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Not Your Grandma’s Website: Welcome to Your New Digital Hub

For years, the humble website faded into the background, quietly working while emails zipped out, social media dazzled the business world, and live events grabbed attention with flashy keynote speakers and deal-closing conversations. 

In 2020, everything changed. From local insurance offices and retail bank branches, to bank headquarters and popular steakhouses, the world stood still. High-profile events and industry conferences were cancelled or converted to virtual-only experiences. Email inboxes and social media feeds were flooded with updates, brand messages, and webinar invitations. 

Many consumers were suddenly stuck at home, hungry for information and limited to the internet. A tidal wave of questions and requests hit the financial industry, sending advisors, agents and bankers scrambling to respond. With no in-person options available and an astonishing volume of inquiries that could not be met with a one-to-one approach, the importance of a broadcast approach, via personal websites and digital interactions skyrocketed. 

COVID-19 underscored the increasing need for a comprehensive digital strategy that includes professional websites at the field level. But even before the pandemic, there were a number of reasons why establishing a robust website program for bankers or advisors was a long-term strategic requirement. Although there exist several website types that provide specific tactical benefits, including listing pages and landing pages, we believe the most important and impactful website is the multi-page site that showcases an advisor’s professional experience, coverage areas and credentials, while capturing leads and providing curated content.

A robust website effectively serves as a digital hub that empowers each advisor or agent to: 

Welcome visitors to an “always open” digital office

Websites provide the opportunity to create a favorable first impression and share in-depth information that establishes credibility and builds trust. They allow an employee’s personality, experience, and approach to client service to come to life in a way that’s available whenever a prospect is ready to learn, whether that’s 3:00 am on a Tuesday or noon on a Sunday. 

Connect the digital dots 

Consumers search for information in a variety of mediums. There is no “linear path” anymore. A prospective client may start on LinkedIn, the next on Google and a third by reaching out for recommendations via an email to work colleagues. Advisors must meet consumers where they are by making information accessible across all digital touchpoints. Adding a URL that leads to her polished website across all her social media profiles (and in her email signature) achieves this.

Provide a localized and curated experience 

Trust in institutions is at an all-time low, while trust in peers and local experts is at an all-time high. This means that someone is more likely to trust the advisor working with his cousin or best friend than a high-profile company that runs ads during his favorite television show. Giving an advisor the ability to connect at a one-to-one level with local prospects by promoting a local event (such as a charity drive or tailgating event), tailoring content to a specific audience (such as boaters in South Florida), and curating articles or blog posts around his or her coverage area (such as advisory expertise for generational wealth transfer or savings plans for first-time homebuyers) creates a sense of connection and personal relevance that a corporate website or program cannot. 

As they say, you never have a second chance to make a first impression. When busy or anxious consumers are searching for a wealth advisor, mortgage banker, or insurance agent, they are seeking someone with the knowledge, experience and resources to help them achieve their goals. A robust website, acting as the digital hub that connects prospective clients across all possible touchpoints, is a savvy way to own that impression and stand out in the current environment. 

Slow that Scroll: How to Capture Eyeballs for Your Social Videos

If you still need to be convinced of video’s marketing efficacy, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you’re already bought into video and just aren’t sure how to start, this should help get you from lights, to camera, to action.

When the only tool you have is a hammer…

Video works, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for every job. Who are you trying to talk to? What do you hope they’ll think, feel, or do after seeing your post? If after thinking it through it feels like you might be using video for the sake of using video, switch gears and save your filming fun for another day.

The right way to use video

There’s no one right way to use video. Like every other trick in the content marketer’s bag, the magic is in knowing your audience and creating an experience that makes sense within the context of the chosen channel.

Imagine, for example, a financial advisor who’s looking for a way to mix some personal posts in with more professional fare as a way to nurture existing client relationships and stay top of mind. She shoots a 10-second velfie (video selfie) of her daughter and herself showing off their freshly dyed Easter eggs, and posts it to LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram with a text teaser that reads, “Teaching my daughter early to never put all her eggs in one basket. #teachablemoment #assetallocation”. 

By posting a short, relatable video with a wink towards her work, she bridges the different vibes of the three channels she chose with content people are inclined to like, comment on, and share with their friends: “This is that financial advisor I was telling you about. Great person, and really knows her money stuff.

Now imagine another advisor, also looking for a teachable moment, who decides an explainer video would be a great way to help his clients understand asset allocation, while also reminding them of his expertise. He shoots a 7-minute video of himself talking through considerations and theories, then posts it to Facebook with the text lead, “Understanding Asset Allocation.” 

It’s possible he’s such a dynamic speaker that people will be riveted till the final frame. It’s more likely that Facebookers who see his post won’t even slow their scroll for a long video with a title that sounds like homework. Even if their curiosity is piqued enough to take a peek, seven minutes of complex talk with no visual support could lead them to bounce without engaging. Even worse, the experience may put them off, causing them to feel like they’d prefer an advisor who “gets” them better. Yikes!

Which reminds me

Everybody wants to know the optimal duration for video. Here’s the thing: If it’s interesting, relevant, and timely, or if it informs or entertains or even just pleasantly distracts, then people will watch…and keep watching. But if it’s none of those things, they’ll stop, drop, and scroll within seconds.

That said, one of my favorite co-workers from my Franklin Templeton Investments days used to tell his team to “be brief, be bold, and be gone.” He wasn’t talking about social media content, but it’s not bad video advice.

Final cut: Video is a reliable means for brands and people to make connections with clients and prospects in a way that’s more compelling than pictures plus text. Still, the format can’t compensate for storytelling fails, so think about your audience, put yourself in their shoes, then create a content experience worth having.

Bonus: I made a video about how to make a not-horrible video! Watch it here.

Financial Services Exam Priorities: Hearsay Compliance Shares What to Expect in 2021

In keeping with annual tradition, the US Financial Industry Regulators have published their respective Examination Priorities for 2021 (See SEC, FINRA, NAIC, OCC). Not surprisingly, they share a number of overlaps, with the pandemic and the implications of a potential continuation of remote work playing a large role across the board. Regulators continue to examine how financial services firms interact with their audiences, in order to ensure a responsible approach  geared towards fair and balanced outcomes.

Although they’ve clearly outlined specific activities they view as counter to fair and balanced outcomes, it is clear that regulators are moving more towards principles-based enforcement. The perennial reminder to include appropriate disclosures, robust supervision regimes, and consistent books and records is, of course, restated within these priorities letters. However, an important call-out is that the regulators are becoming more explicit with regards to checking for non-monitored activities, in the spirit of refocusing towards outcome-based priorities.  

FINRA, in particular, has expressed the most explicit requirements around proactive monitoring for communications with the public. Not only are member firms required to monitor unapproved channels, they’re also required to stay abreast of new tools, features and channels, and must ensure their policies are up-to-date with regards to what’s permissible on existing and future channels. 

Not all firms are required to adhere to FINRA’s strict requirements; however in our view, this is a critical development, as firms have historically been able to remain confident that a policy-based prohibition on certain communications channels was sufficient for regulators. As the regulatory environment progresses, firms should review their policies and procedures to expand their prohibition policies. Ideally, firms should update their electronic communications surveillance systems to monitor for “channel-hopping” (moving from monitored to non-monitored channels, e.g. email to text), and include robust testing procedures to establish a reasonable basis for disproving channel-hopping.

For assistance updating your policies and procedures, or preparing for upcoming regulatory audits, don’t hesitate to reach out to Hearsay’s in-house Compliance practice, or your sales representative.

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.

Cut through the clutter and get business done with Hearsay Relate

Last year’s global pandemic put every business to the test, and TechGirl Financial was no exception. Victor Gaxiola and his wife Kim had worked in financial services since 2004, but together, they established TechGirl Financial in 2011 to serve a specific niche market: women in technology. Although the pair have always run a digital-first operation, the past year created unanticipated opportunities along with new challenges.

In a recent fireside chat with Brittany Nevares, Customer Marketing Manager at Hearsay, Victor described how the pandemic surfaced new client trends that paved the way for deepening connections during a time of uncertainty. Specifically, Victor shared how he leveraged Hearsay Relate—which enables secure, compliant texting—to nurture more intimate relationships with his clients.

As everyone conditioned themselves to habitual use of new technologies (Zoom much?) to get work done and maintain personal relationships, Victor encountered a double-edged sword.

With a decreased need to be local, geography was no longer an impediment to acquiring new business. “Technology allowed us to open our business to everyone, so that we weren’t limited to the Bay Area, but could also take on clients in North Carolina and Texas as well,” said Victor. However, this meant that his local client base was at risk of being courted by advisors outside his area. Nevertheless, he feels that while the rise of video conferencing afforded clients more selection and variety, it forced advisors to innovate, in order to stand out from the crowd. “This is where a niche focus like women in technology helps us differentiate our practice,” added Victor.

Zoom was a good proxy for client onboarding and reviews in the absence of face-to-face meetings, but to communicate regularly in between Zooms, Victor found that Hearsay Relate integrated seamlessly into his new business model, helping to drive deeper relationships.

“Relate was a game changer in terms of enabling us to make an intimate connection with clients and cut through the clutter,” said Victor. “Every day we’re bombarded with emails and marketing messages, but when it comes to texting, we’re a bit more selective as to who can text us and who we’re willing to respond to.”

Below, Victor shares three of his best practices for Hearsay Relate:

Effectively manage business and logistical transactions

Whether it’s appointment requests, confirmations, reminders, or signature requests, Relate helps you bypass an overflowing inbox to get transactions completed. “If you send a DocuSign request, there are times when the email is ignored; but send a text reminder through Hearsay Relate and it gets done,” said Victor.

You can use Relate to pre-program anything that’s logistical in nature. You can also plan for paperwork or administrative tasks in advance; for example, if there’s anything special that your client would like covered in a meeting, you can send information or pre-work ahead of time, to be better prepared.

Stay on top of your clients’ personal celebrations and milestones

Fortunately, you can also integrate Relate with an existing CRM to pre-program personal texts like birthday greetings, anniversaries, holidays etc., with Relate. Victor likes to get creative with birthday messages, by scheduling a morning greeting embellished with an emoji or image. These small touch points help nurture more intimate connections.

“It’s easy for anybody to understand how Relate helps from a communications and logistics standpoint,” said Victor. “But one day, we received a photograph of mountains and streams from a client in Colorado, who was out on a walk. This kind of unsolicited sharing enriches our relationship with our clients beyond the business,” added Victor.

For him, it’s a two-way street: The business of finance is personal, so it’s important to establish trust with who you’re working with. While he can share endless social posts related to finance, if Victor takes a photo of his dog or cat and refers to them as “the intern,” he gets much more engagement. “The human side—and the humor—goes both ways, and the more we do it, the more we get it back,” he noted. Many of Victor’s clients become a part of his and Kim’s personal lives, which he feels is an unforeseen benefit that Relate has brought to his business.

Establish communication best practices early on

When it comes to communicating with clients, Victor distinguishes between social media (used for scale) vs. Relate (used for 1:1 exchange). Depending on one’s book of business, it’s important to strike a balance between managing time and being efficient. With top clients, Victor ensures that he’s using Relate to reach out no less than once a month; some clients are on a weekly cadence. 

Because three people on his team use Relate (himself, Kim and an Operations Manager), he uses a single Relate number, so that everyone can be in on the conversation. Relate allows users to assign a delegate, so it’s easy to see who’s responding and when. His team includes initials with each text response, so that even clients know who at TechGirl Financial is responding.

As the battleground for client attention continues to evolve, Hearsay Relate helps Victor and the team at TechGirl FInancial “get right to the point without any fluff,” while nurturing more authentic, personal client connections.

A huge thanks to Victor for sharing his insights and best practices for Hearsay Relate with Brittany!

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.

The Shift from Sales Push to Marketing Pull, for Advisor & Agent Success – Part 2

Across our customer base, we’ve seen a strong correlation between a solid social selling content strategy and website traffic and conversions, with as much as 50% of inbound traffic originating from Hearsay Social. The strong sales and marketing partnership these organizations have developed and the strategic approach to content has led to this success.

Corporate marketing teams have a responsibility to coach advisors and agents to create high-credibility social profiles which boosts SEO; this combined with highly-relevant helpful content helps sellers build out their network. As sellers share that targeted content, buyers engage because the sellers professional digital presence and consistent approach to content instills a sense of trust. A well-placed call-to-action draws traffic to the local advisor or corporate website. These website visitors are higher-quality traffic—they stay longer and view more—and then ultimately show higher rates of lead form submissions. Sellers are helping amplify and bring marketing content to life using their own personal social capital, while marketing is helping sellers establish a professional brand and supplying an ongoing stream of thought leadership. Thus, the marketing and sales funnel of today is inextricably tied.

1-to-1 Sales Engagement Still Requires Marketing Partnership

Even in one-to-one sales engagement with clients—email or text outreach—marketing plays an important role.

Instead of calling a list of contacts from top to bottom, it’s critical for sales to engage with those who have shown behavioral triggers that indicate intent or interest. Knowing who to engage when and with what message requires digital tools and data to interpret client signals. And who tracks client signals and delivers the technology to engage across multiple channels? You guessed it – marketing.

Across our most innovative clients, we’ve seen corporate marketing teams develop digital marketing hubs that provide advisors and agents easy access to tools that help them reinvent the way they engage with their networks. From tracking engagements on Hearsay Social posts to following up on lead conversion forms via a compliant text through Hearsay Relate and using Hearsay Social Signals to be the first to congratulate contacts on a new job or recent move – marketing insights allow advisors and agents to follow up in a timely and targeted way.

Digital touches may not all be sales opportunities, but they’re a powerful way for sales to stay connected and deliver the necessary human touch. The right digital tools help sellers scale and deliver more frequent light touches with a greater number of people to build pipeline, influence, and most importantly relationships. It’s surprising what consistently wishing someone a happy birthday or congratulating them on business news can do.

Endgame: Better Serve the Customer

In the end, when everyone is doing their part, marketing and sales together can transform outreach from random and cold to trusted, authentic, and timely. The key is to use digital to deliver relevant, targeted content created by marketing and analytics around what clients are engaging in to elevate advisors and agents to become trusted problem solving partners. This not only lets sellers scale to serve a greater number of clients, but serves the client more personally, on their timeline and channel, around topics that are important to them.

In the video, watch Hearsay’s co-founder and executive chairperson, Clara Shih, break down how sales performs better in partnership with marketing.

Compliance Must Embrace – and Understand – AI

Compliance teams are overstretched. It’s become imperative they find ways to leverage technologies to become leaner, more effective, and better able to handle increasing demands. But they’re not alone in these efforts; the most recent OCIE risk alert indicates that organizations are also responsible for compliance programs that are sufficiently supported with both staff and technology.

As we’ve discussed before, an over-reliance on manual functions means compliance teams are overwhelmed by low/moderate risk issues. Technology and automation have to be considered as part of the equation so that teams can focus on the riskiest issues that matter most to the business.

As technology gets more intelligent, an opportunity arises in artificial intelligence (AI) as a catalyst to enhance the efficiency of a program. As we’ve mentioned, this can lead to a more mature, impactful compliance program and increased trust throughout the organization.

However, as programs mature and manual processes shift into automation, compliance teams will need to understand automation more and more. AI is an important tool, but at some point, compliance will be asked to explain how they supervise and test these tools to know they’re functioning as designed and expected.

At its core, AI is designed to monitor a data set and when a logical trigger is set off, to translate that information into an action. In some instances, that translation is clear and easily understood. But in other situations, especially when the way the AI translates between data sets and actions is covered under a “Black Box” due to intellectual property concerns, it makes explaining it to a regulator more difficult.

As FINRA wrote in its June 2020 report on AI and again reiterated during its November Conference on AI, a compliance professional needs to understand how the AI they are implementing aligns with regulatory expectations. These steps include a documented understanding of the data set-to-action translation and a method to regularly test the system to validate it meets legal and regulatory requirements. When the algorithm informing your AI is hidden in a “Black Box”, this can prove difficult.

It might be time to evaluate your firm’s use of AI in its supervision policies. If in the course of your review, you have any questions on AI and how to prepare for a regulatory audit feel free to reach out to your Hearsay account team to help.