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Recapping The Financial Services Forum and Hearsay Social's Social Media and Compliance Event in London

The following post was written by Ellie Kirk of The Financial Services Forum and Anita Moorthy, Head of EMEA Marketing at Hearsay Social. 
The first part of 2015 saw The Financial Services Forum and Hearsay Social collaborate on a project to help educate the financial services industry on social media and compliance best practices. UK event_1
Following a series of interactive breakfast meetings, an industry working group was formed that included senior marketing and compliance decision makers across the UK financial services industry. Later, a social media and compliance best practices guide was presented to the FCA for comment. This culminated in a Social Media and Compliance event on September 24, hosted very aptly at Facebook’s London office where speakers from the FCA, Killik and Co, Shawbrook Bank, Hearsay Social, and others were in attendance.
Below are highlights and key takeaways from the event. Names of individuals were omitted, as the conference was held under the Chatham House Rules.
The Social Media and Compliance half-day event revealed some interesting data: affluent millennials — the most prominent generation at present — are up to five times more likely to seek financial advice via social media than any other generation. This is news that may frighten some financial services providers, whom we acknowledged are known to be late adopters of new technologies. This set the scene for the rest of the day: with more consumers seeking advice on social media, it’s critical that your company is present on social media or risk being left behind.
UK event image 2
This is, in part, why Hearsay Social and The Financial Services Forum teamed up to create a Social Media and Compliance reference document for compliance in financial services, which is in line with the FCA requirements for social media. The team behind the reference document are also creators of the LinkedIn Social Media and Compliance for UK Financial Services Companies, a private group where financial professionals can continue the discussion around compliance and keep an open dialogue amongst peers.
It was clear during the session that not only does it make perfect business sense for financial services companies to adopt social media policies that can be rolled out company-wide, it will become inevitable. With strong audience participation, everybody agreed that financial services companies should embrace social media (as long as they remain compliant)! UK event-image 3
Moreover, the benefits of social media in financial services companies should not be overlooked. From giving a place for start-ups to reach their target audience, to allowing large financial industry players to reach a wider audience, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can — and should — be used responsibly to help the industry keep the customer at the heart of their businesses.
From the presentations, we learned that the key to using social media successfully is to use it to communicate with customers, not sell to them. Social media allows companies to define their voice, tone, and way of doing things. It’s their chance to position themselves as a friendly and approachable business; not a hard-selling, faceless machine.
Furthermore, while compliance may be daunting for some, it’s important for marketing and compliance teams to work together to drive social media forward in business, including by providing training and mentoring to best educate these teams on new digital technologies. While the framework should be compliant with regulations in the UK, social media as a tool to give a human face to a business should not be ignored. Therefore, it’s more critical than ever that financial services companies don’t get left behind!
To continue the conversation online, join the LinkedIn group for Social Media and Compliance for UK Financial Serv Companies.
To learn more about implementing a compliant social media program in your financial organization, download the Social Media and Compliance Reference Guide.
Related Resources:

Peter Thiel, Padmasree Warrior, Drew Houston, Clara Shih and other tech leaders center stage at Web Summit

u1Md_RDLIn Dublin for Web Summit next week?
Hearsay Social Social CEO Clara Shih (@clarashih) will be joining the technology industry’s most influential leaders–including Peter Thiel (Founder, Founders Fund, @peterthiel), Padmasree Warrior (Chief Technology & Strategy Officer, Cisco, @padmasree), Drew Houston (Founder, Dropbox, @drewhouston), and many more–for three days of discussions around innovation, marketing, machines, and the enterprise.
Here are some others that will be speaking:

Web Summit speakers

If you’re attending the Summit, you can see Clara speak in two separate sessions on Wednesday, November 5th:

  • At 10:15 AM on the Marketing Stage, Clara will be interviewed one-on-one by Martin Bryant (Editor-in-Chief, The Next Web, @MartinSFP).
  • At 11:45 AM, look for Clara on the Centre Stage, as she will be featured on a panel with Darian Shirazi (Founder and CEO, Radius, @darian314) and Tom Cheshire (Technology Correspondent, Sky News, @tomcheshiresky).

In both sessions, Clara will share background on Hearsay Social and the company’s growth trajectory in Europe, insights into entrepreneurship and women in technology, as well as her perspective on the growing importance of social media and technology at the executive and board level.
See you there!

Change, cooperation, and the transforming customer experience: Notes from the 2014 LIMRA Europe Annual Meeting

LIMRAStrategicPartnerLast week’s LIMRA 2014 European Annual Meeting was my first insurance conference,  so I didn’t quite know what to expect. As it turns out, when you bring together a diverse group of people from Europe, Asia and Africa–and add a bit of Paris magic–you come out with some impressive results.
In this recap, I’ll cover key takeaways from LIMRA’s meeting including:

  • Demographics is a key driver of change.
  • Make customer experience essential to your organization.
  • Gamification is important for engaging consumers.
  • Bancassurance is here to stay and increasingly relevant in newer economies.
  • Digitization will change how we interact with our consumers.
  • Cooperation is key to organizational success.


Day 1: Improving the customer experience

Robert A. Kerzner, President and CEO of LIMRA, kicked off the event, setting the stage for changes happening in the insurance industry. Because demographics is by far the biggest driver of change, he argued, firms should give more focus to retirement as opposed to life insurance. He also believes that the world of insurance agents and commissions is changing, especially in developing economies.
Mr.  Kerzner spent a greater part of this presentation discussing companies from other industries (e.g. Coca-Cola, Walmart, Disney, Virgin) and how the insurance industry can learn from their own efforts to improve the customer experience.
Other presenters from the first day hailed from diverse walks of life, providing more intellectual and innovative ideas to delegates in attendance.
For example, Dr. Barbara Fasolo, Associate Professor in Behavioural Science in the Department of Management of the London School of Economics, spoke about her interest in “choice architecture,” and how to present information visually so users can make smart choices. Both Barbara and Robert brought up gamification as a smart way to increase consumer engagement.
Boston Consulting Group partner and TED speaker Yves Morieux spoke about the need for cooperation within teams, which he believes to be critical for companies to excel. He showed a video of the women’s relay team of France winning in 2003 and argued that they won–not because they had the world’s best runners (USA did)–but because they were better at cooperating with each other before, during, and after the race.

Yves Morieux sharing the simple rules of cooperation in business.

Later on, Hearsay Social’s Olivier Maire (@olivier_maire) presented to a packed room of delegates on the power of social business.  There were many questions on how to open up the social networks in a way that does not increase reputational risk.
We ended Day 1 with a fabulous evening at Pavillon Dauphine, punctuated with live music, quizzes, and a stand-up comedian act by Shappi who was absolutely hilarious!
On the second day we were treated to a magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower from our conference room for the duration of the conference. This provided a unique backdrop for the sessions presented by the CEO of Aviva France, CMO of Saxo Bank and others.

Day 2: Increasing digitization

The second day of LIMRA’s meeting was dedicated to practical advice on various topics ranging from social media to business models to affinity insurance. Nicolas Schimel, CEO of Aviva, gave a particularly enlightening speech around his views on where the insurance market is going and what Aviva is doing to adapt. He believes that the three biggest drivers of change for the insurance market are:

  • Increasing digitization for communication and consumer interaction
  • Bancassurance growing in newer economies
  • Redistribution of the tied vs independent agent mix

Based on a study by Rolan Berger Strategy Consultants, the largest type of buyer by channel of access is going to be more a “hybrid buyer,” or one who is going to use both face-to-face and digital methods throughout the purchase journey.
All in all, the 2014 LIMRA European Annual Meeting was the perfect introduction to insurance conferences for me–it was fun and insightful!

Bringing social business innovation to financial services in France

pin paris franceToday we are proud to announce that Hearsay Social has officially launched in France!
Using Hearsay Social, insurance brokers, banking and financial advisers in France can now take advantage of social networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+, to gain and secure the loyalty of new clients and to help them grow their business.
Internet use–and social media use specifically–has become the norm across the world, and in France it’s no different. The latest stats show that 9 in 10 Internet users in France are signed up for at least one social network and 1 in 3 minutes spent online is spent on a social network. With such a strong affinity for new digital technologies, France is an obvious choice for Hearsay Social’s global expansion.
Hearsay Social will equip banks and insurance companies in France with the ability to develop real client connections through advanced digital and social business strategy. Advisers and brokers can build personal relationships by connecting with current and future clients on the social networks.
Photo Olivier
Spearheading Hearsay Social’s rollout in France, Olivier Maire has been named Sales Director of France. A graduate of the École Polytechnique and a specialist in marketing and sales solutions, Olivier brings 20 years of experience to Hearsay Social, as well as his proven expertise in the development of innovative businesses in the French market.
We’re proud to have Olivier on board and it’s an honor to be launching in France. Learn more below:

Hearsay Social becomes Efma's first social media partner


We’re proud to announce today that we have partnered with Efma, an association whose membership includes nearly one-third of the world’s large retail banks. Through this new partnership, we will work closely together to empower and educate the more than 3,300 retail financial services companies that comprise Efma’s network in Europe.

Significantly, Hearsay Social is the first social media partner to join Efma.

The announcement was made today at the Efma Distribution Summit, which gathers banking and insurance executives across Europe to discuss the challenges and opportunities posed by social and digital technologies. As social business best practices transform the financial industry, distributors are learning that social media can be a more efficient and effective way to communicate with clients.

Over the next year, Efma and Hearsay Social will work together on the following activities:

  • Efma and Hearsay Social will launch a “think tank” consisting of three webinars focused on essential social business topics, including “Social Marketing” and “Social Compliance.” These webinars will help educate the various business line managers at Efma member firms, including heads of distribution, marketing and risk, on the opportunities presented by social business.

  • The two organizations will also work together to create content, including interviews and case studies, informing member firms how financial firms are using social media today to grow business.

  • Hearsay Social will host Efma and select member firms in San Francisco for an innovation study tour presenting how retail financial firms are applying technology from Silicon Valley.

Through this partnership with Efma, we aim to empower member firms with the education and innovation necessary to grow business on social media. See the full press release and learn more about Hearsay Social’s partnerships in the financial services industry:

PRESS RELEASE: Hearsay Social and Efma Partner to Bring Social Business Best Practices to Financial Firms in Europe

Proud to expand our partnership with SIFMA to help you drive social business best practices

LIMRA selects Hearsay Social as its Elite Strategic Partner for social media

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:

The future of financial services in Europe

Growing our European presence has been a major focus for Hearsay Social over the past few months, so you may have seen us at one of four leading financial services events hosted by WBR and Marketforce recently. With hundreds of senior executives present, these four events–NetFinance Europe, The Future of Retail Banking, The Future of Private Banking, and The Future of General Insurance–shared many common themes, including an intense focus on innovation, customer experience, and digital engagement.
Industry leaders from Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, UBS, Barclays, and other major financial firms discussed how their organizations were adapting to an ever-changing regulatory and economic landscape while examining strategies for success. Additionally, delegates talked about the latest digital developments in mobile, analytics, and social media.
From our own team, Chris Andrew (Managing Director, UK and Europe) and Peter Caryotis (Sales Director) presented on the value of social media and the evolving customer conversation alongside financial executives.
Here are a few highlights from the conferences:

  • Digital and social technology is changing the way customers communicate. Forward-looking organizations must adapt to this new landscape.
  • Social media is about enhancing human capital. Technology enables us to keep in touch with more people, so organizations with social media policies and processes will better be able to connect with customers individually and become truly client-centric.
  • Organizations should consider the huge opportunity in becoming a social business. 7 in 10 financial advisors are already using social networks for business purposes because social signals boost their productivity.
Chris presents on the 4 steps to social business success.

The insurance industry in the digital world: Recap from the ABI Biennial Conference

Earlier this week, Hearsay Social joined industry leaders, leading politicians, journalists and regulators at the Association of British Insurers (ABI) Biennial Conference in London. The event’s theme, “Meeting the Challenges of a Changing World,” encouraged  a healthy debate about the major issues affecting the insurance industry (with a touch of British humor along the way).
Tidjane Thiam, Chairman of ABI and Chief Executive of Prudential Plc., opened the conference with a question: “How do we best respond as an industry to our customer’s rising expectations?”

Tidjane Thiam, Chairman, ABI

Later in his presentation, Tidjane spoke to global cultural and social changes affecting the insurance industry: “The digital revolution is another material change in people’s way of life […]  Our customers expect constant unlimited access to information.”
These new customer demands led the ABI to publish a report titled The Significant Seven outlining challenges facing the insurance industry:

  • The digital revolution and social media
  • Global convergence, with an increasingly interconnected and balanced global economy
  • The development and recovery of Western economies after the financial crisis
  • An aging society
  • Political challenges
  • Interventionist regulation
  • The continued impact of climate change

Representing Hearsay Social at the event, I spoke with many attendees about that topmost challenge, discussing how social media provides a channel to engage and educate customers and prospects. As insurance customers the world over increasingly adopt social media, social selling will likewise become essential.
As the day went on, the conference hosted lively panels with speakers like Nick Robinson (Political Editor, BBC News) and Steve Hawkes (Consumer Affairs Editor, The Daily Telegraph) who humorously reminded the crowd that insurance is not the most popular of industries. Nick told the crowd to remember, in difficult times, advice from Sir John Major who served as Prime Minister from 1990-1997: “When things are really bad, when your backs are against the wall, it’s time to turn around and fight.”
For videos and details from the event, visit the ABI website and follow the conversation at #ABIconf2013.

Know your customer, and other key themes from McKinsey Direct Forum 2013

We recently had the pleasure of joining McKinsey & Company for their Direct Forum 2013 in Munich, bringing together CEOs and other top executives from companies like Allianz and Direct Line to discuss the future of the Direct Insurance market as well as the impact of digital trends on the industry.

The day included one session on “Digital Frontline Capabilities” and another on “Ensuring Profitability.” Throughout the event, a number of key themes came out of the sessions that apply to both the Distribution & Direct models:
Compete on more than price. In order to stay relevant in both the Distribution & Direct channels, organizations need to find ways to stay top of mind and educate prospects and customers. Social media will be a valuable source to passively provide information where customers and prospects already exist.
Direct is established. Though Direct has historically been seen as the pesky competitor, there has been a clear shift in the market that shows top Distribution organizations like Allianz continuing to invest in their agent force while also building out a Direct Model. These companies have simply realized they have to meet customers where they are. In the UK, for example, over 50% of all motor policies are sold via Direct Channels.
Customer-centricity is key. The better you know your customer, the bigger your advantage. Customers expect a personalized sales cycle and personalized service throughout their time as your client. Insurance organizations at the McKinsey event were quick to point out that retention, not acquisition, is their core problem today. It’s critical that organizations develop unique content and response strategies to meet the customer where they are.
Guest speaker Davide Passero CEO of Genertel, an insurance company based in Italy, provided an exceptional session on the key areas of focus for Genertal:

  1. Superior Customer Insight
  2. Sound Branding
  3. Multichannel Management
  4. Friendly Product Offer
  5. State of the art service
  6. Smart People Engagement

There’s a clear opportunity in the market for Direct, Multichannel, and Distribution organizations if they remember to keep the focus on serving the customer best.