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Webinar Recap: Highlights from Putnam Investments’ Annual Social Advisor Survey

In a recent webinar, Mark McKenna, Putnam Investments’ Head of Global Marketing, joined Hearsay’s VP of Marketing, Leslie Leach, to highlight key findings from Putnam Investments’ 8th Annual Social Advisor Study, along with year-end data from Hearsay’s platform. Not surprisingly, this year’s results were a little different, as agents and advisors alike pivoted their strategies to adapt to a socially distanced world.

Here are four key findings from the program: 

Social media not only sustains, but drives new client relationships
With a huge shift away from in-person communications and events, digital noise on traditional channels increased significantly, with an accompanying decrease in engagement. Although advisors may have already been connected with clients on social media pre-pandemic, the crisis drove an increase in sheer volume of interactions. Not only were advisors expected to communicate with current clients, they also leveraged their online presence to garner new business, exploiting features like LinkedIn’s view of 2nd and 3rd degree connections, InMail and Sales Navigator to effectively prospect to an expanded network. The study also found that lesser-used networks like Instagram had higher engagement rates, highlighting an area of opportunity for advisors.

Retaining authenticity remains critical for breakthrough
Being able to stand out among the noise is now a crucial day-to-day consideration for advisors. Not only do they need to provide thought leadership via social media, they also need to be more personal, striking a balance between providing corporate content and connecting on a more authentic level with clients. Advisors who shared more personalized content were rewarded with higher engagement rates across their social media accounts. 

Pro tip: Leslie recommended leveraging Hearsay’s modified content templates as a scalable solution. “By their nature, modified content templates are easier and faster to review from a supervision perspective, combining corporate scale with the ability to easily personalize content at an individual level.”

Direct messaging satisfies the need for speedier response time
Because advisors could no longer hold in-person meetings, the use of digital tools like social DMs, text messages, mobile calls, and emails, grew significantly, along with a more pervasive client expectation for quicker response times. 

An advisor’s response time can make or break a client relationship, and advisors rose to the challenge. Texting conversations on Relate, Hearsay’s compliant texting solution were up 3x compared with 2019, while the average response rate was 13 minutes, versus the industry standard of 14 hours for an email. With more widespread acceptance, and the ability to enforce compliance, in-app messaging is proving to be an indispensable tool for field teams. 

Support from the home office matters
With a shift to remote work, advisors still require the same amount of support—if not more—from their home offices. Advisors all learn differently, so remembering that different training modalities work for different people, and providing various learning tracks, templates and models, helps to speed adoption. It’s important for advisors to connect where their clients want to connect, and with proper support for the home office, advisors can be more efficient in their client engagements.

A huge thanks to both Mark and Leslie for sharing the key findings and observations from Putnam’s Social Advisor Study and Hearsay’s 2020 platform usage and results! Sign up to access the on-demand webinar here.

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.

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.

Leading Through Change: How to Motivate and inspire Teams into 2021

Across the course of 2020, a multitude of articles have been released sharing leadership strategies to help us navigate through uncertain and trying times. Leaders across organizations have devoured this guidance as they found there to be no playbook for 2020 and craved expert insights. But now, as we turn into 2021, leaders are asking themselves, how can I do more than just progress into the new year; how can I bring a renewed sense of motivation and inspiration to my team?

We asked Kim Sharan, former CMO and President of Financial Planning and Wealth Strategies at Ameriprise Financial, current board director, and consultant, to join an intimate roundtable discussion with senior financial services leaders to explore exactly that. What strategies can we bring with us into 2021 to break free from leadership fatigue and burst into 2021 revitalized.

To start, Sharan suggests we shift our mindset around work/life balance and move towards the concept of designing a work/life integration. Especially in times when there is no clear break or boundary between these two worlds, it’s necessary to reframe our approach and adjust our viewpoint. For example, as these two worlds meld into one, it is critical that we take intentional breaks. As we all lose control of our own calendars and impromptu conversations have morphed into scheduled calendar invites, it’s important to pay special attention to time management, plan your day, and be intentional about it. Schedule time blocks for activities that would naturally be happening as you commuted or walked from the bathroom back to your desk. Schedule walk breaks, nourishment breaks, and especially time to think. Science shows that some of our best work comes when we’re unintentional, and we need to create white space to ignite our best creative.

Sharan also proposed that to succeed in this new environment, we don’t need to create a completely new leadership playbook, but should consider revisiting the basics and reframe them in today’s world. Referencing Covey’s ‘Big Rocks’ paradigm shift, Sharan encouraged attendees to focus on the big rocks and get ultra clear on the most critical priorities. Only when you have a clear line of sight to, and alignment on, priorities can you truly differentiate between productivity and busyness.

Aligning on priorities is just the start of the battle. Accompanying those priorities with a strong project plan and project management is crucial to success in a remote work dynamic. Sharan emphasized the importance of taking the time to develop a clear, clean, accessible project plan including tasks, owners, milestones, timelines, and goals and metrics. Bringing together the right cross-functional team, creating a reasonable recurring meeting cadence, and keeping a maniacal focus on consistent communication are all critical components of bringing the plan to life.

So, give yourself permission to take a beat, go for a walk, find a way to connect with your team members on a more personal level, and reset for 2021. Leaders will need to continue to strike a delicate balance of moving the business forward and supporting our teams – and we need a clear head to hit the ground running.

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.

The Shift from Sales Push to Marketing Pull, for Advisor & Agent Success – Part 1

It’s hard to remember that just 10 years ago, smart phones were not the norm. Most people weren’t on LinkedIn. Marketing was relatively simple, focusing on press releases, collateral like brochures, and advertising. Sales was pretty straightforward too. Selling financial services and insurance primarily involved cold calling to set up in-person seminars and meetings.

Fast forward to today. Usage of Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites has exploded. Everyone has a mobile device and everyone ‘Googles’ when they’re thinking of buying something. People research their options and go into even their first sales conversations as an educated buyer. At the same time, government regulators around the world have stepped up their privacy protections which make cold calling much more difficult for salespeople.

Over the last decade, these new consumer behaviors, technologies, and restrictions in consumer privacy have led to the shifts summarized below.

Four Fundamental Shifts in Selling

  1. Sales people are trusted advisors, cultivating professional networks over an entire career. Cold calling is a thing of the past.
  2. Selling is all about attracting clients using educational content. Sellers are partners and problem solvers. 
  3. Digital analytics arm salespeople with intelligence about who to engage with, what they are interested in, and when to engage them. No more blind ‘call downs.’
  4. Engagement across a multitude of digital channels is necessary to acquire and build client relationships, (rather than in-person events, especially now), and allows salespeople to scale like never before.

The Power of Sales & Marketing Collaboration

These shifts have pushed once separate sales and marketing organizations toward an essential partnership for success. Webcasts, white papers, research reports, and blog posts are the thought leadership and credibility magnets that get prospects interested in engaging with organizations. Sales teams depend on marketing for this content and the behavioral analytics to know when to engage with who and on what channel.

In the video, watch Hearsay’s co-founder and executive chairperson, Clara Shih, walk through these shifts and their impact on today’s sales funnel.

The Advisory Firm of the Future: A Case Study

We’ve written about the advisor of the future and the fundamental shifts in both client and advisor attitudes, behaviors, and relationships (not to mention the recent shift to remote-first work) that are driving adoption of new technologies for client engagement. And in order to meet expectations as the client engagement model evolves and stand out from the competition, firms need to be forward-thinking in how they support their field.

Not long ago, we were lucky enough to get an inside look at a visionary firm launching cutting edge programs to support their force of over 3,000 independent broker dealers and corporate RIAs. Amy Webber, President & CEO of Cambridge Investment Research, sat down with us to share how she and her team are getting Cambridge-affiliated advisors future-ready, today.

First, Webber shared the three things she sees as critical for advisors to embrace to be successful, today and in the future:

  • The advisor of the future needs to stay innovative and leverage digital engagement heavily.
  • They need to use technology to do the right things and delegate tasks that are not value add.
  • There must be a relentless focus on personalization and customization.

The ‘New Century Council’

Cambridge is ultra focused on making sure their advisors are enabled to meet the three requirements outlined above. They have a ‘New Century Council’ made up of progressively minded advisors and corporate team members, including Webber, that meet regularly to discuss tools they’ll need to be successful into the upcoming decade.

Several years ago, the Council raised texting as a channel that would be critical to success. Not long after, they began exploring solutions and started using Hearsay Relate. Webber herself is a Relate power user and shows strong executive sponsorship by texting with the field. “Every generation is texting. We pushed ourselves to think about how Relate could be used by the home office to communicate with the field, and started the journey believing we had to lead by example,” she explained.

Webber shared a story that demonstrated both the power of their onboarding strategy and how Camridge uses texting to build relationships with personal messages. One of their top producers was resistant to texting, so Webber personally helped get him set up and told him she expected him to send her a text once a day. When he missed a day, she checked in to see how he was doing. This showed him how his clients feel when they get that type of personal connection from him. Incidentally, Webber shares her Relate number with any of her 3,000 advisors who ask.

Though their advisors are all independent, Cambridge carries the cost of Relate for two reasons. First, it’s a critical tool that makes advisors efficient and productive. Second, and perhaps more important, it’s essential for risk mitigation. They weren’t willing to take a chance that compliance requirements weren’t being met.

Centralized Contact Service Center

Many advisors join when they’re embarking on the process to build their own small business and need or want to leverage the infrastructure of a larger company. In addition to offering Relate to all advisors, Cambridge also offers a centralized support center. By joining Cambridge, they get technology, practice management, products and services, compliance, regulation, and—for a fee—a centralized contact service center at a scale they couldn’t build by themselves.

The contact service center, a team of virtual office assistants, is one of Cambridge’s most popular offerings, for both solo and larger offices. The support staff’s pictures go up on the advisor/agency website, they talk to clients, pick up delegated activity in Relate, and clients know them as part of the team. This extended team helps the advisors deliver that level or personal and customized service that clients expect without the heavy lift of increasing headcount. It’s perfect for advisors/agencies who don’t have the bandwidth or desire to staff and train a support team – and enables them to hit the ground running.

A Blueprint for Success

With a continuing eye toward future trends, Cambridge has ensured that their advisors are ready for today and the future. When COVID struck, they were prepared to handle the 100% increase in text messages in the following month, thanks to the foresight of their New Century Council and Webber’s leadership in getting Hearsay Relate in place well before the crisis happened. And while they had a 5-year plan for digital transformation that now must be steeply accelerated, their ability to adapt and lead by example will serve them well.

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.