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A Peek Inside SIFMA’s RegBI Vendor Forum

On January 16, SIFMA hosted its Regulation Best Interest Vendor Forum at its conference center in New York.  The Forum was sold out and demand was so high the event was live streamed as well.

The purpose of the forum was for technology vendors to highlight technology solutions and/or service offerings to assist firms to comply with the Regulation Best Interest (RegBI) requirements, which go into effect in mere months (July 1, 2020). Even with the deadline looming, regulatory guidance is still emerging; the SEC published an updated FAQ on RegBI on the Monday before the conference.

Consulting firms, technology vendors and others all shared their ideas on how to address RegBI compliance and accelerate implementation. The Forum also offered 3 panels of experts to discuss various aspects of RegBI. Topics ranged from measuring the business impact of RegBI, to analyzing various duty and disclosure requirements, to potential changes to supervision and surveillance practices. I was fortunate enough to participate in the afternoon panel entitled “RegBI Compliance from Front to Back,” where the panel focused on the duty of care and delivery of Form CRS in more detail. At our booth, we showed attendees a demo of how the delivery of Form CRS could be automated using Hearsay Relate, through integration with a CRM system.

The general sentiment of the Forum was that firms have to be realistic when implementing RegBI compliance programs, given the rapidly approaching July 1st deadline. While everyone wants a single end-to-end system, the scope of RegBI is too large to be completely outsourced. There was acknowledgement that the best approach is to evaluate how to make solutions modular. On people’s minds: Would there be an opportunity for systems to integrate or link into one another so that, even if there was no single system to manage RegBI compliance, a firm could implement a single RegBI workstream program that could be implemented across many different systems?

With this in mind, panels at the conference discussed how project plans to address RegBI have been conventionally split into two different implementation tracks: so called “Day 1 Implementation,” consisting of absolutely critical compliance requirements that must be in place by July 1st, and “Day 2 Implementation,” consisting of automating and scaling the program to complement other compliance workstreams. Day 1 activities included items such as expanded training programs for impacted individuals, policy reviews, and current advertising audits (including advertising lexicon reviews). Day 2 activities discussed were things such as CRM integration and the ability to automate review processes and other similar workflows.

Firms were challenged to view Day 1 activities vs Day 2 activities from three perspectives: monetary cost, time cost and opportunity cost. With limited budgets, firms should look internally to existing solutions and determine their capabilities to solve parts of the RegBI problem rather than finding net new solutions. Firms should also be mindful of IT and other resource constraints on time. For example, what is the best use of personnel time in achieving compliance and is there a way to naturally pair Day 1 time with Day 2 roadmaps? And given this limited amount of time, firms need to be mindful that the opportunities chosen provide the most value.

The conversations and discussions at the forum were very lively and honest. RegBI compliance is a serious challenge that requires thoughtfulness, flexibility and, most importantly, efficiency.  If you are interested in learning more about how Hearsay can assist with your firm’s RegBI compliance project plan, take a look at this previous blog post I wrote or please contact your customer success manager.

In the Spotlight: Jessica Niles, Financial Advisor, Janney Montgomery Scott

At our recent New York roundtable, we had the privilege of sitting down with Jessica Niles, a financial advisor with Janney Montgomery Scott, who uses Hearsay Social, Sites, and Relate. Jessica is one of three advisors with Niles and Carl Wealth Management Consulting, located in Saratoga Springs, New York since 2013. In our open conversation, she covered how the home office can help advisors like her and how she has found success with social media.

What is a typical day like for you?

It really varies day to day. I try to be more proactive than reactive so I typically work from home in the mornings to get busy work done. I schedule social media posts for the week, then daily I will check to see who likes or comments on posts. I find interacting with these people is an effective way to get meetings.

How often do you get lead referrals from social?

I get a couple of leads per month from social media.

How do you identify your target audience?

Given the demographics of the area, my clients are all over the map in terms of who they are, so I’m not sure I have identified a real ‘target.’ I typically look at who’s interacting with social media and also think events and active community engagement are great ways to connect with prospective clients.

What is something that surprises you when you talk to clients?

When a new client signs on, I always ask them what kind of communications they like – email, text, whatever – and how often they want to be contacted. I have a ton of clients who switch to me who aren’t getting the communication or service level that they want, which has led to them being dissatisfied enough that they look for a new advisor.

Were you texting with clients before you started using Hearsay?

I was and when clients were texting my personal phone, it felt like a never-ending job and often blurred the line between business and personal relationships.

Why did you start using Hearsay Relate (compliant texting and mobile calling)?

Janney does training days one day a month virtually and I found out about Relate and I love it! It’s really convenient and I find that a lot of clients would rather text than email. It really speeds up quick transactions too, such as scheduling a meeting.

What do you want to see from the corporate marketing team?

The Janney marketing team does an awesome job of putting in new content every week. I want as many prompts and reminders from them as I can get, and look for them to make the tools they provide flow organically into my everyday life.

Where would you like to see financial services tech head?

For me, it needs to be simple. I literally still use spreadsheets to log my customer calls!

What advice would you give to your peers on how to get started or be better with social media or texting?

Technology and social media may not be a familiar platform for you to use, it isn’t for me either! However, if you have a team member that may have more of an interest in this area, let them lead the way with the scheduling and posting, and you can consult on the topics!

Maximize Your Digital Marketing Content Strategy for 2020

Each new year is a chance to look back on what did (and didn’t) work for your content strategy as well as look ahead at what digital marketing trends will be important in the year ahead. Content strategy is a constantly evolving, continually moving target that every organization needs to stay focused on in order to hit the mark. Here are some top trends in 2020 to help you keep your content strategy on point:

Personalization: “It’s not personal; it’s business,” the old saying goes – old being the operative term. When it comes to content strategy, personalization is paramount in both customer acquisition and retention. Employing a content strategy without personalization is like throwing a bunch of ideas against the wall to see what sticks. Personalization is what adds an authentic voice to your branding and makes your audience feel connected to a real person that understands them. Without it, your content will seem generic and one-dimensional, sending the message that you haven’t done your research into who your customer actually is. In fact, an overwhelming 90% of consumers polled found messages and ads not customized to them as annoying. And as you might guess: organizations that take this approach have much less success connecting with customers and prospects.

Interactive content: Like any discussion, once you’ve started communicating with a customer, you need to keep the conversation going. Providing your audience with unique and refreshing content that stands out not only keeps them engaged but encourages them to share your content with others. Word of mouth communication is priceless, and by creating content that is both useful and shareable, you can broaden your horizons to reach new prospects and also build trust with your existing contacts. In a time of countless digital distractions fighting for your customers’ attention, interactive content helps keep it focused on you.

Shoppable posts: As you tweak your content to generate more visibility and engagement, it’s crucial that you have posts that are shoppable, meaning they allow customers to take action directly from the publication. As consumers continually move toward controlling more of their buying journey, it’s more important than ever to provide online content that’s optimized for a cohesive, holistic customer journey no matter where your customer is on their path to purchase.

Social messaging apps and texting: Part of creating a holistic online customer journey means providing as many ways for your customers to reach you as possible. Gone are the days of only communicating from 9-5; being able to text and communicate on social and email keeps the lines of communication open at all times. Look for messaging apps that also allow you to automate some of your workload such as scheduling appointments, reminders, and invitations to events. As we discussed last month, automation is a growing industry trend that lightens your workload, giving you more time with your customers.