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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
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

Clara Shih

A pioneer in the social media industry, Clara developed the first social business application in 2007. Her latest book, The Social Business Imperative, is a Wall Street Journal-featured bestseller. She is a member of the Starbucks board of directors.

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