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Guide your Advisors/Agents to the Center of the Digital Client Journey

In high-consideration categories such as wealth management and life insurance, a trusted advisor is everything. So many other interactions in our daily lives are digitized and missing the human touch. But in wealth management, the complexity of financial decisions are higher and the value of advice more critical. That’s why clients are more apt to stay long-term, after fostering a connection with an advisor.

In fact, in wealth management and life insurance, the vast majority of the client experience happens through the agent/advisor. And yet most of the technology investment has been in other aspects of the client experience. If financial services organizations have invested in digitizing the service center, building a corporate marketing engine, or even introduced robo-advisors or banking apps, they still may not have optimized the most important technology opportunity—advisor/agent-client engagement. It’s the missing piece of the client experience platform.

Digitized service centers and mobile apps are important, but not differentiators. No one switches banks because of their mobile app. And competing on pricing and products has become increasingly untenable. Competitive advantage needs to come from better enabling the connections between agents/advisors and clients that deepen relationships and retain and grow business.

While a firm’s field advisors or agents are your most expensive channel, they are also the most effective—particularly when guided with best practices. A trusted relationship is the only thing clients are willing to pay a premium for.

Client journeys, both pre- and post-acquisition, naturally and organically flow across communication channels. It’s critical to help agents/advisors engage at just the right times to move clients along their journey. Advisors/Agents who engage too soon waste their time and might even spook a client, and agents/advisors who engage too late or are overly reactive instead of proactive miss out on valuable opportunities to make a difference during the moments that matter to clients.

The key to communicating at just the right time is for firms to proactively guide and capture that last mile of interactions. But for the most part today, the last mile is a black box, which means that corporate teams don’t have visibility into the most important part of the client journey.

An agent/advisor may receive a task or lead in their sales portal, and sometimes there is a conversion at the end; what happens in the middle is a mystery to the firm. Even though these 1:1 conversations are the most important, growth-oriented conversations happening across the entire system, there is little to no transparency to the firm.

That’s where Hearsay’s client engagement platform comes in. Hearsay enables corporate teams to capture those interactions and then analyze the activities that drove results. Corporate marketing teams can use these best practices to systematize the sales plays that work and guide every advisor/agent to act like your best advisor/agent.

Download this guide to learn the foundational strategies corporate marketing can use to give agents/advisors the head start they need to maximize a high-tech and right-touch approach.

The Key is Context – Unlocking the Modernization of Archiving & Supervision

Why mess with a good thing? Sometimes we hit on something that works so well that it never changes – like Coca Cola. Unfortunately, most things are not Coke and need to evolve. Email-based archiving – particularly when applied to client engagement activities across social and texting – is one of those areas begging to be modernized.

To meet regulatory recordkeeping requirements and standards (i.e., SEC, FINRA, CFTC, FCA and others), firms have long relied on an email-based approach to take delivery of client communications into their archives. Email-based archiving (SFTP) is akin to sending a package – data is stripped down and organized to fit nicely in a box that can be sorted in a similar way with all the other packages. While the approach results in compliance with archiving mandates, it hampers compliance teams, rendering them less effective and efficient. What this approach lacks is context. Activities are delivered into the archive sometimes as they occur – most commonly with a delay – and are siloed by channel, forcing supervision to piece together conversations that are taking place across days, networks, and channels. This approach conjures up images of old police TV mysteries with cork boards and pinned pieces of yarn to connect suspects – it doesn’t reflect the technological progress we’ve made in other areas of financial services.

However, that is beginning to change. As more efficient, modern methods of data transfer have been introduced, some firms are re-examining how this data is being transferred to them. Archiving via API provides full context of digital communications and real time access. They have a thread based on a full view of the interactions between two contacts instead of the legacy structure imposed by an email-based configuration.

With API-led approaches, firms are gaining real-time access to communications in order to bring speed and efficiency to the archiving and review process.  We’ve made investments in Hearsay’s Compliance API to offer real-time access to a stream of activities that unlocks integrations with API-led platforms simplifying and modernizing recordkeeping, supervision, and discovery. Critically this offers Supervision teams a unified view of activities across channels to see a full, clear picture, so that the right activities are flagged and remediated.

All this to say that now is the time for firms to consider evaluating whether their archiving processes are as effective as they could be. An API archiving process doesn’t require a massive transformation of the existing setup – for example Hearsay’s open APIs allow our platform to integrate seamlessly with existing infrastructure bringing more value to your existing compliance foundation. And as you evaluate options, our team stands ready to lend our expertise.

Sometimes, change is a good thing.

Advisor-Client Communications: How Compliant Texting is Changing the Game


Social media proficiency is a must have for advisors and agents today. In fact, 92% of advisors report that social media has helped them gain new clients.[1] Social media plays a key role in the digital landscape, and done correctly it can help advisors find new clients and strengthen relationships with their current ones.

Not only has social media transformed how business is conducted, it has also transformed where it is conducted. It is estimated that nearly 3 billion people worldwide own a smartphone.[2] Another staggering statistic: 70% of web traffic comes from mobile devices.[3] In order for your advisors and agents to find and stay connected to clients, they need to be both social and mobile.

It may seem unbelievable, but over 60% of advisors’ and agents’ time is spent on non-revenue generating activities such as administrative tasks.[4] With texting, advisors and agents have an ultra-efficient way to stay connected with clients. In fact, text read rates are as high as 98%.[5] Studies show that 75% of people report receptiveness to receiving text messages,[6] making it easier for your advisors and agents to connect to clients. Within financial services, the average customer opt-in rate for advisor texting programs is 80%,[7] suggesting that clients are eager to hear from their advisors and agents. We’ve found this is especially true in today’s volatile financial climate.

Not only are clients more responsive, but activating texting as a compliant advisor-client channel drives a deeper level of authenticity in the last mile of communications. It also enables your field with the flexibility to schedule time-based text message reminders, such as appointment and annual review reminders, that help shift the balance of where advisors and agents spend their time, from administrative activities to client meetings.

Does this mean that you should solely favor text messaging over email marketing? On the contrary. When it comes to communications, a balanced approach is always best. Authentic relationships thrive across various digital channels. Make sure your advisors and agents leverage both text messaging and email marketing to communicate with their clients and prospects for a successful content strategy with a tangible ROI. For example, studies show that when sending a text to follow up on an email, the email open rates increase by as much as 30%.[8] And given that clients of advisors using Hearsay, on average, respond to a text message in under four minutes,[9] your advisors and agents are more than likely to connect with their clients quickly and efficiently.

To learn more about how automated text messaging can improve client communications, check out the recording of our most recent admin webinar or share these advisor/agent webinars where we discuss how Hearsay tools can provide compliant text messaging that helps save time, secure prospects, and increase client retention.

SOURCES:
[1] https://www.putnam.com/advisor/business-building/social-media/?van_seg=social
[2] https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2019/02/05/smartphone-ownership-is-growing-rapidly-around-the-world-but-not-always-equally/
[3] https://review42.com/smartphone-statistics/
[4] & [7] Hearsay Data, Time Management for Sales Study, 2017
[5] & [6] https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/2019/01/roi-showdown-sms-marketing-vs-email-marketing/
[8]  Hearsay 2020 Financial Services Social Media Content Study
[9] https://www.business2community.com/infographics/email-marketing-vs-sms-marketing-stats-infographic-02021390

My First Day as CEO of Hearsay Systems

Clara and me last week, appropriately socially distanced [Photo by Radu Ranga]

Today is an exciting and very humbling day for me. After five months as Hearsay’s COO (all virtual) and working closely with Clara Shih, co-founder and CEO of Hearsay Systems, and the Hearsay Board of Directors, I am honored to take the reins from Clara as the new Hearsay CEO and continue to partner with Clara as Hearsay’s Executive Chairperson.

Clara and Steve Garrity founded Hearsay 11 years ago on a belief that the sales and relationship management profession would get upended by the social graph being created on Facebook– fundamentally disrupting the way customers buy, whom they trust, and how they’d want to stay in touch. Over this decade-long journey Clara and the Hearsay team built out a new social selling category, expanded into other key digital channels and developed a platform strategy to better align with customer engagement outcomes. Hearsay also focused on wealth management and insurance sectors and the challenges of providing last mile digital communications in a scalable, compliant manner. Over 170,000 advisors and the most prestigious financial services companies have embraced this vision.

Many Hearsay team members (Chris Andrew, Chief Product Officer and employee #1; Pete Godbole CFO; Robert MacCloy, CTO) and Board Members (Frank Defesche, Jon Sakoda, Bryan Schreier) have been instrumental in this journey and taking the long view toward building the company. I have appreciated their support and counsel over my brief tenure and the support and patience I have received from the entire Hearsay team helping me onboard in a virtual world.

To our team members, customers, and partners, as we start this new phase of our journey together, I wanted to share some of my story with you, why I came here, and what I’m excited to do.

My story

I grew up in Seattle, WA and have been married for 26 years and we have two grown kids. I started as an engineer right out of the University of Washington working at a Bay Area Refinery. I made my way into software and have been blessed to work with many great technology companies (Oracle, SAP, PeopleSoft, Taleo), leaders and colleagues across many functions, projects and transformation efforts. My new, favorite capability/strength is the learnings I have gained from the wins and defeats associated with trying to scale a business, incubating new ideas or drive wholesale change initiatives. I hope to fully exploit this capability in my new role.

There are two simple axioms of leadership I try to espouse. First, everyone is a leader. Some of the most impactful people at any company have no direct reports. They muster followership by their energy, enthusiasm, smarts (EQ and IQ), and organizational and persuasion skills. We need to create environments where anyone can lead.

Second, in 25 years, I’ve learned that accountability and direct dialogue permeate winning teams. If I could wish for two things in any organization it would be a strong culture of accountability/”owning it” and frank, open dialogue on the hard, uncomfortable topics-it’s the only way to get fully aligned, build trust, and let the best ideas win. Clara and the Hearsay leadership team share this perspective.

What drew me to Hearsay

There were three fundamental drivers that made joining Hearsay an easy choice.

1. Significant market opportunity: It starts with an unparalleled customer list. In 25 years working in enterprise software, rarely have I seen this quality and quantity of marquee customer relationships, customers who view us as true partners and trusted advisors to help guide them in their digital transformation journey. Hearsay is also a rare product that is both a vitamin and painkiller, as Clara talks about in her Masters of Scale podcast with Reid Hoffman. Many customers start with our compliance platform (painkiller), but then it builds from there into wholesale transformation to deliver a modern customer experience (vitamin). Most importantly, the last decade of digital transformation was about automation and self-service. Validated by the pandemic, the next decade is about authentic engagement at scale– a category Hearsay has established and will fuel its next chapter of growth.

2. Shared values: Hearsay’s values have remained essentially the same since the company was founded–Customer Focus, Kaizen, and Get-the-Right-Stuff-Done (GRSD). For me, Customer Focus is about the big stuff and the small stuff. You need to get the small stuff right in order to earn the right to do the big stuff (be a trusted advisor). I’ve had many roles throughout my career, from leading M&A at Taleo to CEO of Certent. Each has been an opportunity for me to flex a growth mindset and continuously learn, improve, and grow or put into practice a personal Kaizen approach. Kaizen at a company level and Kaizen at an individual level is the killer combination. Prior to Hearsay, my wife and I took a significant risk in launching a new startup. I learned very quickly no environment demands GRSD more than an early stage company. Everyday you need to be ruthless in how you spend your time and dollars. We had to make some very difficult decisions when we were running low on funds and were fortunate to find a strategic buyer to execute our vision. GRSD has new meaning and purpose given this experience.

3. Opportunity to have an impact: As I got to know Hearsay and got to understand the challenges and opportunities it faces, I realized it is a great match for my diverse set of experiences. More importantly, It’s been inspiring to watch how our customers have depended on Hearsay to reassure and guide their customers during the pandemic – which in turn has given our team a new level of purpose and hustle.

What we will do going forward

The pandemic has only accelerated our next phase of growth, as Hearsay’s engagement platform is now mission-critical for relationship sellers who can no longer meet clients face-to-face. From Social and Sites to Relate and Actions, Hearsay platform utilization, new deals, and customer expansions are accelerating. Our business is outperforming expectations on nearly every metric.

As we embrace this momentum, there are several concrete actions I will be working with our team to drive 2021 performance and make our vision a reality. First and foremost, we need to fill all key existing and new roles across the organization. We need the right talent in place to execute on our ambition sales and product plans. Second, we need to drive a focused set of initiatives to help deliver customer outcomes. The migration to our new, modern reporting solution is a great example. Third, in the next several quarters we will be launching new integrations that help our customers unlock the value in their CRM, marketing automation, and core systems investments.

In everything we do, we need to continue to lead and collaborate with humility and purpose.

Mike

Passing the Torch to Hearsay’s New CEO

A heartfelt thank you and exciting news for Hearsay’s growth, as I transition to the role of Executive Chairperson! Read on to learn more about Hearsay’s new CEO, Mike Boese.

11 years ago today, Steve Garrity and I founded Hearsay Labs on a belief that the sales profession would get upended by the social graph being created on Facebook– fundamentally disrupting the way customers buy, whom they trust, and how they’d want to stay in touch. We came up with the idea for social selling (along with a few other ideas which didn’t make the cut), hired some friends and their friends, played a lot of ping pong, and wrote code day and night.

Every day was exciting, nerve-racking, unexpected. I’ll never forget the day in early 2011 we stumbled on the need for reg tech. We were in Boston visiting a prospective Fortune 500 customer. Our prospect cut to the chase – she wanted to know whether Hearsay could increase her laptop storage capacity. She turned her computer toward us, and we could see that her desktop was littered with thousands of image files. It turned out that she and her team spent their days manually screenshotting every one of their firm’s thousands of financial advisors’ LinkedIn profiles every hour in order to comply with FINRA advertising rules. Their laptops were literally running out of space. We left stunned and inspired. Once back in California, we went to LinkedIn HQ and pitched them on the need for a compliance API in order to give access to the millions of users in regulated industries who were being blocked. The rest, as they say, is history. We have never stopped building, innovating, and getting inspiration from customers since.

It’s been a thrilling, challenging decade. We’ve helped 170,000 relationship sellers reinvent themselves in the digital era and enabled compliance teams to scale their workload amidst an explosion of digital communications. We’ve raised $50 million and expanded to 22 countries while remaining incredibly capital-efficient due to our industry focus. We created social selling as a category, focused to become an industry cloud, acquired a mobile communications platform, then expanded our charter to last-mile omnichannel engagement to allow our customers to drive outcomes across their full client journey, not just social.

Along the way, I’ve learned countless business, leadership, and life lessons, forged lifelong friendships, and pushed harder, dreamed bigger, and overcome more than I ever thought possible. This last decade has been the journey of a lifetime, and we are just getting started. The first wave of digital transformation in financial services was automation and self-service. Validated by the pandemic, this next wave is about authentic engagement at scale– a category Hearsay has established and will fuel its next chapter of huge growth. As co-founder and CEO, I’ve always done what it takes to make Hearsay successful. Today I’ve decided what Hearsay needs to be successful for the next decade is a new CEO.

Mike and me last week, appropriately socially distanced [photo by Radu Ranga]

Last year, after a decade as CEO, the board and I began looking for the right person to lead Hearsay into its next chapter. With our last-mile engagement category established, platform built, and customers aligning their enterprise transformations, Hearsay had entered a new stage in its evolution which required a new skillset– someone with experience threading and scaling cross-functional processes needed to align our growing number of teams and offices around the world. Our COO  Mike Boese exemplifies these skillsets as well as our company values, and it’s with so much pride and optimism that  I announce he will be our CEO for Hearsay’s next chapter, which I already know will be our biggest yet. I will step into an executive chairwoman role where I can support from the wings.

Let me tell you about him. With his prior experience leading multiple software companies, combined with his humility and “Day 1” hustle, I knew when I met Mike that he was special. Mike studied engineering at the University of Washington and has helped build some of the most important and iconic software companies of our time– Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP, Taleo. Mike is a former startup founder himself, and has also scaled companies and teams exactly to the next phase of where Hearsay needs to go. Above all, Mike is an incredibly good person, partner, and servant leader deeply committed to our people and customers.

From platform utilization to new deals and customer expansions, our business is outperforming expectations on nearly every metric. Watching how our customers have depended on Hearsay to reassure and guide their customers during the pandemic has given our team a new level of purpose. Thanks to our business performance and Mike’s leadership performance, I know in my heart that the time has come to pass the torch. Our future has never been brighter, and I know the company will flourish under Mike’s stewardship.

What’s next for me? Hearsay will always be my company. As executive chairwoman by day, I’ll be helping Mike advise our customers, codify our team culture, continue building out our leadership team. I’ll stay on full-time for as long as Mike wants, then transition to part-time. That’s the plan for now. Over the next several months, I’ll take some time off to recover from the millions of miles I’ve traveled in the last decade, spend quality time with family, and then figure out what’s next.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those who have joined and supported me in this startup journey. My initial list was too long to fit in this post, so apologies in advance for this condensed version:

  • To my husband Dan, thank you for supporting me and making sure I remember to eat and sleep. I love being home with you every day and never want to go back to flying 300,000 miles a year.
  • To my son Blake, it has been such a joy to get to know you deeply, read bedtime stories and tuck you in every night. I’m nervous and excited to be Room Parent for your kindergarten class!
  • To our current and former team, customers, investors, partners, supporters, believers, thank you for the opportunity to build together. You should feel proud that the company is bigger and will last longer than any individual person. I’ll cherish my 11 years as CEO working alongside you and will always carry this experience with me in my heart.
  • To my co-founder Steve, chief bottle-washer Pete, grumpy cat Robert, EQ coach Barkis, deal magician Tom, and contrarian Chris Hearsay with the yellow backpack, thanks for energizing me with your fiercely original ideas, continuously challenging my thinking and assumptions, and for your incredible GSD, support, and friendship over many years. I couldn’t have asked for a better band of misfits to be a part of and grow up with in my career.
  • To Bryan, Jon, Patrick, and Frank, thanks for your support through thick and thin, and for pushing me to act boldly and think bigger. In 11 years, never was there a wasted board conversation or meeting. You’ve always come prepared, been on point, and known exactly which parts of the business to push on.

It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as Hearsay’s CEO. As scary as this decision feels, I know in my heart I’m doing what’s best for our future. When the stars align, the choice is clear. I love this company, our team, and our customers, and am so excited for the decade ahead!