includes essential Agile attributes like transparency and continuous improvement > predictability and efficiency; open interactive conversations > top-down directives; and work smarter, deliver sooner > more work, longer delivery times.
Reorganizing your culture around one common goal – putting the customer first – makes for an inherently collaborative atmosphere. And to a person, the leaders of the top enterprises we work with are putting in the necessary work to shift their culture to Agile.
Jon Pauley, senior vice president of marketing and interactive strategy and chief digital officer at Ameriprise – a firm that’s 124 years old – says that a transformational step for them was driving ROI through Agile initiatives. He says, “We were challenged by our CEO, Jim (Cracchiolo), to really make marketing and sales act as one organization … (and) agree on key programs, actions, measurables and deliverables that will happen between marketing and the field. The other side, which I think was equally important, was establishing the same goals … and what results did we get out of that. We’re not successful for marketing or sales unless we have outcomes we agree on that impact the advisor and the firm.”
Several other clients have talked to us about the positive change Agile brought about in collaboration between their sales/marketing and IT teams. Traditionally, the business side of an organization went to IT and put in their order, with little exchange of ideas. Agile encourages open dialogue that allows each party to bring their unique skill-set to the table to develop a better customer solution.
Agile is also a way to build trust with your customer base. One Hearsay customer, a Fortune 250 financial services group founded 113 years ago, has no doubt they have a better Salesforce CRM for advisors today, as well as a lot more trust, thanks to their shift to an Agile culture. The team releases updates every two weeks, and advisors can provide feedback knowing that problems will be fixed quickly, rather than the old process of “waiting four to six months to get something they often didn’t even use.”
Now that you have a good understanding of why you need to make the move to Agile, you can get a solid intro to the how in this second Forbes article by Denning, “How to Make the Whole Organization Agile.”

Take Action on CRM and Business Intelligence Insights

Your CRM data does not improve customer relationships on its own; it’s a living system that requires interaction with people to work to its maximum potential. Launching your CRM is just the beginning.
With more conversations flowing through systems and as various systems are integrated, it’s possible to correlate what behaviors and conversation types create the best outcomes. Making sure that your team has the expertise, time and financial services-focused technology partners (like Hearsay Advisor Cloud) to analyze this data will give you a whole world of insights on both your customers and your advisors that most firms don’t have today.
As an EVP at a large Canadian firm (and Hearsay customer) notes, the data generated through digital channels gives corporate a view into advisors they’ve never had before. This bank measures the client experience, as well as the activities and behaviors that increase share of wallet and sales. Then they continually reset their performance system to focus advisors on the actions and behaviors that drive success, leading them to create exceptional customer experiences.
Extracting insights from business intelligence and data analytics allows you to continually fine-tune your CRM and adjunct systems to accelerate advisor production and improve customer satisfaction. The combination of deploying a modern CRM system within an Agile decision-making environment, and following best practices to encourage advisor adoption, enables you to make fast, data-backed decisions that truly change your business.
Check out part one, where we discuss data systems, quality and integration.
Related:

Why Financial Services Marketers Should Care About Sales Outcomes

Top financial services enterprises have proven that strong alignment between sales and marketing teams leads to better business outcomes: increases in customer engagement, better customer service, and faster revenue growth. In fact, research has shown that when sales and marketing teams are in sync, companies can improve close rates by 67 percent and get 209 percent more value from marketing.
Unfortunately, efforts by some companies to create alignment and results often fail before they even begin. Marketing teams are under increased scrutiny from corporate teams that question its productivity and performance. With increased pressure to become more accountable and prove marketing’s value and contribution, it’s no wonder that sales and marketing teams are rethinking the way they communicate and collaborate.
With this in mind, here are five ways to unite your sales and marketing teams – and achieve better business results:

1. Focus on the Right Metrics and Experiences That Drive Business Outcomes

While marketing’s primary focus often is to generate awareness and influence customer behavior – i.e., meet prospective customers at the start of their buying journey and help to move them down the funnel through to a potential sale – today’s marketers must think more like sales when it comes to their marketing activities.
Marketing must shift its strategy from only looking at “vanity” metrics to also analyzing the data that directly affects sales outcomes. More specifically, in addition to brand impressions (e.g., views, followers, retweets), marketers must take partial ownership of qualified pipeline opportunities, such as when a customer or prospect does any one of the following:

  • Visits a website or landing page
  • Downloads a product brochure
  • Requests a call, meeting or quote
  • Participates in a webinar
  • Attends an event

By focusing on metrics that truly drive sales outcomes, sales and marketing teams can better operate as one coordinated, cohesive revenue generation machine.
Firms like Farmers Insurance are taking advantage of the full customer experience by using digital technology to enhance human interactions. This includes understanding where their customers are, what channels they interact on, and determining how to improve the customer experience at every point of engagement. Mobile apps and collaboration tools are now being used by advisors and their team to efficiently schedule meetings, text policy reminders and other rote tasks, freeing up time for advisors to focus on more meaningful client engagement activities.

2. Determine What Constitutes a Qualified Lead

Crossed wires between sales and marketing teams can lead to missed quotas and budget shortfalls, not to mention unnecessary tension between sales reps and marketers. To align teams, it’s important for sales and marketing to act as one organization and, together, determine the programs that they will implement to enable the field.
Ameriprise, for one, has found success in this area by agreeing on key metrics and deliverables at the start of their programs and coming back together after the completion of programs to determine what was successful. Simply determining what constitutes a qualified lead and what are the key metrics and stages in which to measure can be tremendously beneficial.

3. Automate Content Marketing for Every Stage of the Client Journey

A strong sales and marketing strategy should include relevant content that extends the reach of the sales team to more leads, provides more opportunities for leads to engage with both the brand and individual advisors, and helps accelerate the customer journey toward sales conversations, retention and upsell.
But advisors aren’t content marketers. Asking them to not only create their own content, but also figure out what, when and how to share it will most likely result in an initiative that’s dead on arrival.
Instead, marketing teams should leverage automation technology that provides advisors with a steady stream of engaging content – personalized to their interests and client base – and automatically shares it on their networks (i.e., “set and forget”). Advisors can then dedicate their time and resources to more high-touch activities.
For example, one of our customers (a Fortune 100 financial services firm) has seen great success in offering advisors the ability to subscribe to our Hearsay Content tool (via our Advisor Social solution), which curates content from top news sources and automatically posts it on an advisor’s social media business profiles over time – compliantly. Advisors can subscribe to “dynamic campaigns” that are relevant to their practice and customer base – topics like investment strategy commentary, personal finance news, financial advice for women, kids and money, and retirement planning.
Another Hearsay customer uses RSS feeds to help ease the load in terms of curating content for specific topics or client segments.
For more insights on what advisors should publish on social media and how to optimize their efforts, check out our 2018 Social Media Content Study
With a concrete content architecture in place that aligns your content with marketing and sales enablement processes, firms can assemble, organize, package and measure the performance of all their content assets, throughout the entire sales funnel.

4. Optimize Lead Hand-off to Sales

Your field marketing is in place, and your advisors are running an automated content machine that keeps them top-of-mind and relevant to their local customer base. At the same time, your brand marketing team continues to run campaigns at the corporate level. If marketing is doing its job successfully, qualified leads are coming in from both sources.
But, what good is a qualified lead if it is not getting passed on to the right advisor, or isn’t being followed up on in a timely manner? This is one of the primary causes of disconnect between marketing and sales, and why sales organizations often don’t see the value of marketing. Lead generation suffers when teams aren’t properly aligned and leads aren’t handed off to sales successfully, or aren’t quickly followed up on by an advisor.
The answer – again – is leveraging automation to get that lead to a one-to-one conversation as fast as possible. Using solutions like Hearsay, firms can now trigger, track and automate a lead follow-up workflow where once an advisor is assigned a lead, he or she can quickly send a pre-scripted email with corporate-approved copy through Hearsay’s Advisor Social platform, as well as promptly follow up with a mobile text and voice call using Hearsay Relate.

5. Connect the Data to Drive More Prescriptive Next-best Actions

Everyone knows by now that consistent, accurate data is critical in any decision. Yet, one of the biggest obstacles to sales and marketing alignment and business growth is the use of disparate systems without sharing data.
When it comes to CRM and other platforms, it’s important for sales and marketing to be on the same page and make it possible for advisors to stay in touch with potential leads – with complete and accurate data – without a huge investment of time.
Firms that connect their advisor-client engagement solutions – including Hearsay’s Advisor Cloud – to their CRM and other core systems will benefit from data insights that lead to more personalized and prescriptive client action.
What’s more, all these advisor-client interactions are automatically captured in CRM without any manual data entry required from advisors. The result? Complete and accurate data across systems, corporate visibility into field activities, and no extra work for advisors.
For example, one of our customers drives results by providing real-time alerts for advisors on mobile whenever there’s a new lead, as well as pre-written and pre-approved compliance communication they can send to clients immediately as a follow-up.
Perhaps one of our technology partners sums it up best:
“An advisor’s job is to sell, not become a technologist. The key for greater sales and marketing alignment and better sales outcomes is having one seamless ecosystem to help advisors find the right person, know what to say and when to say it, and recording it in the CRM where we want these insights to live. In other words, advisors need integrated connectivity to do their jobs effectively, and without which, they are at a huge disadvantage.”
Related:

How to Realize the True Value of Your CRM [Part One]

This is part one of a two-part blog series. Part one explores user adoption strategies and how issues surrounding data can impact the value of your CRM system. Part two discusses the importance of an organization’s culture and employing data analytics for continual ROI improvement.
By now, most of us have heard about the potential that data has to change the world. The amount of data being stored is growing exponentially, and we’ve seen some amazing applications of this, from health care providers accurately diagnosing and treating patients using big data, to financial institutions leveraging it to pinpoint and stop fraudulent transactions in fractions of a second.
However, when it comes to data and customer relationship management (CRM) in the enterprise, the outcomes are not nearly as impressive. The more conservative the industry, the more accurate this statement is.
CRM systems at large financial services firms, for example, are almost never used to their full potential. While the executives at these firms know they need a CRM system, it’s almost always underused, if not outright ignored, because of the manual and tedious data entry needed from the advisor, and the lack of clean, consistent data in the system. For sales and distribution, marketing, and compliance leaders, the lack of insight into advisor and customer activity is a critical challenge.
But what if data populated automatically, and manual workflows are made as simple as some of the best consumer products out there? What if you knew the data you had on a customer was up to date, accurate and complete?
Changes like these would let you model and analyze the churn risk or upsell potential of each customer. Advisors could log in and immediately see their highest-value and most urgent tasks. And, most importantly, you could see the effectiveness of almost any sales and marketing activity.
The technologies needed for this exist today. Leading financial services organizations are using them to augment and maximize the value of their CRM systems, and as a result, drastically improve the customer experience.

Increase Adoption with User-Friendly Systems

The number one thing you can do to increase the value of your CRM is simple: Get your advisors to use it.
Advisors are busy people. To grow their business, they need to reach out to new prospects, stay in touch with existing contacts, and provide meaningful advice to loyal clients. Even established advisors need to optimize their time to make sure they can spend it where it will give them the biggest return – in front of clients. Those same established advisors may be facing generational account turnover and need to prepare to deal with the way a younger clientele does business – digitally.
Yet, after time spent with thousands of advisors and their teams in 2017 and into this year, we found that up to 70 percent of their time is spent on tedious manual processes. And they’re not necessarily lacking the digital tools they need to improve efficiency; the issues are more complex.
Questions we hear often are, “How do I get my advisors excited about our digital system (including CRM)? How can I help them understand it will make their life easier?” Without buy-in and usage of digital tools from your advisor networks, you’ll lack the valuable client and interaction data necessary to provide insights that streamline processes, improve client touchpoints and drive better advisor production.
Here are six ways our clients – heads of sales, marketing and IT – are helping their advisors get true value from their CRM systems:
1. Make Data Capture Easy and Automatic
Your advisors aren’t paid to enter data; they need to spend time on activities they see value in, and those activities are the ones that will make them money. As Chris Field, head of integrations for New York Life, recently told us, “It’s all about making sure the agent never has to enter anything into Salesforce.” Automatically capturing every type of data is when you’ll start to see an exponential increase in the power of your CRM. Go beyond the top of the funnel to capture interaction data including social, email, text and voice calls, as you can with Hearsay Advisor Cloud.

2. Allow Advisors to Capture Data On-the-go
The world is mobile, and so are your advisors. Make sure you have a complete mobile front-end for your CRM, tailored to fit an on-the-go experience. It should quickly tell your advisors the next best conversation to have, the people they need to call and what happened with them previously, and give them the ability to dictate a follow-up task. In essence, let advisors do all the things they need to do, but from their phone.
3. Focus on Onboarding and Training
Provide professional, peer-based, and even automated training to your advisors. Clients like Wells Fargo, Farmers Insurance and MassMutual Financial invest heavily in professional trainers to go into the field and educate their advisors on new tools like CRM.
When it comes to peer training, one of our customers in Canada is an industry leader, with 5,000 advisor peer teachers signed up as “Digital Navigators.” They created a grassroots movement with these change-agent advisors, launching them before they ultimately changed every advisor sign-on description to include digital. New York Life even has Alexa, by Amazon, training reps with their homegrown mentoring app. Reps can ask, “What do I do when x?” and Alexa gives them the official answer. This innovative solution was built with their mantra of “anything we can do to make it easy” in mind.
4. Add Tools That Complement Your CRM
A CRM alone can’t help advisors manage a client through the full lifecycle. Adding tools that complement your CRM can augment data, automate workflows, initiate and manage compliant cross-channel communications, and provide analytics, all to make life easier for advisors – not to mention increase productivity and revenue.
Adding Hearsay Advisor Cloud to your CRM, for example, provides a full-funnel digital suite to maximize the impact of social selling. This includes identifying new leads based on social signals, as well as more personalized (but automated) one-to-one follow-up and relationship building with social, email, text and voice calls. And all of it is compliant, with built-in pre-approval tools and advanced compliance and supervision workflows.

“It’s great to work with a team that really understands the needs of the industry. Everything Hearsay does allows us to enable our agents holistically, whether that’s on social media or through agent websites,” says Katie Piretti, director of digital development, at American National.
5. Automate Critical Industry-specific Workflows
Several platforms have productized crucial workflows so sales reps can leverage the right content and engage with clients at the right moment, via the client’s preferred channel. Hearsay’s Advisor Cloud platform takes this a step further with an in-depth understanding of the financial services industry, including compliance issues.
In the countless hours we’ve spent sitting side by side with advisors and their team, we saw that the best advisors knew to take the voicemails they were leaving and move them to more efficient channels, like texting and one-to-one emails, for key money-in-motion moments: bond maturity reminders, billing reminder/grace period reminders, annual review reach-outs. These conversations and common advisor-client engagement workflows are now available in Hearsay as pre-crafted and automated emails and text messages. By offering advisors a platform explicitly tailored to the way your advisors work, with pre-written content and both automated and supervisory compliance tools, your advisors gain an immediate level of ease, familiarity and comfort that encourages adoption.
6. Make it Competitive
Corina Roy, assistant vice president of field digital at MassMutual, knows advisor firms are competitive by nature and she played on this to push digital and CRM adoption. By creating and sharing the quarterly results of a holistic, points-based measure of digital maturity that ranks advisor practices into four categories (based on Hearsay’s Digital Business Maturity Model) – developing (0-25 points), emerging (26-50 points), strategic (51-75 points), and market-leading (76+ points) – rates of digital adoption are increasing.

Data: Moving to Quality and Integration

When your CRM is done right, it allows sales and marketing to focus energy on the right clients, at the right time, with the right message. And in the case of the highly regulated financial services industry, they need to do it compliantly. The requirement? Complete, automated, accurate data.
As anyone who’s ever dealt with either customer data or a CRM knows, this is a tall order.
When one of our customers recently went through a transition from a legacy on-premise CRM to Salesforce cloud CRM, the first step was to accept that, with so much pre-existing data, there would be “some warts on it.” Part of their shift in mindset is that things would not be perfect, but that was a tradeoff they were willing to accept to get things out there that advisors could use.
Data quality can be a challenge for most enterprises. As mentioned, there’s a lot of data, and it’s continuously growing. With the nature of business today, data also degrades quickly. However, it’s essential to strive for data quality because reliable data keeps your business intelligence dependable and your decisions well-informed. There are steps you can take to ensure your data quality: create mandatory fields, use picklists where possible, conduct regular deduping and data cleansing. As we’ll discuss in part two, you can also automate your data capture whenever possible.
The move to cloud CRM systems like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 is another significant shift in the enterprise, allowing for easy integration between systems. Once your foundation is in place, a move to integrated, quality data is imperative. The APIs available with cloud CRMs let you easily integrate with the third-party digital tools that make data capture effortless – social engagement, marketing automation, texting and voice call transcription apps are a few that are popular with our customers.
Several of our top customers have also noted that capturing not just static, but real-time interaction data is a critical component of maximizing CRM ROI.
Check out part two, where we discuss culture and data analytics.
Related:

How Corporate Teams Can Trigger and Track Financial Advisor and Agent Lead Follow-up, Improving Response Time, Conversion Rate and Transaction Size [Video]

We know that the longer it takes for a business to respond to a customer or prospect inquiry, the less likely that person will buy (or return, or refer). The highly personal nature of financial advice makes prompt lead follow-up in the financial services industry even more critical. Yet, corporate teams often have limited visibility into what happens with a lead at the field level.
Hearsay’s Advisor Cloud solutions leverage data and AI to enable a financial advisor to quickly, personally and compliantly follow up with every client and prospect on multiple digital channels, including text and voice calls (through our newly launched Hearsay Relate), social media and personalized email (through Advisor Social), and local advisor websites (through Advisor Sites). What’s more, all these interactions are automatically captured in their corporate CRM and business intelligence systems, providing corporate sales and marketing teams powerful visibility into field activities and enriching the data they have.
At our recent Hearsay Summit, Ed Fandrey, U.S. vice president of financial services at Microsoft, Hearsay CEO Clara Shih, and Hearsay CTO Mark Gilbert led a live demonstration of how this works:

Learn more about Hearsay’s Advisor Cloud, industry-specific workflows and CRM integration capabilities.
Related:

9 Ways to Use Social Media Compliantly From FINRA

At the recent 2018 Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Annual Conference, financial services compliance professionals explored how to embrace the future of communications while remaining compliant.
Amy Sochard, Senior Director in FINRA Advertising Regulation moderated a panel of Evan Charkes, Managing Director and Associate General Counsel, Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Robert Salvador, Chief Compliance Officer, Motif Investing, Inc.; and Nubiaa Shabaka, Global Head of Cybersecurity Legal and North America Head of Privacy and Data Protection Legal, Morgan Stanley. Together, they recapped nine key practices for compliant social media:
1. According to a poll conducted at FINRA, firms have some concerns about social media. Unauthorized social media accounts that cannot be supervised (or monitored) and the inability to capture and retain content are both key issues for compliance professionals. Other worries include possible cyberattacks, inadvertent sharing of personal information, embarrassment through inappropriate sharing, and false or misleading content. Industry practice: Put processes and controls in place to monitor and supervise social media communications.
2. When associated persons communicate through electronic medium, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) record-keeping rules apply, noted Sochard. This includes social media, instant messaging, text messaging and messaging appsIndustry practice: Deploy technology to capture and retain approved business communications wherever they occur.
3. Firms tend to prohibit the use of communications that can not be seen or managed in some way. Therefore, they are at risk of being out of compliance when clients reach out to associated persons and want to do business on prohibited communications channels, said Shabaka. “We train our employees that any type of communication that relates to business, and needs to be captured, should be redirected to the appropriate device or firm system that is able to capture those communications.” Industry practice: Firms need to “create reasonably designed supervisory processes and procedures that are reinforced through training,” said Charkes.
4. According to Sochard, there has been a “sea change” over the last few years from the concept of maintaining a “bright white line” between personal and business communications. Nowadays, there is a “real desire to allow associated persons to act as brand ambassadors and to let the world know about the firm’s brand without treading into an offer or a promotion of securities,” said Sochard. However, Charkes cautioned: “Think about how much risk your firm is willing to take in this area.” Industry practice: “According to FINRA Regulatory Notice 17-18, associated persons may use their personal social media to link to content on the firm’s websites or other digital properties, if the linked content is not related to the products or services of the firm,” explained Sochard.
5. According to FINRA, firms have recordkeeping, content and supervisory responsibilities when they “adopt” or “become entangled” in third party content. This includes the original digital communication and link as well as the specific content. FINRA draws the line at content accessed through secondary links, unless those links are a means to getting to that specific content. Industry practice: Many firms create a library of pre-approved third-party content for associated persons to share. However, due to copyright and branding issues, some more conservative firms avoid third party content altogether and only allow their associated persons to share content that has been created in house. (Note: The concept of “adoption and entanglement” is based on a SEC theory around the level of involvement in the creation of the content.)
6. Native advertising (communications that look and feel like news articles, but are really paid advertising) is permissible, according to Sochard. Industry practices: Firms need to adhere to FINRA’s Communications with the Public rules when using native advertising. These include certain content standards, not being misleading, and being upfront about paid advertisement, said Sochard. Charkes added that firms also should review guidance from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that states that native advertising needs to be clear, conspicuous and prominent.
7. The use of testimonials on social media has long been a question in the financial industry. From FINRA’s point of view, broker dealers may use customer testimonials in some specific circumstances and with proper disclosures. Due to space limitations, disclosures could be included via hyperlink, explained Sochard. FINRA has attempted to clear up industry confusion about regulatory requirements when a third party makes comments on a social media site, said Sohard. FINRA’s stance is that as long as the firm has neither “adopted nor become entangled” with the comment, then the firm would not be responsible for the advertising rules (such as supervision or the content of the comment) associated with it. However, if the firm “liked” or “shared” a comment, then the firm is considered to have “adopted” it, and hence now is responsible for it, and all rules would pertain. To make things more complex, testimonials are prohibited outright in the advisor space. Industry practices: Given industry complexities, and dually registered associates following two sets of rules,  firms tend to prohibit testimonials by policy or use technology to either disable or supervise endorsements when possible.
8. FINRA provides a regulatory distinction for the supervision of social media between “static” and “interactive” content, said Sochard. Static content, such as a profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, are viewed as akin to an advertisement and requires approval by the principal of the firm before being used for business. Interactive content, such as real-time communications, is viewed as correspondence and may be supervised (or reviewed) after the fact, just like how firms have been supervising correspondence almost 19 years, explained Sochard. Industry practices: Supervisory approaches vary across the industry. Some firms prohibit the use of social media for business and only check for possible violations; others only allow their associated persons to use a library of pre-approved content. Still others support both a library of pre-approved content plus allow their associated person to customize their content in real time.
9. “The intersectionality of privacy, cyber security and social media is very real,” said Shabaka. That’s because someone could gain access to your personal information based on what you post on social media. The repercussions can be financial loss, reputational risk, ID theft, legal and regulatory consequences, said Shabaka. Industry practice: Manage your risk by bringing data privacy, protection and cybersecurity into your compliance processes, said Sochard. Education and training is key, concluded Shabaka.
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Hearsay’s June Product Release is Here


At Hearsay, we’re driven to make every advisor and team more productive. When engaging with clients and prospects, there is often no substitute for picking up the phone. Voice calls continue to be one of the most effective and efficient channels for advisors, so we acquired Mast Mobile’s technology in 2017 to strengthen our Advisor Cloud offering.
Today, as part of our latest product release, we’re thrilled to announce Hearsay Relate is now available. (Read our press release.)
Hearsay Relate is the mobile productivity app for advisors. It combines our new Hearsay Voice capabilities with the functionality of Hearsay Messages including compliant texting, call logging into customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and advisor-specific workflows.
Advisors can now call and compliantly text clients from a dedicated business number, making it much easier for your field to communicate with clients. Because our calls are connected through the underlying cellular network, not VoIP, our call quality is equivalent with the native calling experience on the advisor’s iPhone or Android device.
Advisors need a reliable solution in order to maximize client touchpoints – Hearsay Relate is uniquely positioned to provide a superior experience for advisors.
Hearsay Relate is built to make advisors more successful. Our solution also includes powerful productivity-boosting features, including:

  • The ability to delegate administrative tasks, such as scheduling meetings, to other members on the team
  • Artificial intelligence that simplifies common, industry-specific workflows, such as predictive, one-touch “quick replies” to ensure rapid response to clients
  • Pre-scheduling texts for annual review meeting confirmations, billing reminders, bond maturation and more

For the enterprise, Hearsay Relate allows corporate teams to be more prescriptive about how, when and where their advisors should engage with clients, all while staying within compliance. Features include:

  • Integration with core systems, such as CRM, that provides corporate teams with valuable data and more accurate visibility into what’s happening in the field
  • Intelligent engagement with clients by leveraging corporate data to drive improved and automated advisor workflows
  • Built-in compliance for recordkeeping requirements, including integration with enterprise archival systems
  • Automated supervision capabilities including predictive capabilities to block high-risk texts before they are sent and the ability to provide the full text thread to understand the context of any flagged conversation

With multiple ways to connect with clients, whether from the office or while on the road, advisors are now able to increase client touchpoints, provide better service and, ultimately, move business forward faster.
Our team is proud to release Hearsay Relate to our customers and advisor community. We welcome your input and thank you for your continuing partnership as we seek to transform the modern advisor-client experience.
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How to Deliver the Right Social Media Content, at the Right Time

Because Hearsay’s software is purpose-built for financial services, we receive an enormous amount of data on the digital activities by financial services firms and their advisors. Our proprietary data is what enables us to provide the industry-specific features, tools and recommendations that help our customers grow.
In this month’s webinar, “Delivering the Right Content at the Right Time for Maximum Effectiveness and Efficiency,” Hearsay’s Customer Education team will review the important findings and best practices from our new benchmark Social Media Content Study. This study aims to go beyond how advisors use social for business and looks at what social content is actually resonating with their followers, clients and prospects.
In all, our customer success and data teams analyzed approximately 3.4 million posts from 77,000 advisors using our Advisor Social platform to determine:

  • What types of content are most popular with advisors?
  • What content actually drives engagement (prospect and client touch points) from their followers?
  • How can corporate or field marketing teams, as well as advisors, better optimize their content mix?
  • What differentiated content trends are we seeing for the wealth management, life insurance, and property and casualty insurance verticals? What strategy is best for each category?

If you’re a current Hearsay customer, join our webinar, “Delivering the Right Content at the Right Time for Maximum Effectiveness and Efficiency,” on Tuesday, June 19, at 8am PST / 11am EST / 4pm GMT, to:

  • Discover what different lines of business are doing to find success on social, and where you and your organization can improve your efforts
  • Learn how to round out your digital presence using various digital channels to make tangible gains for your business
  • Develop a comprehensive content strategy and set goals for your business in ways that are manageable and measurable

See you there!
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Hearsay Summit 2018: How AI and Digitization Align Sales, Marketing and Data at Today’s Most Transformational Financial Firms


Today, a perfect storm of tech game-changers is gathering tremendous momentum. What were once seemingly wild predictions of vehicles driving themselves, and humans not only having in-depth conversations with machines (e.g., remember Knight Rider?) but being completely replaced by them, are now all too real.
In financial services, many firms have embraced data analytics, artificial intelligence, and automation. Yet, field agents and advisors are still spending more than 70 percent of their work day on tedious manual processes.

Last week, over 100 distribution, marketing, digital, and compliance leaders at the world’s largest financial services institutions gathered at our annual Hearsay Summit to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. They met with Silicon Valley disruptors, shared and learned best practices, and heard from some of the most forward-thinking leaders in the business.
We announced the launch of Hearsay Relate, our new mobile productivity app for advisors (available June 2018) that gives advisors a separate business line on their mobile phone that they can use to compliantly text and call clients. Every interaction is captured automatically in CRM, saving advisors hours of manual data entry each week and giving corporate teams a real-time pulse on field activities. (See press coverage in ThinkAdvisor and WealthManagement.com)
For financial services organizations to survive and thrive in today’s tech revolution, they must embrace the following core tenets:

1. Use Software and Machine Learning to Automate and Collaborate

Despite all the promises of automation, advisors still spend over 70 percent of their time on extremely manual tasks. They leave the same voicemails day after day, and type the same emails over and over again. This is especially true for early-career advisors whose days are largely spent prospecting in order to build their initial book of business.
But we can’t just pile on digital programs that create more work for busy advisors.
Erik Jepson, managing director and head of digital marketing at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, described how his firm envisions tackling these challenges by automating low-order tasks, like social media content publishing, so its wealth advisors can dedicate their time to high-value, one-to-one client engagement activities. By enabling their advisors to subscribe to automatic, personalized social media “dynamic” campaigns based on their clients’ investing and lifestyle interests, they’re able to stay relevant and top of mind without additional work (i.e., “set and forget” mode).

Erik Jepson, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Erik Jepson, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Paul LaPiana, MassMutual head of distribution and Corina Roy, MassMutual field digital marketing AVP, reminded the group that no digital field program can succeed without clear alignment to sales outcomes. In order to achieve this, sales and marketing must partner closely together, and distribution leaders must become digital leaders.

2. Focus Advisors on “Moments That Matter” Workflows

Automating top-of-funnel activities solves the awareness challenge, but to achieve true business results, we need to accelerate the customer journey from broad awareness to one-to-one advisor-client engagement, which is where new sales and upsells actually take place.
The most successful advisors are leveraging digital for one-to-one communication – personal email, text, and phone calls – to engage clients quickly during key money-in-motion events, like RMD reminders, bond maturity reminders, annual review meeting requests, and billing reminders.
AI-guided one-to-one interaction – a human in the loop – can help drive engagement to sales conversations as quickly as possible. Maran Nelson, CEO and co-founder of Clara Labs (no relation to me :), shared her belief that having a human-in-the-loop results in the most accurate machine learning. Combine that with domain specificity, which restricts algorithms to focus on clearly defined patterns – Clara Labs and recruiting workflows, Hearsay and advisor workflows, for example – and you end up with an incredibly powerful, precise, and efficient system.

Maran Nelson, Clara Labs
Maran Nelson, Clara Labs

Kirk Dudtschak, executive vice president of personal and commercial banking at Royal Bank of Canada, highlighted how RBC is instituting powerful predictive analytics capabilities – powered by Hearsay Advisor Cloud and LinkedIn – that enable their corporate systems to guide their advisors with next-best actions, monitor their effectiveness, and use that data to optimize future actions, such as following up on mortgage leads or new financial planning goals.

Kirk Dudtschak, RBC
Kirk Dudtschak, RBC

Hearsay’s recent technology acquisition of Mast Mobile has enabled us to develop incredibly efficient Hearsay Advisor Cloud workflows built to move contacts toward one-to-one engagement as soon as possible and on multiple digital channels, including mobile text and voice.

To make this real, the Hearsay team demonstrated, in real-time, a lead follow-up workflow where once an agent is assigned a lead, she can not only send a pre-scripted email with high-conversion copy through Hearsay’s Advisor Social solution, but also promptly follow up with a mobile text and voice call from her dedicated business number through Hearsay Relate.

3. Make the Data Work for You, Not Against You

Ed Fandry, head of financial services at Microsoft, spoke about how the Hearsay Advisor Cloud solves a critical challenge in financial services: lack of accurate client data because of siloed legacy systems, and the fact that advisors don’t take the time to accurately capture client interaction data in CRM.
Using Hearsay’s newly launched Microsoft Dynamics 365 Connector as an example, firms no longer need to rely on advisors to manually enter data. Because Hearsay’s client outreach workflows can connect to existing core systems, including CRM, corporate marketing clouds, policy management systems, portfolio management systems, and business intelligence tools, all advisor-client engagement activities can be automatically captured without any action required by the advisor.

Ed Fandry, Microsoft
Ed Fandry, Microsoft

By closing the loop and gathering cleaner, more complete data, firms can more accurately leverage machine learning to trigger advisors to connect with contacts at the right time, with the right message, on the right channel.
Additionally, we heard from top executives at Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Salesforce, who discussed how a truly integrated advisor-client engagement ecosystem has emerged with the Hearsay Advisor Cloud. Everyone agreed that the industry’s long-term success hinges on prioritizing the client experience above all else, and that means forging the right partnerships to complement each other’s strengths.
Mark Madgett, chief distribution officer at New York Life, perfectly sums up how these three principles and the Hearsay Advisor Cloud are revolutionizing his firm and the industry:

We also heard from a group of marketing innovators who shared how they executed digital transformation programs within their organizations. The panel included Amanda Reierson, head of digital at Farmers Insurance, Jen Atkins, executive vice president and head of marketing strategic capabilities and insights at Wells Fargo, and Jon Pauley, senior vice president of marketing and interactive strategy and chief digital officer at Ameriprise Financial.
Providing a Silicon Valley perspective, we were joined by fintech innovators looking to disrupt specific areas of financial services. Putting the customer front and center was a key takeaway from the founders of Collegebacker, a startup that is taking the $1 trillion college savings industry by storm, and Guideline, a Forbes Fintech 50 winner with a mission to make 401(k) planning easier and more transparent.
Finally, I want to extend well-deserved congratulations to Christy Morgan at American National, Quinn Gorsky at Thrivent Financial, and Josh Opinion at Morgan Stanley, the winners of our 2018 Hearsay Innovator Awards. Your field digital programs are truly inspirational, and the Hearsay team is honored to be a part of your transformation.
To all our amazing customers and partners: Thank you for joining us on this incredible journey and inspiring us to think bigger and more boldly than ever before. The future is yours!
clara shih hearsay summit slide
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