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#HSonAir Podcast: How Great Advisors Sustain Success – An Interview with Julie Littlechild

littlechildAchieving great success is one thing, sustaining it is a completely different challenge.  In the work Julie Littlechild (@jlittlechild) has done with successful advisors she has found key trends in how they find support, stay focused and stay motivated.  In episode 37 Julie shares data from a recent study that examined how advisors define success, what gets in their way, and the tactics they use to drive substantial growth.
Read more about the Six Characteristics of Uncommonly Successful Advisors and find other resources from Julie at JulieLittlechild.com.
Join the conversation with @VictorGaxiola and @EliZelig on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.  If you have a question, comment or suggestion be sure to send us an e-mail to OnAir@HearsayCorp.com.

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4 Tips to Fix Advisor Websites

Nearly every advisor has a website. What’s not as common is a site that engages the target audience and stands out in a crowded digital landscape.
Consumers look for thought leadership and interesting content to determine if an advisor is someone they can trust. As such, your website plays a pivotal role in the client acquisition process. If you want to turn site visitors into clients, here are four things to keep in mind.

1. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Thanks to the availability of information on the internet, consumers are now doing more of their own research on financial products and services than ever before.
Once prospects do a Google search for a financial professional and ultimately make their way to your site, what will they see? Content that hasn’t been refreshed since the day your website went live or fresh, relevant material that is an accurate reflection of your current principles, ideas, and differentiated services?
Make sure your site isn’t frozen in time. It’s far easier to update content regularly to demonstrate that you are in touch than it is to make up for lost business as prospects move on to the next advisor that popped up their search results.

2. It should be easy for interested people to contact you.

While social media helps to forge new relationships and email helps to maintain relationships, websites are invaluable because they can convert business. There’s still no better place to put a call-to-action, such as a quote request widget or a “contact me” form.
By combining these conversion mechanisms with thoughtful, relevant content that speaks to your audience, your website can become a great channel to grow your business. So add that form to make life easier for potential clients and yourself — just make sure it’s simple and quick from a user experience standpoint, or risk losing out due to a prospect’s frustration with the interface.

3. Your site should be a hub, supporting other elements of your online presence.

A great website serves as the foundation for an effective multi-channel online presence. It can and should support other online marketing efforts, such as email or social media campaigns.
For example, if a prospect reads your email, but isn’t ready to reach out directly, your website is a great place to send him or her to get to know you and your services on their own time. Make that connection for prospects — it’s as simple as providing a link.
And just as email and social media draw interest and your website amplifies and continues that engagement, the reverse holds as well. Tools are readily available to integrate your social feeds into your site so that content remains consistent, relevant and dynamic across channels. Cross-pollinating your online content will pay big dividends later in terms of both client acquisition and retention.

4. Your site should show that you are a thought leader.

People want to work with experts who are knowledgeable about the services they provide, the communities they serve and the unique individuals they do business with. An effective site gives you a place to showcase your expertise and present your firm as a sought-after professional resource.
While social media is great for sharing quick thoughts, links and photos, it’s impossible to fully convey you and your business in 140 characters. For that, you have your website.
Create a space on your site devoted to your unique insights. Afraid that you won’t be able to fill it? Think about the questions, both common and uncommon, that clients ask and you will find plenty of fodder. Consider the seasons of the year and what they could imply — paying for college, renovating a home, buying a boat, etc.
Once you get started, you’ll have no shortage of ideas to share, consistently replenishing your site with material that reinforces the image you want to project.
To keep up with shifting client expectations, professional websites are evolving from a Yellow Pages-type listing with simple contact information to a full-fledged content and engagement hub. Stay ahead of the curve by building a website that conveys your personal brand and ideas, integrates your social campaigns, hosts living content and provides multiple touch points for prospects.
If you need help creating one, many services will work with your corporate brand to ensure that you are in keeping with company policies and compliant with industry regulations. By making the commitment to building a stronger, better web presence, you will grow your business.
This post was originally published by ThinkAdvisor.
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Embracing and Applying New Digital Tech Emerges as Top Theme at 2015 LIMRA Distribution Conference

At the LIMRA Distribution Conference for Financial Services last week, technology took center stage and book-ended the 2-½ day conference.  Kicking off the conference, James W. Kerley, Chief Membership Officer of LIMRA and LOMA, focused heavily on technology and challenged distribution leaders to embrace social media and digital technology to enable producers to excel in today’s digital world. Jim echoed thoughts he shared at the 2014 conference: sales is changing, and it’s changing faster than ever before. “To be a leader in the digital age,” Jim said, “you must be a digital savvy leader.”


Jim set two key takeaways for the conference attendees:

  1. The need for growth.
  2. The requirement to not only “Think Differently” but to “Act Differently”


The Future of Client Acquisition
The first outside speaker was Greg Bailey, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Athene USA, who covered The Future of Client Acquisition. It seems notable to have a marketing leader on the main stage at a distribution-focused conference, something I imagine that would have been much less likely a decade or more ago when customers where less influenced by digital channels throughout the buying process.


According to Greg, the future growth of this industry relies on a new and innovative approach to distribution. Greg shared, “4 opportunities to shape the future of customer acquisition and realize your potential”: 1. Mobile Technology, 2. Social Technology, 3. Big Data, and 4. Wearable Technology.
Here’s his recap via Twitter:


Finding, Keeping and Managing Clients: How Technology is Changing the Business of Sales


Another technology-focused session was the closing panel moderated by Knut Olson, SVP of Mission Advancement for Thrivent Financial. Knut is so passionate about technology-enabled distribution teams that he said he believes good distribution leaders should act essentially as CTOs.  For this reason, it makes sense that he brought together Michael Lock, President & COO, Hearsay Social with Jaymie Brill who leads Financial Services, for LinkedIn Sales Solutions and Simon Mulcahy who leads Financial Services for Salesforce.  In leading the discussion, Knut shared his the “dream” of a completely integrated content strategy, to empower distribution at Thrivent Financial.


Much of the discussion on the panel was around how technologies like Hearsay Social, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and Salesforce will continue to evolve, and work together for a seamless customer experience.


Evidence that Distribution Leaders are Embracing Change
This was the third LIMRA Distribution conference that I have attended, and it has been amazing to witness the changing conversation.  Just a few years ago, there was still a focus on “proving ROI” for social and digital initiatives in distribution for financial services.  The focus on technology and evolution at the 2015 conference shows how the industry and its sales leaders recognize that the time to change is now. And, embracing and applying technology is critical for advisors and agents to reach today’s and tomorrow’s customer.
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Will Financial Advisors Become Obsolete?

In episode 23, we discuss a recent op-ed piece by Clara Shih (@ClaraShihhmm...) in FA Magazine–“Will Financial Advisors Become Obsolete?”–analyzing how the ongoing threat of robo-advisors has prompted concerns over the importance of the advisor-investor relationship and how the industry must adapt to the changing landscape of the financial services industry to deliver quality and personalized service.
Join the conversation with @VictorGaxiola and @ronnykerr on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.
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Will Financial Advisors Become Obsolete?

logoThe rise of automated investment services—“robo-advice” firms such as Betterment, FutureAdvisor and Wealthfront—has many advisors wondering if they will still have a client base in a decade. In the last two years alone, these firms have collectively raised over $82 million in venture capital and now reportedly have over $2 billion under management, primarily from millennial clients.
Although their recent exponential growth is impressive, and the threat they pose is real, they still represent a very small percentage of the overall wealth managed by traditional firms. That said, there has been long-standing fear and uncertainty in the financial industry about direct channels wiping out advisors. These fears are not limited to financial advice. The Second Machine Age, a powerful new book from MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, suggests that big data and automation are threatening jobs, not only in manufacturing, clerical and retail but also in professions such as law, education, medicine and, yes, financial services.
Read the rest of this post by Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih at FA Magazine.
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Congratulations to Research magazine's 2014 Advisor Hall of Fame

res1214coverstorymi600-resize-600x338For nearly a quarter of a century, Research magazine has annually recognized advisors in the financial services industry who have proven to hold themselves to a benchmark of excellence worthy of remark across the industry.
Those honored have served a minimum of 20 years in the industry, have acquired substantial assets under management, have demonstrated superior client service and have earned recognition from their peers and the broader community for the honor they reflect on their profession.
Today we want to take a moment to thank and congratulate this year’s winners for their achievements:

  • Lewis Altfest, CEO and Principal Advisor, Atlfest Personal Wealth Management
  • Sally Law, Chairman and CEO, Law & Associates, Raymond James Financial Services
  • Eugene Lerner, Managing Director/Partner/Founder, The Lerner Group, HighTower
  • Robert Reich, Senior Vice President, Wealth Brokerage Services, Wells Fargo Advisors
  • Greg Sarian, Managing Director/Partner/Founder, The Sarian Group, HighTower

Learn more about the winners below and in the full article on ThinkAdvisor.
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Interview with Stephanie Sammons of Wired Advisor: #HSonAir Episode 18

sammonsIn episode 18 of Hearsay Social On the Air we invite Stephanie Sammons (CEO and Founder of WiredAdvisor.com@StephSammons) to discuss the state of social business and digital technologies in financial services. We also explore how Stephanie as a writer, speaker, and podcaster is helping individuals and businesses thrive in their use of social media to grow their influence and connect with clients.
Be part of the conversation with @VictorGaxiola and @ronnykerr on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.
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Improving efficiency and protection with new social media compliance enhancements

As head of legal and compliance at Hearsay Social, it is important to me that we continually provide cutting-edge improvements to the Hearsay Social platform to make the jobs of our compliance and supervision users easier.
Today we announced new enhancements to our compliance capabilities, and I want to share some of the key focus areas for these enhancements.

Streamlining the review and publishing process for static content

Request-Changes-to-Profile-Teal_NEW (1)FINRA sees social media profiles as “static” content and categorizes this content as “advertisements,” meaning profiles require pre-approval by a firm’s principal before they are published. Because we know this review process is a heavily used area of the Hearsay Social platform, we’ve created a new streamlined social profile review, approval, and publishing solution to make it even easier and more efficient for financial professionals to publish compliant profiles.
Many of our customers in highly regulated industries are already using this new profile solution, and I’m happy to report we’ve received extremely positive feedback. With one of the first implementations of the new LinkedIn API, Hearsay Social can now automatically publish approved profile content directly to the network. For supervision professionals, this new functionality ensures public profiles match what they have approved, minimizing risk for the organization and easing compliance for profiles. Plus, it saves advisors and agents the time and headache of having to update their profile manually after new content has been approved.

More pre-approval functionality for dynamic content

We heard from some of our customers that they wanted a better way to pre-approve dynamic social activity from advisors and agents. With recent enhancements, Hearsay Social now lets supervisors pre-approve social engagements such as Likes or comments before they go live on the social networks.

Archive support for photos

An effective social business program is not just text-based. In order to help our customers take advantage of all types of social content, we now provide the ability for firms to archive photos posted by agents and advisors through the platform. This ensures they’re capturing this type of activity in their records, even if it is deleted or removed from the social network at a later date.

Increasing context for improved efficiency

In addition to delivering a new static profile solution, we have added more note and attachment fields so supervision users can share comments or context with each other or advisors during the supervision process. These new fields are also pushed to the archive systems so that complete context is available upon record review. In addition, Hearsay Social now provides enhanced searching and sorting to supervision users so that they can be even more efficient when reviewing or auditing social business activities of agents and advisors.
We hope these enhancements will make our customers’ jobs easier and their social business programs more effective and compliant. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you’d like more information about the new solutions above or other functionality of the Hearsay Social platform.
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Research: Financial advisors improve client retention and increase AUM with digital and social tools

Digital Wealth Management researchAt Hearsay Social, one of the most frequent questions we hear from the financial services industry is this: “What is the ROI of social media?”
Depending on who you ask, there are a few answers. What we’ve seen is that social media ROI is largely qualitative, with a social media presence alone resulting in new business or better relationships with existing clients. Additionally, the ROI for each firm will depend on the goals associated with that firm’s particular social strategy. For many firms, the first measure was growth, connectivity, and having a compliant social presence with little to no infractions.
Beyond that, however, we’ve heard countless anecdotes directly from financial advisors attributing increased business to their use of social media. Backing up these anecdotes, Accenture recently published a report entitled Reimagining Wealth Management for the Digital Age, which explores not only how digital technologies and social media are changing the wealth management industry, but also what results have been seen.
Here are a few of the best results:

  • Over half of financial advisors have found and/or converted clients via digital channels
  • 77% of financial advisors have improved client retention via digital/social tools
  • 74% of financial advisors have increased assets under management (AUM) via digital/social tools

Besides these and other eye-opening statistics, Accenture’s 20-page report analyzes how digital technologies and the new “digital generation” have disrupted traditional ways of doing business in the wealth management industry. Near the report’s conclusion, the consulting firm offers three essential components that will help financial firms, advisors, and their clients find success in the new digital era:

  1. Empowerment: of both client and advisor, building trust by making clients better informed
  2. Engagement: to enable a more collaborative relationship between client and advisor
  3. Agility: of both mindset and business model, to adjust rapidly to the speed of change

To learn more, download the full Accenture report here.
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Ignore, innovate or die: A new era for financial services firms and advisors

At the recent LIMRA Annual conference, innovation and opportunity took center stage. The theme of this year’s conference was “The Leadership Challenge: Connecting in a Distracted World,” highlighting for executive-level conference attendees the importance of evolving their firms to grow their business in today’s digital era.

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Left to right: Joe Monk (State Farm), Rand Harbert (State Farm), Bob Kerzner (LIMRA), Clara Shih (Hearsay Social), Michael Lock (Hearsay Social), Scott Davison (OneAmerica), Rino D’Onofrio (RBC Insurance), and Kenny Massey (Modern Woodmen).

Presenting at the conference were industry speakers and moderators including Scott Davison (President and CEO, OneAmerica), Joe Monk (chief administrative officer, State Farm Life), Bob Kerzner (President and CEO, LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global, Inc.), Kenny Massey (President and CEO, Modern Woodmen of America), Deanna Mulligan (President and CEO, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America), William Wheeler (President, Americas, MetLife), and Larry Zimpleman (Chairman, President, and CEO, Principal Financial Group), as well as external speakers including Lou Gerstner (former Chairman and CEO, IBM Corporation), Clara Shih (Founder and CEO, Hearsay Social), David Plouffe (SVP for Policy and Strategy, Uber), Don Yaeger (President, Greatness), and Jason Dorsey (The Gen Y Guy, The Center for Generational Kinetics).
Speakers focused on a few key consistent themes throughout the conference:

Adapting to changing demographics

One trend that fueled the topic of change was Millennials. According to LIMRA studies, 37% of Gen Y are unemployed, marrying later, and less likely to trust firms and individuals. In spite of all that, Millennials are more likely to buy life insurance than any other generation. They represent 80 million individuals spending $1 trillion in the US alone, 70% of whom want to learn more about financial education.
Conference speakers such as Bob Kurzner, David Ploufe and Jason Dorsey recognized that this segment of consumers represents a huge opportunity for financial services firms – especially their advisors, but that Millennials are going to buy differently than Boomers.

Adapting to the new buyer journey

Reaching Millennials will require very different methods than past tactics of “smiling and dialing.” For example, Millennials will decide to refer individuals and professionals they trust based on their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. In addition, Millennials consider phone calls an invasion of privacy, preferring engagement via text, email (only reading the subject line, of course), and social media.


Millennial buying drivers also differ, requiring financial education about different topics than their parents. According to Deanna Mulligan of Guardian Life, Millennials seek a secure platform for paying off loans and/or taking care of parents as opposed to buying a home and saving for the college education of their kids – more traditional priorities from the past.

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Left to right: Bob Kerzner (LIMRA), Deanna Mulligan (Guardian Life), William Wheeler (MetLife), and Larry Zimpleman (Principal Financial Group).

The implication is that advisors need to adapt to consumer changes – both in how they engage and where they engage.

Adapting to technology

With the rapid emergence of cloud technology, mobile devices, and social media over the past several years, consumers – and not just Millennials – now expect different things from businesses. The conference highlighted key technologies that require advisors to adapt to stay relevant in the digital era:

Social media, mobile, & big data

Kicking off the conference, Bob Kerzner highlighted how industry firms need to enable agents to be authentic and engage as individuals, not as brands, especially since the financial services industry is among the least trusted industry (per a recent Gallup survey). Deanna Mulligan also said that social media is required to be where clients are and that social media is key to engaging with clients. Larry Zimpleman agreed and offered that, for the middle and upper income clients, there are primarily two locations to reach potential retail clients: in the workplace and on social media.


The good news is that, based on a LIMRA study earlier this year, 93% of life insurance companies now have social media programs in place vs. 55% in 2010. 70% of surveyed life insurance firms now have a social business program for their advisors.


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Clara with Kenny Massey (Modern Woodmen) on the main stage at LIMRA Annual.

Clara Shih, in her presentation, “The Future of Distribution and Marketing – Staying Relevant in the Digital Era”, discussed how today’s consumers and customers have vastly different client expectations than those from the past. This has primarily been driven over the past five years by rapid growth of technology acceptance, from the Internet to mobile devices to social media. This expectation isn’t driven by competitors in the financial services industry, but rather by the likes of Amazon, Starbucks and Uber.
Clara also highlighted for the audience how social media addresses three key challenges that the Life Insurance industry faces today, including (1) changing client expectations, (2) an aging agent force coupled with the generational gap between agent and new clients, and (3) an outdated distribution model that needs to increase productivity at scale.
Finally, Clara challenged the leadership in the room to innovate beyond social within their firms, revealing the opportunity to enable a true omni-channel experience for clients as well as the opportunity to leverage technology for information discovery, data mining, and informed interactions to simplify the customer experience from signing up to underwriting to customer service.
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Clara with Kenny Massey (Modern Woodmen) on the main stage at LIMRA Annual.

With today’s big data & predictive analytics technology being more business-friendly along with the right models and data specialists, the industry has the opportunity to apply behavioral economics and data mining to better understand their clients.
In closing, Shih offered three final actions that leaders can take to lead their organizations for success in the digital age:

  1. Commit as management
  2. Incorporate into business process – training, prospecting, etc.
  3. Let early adopters do the talking

Like other industries, the financial services and insurance industry has three choices: ignore these trends and opportunities, innovate, or die. Clearly, the sentiment during and after the conference was that life insurance companies must embrace technology, adapt and integrate this into their training and internal processes, and enable their advisors to engage their clients at scale through technology, strong leadership, and innovation partners.
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