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Driving the Modernization of Financial Services in Asia

shutterstock_344562560Last week, I had the pleasure of returning to Hong Kong, where I am from originally, to officially open our Asia headquarters. Along with Jason Suen, founding Managing Partner of Hearsay Social Asia, I met with leaders of local and regional private banks and carriers to discuss their business challenges, growth opportunities, and how Hearsay Social can support them.
After many conversations, one thing was clear: Banks and agencies in Asia must modernize their field organizations in order to survive. Take insurance, for example. The high-churn, part-time agent model is unsustainable. And bancassurance, despite its allure from a margin and seeming turnkey perspective, threatens to disintermediate carriers from the all-important customer relationship.
Firms know they must help their agents professionalize, modernize, and digitize their field organizations to ensure continued growth and relevancy. Knowing that nearly every customer decision journey in Asia today starts with a Google search to validate not only the firm but the specific relationship manager’s education, experience, and qualifications, firms must enable each agent, private banker, and intermediary to be findable and reachable with a branded website, LinkedIn profile, and Facebook business page. 
All of the data points to Asian consumers as the most active and advanced users of social and mobile: More than 90 percent of online adults in Asia are on social media, and 97 percent of active social media users in Asia access their networks on their mobile devices. And yet banks and insurers have minimal digital presence. 
The opportunity to bridge this gap is enormous. This is why we have decided to set up shop in Asia and today, I’m excited to announce we’ve added three marquee customers – Manulife Asia, AXA Hong Kong, and MetLife Hong Kong – as well as the expansion of our Predictive Omnichannel Suite into the region. You can view the press announcement here.
All three firms understand that in addition to investing in corporate digital programs and initiatives, it’s critical to empower agents on digital so they can 1) build more productive, lasting relationships with today’s always-connected, social, mobile consumer, 2) establish a trusted, professional online presence that’s easily findable by Web-savvy prospects, and 3) confidently grow their networks without the risk of infringing company policy or guidelines.
I’m proud that our deep relationships with these global companies are – and will continue to be – a critical driver of our international growth in not just Asia, but Europe, North America, and beyond. We now have more than 130,000 advisors and agents using our products in more than 20 countries. The Hearsay Enterprise Platform, too, is evolving rapidly to provide expanded language support and other features to serve our international customers.
Thanks to the global Hearsay Social team for tirelessly supporting our customers, and to our customers for their continued partnership and belief in us. I look forward to many more milestones together.
Our Asia expansion was covered in the following daily newspapers:

董事Jason Suen一起會見了一些本地以及地區性私人銀行的領導。我們討論了他們
的在業務中存在的挑戰,發展機遇以及Hearsay Social能帶來怎麼樣的幫助。

上被搜索到,無論是通過LinkedIn Profile(領英個人資料)還是Facebook(臉書
感謝我們Hearsay Social全球組對於我們用戶不畏疲倦的支持,感謝我們用戶對於

Social business at LIMRA #LLSMC: AXA Advisors, MassMutual, and Hearsay Social to share success stories

Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih and Jim Kerley (President of LL Global Services and Chief Membership Officer, LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global), at LLSMC last year. Photo courtesy of Corina Roy (@CorinaRoy)

Next week the Hearsay Social team is excited to be converging on Boston for the 2014 Social Media Conference for Financial Services hosted by LIMRA, a worldwide research, consulting, and professional development organization representing hundreds of insurance and financial services companies around the world.
As LIMRA’s Elite Strategic Partner, we look forward to connecting with business leaders and sharing the stage with sales and marketing executives like Kathleen Mayko (Director, Brand Marketing, Life Company Marketing, MassMutual) and Nicole Pesce (Director, Head of Digital – AXA Advisors) to discuss how today’s producers can use social media to build relationships, amplify their brand, and grow sales.
See below for a summary of all the conference activities where you can find Hearsay Social.

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Winning as a Team @ MassMutual: Social Media Program Best Practices

WHEN: 10:30 to 11:30 am on Thursday, August 21
WHO: Kathleen Mayko (Director, Brand Marketing, Life Company Marketing, MassMutual), Doug Morrin (Assistant Vice President & Counsel, Law Department, MassMutual), Corina Roy (Assistant Vice President, Field Digital, Life Company Marketing, MassMutual), and Victor Gaxiola (Customer Advocacy Manager, Hearsay Social) as moderator.
WHAT: Successful social media programs require cross-functional coordination and efforts within your company. But this is easier said than done. How do you coordinate a social media program with key areas? How do you ensure various stakeholders and managing teams are on the same page? Join a panel of social media program stakeholders from MassMutual representing Corporate Marketing, Field Digital Marketing and Legal, and hear their perspectives and learnings on what it takes to work together to drive success on social.


Successful Social Media for Advisors: A Fireside Chat with Nicole Pesce, AXA Advisors

WHEN: 4:00 to 4:45 pm on Thursday, August 21
WHO: Nicole Pesce (Director, Head of Digital – AXA Advisors) and Michael Lock (President & COO, Hearsay Social)
WHAT: In an industry built on relationships and trust, to maximize the value of social media, financial services firms must have a strong corporate presence on social, as well as a strong advisor presence on social across all the local communities and clients it serves. Join Michael Lock and Nicole Pesce to hear how AXA developed its social media program for its advisors, how it is driving higher adoption and advisor productivity on social, and where it’s headed next.


Hearsay Social is LIMRA’s Elite Strategic Partner and endorsed social media solution for member firms to learn about and be successful on social media.

2nd Annual Silver Bowl Awards

WHEN: 5:15 to 6:00 pm on Thursday, August 21
WHO: Hosted by James W. Kerley, LLIF (President of LL Global Services and Chief Membership Officer, LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global) and Michael Lock (President & COO, Hearsay Social)
WHAT: Do you want to know what great social media looks like in financial services? The #SilverBowlAwards are here to answer the question on everyone’s minds. Join us for an hour of fun and learning as the winner of the #SilverBowlAwards are announced. Categories include Best Use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Best Use of Social Media by an Advisor, and Social Good.
We look forward to seeing you at each of these sessions, at the Hearsay Social booth, and online at #LLSMC!

Mining for diamonds: Tips from GAMA LAMP on how to attract and retain the next generation of talent

GAMA LAMP logoThe challenge of attracting new producers to the insurance industry was a recurring theme at GAMA LAMP. In his opening keynote, CEO of the Wealth Advisory Group and retiring GAMA LAMP president, Howard Elias, urged the attendees to tackle this issue head on. “Our industry helps everyday people prepare for their futures, but we need to ensure that continues into the future,” he said. “The industry needs new talent and you are the leaders who will make that happen.”
As the advisor workforce ages, many firms are struggling to attract and retain the next generation of talent. Younger candidates often have a negative perception of the industry and the complex regulatory environment is only compounding the issue. “We need to educate candidates about the value of our profession,” explained Howard. “In addition to providing lucrative financial compensation, unlimited growth potential and flexibility, our industry lets [producers] help their communities in tangible and intangible ways. And that can be a powerful motivator.”

The social media advantage

To reach younger candidates, “… you need to be where they are,” said Hearsay Social CEO, Clara Shih. “These potential recruits look for opportunities through their online social networks. By empowering your advisors in the field with social media, you can amplify your recruiting messaging and reach candidates you might not have connected with otherwise.”
Clara also explained how digital channels help new advisors become more productive. “New producers in their twenties aren’t going to want to cold call,” she said. “Encourage them to reach out to their online social networks in the way you used to encourage your producers to reach out to alumni or former co-workers.”
In a highly attended keynote, “Gen Y Guy” Jason Dorsey described what motivates millennial candidates. “We have short attention spans,” he explained. “Don’t send us an email. Don’t call us on the phone. If you want our attention, send us a text or connect with us on social media.”

“Some of the best recruits we find come in through social media,” said Pete Gillespie of Freedom 55 Financial in his leading practices session. “After four years, 82% of the candidates we source through LinkedIn are still with our firm.” Once Freedom 55 Financial engages with a candidate, “we have them go through a consistent recruiting process where we get to know them well, understand what motivates them to succeed, and helps them understand who we are as a firm and exactly what we offer,” he said.
Successful recruiting through LinkedIn was described in several other sessions. Georgette Geller of AXA Advisors shared how LinkedIn has helped her firm find new talent. And John Maxwell, founder of EQUIP and the John Maxwell Company, also shared how his clients have used the social network to reach untapped candidates.

Building a legacy

Harry Hoopis, CEO of the Hoopis Performance Network and formerly of the Northwestern Mutual firm the Hoopis Financial Group, reminded attendees to carefully consider whom they bring into their firms. “Ask yourselves is this someone you’d want to have over for dinner? Are they someone you’d want to introduce to your grandchildren?” he said. “Most importantly, is this someone you’d want to be the last candidate you bring into your firm? Is he or she a good testament to your legacy?”

“You can’t afford to hire the wrong candidate,” echoed John Maxwell. “Think about how much the wrong person costs you in time and money. We all know that only one in four new advisors will make it through their first three years, but always be thinking about how you can improve those odds and grow your firm.”
As new producers join the industry, firms must prepare them for the realities of life in the field. “Don’t sugar coat how hard it is to become successful,” said Harry. “This is the worst career for those who shouldn’t be here. But for those who can succeed, this is the best career they could ever ask for.”

Ensuring Compliance in 2014: Lessons learned from AXA and FINRA in a Hearsay Social webinar

Last week we were excited to present our first webinar of the year, Ensuring Social Media Compliance in 2014. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend and especially our speakers, Windy Lawrence (Chief Compliance Officer, Lead Director and Associate General Counsel at AXA Distributors, LLC and Head of Advertising Compliance for AXA Advisors LLC), Amy Sochard (Senior Director of FINRA’s Advertising Regulations Department), and Yasmin Zarabi (Hearsay Social’s Vice President of Legal and Compliance).
Many of you asked if we could outline the topics we discussed during the event. Here are some of the points we covered:

Tips for creating and managing your social media policy

  • Carefully draft a clear, concise and comprehensive social media policy that considers the unique requirements of your firm. (For more information, see our white paper on How to Create Your Social Media Plan and Policy.)
  • Get input from business units across your organization on the policy as early in the process as possible.
  • Consider implementing a social media program with part of your organization before rolling it out company-wide.
  • Provide training to anyone in your organization who will be using social media on behalf of your firm.
  • Ensure users understand the policy and how it will be enforced by training as described above, and by requiring them to sign attestations agreeing to comply to the policy.
  • Review and update your policy at least once a year. Have users re-sign the attestation annually.

Get to know FINRA Rule 2210 (Communications with the Public)

  • FINRA Rule 2210 sets revised standards regarding broker-dealer communications with the public.
  • The rule defines categories of communication that are relevant to social media as outlined below.

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Supervising social media

  • A registered principal must review social media sites that will be used for business prior to their usage. Such sites must be reviewed online, in their true form.
  • Only approve users that you believe can and will abide by your firm’s social media policy.
  • Supervise content regularly to make sure users aren’t violating the rules and policies. Conduct spot checks as needed.
  • Consider defining categories of supervision based on different roles, applicable state laws, social network features and different use-cases (e.g. using a network for research versus communication.)

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Update on 2013 FINRA Spot Checks

  • FINRA began doing spot checks of registered member firms’ social media usage during the summer of 2013.
  • Spot checks examined how firms and specifically their top producing registered representatives were using social media for business.
  • Initial findings were positive: most firms produced reports that were in compliance with FINRA rules.
  • The issues that FINRA identified were mostly around record-keeping and supervision processes that didn’t comply with requirements.
  • For more information, see the spot check guidance page on FINRA’s website.

Consider Mobile as Part of Social for 2014

  • 71% of people use mobile devices to access social media.
  • Consider mobile when drafting or updating your overall social media policy and strategy.
  • Regulations require firms to monitor and archive social media communications no matter how they are made.
  • Make sure your compliance system is able to capture all communications on social regardless of whether they made at home, from the office or through mobile devices.

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Thanks again to the speakers and attendees of this webinar. Understanding and navigating the complex regulations can be challenging and time-consuming, and we were lucky to have perspectives from Amy and Windy to help us better understand the regulatory requirements.

Disclaimer: The material available on this blog is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. We make no guarantees on the accuracy of the information provided herein.

Webinar: Join us for Ensuring Social Media Compliance in 2014

Social media is a driving force that no industry can afford to ignore. As more and more of their clients go online, financial services firms are learning to leverage the power of social while maintaining compliance. But understanding and navigating the complexity of regulations is challenging and time-consuming.
Join us on Thursday, January 30th for our webinar, Ensuring Social Media Compliance in 2014. We’ll look at the latest compliance trends affecting the industry and take a deep dive into the supervisory process.

Yasmin Zarabi, Amy Socher, and Windy Lawrence

Yasmin Zarabi, Hearsay Social’s Head of Legal and Compliance, will be moderating the event. Amy Sochard, Senior Director of FINRA’s Advertising Regulations Department, and Windy Lawrence, Lead Director and Associate General Counsel at AXA Distributors LLC,  will join her to examine:

  • The latest industry regulations and new disclosure considerations
  • The preliminary results of FINRA’s 2013 spot check
  • The potential impact of mobile devices on compliance

The event takes place Thursday, January 30th at 10-11 am PT / 1-2 pm ET. Space is limited, so remember to save your space today. This will be your only chance to hear this lively discussion.
See you there!

Insights from the 2014 ACLI Executive Roundtable

ACLI logoThis week, I was honored to participate in the ACLI Executive Roundtable with 120 insurance industry CEOs. I’d like to sincerely thank my hosts ACLI President Dirk Kempthorne, ACLI Chairman Johnny Johns, and State Farm CAO Joe Monk for including me.
From attending the event, it was clear that everyone deeply cares about the industry’s collective mission to provide financial security for everyday people to live their lives without having to fear for the worst. Hearsay Social couldn’t be more honored or more proud to contribute in whatever small way we can to such a noble purpose.

The Rise of the Social Economy

In less than a decade, the social network economy has gone from zero to over $150B in revenue. The implications for the insurance industry are immense. For example, Facebook is now the online directory for everyone, becoming the ‘Yellow Pages’ of our time.
Agents need to have a presence on social media because that’s where their customers and prospects are. Clients actively use services like Facebook to learn about and engage with their friends, products, brands and current events. But simply being listed or having a page on Facebook isn’t enough. Industry representatives also need training on how to become effective Social Advisors. They need to understand how to be proactive, continually foster new connections, and listen and react to important events in the lives of their customers and prospects.
During my keynote, we took a real-time poll of the audience. We found that for a whopping 90% of CEOs, social media has elevated to a board and management team-level discussion.

Has the topic of social media for business come up in meetings with your management team or board of directors?

To succeed, social business initiatives need cross-functional coordination and planning. And all too often, social media initiatives get stuck in marketing or compliance where there’s not enough insight into the organization’s overall business strategy. Today, more and more CEOs understand that the push towards social business needs to come from the top down and are getting directly involved in driving adoption forward

Social In the Real World

This was the viewpoint shared by New York Life CEO Ted Mathas and AXA CEO Mark Pearson who joined me in the latter half of the discussion. Each took turn describing how they’ve made social business a company-wide priority and to foster a culture of innovation.
In my next blog post, I’ll talk more about the insights we shared and how financial services companies can embrace social to reinvent the industry.

AXA and Hearsay Social share international plans at LeWeb

As we wrote in our last blog post recapping the LeWeb conference in Paris, the next 10 years of social business will be bigger, smarter, more mobile, and–according to both Hearsay Social and AXA, a global leader in financial services–more international.

In an interview with LeWeb founder Loic Le Meur (@loic), who asked about our recent $30 million round of funding, Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih (@clarashih) explained that growing outside North America is a majority priority for the next few years: “Hearsay Social has very big ambitions and a significant focus for us is around international expansion,” Clara shared with the audience.

This global theme was echoed by AXA’s Chief Marketing & Distribution Officer Frédéric Tardy, who announced a global partnership with Hearsay Social while on stage at LeWeb:

“For distribution we have a lot of agents and advisors at a global level. We signed an agreement with Hearsay Social that allows advisors to use social networks in an authentic way. Through social we have seen significantly more business in the U.S.–my goal is to contribute to transform the company globally.”

Frédéric’s global vision focused on a number of key areas, from joining the new digital frontier to renewing old-fashioned business sense:

“The future belongs to traditional companies that know how to transition to digital. The key point for us at AXA is trust. Trust is the new currency. Over the next ten years we will be successful if we use our traditional expertise, continue to build the trust of our customers, and embrace the new opportunity with digital.”

If you missed Fred’s conversation with Marion Moreau (Editor in Chief, FrenchWeb) at LeWeb, watch below: