The Role of Preparation, Integration—and even Crisis—in Janney’s Digital Success Story
August 25, 2020
For many companies, it has become clear that one upside to COVID has been an acceleration in digital transformation. The sudden move to remote work meant digital communication channels and integrated technologies were now ‘must haves.’ Projects that had been put on a back burner or were in the works—implementing a compliant texting solution or increasing advisor adoption of digital programs—that may have taken an enterprise months or even a year before, had to be completed in weeks or days. At the same time, the extreme market volatility created by the virus meant financial advisors needed to reassure clients and deepen those relationships, stat.
The marketing team from Janney Montgomery Scott recently sat down with us to discuss how they’ve maintained their clear vision, strategy, and execution through these past several months of pandemic-driven change. Janney is a boutique wealth management and advisory firm headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a history dating back to 1832. They are an advisor-driven business (you won’t see a lot of central advertising), and put all of the firm’s resources behind their ~900 advisors to strengthen their client and community relationships.
We discussed everything from their advisor-focused digital marketing hub to their advisor adoption and support program. Here are some key takeaways.
Preparation is Half the Battle
As an advisor-focused firm, Janney recognized the importance of arming their field with an easy-to-use, centralized suite of digital tools and started working with Hearsay in 2014. At that time, “advisors were used to looking in a number of different places and using a number of different tools for their variety of digital marketing and digital communications needs; one place for a website, another place for social, another place for email,” said Chris Johnson, AVP of Advisor Marketing and Communications. He went on to say, “A large part of our adoption success, in my opinion, is the nearly full integration of all of [our advisors’] digital marketing platforms into one hub.”
In addition, Karen Shakoske, SVP of Marketing and Corporate Communications, discussed Janney’s robust advisor marketing programs. Karen shared, “We have worked over the years to design our marketing team to deliver on two key support mechanisms. One, we serve as an in-house agency, to work to provide the best in the marketing specialist and consultant account representation support. Then, we also have in house creative services here available for our advisors. As advisors develop their plan with our in-house consultants and have that great creative work done, we’re providing a deep library of content through that very efficient and robust, multi-channel marketing distribution platform. There, we have a very particular emphasis on digital. We do that with Hearsay’s help.”
Integration is Key
Janney prides itself on allowing advisors to run a flexible practice. They support them in the way that they want to run their business. For that to work, they need their partners to be flexible.
In addition to Hearsay’s fully integrated platform of social media (Hearsay Social), advisor websites (Hearsay Sites), and advisor texting (Hearsay Relate), Johnson talked about the flexibility Hearsay gave Janney to integrate with core systems they valued internally and wanted to keep for their clients’ and advisors’ ease of use.
It was especially important for Janney to get messages to clients where they are most often: their client online access dashboard. By partnering with Hearsay, they were able to integrate the two systems and allow advisors to publish content from Hearsay directly to the online dashboard by simply checking a box. By allowing advisors to publish to a new channel with the tool they already use, they were able to keep things super simple and user-friendly.
In the early days of the pandemic, advisors got a chance to see the beauty of the integrated platform when they decided to hold a virtual client event. “They’re inviting and promoting that event via text messaging, and then also via the messaging to the client at their portal. They really started to see the benefit of that integration and that connectivity between channels to reach who they were trying to reach,” said Shakoske.
Shakoske also discussed the upcoming integration of Hearsay with Janney’s homegrown CRM, since intelligence and data are what ultimately drive the best client experience. See it and much more in the live webinar.
Crisis Drives Digital Adoption & Human Connection
When Covid-19 changed the way everyone worked, Janney’s strong digital foundation helped them support both their clients and their advisors. Advisors that had yet to fully adopt the technology, now knew if they wanted to service their clients in a social distancing world, they had to get on board.
“It is amazing what a forced situation does to your adoption numbers, because it forces that behavior change. Where we had advisor hesitancy in the past either saying, “My clients aren’t online,” or just, they’re not feeling comfortable enough themselves with using the technology. March turned into their “Aha” moment of turning digital communication into table stakes. They realized the benefit to them and to their clients of implementing those tools,” said Shakoske.
Using Relate as an example, Shakoske shared that they saw both the onboarding to the Relate texting platform and the number of text message exchanges increase dramatically in March. Today, they have a record number of active users of that platform.
Shakoske sums it up with, “We were extremely fortunate to have had the foundation of this integrated platform in place where we could provide content to advisors to share quickly and easily across these channels; then, also from a scalability perspective, be able to address content across the entire platform for our financial advisors.”