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Retain and Grow Relationships

This is the final post in the “Last Mile of Digital Maturity” series. Read part 1 here, part 2 on reaching and attracting the right prospect here, part 3 on scale and orchestration to target the right prospect here, and part 4 on nurturing and converting new business here.

While new client acquisition is important, meeting overall business targets demands that firms maintain and build on existing relationships. The best leading indicator for continued business growth and retention is a steady volume of 1-to-1 conversations with clients. More consistent, personal communications translate to deeper relationships which build trust. 

Establish a Cadence

We all know that relationships are built over time, whether personal or professional. It’s critical that your field regularly engages with clients—reaching out on a birthday or graduation, proactively scheduling annual reviews or recommending coverage changes—while also staying top of mind during less predictable moments of market volatility or turmoil.

To develop these communication rhythms, firms need to embrace digital channels that encourage usage, promote the right behaviors, and measure adoption, as digital programs are of little value if they’re not being utilized. 

Surface the Right Behaviors

Core systems like CRM are important to the enterprise, but self-recording activities are time- consuming and take away from a rep’s core business. Often, data doesn’t get entered unless automated, and many firms have no idea how frequently and effectively their reps are engaging with prospects and customers. 

Without this data, corporate marketing messages can be off-target or tone deaf. To truly understand the last-mile engagements that deliver an authentic experience, firms must arm themselves with the data that enable them to deploy a more advanced, personalized content strategy aimed at cross-sell and up-sell. Likewise, sales and distribution leaders can better assess the success rate of various techniques. 

Mature firms are addressing this process head on by automating this process, ensuring interaction data feeds business intelligence, CRM and core systems to guide actions. Data holds the key to these insights—but firms must invest in an infrastructure that automatically captures this activity. Only then can you identify the opportunities that truly optimize your approach. (Learn more about how strategic integrations allow firms to enrich CRMs and turn every rep into their best rep in our white paper.)

Deliver a Best-in-Class Client Experience

In financial services, the most telling indicator of client retention is last-mile engagements. Most programs should aim to facilitate a minimum of 10 personal touch points per client, per year. The most mature firms leverage a digital platform and data to guide the field to deliver a consistent experience to every client, maximizing the value of these touch points to drive optimal behaviors. By guiding and lightly prompting field outreach during key moments, they’re increasing the likelihood of more consistent outcomes that translate to deeper, more entrenched client relationships. 

Interested in helping your field build deeper relationships and grow their business? Download our white paper now

Nurture and Convert New Business

This is part 4 in a series on the “Last Mile” of Digital Maturity. Read part 1 here, part 2 on reaching & attracting the right prospect here, and part 3 on scale and orchestration to target the right prospect here.

Content strategy has evolved, and it’s big tech that’s set the agenda. Clients and prospects demand a personalized—-and cohesive—experience across channels. Winning firms that use targeted, timely content seamlessly between channels are accelerating business conversion and growth, thanks to a coordinated engagement strategy.

Know Your Audience(s)

Marketing departments (rightfully) invest heavily in getting to know their end customers. But effectively communicating with them requires understanding and balancing the needs of the advisors and agents who take care of them. Not surprisingly, their diversity—across age, gender, race, interests and specialties— is indicative of a variable understanding of, and appetite for, digital adoption.

Since no two advisors are alike, it’s critical to tailor your approach when building digital programs. A good foundation takes advantage of segmented user groups to coach digital behaviors and design content and channel strategy. 

Foundations of a Balanced Content Strategy

  • Balance automated (campaigns) and personalized (modified, original) strategies to engage clients, across channels, including social and texting.
  • Develop a comprehensive content tag strategy to cater to your advisor/agent population and inform client preferences.
  • Embrace data. Define targets at the outset, and ensure the infrastructure is in place to measure your efforts and evolve your approach.
  • Build a strong partnership with compliance. Find balance between innovation and risk by inserting compliance directly into the ideation or strategy phase. (Learn more about why compliance is your ally in our white paper.)

Having a foundational understanding of your clients and user base will help you develop the systems to improve your program at scale.

Develop your Infrastructure

With a balanced content strategy in place, it’s time to ensure that you have the tools and systems required to drive relevant, powerful messaging across the key channels of social, websites, mobile calling, and text messaging. Clients demand choice, and your field needs to be ready and willing to meet them where they are.

Mature programs are also syncing customer engagement activity with core systems (CRM, CDP, CMS, etc.) to gain a comprehensive omni-channel view of customer engagement. For example:

  • Social programs can sync engagement data to enrich systems like their CDP or CRM, which allows for a more complete view of contacts and leads. 
  • Texting and mobile calling programs can connect with a CRM to initiate two-way activity sync, which allows measurement of engagement frequency with contacts and leads. 

Developing an integrated ecosystem puts firms in position to reach clients with the right message on the right channel. But to truly optimize these efforts, they need to guide their field to engage at the right moment.

Initiate Proactive, Omni-Channel Workflows

Leading firms are leveraging their digital platforms to systematize field outreach seamlessly across channels in pursuit of outcomes like improved conversion and business growth. 

By leveraging omnichannel workflows triggered by CRM and other core systems, firms can optimize lead management by engaging leads quickly, effectively, and measurably. 

Are you ready to win higher conversion rates, more satisfied customers, and more loyal advisors and agents with better nurture and conversion? Download our white paper now

How Scale and Orchestration Can Help You Target the Right Prospect

This is part 3 in a series on the “Last Mile” of Digital Maturity. Read part 1 here, and part 2 on reaching and attracting the right prospect here.

Reaching and attracting the right prospects calls for a strong digital presence with credibility. Once that’s established, it’s time to to turn to scale and reach. At the program level, firms need to encourage repeatable behaviors that position advisors and agents to achieve sustained reach, while cultivating the mindshare required to attract business. 

But as social selling grows increasingly competitive—with more entrants and more sophisticated network algorithms—programs must help their users build and evangelize best practices. Firms in this stage of maturity can look closely at a few areas: weekly publishing targets, campaign subscription rates, and monthly new connection targets. (Learn more about which usage and impression indicators deliver scalable trends in our white paper.)

Improving Scaling and Consistency with Integration
Once best practices are in place, firms should seek to strategically integrate digital programs with their core technology. Key integrations improve ease of use and can improve field efficiency and productivity. For instance, at Hearsay, we’ve partnered with firms to:

  • Centralize social, websites and web listings management into a single workspace. A consolidated offering across these channels ensures consistency and boosts SEO.
  • Configure websites to capture contact/lead information and integrate with CRM or other lead management platforms. This allows for more seamless, authentic lead engagement by accurately assigning leads to the appropriate advisor/agent for follow-up.
  • Sync texting programs with CRM to make contacts more accessible and accelerate usability and adoption. This also allows for the capture of last-mile interaction data.
  • Evolve compliance programs to ensure risk is accounted for as your digital efforts scale. Properly managing compliance risk requires regular assessment of the compliance strategy, fine-tuning of policies & procedures, and technology.

Integrations like this pave the way for firms to further optimize their efforts.

Orchestrating the Optimal Approach
Of course, reaching your audience is only half of the equation; you also need to attract the right clients into your funnel. This is easier said than done, particularly when your advisors and agents have other responsibilities beyond new business generation. 

To optimize the funnel and attract the right prospects, mature firms are taking steps like the ones below to become increasingly targeted in their approach. 

  • Social campaigns can be tailored by region, persona, or area of expertise to align more appropriately with your audience.
  • Web traffic click through rates and website attribution targets can measure the efficacy of your content and approach.
  • Daily active usage of technology is a strong indicator of results. Your field is more likely to keep coming back when they see tangible value.

Even after a target audience is captured, mature firms leave nothing to chance. They have a cohesive social and website experience that locks prospects in during the discovery phase and strategically routes leads to the appropriate advisor or agent in real time. They prescribe digital prompts to guide proactive communications, ensuring a consistent, authentic approach across the field. 

Deploying best practices in the field while integrating core technologies with a targeted approach can vastly improve scale and reach to your target prospects.  To delve into why this is so important, and some specifics around follow-up timing (it’s everything), download our white paper on“Last-Mile Digital Maturity.

Reaching & Attracting the Right Prospect

The First Step in Developing Last-Mile Digital Maturity

As we shared in our first blog post of this series, a new phase of digital maturity is underway. Transformational financial services firms are proactively orchestrating how the field engages with clients in the “last-mile” and guiding seamless handoffs between channels to deliver business outcomes.

Guiding your field to deliver outcomes at scale is difficult. It takes time to set up the right framework, mine the data, and leverage technology to scale efforts across a distributed network of advisors and agents. COVID placed immediate pressure on firms to rethink service offerings and accelerate digital adoption; these changes will be entrenched amongst the most digitally mature.
But transformation doesn’t happen overnight: The first step in the digital maturity journey is building the consistency and scale needed to cultivate brand awareness and acquire leads.

The Building Blocks of Reach & Attract

In this age, a credible digital presence and robust social media profiles are table stakes for advisor and agent validation. Recent research shows it takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form a first opinion of your brand once they’ve seen your profile or website. Not surprisingly, consumers frequently visit a number of sites to conduct research on financial services decisions. Prospects in an investigative phase will gravitate toward advisors with a strong digital presence. Think of it this way—would you go to a restaurant that wasn’t reviewed online?

How can firms help their teams meet this demand? It starts by building a strong social presence across the corporate brand and the field. Tapping into the network effect of social media, firms can reach a wider range of clients and prospects across demographics and regions. But credibility is key: In our analysis, advisors and agents with professional-quality profiles are 7x more likely to be called for a referral.

A cohesive strategy around social and web programs helps drive leads and increase conversion rates – that’s why it’s critical to empower your field with personalized, content-rich and SEO-optimized websites. Leads in financial services are predominantly sourced at the individual level, so a firm’s ability to deliver their field personalized websites at scale, while remaining aligned with corporate messaging, can promote a seamless client journey that captures leads while maintaining a consistent and rich brand experience.

Establishing Digital Credibility

In working with enterprise clients over the past decade, we’ve found a few consistently clear indicators for social media presence success:

  • Personalized, content-rich and SEO optimized websites for >90% of field teams.
  • At least 75% of the field has a complete social media presence. This includes: a professional photo, branding, and information detailing areas of expertise.
  • At least two major social networks are activated. While firms may gravitate toward a particular network, embracing the flexibility to connect with customers on their preferred network—which may be Instagram—is important.

These measurable steps to establishing digital credibility are the building blocks for achieving the consistency and scale needed to build your brand and acquire leads.

Attribution and Measurement

You’ve no doubt heard that what gets measured is managed. Yet one metric that is often underutilized is click-level attribution, which allows firms to evaluate the effectiveness of content, segmentation, and users, as well as assess ROI.

With Hearsay’s URL Attribution tool, firms can tag social media content with unique UTM codes to monitor inbound website traffic from social media down to the hierarchy, user, and content level. This can then be compared to organic, paid and referral traffic, and assigned a tangible ad equivalency value.

For one Hearsay customer, this level of data granularity underscored a significant increase in social traffic, and click-level attribution is now consistently a top driver of overall web traffic. This has had a tangible business impact—alongside their single customer view (a consolidated database which ingests information from their CRM, email and website analytics), social analytics help drive a deeper analytical understanding of their investor base. For instance, they now know prospects arriving on their website from social are more likely to invest than those arriving from other channels.

Supervision to Mitigate Risk

Finally, to mitigate risk and, where necessary, properly supervise client engagement activity, channels need to connect with a platform that allows for scalable monitoring, supervision, and potential remediation of client engagement activity. An essential building block for any digital engagement program is a framework for risk mitigation. When client engagement channels are connected to a unified supervision platform, your teams have a single platform to review multiple channels, streamlining efforts so they can focus more effectively on risk control.

With these foundational pieces in place, mature firms are integrating core technologies to build economies of scale and reach even more clients and prospects.

Next time, we’ll take a look at achieving scale and consistency in the reach and attract phase of lead generation and client engagement. And just like last week, if you can’t wait to learn more, download the full white paper now.

Welcome to the “Last-Mile” Digital Maturity Series

A new phase of digital maturity is underway. Transformational firms are optimizing across the client journey, proactively orchestrating the way in which the field engages with their clients in the “last-mile” and guiding seamless handoffs between channels to deliver business outcomes.

To help you get there, Hearsay has developed a framework for how you can evaluate your path to digital maturity. Along the way, we’ll provide insights and identify opportunities to accelerate your progress along the maturity curve. 

Over the next few months, we’ll share weekly blog posts with the framework components. This framework allows you not just to identify where your program sits, but to illuminate key areas for program growth that deliver the outcomes your business demands. 

But first, let’s start with why it matters.

The most digitally mature firms are enabling frequent and targeted engagement between advisors and clients. These interactions deepen the relationship between the advisor and client, and are what we call the “last-mile.” In a crowded, commoditized marketplace, this is the most differentiated experience you can offer so advice must be delivered in a human way to resonate.

As the ways to digitally engage clients have proliferated, leading firms have begun to recognize the need for an integrated and cohesive technology ecosystem. Their digital programs have become more systematic, and their digital platforms more integrated across their core technologies. 

Our aim is to align your program with your business objectives – centered around three key outcomes – shifting your focus toward the digital actions that drive the most success.

  1. Reach & Attract – Achieve the consistency and scale needed to build brand and acquire new leads
  2. Nurture & Convert – Optimize engagement to influence new business generation.
  3. Retain & Grow – Leverage digital to drive better client support and boost loyalty and retention.

Guiding your field to deliver these outcomes at scale is difficult. It takes time to set up the right framework, mine your data, and leverage technology to scale your efforts across a distributed network of advisors and agents. 

A new breed of marketing organizations, alongside a new generation of advisors and agents, are leveraging digital channels to find new ways to reach and attract clients and prospects. COVID-19 accelerated this transformation. Digital activities are more critical than ever when the field cannot participate in physical top of funnel activities like local sponsorships etc. COVID has put immediate pressure on the industry to rethink service offerings, and explore digital as a way to keep their business moving forward. Looking to the future, these behaviors will be entrenched amongst the most digitally mature. We’ll get started next week by discussing the foundational elements you need to Reach & Attract prospects. 

If you can’t wait to learn more, download the full white paper now.

How leading firms are rethinking their supervision models

No two Compliance organizations are exactly alike, especially when it comes to their approach to supervision. There are however some common best practices in how leading firms structure their supervision model. Over the past decade, Hearsay’s Compliance Strategy lead, Iain Duke-Richardet, led compliance teams for some of the world’s largest financial services firms. I had a chance to sit down with Iain recently to talk through a few key areas where hours can be gained and lost for compliance teams.

William: Iain, we work with clients that prefer a centralized model of supervision as well as others that prefer decentralized. I know that you’ve worked with both over the course of your career. My question to you is… is there a correct set up?

Iain: How first and second line control functions are set up, or any setup for supervisory controls really, is dependent on how an organization is structured. What might be best for one is not necessarily going to be right for the other. I’ve actually seen instances where an organization has started with, for example, a decentralized model and moved to a centralized model for efficiency gains or simply because they’ve had supervisors leave an organization and therefore they’re restructuring. So, it really is incumbent upon the regulatory Supervisor to evaluate and implement what makes the most sense.

All firms—regardless of their model—can align on certain best practices to put themselves in the best position to succeed. For instance, they can all look to reduce the instances of data fragmentation. So if a supervisor’s looking at a profile and the profile has been archived in such a way as to make it very fragmented, that’s not really very straightforward or easy. Our approach is to actually crystallize all those changes into an easy to read and review format so that the process is seamless and there’s no pushback from whichever group is assigned that review.

William: In your experience, what’s been the main driver of efficiency for the compliance teams you’ve led?

Iain: I find the way financial services organizations have structured their compliance functions very interesting. Efficiency is always at the top of their priorities. In this space, there are two main drivers toward efficiency. One is the efficacy of the organization’s lexicon, and by that I mean, is the firm using the terms that most align with the behaviors they’re trying to prevent. This is relevant because including an overabundance of terms in the lexicon will mean that items that get flagged much more often than they need to be. You won’t end up getting to the type of behavior you want to identify to correct through the supervisory process, due to too many false positives.

The second component is around how the review is being performed. It’s important to align reviewers with different components of the review process, leveraging a hierarchy of some kind, so that there’s no duplication in the work that is being done but identification is still prioritized through the process.

William: Thanks. Finally, taking a step back, at the enterprise level there’s been this rise of centralized databases and business intelligence systems, but really these tools are only as valuable as their inputs. We like to say, “Garbage in equals garbage out.” So, as advisors and clients communicate on more channels than ever before, does the same hold true for compliance and supervision technology? How can firms be more confident about the quality of their input?

Iain Duke-Richardet: I think that’s a great point. The “garbage in, garbage out” absolutely holds true in the compliance and supervision space where, as advisors use more and more channels to communicate, there is a notion of channel hopping; an advisor might move from one channel to another very quickly. Sometimes it’s an effort to perhaps circumvent some of the control or it’s simply because that’s the form in which the customer would like to interact. Having clear data that’s properly time stamped with the right author attribution, as well as having any corresponding attachments like 3rd-party links, is the key to seeing context. Because, ultimately, as the supervision is being performed, the ability to see the context of a conversation or a communication, regardless of the channel in which it occurs, is going to be the way that advisors and supervisors of those advisors will be able to identify any behavior that is not ideal.

In Summary:

  • Both centralized and decentralized supervision are valid options; supervisors must decide what makes the most sense for their organization.
  • There are two main drivers of efficiency for supervision in financial services firms: efficacy of the lexicon and a prioritized review process
  • The ability to see the context of a conversation or a communication, regardless of the channel in which it occurs, is the way supervisors can identify risky behavior

Properly managing compliance includes regularly assessing compliance strategy, tuning of policies & procedures, and evaluating technology. Our experts at Hearsay are ready to help. Learn more about our Hearsay Compliance Advisory Services and how we can offer compliance insights, analytics, and training to meet your program needs.

How Compliance Can Build a Sustainable Partnership with the Business

Innovation in financial services brings its own unique challenges for compliance, notably, how to support these efforts while vigilantly complying with regulations. Having navigated these circumstances at leading global firms like RBC and Barclays, our Compliance Strategy Principal, Iain Duke-Richardet, sat down with me recently to discuss how compliance can build a sustainable partnership with the business.

William: Iain, there’s a common perception that compliance is inherently at odds with the business or growth strategies in technology issues. What do you think lies behind that?

Iain: Will, I think that’s a great question. In truth, Compliance did earn this reputation through a generation of compliance officers who said no to any ask, even the most reasonable ones. Compliance doesn’t necessarily trust easily; it wants to see and touch and confirm that controls do in fact operate as designed, and therefore the organization is not facing supplemental risk. Change can therefore be challenging because it demands an assessment of those controls, and even an adjustment without always necessarily knowing the precise outcome. It requires some degree of flexibility in a field that is all about inflexible rules and regulations.

More recently, though, and certainly in my own experience, compliance functions are increasingly interested in technology and innovation. In fact, in some circumstances, compliance may actually be driving that conversation. The response to both growth and technology has pivoted from a reflexive no to, at the very least, a ‘let’s discuss it.’

William: Quite the evolution. In your experience, when have you seen the partnership between Compliance and the business work best?

Iain: This is going to seem fairly straight forward, but the partnership between Compliance and the business is one that calls for both groups to understand each other’s priorities. Too often, the partnership doesn’t work because Compliance is not willing to consider the business’ needs or the business is coming to Compliance with too broad an ask. The business wants to sell or develop widgets or provide the service, and compliance is focused on the controls that minimize any risk to the organization. So the partnership really works best when compliance has an opportunity to assess the business’ outcome and the business tailors outcomes to align with any limitations that already exist. If the business objective is designed with absolutely no controls, they’re unlikely to receive a great deal of support from the compliance function.

William: So putting it into practice today, what are some initial steps or next steps that firms could take towards building this cohesive partnership between Compliance and the business?

Iain: I think a lot of the progressive organizations have taken a couple of steps in terms of building this partnership. One of those is to bring a compliance partner into the early stages of a business project, sometimes even as early as the actual ideation. Given that opportunity, a compliance partner can flag early in the exercise any kind of risk or hurdles that may lurk, which then means that those can be addressed throughout the planning, development, and execution. So rather than the business coming with everything prepared, having put a lot of work into an exercise, with compliance seeing it for the first time right before launch, the groups are actually aligned and both have skin in the game to see it succeed. As part of this process, I think it’s always helpful when business and compliance come together to learn about the technologies that underlie the desired outcomes; again, they’re working together.

The other step that I’ve seen organizations take is cross functional training and education. So if the Compliance team understands and has a little bit more exposure to the business, as well as the business stakeholders having more exposure and understanding of the compliance framework, the impact is that the functions can actually appreciate each other’s objectives and work towards them and within them as opposed to coming at each other focused only on their own side of things.

In Summary:

  • To strike a balance between innovation and compliance, it’s critical to insert Compliance directly into the ideation or strategy phase.
  • Too often teams put ideas in front of business leaders without vetting with Compliance first, which inevitably leads to challenges down the road with compliance.
  • As new ideas, technologies, and campaigns are ideated, firms should naturally confer and align with Compliance before presenting to the business. One way to systematically ensure this happens is to instill dedicated partners cross-functionally, for instance nominating a compliance technology partner.

Hearsay a Finalist for Social Media Leadership Award

Hearsay Systems recognized by WealthManagement.com as a finalist for financial services social media award.

As a trusted leader in compliant last-mile digital communications for the financial services industry, Hearsay recognized the importance of proactively taking measures to Safeguard Social During COVID-19 right away.

Today, we’re honored to announce that these efforts earned us finalist status in WealthManagement.com’s prestigious 2020 Industry Awards, in the Technology Provider: Social Media Leadership category. Amongst more than 200 companies and 625 nominations this year, selection as a finalist recognizes Hearsay as one of the outstanding companies, individuals and organizations that make a real difference in the daily activities of financial advisors.

In volatile markets like we’ve seen with COVID-19, it’s essential that advisors proactively engage clients. Social media is a critical way for advisors to provide a steady drip of updates to keep clients continuously informed. These are key moments for building stronger relationships and developing deep client loyalty. But due to that same volatility, the risk of misinformation is heightened.

Financial institutions need to ensure social media content is accurate and representative of their firm’s view. To safeguard social in turbulent times, and empower advisors to deliver critical social engagement that strengthens client relationships, Hearsay arms customers with risk mitigation features to identify, prevent, and track sensitive communications related to COVID-19 and alleviate compliance challenges. These tools offer a scalable, intelligent defense for firms and their compliance teams, providing stronger, more efficient coverage against digital risk. By tracking these COVID-19 engagements, business and compliance leaders can understand how their field is operating amidst the pandemic and better assess advisors’ overall impact.

In this time of heightened uncertainty, when it’s critical for advisors to engage and reassure clients, Hearsay offers tools for the field to authentically communicate with clients while making it easy for corporate teams to quickly identify and effectively remediate problematic communications.

A panel of independent judges will determine the WealthManagement.com 2020 Industry Award winners who will be announced at the Wealthies Live Virtual Event, September 10, 2020.

Welcome Iain Duke-Richardet! Financial Services and Tech Compliance Authority Joins the Hearsay Team

Get to know more about Iain Duke-Richardet, Hearsay’s new Compliance Strategy Principal. Find out what a typical day is like, his take on RegBI, predictions for the industry, and more!

We’re thrilled that Iain Duke-Richardet has joined the Hearsay team as Compliance Strategy Principal! Iain joins us from Accenture’s Regulatory & Compliance Practice where he helped guide clients on a range of issues including regulatory change and reporting, technology-related legal and regulatory issues, cybersecurity, privacy, and more. Prior to his time at Accenture, he spent a decade in our customers’ shoes (some of that time literally) as a compliance leader at global financial services firms, including RBC Capital Markets and Goldman Sachs & Co.

We’re excited by the ideas and expertise Iain brings to the table, so we sat down for a Q&A to help you get to know him.

William: Welcome to Hearsay, Iain. Let’s start with an easy one – what is your typical day like?

Iain: I spend a lot of time with Hearsay customers sharing best practices and guidance to leverage Hearsay as a key part of their compliance strategy, including providing advice on governance, change management, technology infrastructure, and any other area of compliance and supervision that matters to their business.

I am also entrenched with industry regulators such as FINRA, IIROC, the FCA and others, as well as deepening relationships with trade groups like SIFMA and LIMRA. You’ll see me engaged in thought-leadership discussions, which is essential as I articulate Hearsay’s perspective on compliance.

Finally, the balance of my time is spent collaborating with Hearsay’s Product teams to continually infuse compliance into our solutions both as they are engineered today, as well as how the product offering evolves.

William: What’s your initial impression so far? Anything that surprised you?

Iain: That’s a good question. From working with Hearsay for many years I knew that compliance formed a foundational element of the platform. What’s been heartening to discover in the first few weeks is the commitment Hearsay has to developing in-house expertise. We’re building what I call a “Practice of Practitioners,” and that really distinguishes us; only Hearsay draws on a team with deep industry expertise to guide product development, regulatory interpretation and program support. So it’s been great to meet the team and recognize the depth of industry and compliance knowledge that is embedded throughout the firm.

William: What trends are you seeing in the industry lately?

Iain: The global pandemic has resulted in the emergence of new engagement models among our customer base, typically in an effort to replace the in-person connection. This has also been occuring in the context of a work-from-home environment. This has meant that compliance processes have been challenged and, in some cases, strained such that we have seen a number of adjustments being made to how supervision is performed, with an increased focus on efficiency. Among the trends are strategies to shift review between the lines of defense, to lower spikes in items to be reviewed, to expand the use of existing messaging channels, and to rapidly deploy compliance controls that enable the use of new messaging channels.

William:  Now let’s move on to a hot topic—RegBI. What have you learned from our customers regarding Reg BI? What is the traction for becoming compliant with these customers?

Iain: Many customers are well on their way to establishing the controls that will enable them to meet the new standard of conduct established by the rule. Many have spent time assessing and updating their business practices, reviewing and augmenting their policies and procedures where necessary, and evaluating their compliance controls.

Additionally, it’s important to recognize that Reg BI sets forth a standard of conduct that is ongoing. Firms are not just focusing on being compliant by the immediate deadline but rather are looking at building a foundation for ongoing compliance. Policies, procedures, technology, governance—the entire compliance ecosystem will need to be regularly evaluated against this framework to validate that firms are continuing to meet the new standard.

William: What are some of your overall thoughts on where compliance needs to head in the next year and 5 years? What are your thoughts on any of the other pending compliance or regulations that may be put into effect?

Iain: Over the next year, I expect to see the ongoing development of Privacy regulation, primarily as individuals and companies increasingly leverage the right to be forgotten under the CCPA, but also as other States design legislation of their own. I also expect there to be additional clarity to the FCC’s TCPA following the Supreme Court hearing in May. Both will pressure customers and their compliance organizations to have clear policies and well articulated processes to address the demands of these regulatory developments.

Over the next five years, I expect compliance organizations to double-down on two primary areas of focus. The first is to manage the continued pressure on the cost of compliance. Organizations seeking to optimize the cost of their operations have moved on from areas where gains were simpler (e.g., technology) to other areas, including compliance. Compliance leadership must exercise the levers available to it, such as functional organization (e.g., is Compliance solely conducting compliance activities?) and cost rationalization (e.g., technology, expense management, subscription based processes). Secondly, and relatedly, to what extent can technology be leveraged to simplify compliance tasks through machine learning, natural language processing, and automation. This is already underway within leading compliance organizations where systems have been upgraded to incorporate such advances, but I expect the next five years to see this continue and proliferate through the majority of compliance functions.

William: Let’s end on an inspirational note; what excites you about Hearsay’s vision?

Iain: While on the surface one may look at Hearsay and see a solution for marketing, for distribution, and for advisors and agents, in helping deliver omni-channel outcomes, Hearsay truly puts the compliance user-experience at the forefront. We’re passionate about making life simple for compliance teams. So as our customers empower advisors and agents with more channels to deliver outcomes across the digital customer journey, we’re simultaneously arming compliance teams with tools like universal supervision across multiple channels – including reporting of calls and text messages – to simplify supervision and review by offering a complete, contextual view of the client relationship. This helps teams administer programs more effectively across channels via Hearsay’s unified platform for maximum scale and efficiency.

William: Thank you, Iain. We’re excited to have you at Hearsay and eager to hear more from you!

Iain: Likewise, and stay tuned for more from me and the Hearsay compliance team as the year goes on.

Safeguarding Social during COVID-19

We’ve all seen the myths – many of us (author included) have fallen for them. Hold your breath for 10 seconds and you don’t have the coronavirus. Hand dryers kill the virus… garlic kills the virus. So many that the WHO has a dedicated myth-busting page.

In highly fluid, turbulent times, the risk of misinformation is heightened. We’re increasingly susceptible to both consuming and spreading content with misinformation. Social media and other client engagement channels are the front lines of this issue. For our customers, it’s critical to be proactive and provide a steady drip of updates to keep clients continuously informed. However, financial institutions need to ensure what goes out is both accurate and representative of a firm’s view.

To address these challenges, Hearsay’s compliance team has proactively built protective measures. For one, we’ve built a lexicon designed to identify, prevent and track particularly sensitive communications related to COVID-19. This offers a scalable, intelligent defence layer for your teams on the front lines of compliance, so your supervisors can focus on the highest-risk violations. And by capturing this information, business and compliance leaders can better understand how their field is operating amidst the pandemic and better assess the overall impact their efforts may have on policies, accounts, holdings and more.

Beyond suffering reputational and firm risk, spreading misinformation can put your clients and professionals at risk and contribute to broad hysteria. So how can we defend against this while keeping critical channels like social open to engaging clients and prospects?

  • Implement Safeguards. Leverage a dedicated lexicon in your supervision process to quickly identify and review client engagements that focus on COVID-19. This will help surface the most sensitive of communications, and offer your compliance teams the chance to review and remediate if necessary. We’ve built a COVID-19 lexicon that amplifies our Risk Meter and AI-powered alert system to surface and remediate risky posts for our customers. Together these tools offer better coverage and defense against digital risk while reducing the risk of misinformation on social, websites, and texting by focusing supervision on the most critical areas.
  • Stay on Top of the Data. By tracking COVID-19 communications, leadership has a direct view into field engagement insights in this environment. The information being shared can have material impact on their business going forward – it could impact renewal rates, coverage terms, portfolios, and client satisfaction. This is a time to dig deeper into the data to facilitate best behaviors and practices that drive loyalty.
  • Promote Trusted Sources. In addition, we recommend organizations build out their social content libraries with easy-to-share, trusted content with messaging from the corporate team or from a trusted senior official. Since this is the primary news topic, it’s also a great time to source third-party content from trusted industry sources. Hearsay offers curated content to our customers as well as offers the ability to “whitelist” – or trust – specific domains so you can more effectively source accurate, reliable content.
  • Adapt Quickly. Developments – both market and cultural – are extremely fluid during these times. Content that was suitable yesterday may not be today, and may even appear out of touch or insensitive. For instance, customers of ours had March Madness and spring break vacation posts planned. Hearsay’s Dynamic Campaigns allow for content to be quickly removed, affecting all subscribers and ensuring inappropriate content is removed.

Overall, encourage your teams to communicate openly with clients. It’s critical for advisors to proactively and immediately reach out to reassure clients that they have a firm grasp on their financial goals and are monitoring the situation. But protect them and your firm – ensure you have the tools and processes in place to quickly identify and effectively remediate any problematic communications.