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It Takes a Village of Integrated Apps and Data to Raise an Advisor’s Digital Success

Advisors and their clients have something in common. When it comes to their digital experience, it needs to be seamless and easy. Clients are looking for highly personalized communications and rapid responses, and advisors can meet these expectations – thanks to integrated technology and automation.

The Digital Transformation of Financial Services

The business of advisors’ is building relationships, but they often find that too much of their time is spent on tedious manual processes. Entering client data and notes into CRM systems, sending meeting confirmations and many other necessary, but non-revenue generating tasks can take precious time away from engaging personally with clients.

Today’s leading financial services firms have recognized the need to digitally transform this aspect of advisor prospecting and relationship management. With cloud CRMs, turn-key advisor websites, social media, compliant texting – and beyond – advisors are empowered with tools that should increase success in a highly-connected world. However, advisors often struggle with new tools that don’t plug in easily and work right away. Without insight into field activities, it’s hard for corporate to know whether their investments are worthwhile, and measure advisor success.

From Silos to Integration for Advisor and Corporate Success

Thinking any one technology will solve an enterprise-wide business challenge is unrealistic. Core systems can’t live and function separately; every platform and software application must cooperate to handle the vast increase in data, the number of applications used and the increased demand for a seamless and personalized experience. We are in a world where “playing nicely’ in an ecosystem of vendors is imperative.

Imagine this scenario: CRM tools like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics hold a wealth of client data, but populating them can take hours of an advisor’s time. What if you could automatically capture all advisor-client interactions and push them into your CRM? No more manual data entry for advisors. Now add social insights – life moments that indicate the potential to buy. Advisors become smarter about when to reach out and with the most personalized message. Add to that automation to proactively prompt advisors when they need to take action, suggestions for what message will be most effective and the optimal channel to use. Now, time isn’t wasted searching for leads, responding in a timely way or trying to figure out what follow up will be most effective.

Mark Madgett, Chief Distribution Officer at New York Life, explains exactly how and why this type of integration and automation are so powerful for advisors and their corporate counterparts in this brief video.

Drive More Value from Critical Business Applications with Integration and Automation

As technology advances in our ecosystem, data and application integration continue to be fundamental challenges. Uniquely in Financial Services, we are also burdened with ensuring these communications are compliant and captured. The good news is it puts us in an advantageous position relative to data. For AI to help automate and streamline processes, it becomes increasingly dependent on the continuous capture and integration of more data sources to improve the accuracy of models and the downstream automation and triggering of critical events.

When advisor-client interaction data is automatically captured and synced to CRM, the quality and the quantity of data rises. In fact, in our client base, we have seen a 10-15x increase in data in customer CRMs based on the automated capture of client/advisor engagement.  Subsequently, this captured knowledge about when prospects have a need and the ability to respond in a timely way with a personalized message drives better close rates and increased revenue.
It is imperative that applications can live and thrive in an increasingly broad ecosystem of partners. The more we can automate and capture data within this ecosystem, the more we can make both applications and workflows smarter. This coexistence can fuel automation and deliver a new era for the Advisor where time is spent enhancing the human touch by eliminating what is meant to be automated.

Welcome, Frank Defesche! Bringing Industry Cloud Expertise to the Hearsay Board of Directors

Defesche was an early cloud pioneer and brings over a decade of industry cloud experience to Hearsay Systems.

We recently announced the appointment of Frank Defesche, General Manager for Veeva Systems, to the Hearsay Board of Directors.
I’m thrilled about Frank joining the board for a number of reasons. As a cloud pioneer and current leader in a vertical cloud-based software company within a heavily regulated industry, Frank’s expertise will be invaluable to Hearsay as we continue to transform and modernize the insurance, banking, wealth and asset management industries.

As an executive over the past 11 years, Frank has played an instrumental role in Veeva becoming the leading technology partner to the life sciences industry and in recently surpassing an $18B market cap. After building Veeva’s professional services function from scratch – an area Hearsay has provided for years and is currently scaling operations – Frank most recently launched the Vault business line as Veeva expands to address new industries such as Chemicals.

As a company advisor to me over the past several months, he’s already made an impact. Frank has helped us optimize our company and key initiatives for industry depth and focus. He’s helped us learn lessons and operationalize around a few areas that are key to success as an industry-focused cloud company:

1. Win by out-focusing everyone else. While horizontal players seek to be “something for everyone” and widely extensible, Hearsay takes the opposite approach. We build with so much specificity that if you are not in financial services, you will not understand our software.

2. Hire and develop people obsessed with the industry you serve. Hearsay has shifted our recruiting focus so that at least every 2-3 hires is coming from insurance, banking, or wealth management, or the tech and consulting firms which serve those industries. Across all of our existing employees, we set up quarterly customer “follow me home” visits so that everyone in the company, from engineering to accounting, can observe how our customers work (the painful manual tasks) and viscerally internalize our company mission of enabling the High-Tech, Right-Touch Advisor.

3. Deliver turnkey, end-to-end solutions rather than one-off features. Horizontal companies ship features. Industry companies must deliver end-to-end solutions, from product features to partner ecosystem integrations to business process remapping, training, and analytics, to close the loop on what worked.
We look forward to executing these and learning more from Frank in the coming months and years. Welcome to the team, Frank!

Implementing Your Compliance Technology Roadmap

This is the final in a series of blog posts by Mitch Avnet of Compliance Risk Concepts on the process of building a business case within your firm to support investment in compliance technology. Read part one herepart two here, part three here and part four here.

Reaching the implementation stage of your compliance technology plan is a major accomplishment. It means you’ve successfully completed a gap analysis, drawn an implementation road map, decided on vendors and received the go-ahead from executive leadership. Congratulations! But don’t rest on your laurels just yet – the ultimate success of your project depends on some key factors during the final phase of implementation.

Good project management is critical

To ensure you can execute according to plan, you’ll need a strong project manager or PM team, depending on the size of your organization and complexity of your implementation. Some organizations have the bandwidth to manage a major project internally, others turn management over to an outside consultancy who works with the internal implementation team.

The team should include some members of your original planning committee, but I suggest recruiting additional people to your team for two reasons: to ensure continuity in the event of staffing changes and to expand the number of people championing your project in critical areas during the potentially bumpy process of implementation.
In a previous post, I discussed recruiting evangelists to your team – staff who understand the project’s ultimate value to the organization and can embrace and internalize the mission. I can’t overstate their importance, especially as employees switch over to new processes and systems. Recruit them in all affected areas. If they’re not directly involved in implementation work, bring them in as subject matter experts. Change is never easy, so you’ll need cheerleaders to keep up morale and momentum.
Once the team is in place, clearly define responsibilities and reporting relationships. Define escalation protocol to ensure issues and risks reach the appropriate decision-makers in a timely manner.

Create a risk assessment matrix

Unexpected events will occur on the road to implementation, from missed deadlines to key project team members leaving the firm.  A risk assessment matrix is your opportunity to think about and plan for such scenarios.

Creating the matrix entails identifying all possible risks to the project and plotting them on two axes: likelihood and severity of impact. You may already be familiar with this project management tool. If not, The Manager’s Resource Handbook offers a good description and step-by-step process to follow. Using the cost analysis steps cited in MRH’s article is a highly useful option, but it’s not mandatory; the process of simply identifying and ranking project risks is a valuable exercise on its own.

Measure success through metrics

Ideally, your implementation road map uses a sequential, phased-in approach – a strategy discussed in a previous post. In such an important and highly visible project, short-term tactical wins will ultimately lead to long-term, strategic success.

Never focus on speed of implementation, your goal should be to show progress over time – in both implementation and in the results the technology is designed to deliver. Be sure to define tangible and measurable metrics and begin tracking from the start.

In compliance, you might track issue escalation and clearance times, the number of issues surfacing and the number of violations occurring. Improvement in these metrics can indicate the new technology is reducing your organization’s risk and creating cost-saving efficiencies for the department.

Don’t ignore less obvious results, like the high-value work produced now that compliance professionals aren’t forced to spend time doing menial tasks. Does that high-value work equate to higher profits? What’s the cost savings in overhead now that new technology has automated administrative tasks?

While savings and profit may not have been your primary motivation to introduce new technology, rest assured it’s a high priority for your C Suite. Don’t miss the opportunity to measure it.

Watch for red flags

During the implementation phase, it’s easy to become immersed in deadlines and logistics and miss the warning signs that your project is in trouble. Not every hiccup signals a crisis, but there are a few situations that – left unaddressed – can kill your project, regardless of how well technical implementation goes.

Disengagement is a serious problem. Some grumbling is inevitable as employees experience change, but are the complaints isolated or are they widespread enough to influence other employees?

Are employees using the newly implemented technology? If not, why not? Is it a training issue or are they disgruntled because they feel the technology has been thrust upon them?

Disengagement is usually a sign that you weren’t inclusive enough during the planning phase and your communications strategy wasn’t robust enough to prepare employees for change. At this point, you might regroup with your evangelists to martial a triage plan.

Too many false positives is another red flag. Since compliance must follow up on any exception the system identifies, improperly calibrated technology may be expanding the workload rather than diminishing it.

Users will typically blame the technology first. You’ll want to step in before they lose write it off completely. Perhaps the technology is monitoring the wrong activities, or thresholds are too sensitive or not sensitive enough. Analyze and tweak the system to provide precisely the outcome you’ve promised, the outcome your users have anticipated.

Any time your organization leverages technology to meet a regulatory requirement, it’s incumbent upon you to strive on a regular, rigorous basis to ensure that technology continues to work as intended. In other words, the implementation phase never really ends – it simply evolves to a process of continuous improvement, providing better data and leading your organization toward greater accuracy and efficiency.

Data-Driven Social Media 101 for Advisors & Agent

It’s generally accepted that data is important. But when it comes to using data to improve business results, many people have an instant aversion. Some think they don’t have the technical expertise, others believe they don’t have time. Luckily, being data-driven no longer requires the harrowing process of making pivot tables. Tools have improved significantly and small steps go a long way.

Here are some basics to get your data-driven social media journey started.

How to Measure Your Social Media Success

When measuring the success of your social media presence, you want to look at three key metrics: engagement, traffic, and conversion.
Engagement refers to how many people like, comment, and share your social media posts. Engagement is usually measured in proportion to how many followers you have.

Traffic refers to how many people visit your website from social media. These may be existing clients or new prospects.
Conversion refers to how many of your social media followers and website visitors end up taking a specific action you define as a conversion (anything from filling out a form to becoming a paying customer).

The more relevant your posts are to your audience, the better your engagement and traffic will be. And the results of these metrics are typically all connected; good engagement begets higher traffic, which leads to higher conversion numbers (as long as your website is customer-friendly).

We’ll cover different tools you can use to measure engagement below. To measure traffic and conversion, you’ll need to integrate Google Analytics into your website. Create a Google Analytics account and follow the instructions. If you’re using a third-party vendor to manage your website, like Hearsay Sites, check to see what analytics are available to you.

Facebook Insights

A Facebook Business Page comes with a dedicated data and analytics section called Insights. From here, you can navigate to different areas of interest via the sidebar.
When you click on Insights, you’ll land on the Page Summary section. This provides a general overview of your Facebook Business Page’s data, such as how many page views you’ve had recently. In the top right corner, you can export your data into a spreadsheet.

A good place to start is the Posts section.

This will tell you what kinds of posts have the most reach and engagement, with engagement broken down by reactions, comments, and shares.
With these insights, you can fine-tune your Facebook content strategy until you’re posting content that resonates with your audience.

LinkedIn Analytics

Non-Premium LinkedIn Users have access to some basic data, like who’s viewed your profile as well as the number of connections in your network, which you can view on the left-hand side.
Premium LinkedIn users have access to a lot more, with LinkedIn Sales Navigator the most useful solution for advisors and agents. In addition to more robust analytics than the basic level of LinkedIn, you’ll be able to track leads, receive lead recommendations, and get sales updates every time someone changes jobs

Additional analytics that LinkedIn Premium provide is an extended list of everyone who’s viewed your profile in the last 90 days. This gives you an opportunity to reach out to potential leads.

Twitter Analytics

There are two places on Twitter that you can go to to get Twitter Analytics.
One is the Tweet Activity section. This gives you the analytics for each individual tweet. To access it, click the icon next to the heart button on any tweet that looks like a bar graph. From here, you can see a summary of Impressions and Total Engagements (which adds up likes, retweets, and replies) for that specific tweet.

The other feature is called Twitter Analytics. Twitter’s analytics help you understand how the content you share on Twitter grows your business. A few things you can see in the Analytics section include:

  • Your Top Tweet
  • New followers
  • Top followers
  • Top mention
  • Engagement rate
  • Impressions month over month

You can also export your data for a CSV file, which will include your tweets, engagement data, and more.

Create a Data-Driven Plan

Once you have determined which metrics are important to you and your business, it is important to make a plan to utilize these resources to increase business.
Stick with your metrics. Vendors are constantly developing new tools to measure the impact of social media. That said, you should focus on using a handful of tried and true metrics that work for you and fit your goals.

Integrate data into your decision-making process. There are a couple of ways you can do this. For example, when deciding whether you should change up your content strategy, make sure to make it a habit to check your data first to see what’s working and what needs to be changed.

Set goals and strive towards them. A data-driven strategy works best when you are working toward benchmarks. There are a lot of potential metrics out there. Keeping a few specific goals and tracking against them will help you excel.

Learn More at an Upcoming Webinar

If you’re a Hearsay customer and would like a deeper dive into how to become a more data-driven advisor or agent, check out our upcoming webinar “Insights & Data-Driven Workflows”.

In this live webinar, advisors will hear directly from Hearsay’s Customer Education Executive Chris Beck on how to be as data-driven as possible with your social media!
Sign up now for one of our upcoming advisor and agent webinars and learn more about key metrics and how to measure your progress analytically:

Advisor Shortage? It’s All About How You Look at It

Looking at stats from a different perspective paints a more positive picture of the presumed “advisor shortfall.” This four-part series will explore the state of advisor staffing and discuss how sales and distribution leaders can skip the pain of the widely warned-of shortage to gain a competitive edge.

You see it everywhere you look: there is a looming (or current, depending on the source) shortage of financial advisors. It makes sense, right? Just check out this proof from EY’s report on The Next Generation of Financial Advisors, cited at every turn:

  • The average age of financial advisors today: 50 and rising
  • Two financial advisors qualify for social security benefits each year for every new advisor entering the field
  • The number of FAs under 40: 27% (only 5% of these are under 30)

It’s especially frightening for those charged with growing and leading their firms’ advisor base.

The Good News for Sales & Distribution Leaders (What the Numbers Say to Us)

Though it may look like there’s a strong case for a current or imminent advisor shortage – and indeed many firms may have trouble hiring good talent – there are plenty of positives both for the current and future state of financial advisor recruiting and retention.

The ‘Retirement Crisis,’ financial advice and the advantage of an older advisor workforce
Every day about 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65, a milestone birthday that has been synonymous with retirement. As we live longer, the demand for financial advice has never been greater. However, despite positive changes in the industry like more flexible practice models, increased transparency due to regulations and new choices like self-directed platforms/robo advisors and fee-only advisors, many Americans nearing retirement are in a state of panic, overwhelmed with the prospect of having to work longer or potentially outlive their savings. These people need guidance, and it’s likely they want it from a peer rather than someone much younger than them.
The 50+-year-old population of financial advisors is a great fit for this client segment. People today are working longer than ever for more than just financial reasons. The advisors you thought would retire still have a very important place that they very well may want to occupy. They even offer a significant growth opportunity, as clients who have become friends enter retirement and continue to need advice.

Sentiment towards the profession
Sentiment can serve as a key indicator of how people feel about the profession and the likelihood of new entrants to the market. There are three important trends that offer optimism for financial advisory firms:

Positioned for Growth:  The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) forecasts a growth rate of 15% between 2016 and 2026. This growth rate is nearly double the average growth rate for all occupations.

High Pay: US World and News Report issued its 2019 salary rankings and Financial Advisors ranked #19 in best-paying jobs; excellent, particularly considering the top 20 were highly concentrated in the medical field which requires substantially more years of education and training.

Long-term Vitality: For a sometimes slow-moving industry, financial services is also stable and, as I discussed above, advisors can work well into the ‘standard’ retirement years. Clara Shih recently shared her thoughts around the need for financial advice from a human advisor and the resurgence of the financial advisor.

Human-Assisted Technology for the Win

The growing list of technology – automation, machine learning, AI, human-assisted robo tech – available today allows advisors and their teams to do more with less, achieving economies of scale that were previously unimaginable. Yet today, advisors still spend up to 70% of their time on tedious manual tasks. This points to the need for financial services firms to catch up to today’s technology and create efficiencies. Greater efficiency means greater productivity, an alternate solution to hiring more advisors. Once firms are caught up, they need to keep up. Technology today evolves at an extremely rapid pace and keeping up with the latest advisor technologies serves the purpose of maximizing manageable revenue per advisor while making your firm attractive to young recruits. More on this important topic in the rest of the series!

So, is the Advisor Shortage Real?

Maybe, but our advice is ‘don’t believe the hype.’ With the right strategy around recruiting, retention and technology, you don’t have to be impacted by the supposed shortage.

The role of the financial advisor is on the cusp of a renaissance, shifting into a world of modernity and this will take time. The advisor will emerge in the role of quarterback, assembling a team of resources and technology to ensure clients have a financial plan and meet their goals while delivering a superior client experience.
There is a widespread need for improvement in three key areas which I’ll discuss in my next posts. First, we’ll look at how companies can make their firms more attractive to a younger generation of advisors (you’ll need them eventually!). Next, it is imperative for sales and distribution leaders to spend time re-thinking and building a more proactive strategy to adapt to the needs of the emerging face of wealth in America. And finally, we’ll take a deep dive into specific technologies that maximize advisor efficiency and productivity while increasing your firm’s workplace appeal.