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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:

 
亞洲金融服務業的現代化推動
上週,我有幸回到我的家鄉香港,正式開設我們的亞洲總部。我和我們的亞太常務
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。
通過諸多會談,我們對一點非常明確:亞洲的銀行和經紀想要繼續存活下來必須將
他們所在領域的組織現代化。拿保險行業舉個例子。高流失的兼職經紀模式是不穩
定的。銀行保險儘管看起來簡單且高收益,但實則讓經紀很難掌控重要的客戶關係

公司都知道他們必須幫助自己的經紀在他們的領域內變得更專業化,現代化,電子
化,以保證持續的影響力以及效益增長。我們知道,在這個時代的亞洲,幾乎每個
客戶在做一個生意決定之前都會用Google搜索一下一家公司背景以及經理人的教育
,經驗以及資格,公司必須讓每個經紀,私人銀行家,以及中間人的信息都能在網
上被搜索到,無論是通過LinkedIn Profile(領英個人資料)還是Facebook(臉書
)商務主頁。
所有的數據都顯示亞洲的消費者是最活躍,最先進的移動社交用戶:在亞洲,多于
百分之九十的成年人使用社交媒體,並且有百分之九十七的活躍用戶使用移動設備
登錄他們的社交網絡。但銀行和保險行業現在在電子領域仍觸及甚微。
我們要架起兩者之前的橋樑,機遇無窮。這就是為什麼我們決定在亞洲建立分公司
。今天,我非常興奮地宣佈我們與宏利金融(亞洲),安盛(香港)以及大都會人
壽(香港)成為合作夥伴。我同時也宣佈將我們的預測性全方位渠道軟件推廣到亞
洲。請參考我們的發佈公告。
除了了解到對於電子程序以及主動性投資的重要以外,三家公司都都認為增強經紀
的電子業務能力是重中之重,這樣的好處有:1.與如今社交移動化的客戶建立更多
持續高產的良好關係2.建立專業可查詢的網絡信息3.自如且不會觸及違規風險地建
立并發展他們的網絡。
我很驕傲地認為我們與這些全球性公司的深層關係是我們國際化增長至關重要的驅
動器,不僅僅在亞洲,乃至歐洲,北美以及更遠。這樣的關係也將長久持續。如今
我們有來自20多個國家超過13萬的經紀使用我們的產品。Hearsay企業平台也正在
為國際用戶迅速提供多語言支持以及其他各種功能。
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
我們的信任和合作。我期待我們下一個乃至更多里程碑的到來。
 

Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih: The Vertical Cloud and Regulations Will Have a Profound Impact on Business in 2016

shutterstock_293401085In 2015, the exponential changes taking place within the technology industry was a recurring theme in the business world. Change was no longer just ubiquitous; it was accelerating. Today, this message has become even clearer as technological advancements continue at a rapid pace and are revolutionizing every aspect of our daily lives.
I wrote how this is fundamentally changing the consumer experience in a recent article published by Fast Company entitled “The Rise of Millennials, Crowdsourcing, And Automation.” But what about the enterprise? Here are two massive trends that business leaders need to watch in 2016:

The vertical cloud comes of age

For some years now, many cloud vendors have sold their products to multiple industries – an approach that has worked exceptionally well for companies like Workday and Salesforce. In 2016 and beyond, thanks to key technology developments across the public and private arena including low cost web hosting services and no-cost open-source programming languages, we will see the vertical cloud come of age, particularly in highly regulated industries such as healthcare, government, and financial services – industries that have largely been neglected by Silicon Valley due to the unique complexities involved. According to Frost & Sullivan, the opportunity in healthcare cloud will grow from $903 million in 2013 to $3.5 billion in 2020, while TechNavio predicts cloud financial services will grow 25% per year through 2018.
With the privilege of focus, vertical cloud solutions will be game-changing with obvious benefits. It offers more tailored offerings to address specific needs and solve unique industry challenges; it offers rapid ease of deployment, eliminating the need for lengthy implementations to customize and “verticalize” a “one-size-fits-all” product; and it allows those vendors to develop true industry expertise and deeper customer relationships such that customer feedback can rapidly evolve into newer and better solutions over time.
Ultimately, this enables those vertical cloud solutions to grow faster and establish dominant market share than traditional software vendors. Gartner estimates that the 2015 vertical spend of $113 billion will grow at 7 percent per year, something that Salesforce took note of last year (following Infor’s lead at their Dreamforce event) by doubling down on their vertical-focused strategy.

Regulators will aggressively play ‘catch-up’ to keep up with the impending regulatory tsunami

In 2016, there will be a growing number of regulators and regulations from the SEC, FINRA, DoL, CFPB, IRS, CFTC, OCC, state regulators, and others. The rapid and revolutionary shifts enabled by technology in recent years have caught regulators off-guard in everything from hospitality and transportation to healthcare and cybersecurity. But in 2016, I expect regulators across industries and countries to aggressively play catch-up and apply new levels of pressure on many disruptive companies.
We’re seeing this start now, with regulators across the globe poking holes in Uber’s business model. Right here in San Francisco, Prop F, aimed at regulating AirBnB’s impact on the tight housing market, failed to pass but still garnered 45 percent of the popular vote.
Not surprisingly, this game of regulatory catch-up is even more pronounced in highly regulated industries such as financial services. For example, the Department of Labor has proposed new rules requiring financial advisors to disclose any potential conflicts of interest with funds they recommend, while leaders at the SEC consider if and how to regulate robo-advisor firms, perhaps holding them to a fiduciary standard for offering (automated) advice.
Hearsay Social, for one, is helping firms and advisors navigate the impending tailwinds by keeping them abreast of these changes and offering solutions to remain successful.
As regulators continue to keep up with these massive changes, 2016 will be a year where businesses across industries will need to prepare for the shifting regulatory landscape while still delivering value to their customers. To overcome the overhead costs and time required to manage to regulatory guidelines and policies, companies will need to find ways to drive efficiency and growth by leveraging technology that enables their workforce to be more productive and compliant.
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Vote to Get Hearsay Social on Stage at SXSW 2016

Head over to the SXSW PanelPicker and give our two proposed sessions, “The Social Business Imperative” and the “Rise of the Social Employee,” a big thumbs-up!
Vote-PanelPIcker-Idea-2016-InstagramFor those in entertainment, technology and marketing, the annual SXSW music, film and interactive festival is one of the hottest conference tickets of the year. Thousands descend onto Austin, Texas, for a week of networking, learning and inspiration with some of the biggest leaders and talents in their respective industries. Thanks to your votes, Hearsay Social has been honored with the opportunity to present at SXSW Interactive every year since 2013. (See our 2013, 2014 and 2015 recaps.)
But! We need your help to bring our CEO and founder, Clara Shih, and other members of the Hearsay Social gang back to Austin in 2016, where we hope to share our vision on how predictive analytics and big data are changing the way we do business, and how social media is redefining the employee/employer relationship.
Our proposed sessions for SXSW Interactive 2016 are:
“Staying Relevant: The Social Business Imperative”Today’s buyers share more details than ever before about themselves, their preferences, and their opinions about your business online in real-time. This offers unprecedented data from which you can capture sentiment, respond quickly, and make improvements. As such, the sales process is no longer linear; it’s a non-linear, omnichannel path where integrating social business into the buyer’s journey across all mobile and digital channels, and across marketing, sales, and service, is mandatory. In this presentation, learn how big data and predictive technology are transforming the way we do business.
“Rise of the Social Employee: Rewards and Risks”With and often without your approval or knowledge, employees are talking about your company on social media with friends, in public, for all your customers to see. Employee social engagement can be wonderful brand ambassadorship, providing others a genuine glimpse into your company’s mission and influence. But disgruntled or careless employees also can share damaging information that can profoundly impact your brand. In this presentation, learn how to empower social employees to evangelize authentically on your company’s behalf while ensuring they follow guidelines to mitigate brand and company risk.
Head over to the SXSW PanelPicker today to register and vote for “The Social Business Imperative” and the “Rise of the Social Employee.” Voting opened this week and runs through Sept. 4. Want to do even more? Add a comment and/or share your support with your social networks by clicking on the “share this idea” buttons on the left-hand side of each session entry. Thank you!
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The Age of the Trusted, Omnichannel Advisor: Insights from Social Business Innovation Summit 2015

Last week, we hosted our third Social Business Innovation Summit (#SBIS15) here in our hometown of Silicon Valley. It was an honor and delight to bring together more than 100 top insurance and wealth management executives, and hear from seven impressive fellow Silicon Valley tech startups. Based on feedback we’ve heard thus far, it sounds like we achieved our collective goal of getting inspired, sharing best practices  and making connections that I’m certain will shape the future of the financial services industry.


To kick off the day, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Tash Elwyn (@tashelwynRJ), president of Raymond James and Associates, for a fireside chat. We had a lively conversation on how wealth management firms can stay relevant in a digital world. Among many other insights, Tash expressed the importance of social media and the need to evangelize it from both the C-suite and the field.
I also hosted a fireside chat with Knut Olson (@knutolson), chief operating officer at Thrivent Financial, who shared how Thrivent has built the technological capabilities for its advisors to not only more efficiently manage one-on-one relationships with clients, but deepen them using social media and other digital avenues.
Both conversations with Tash and Knut reinforced why the industry needs to embrace the dawn of what I call the trusted advisor – an advisor who takes advantage of predictive, big data analytics and machine learning, all while leveraging what can’t be replaced by an algorithm: the emotional, personal connection an advisor has to a client or prospect. Those who turn a blind eye toward technology, automation and consumers’ increasingly digital preferences – the obsolete advisor – will be quickly left behind.
Representing the Silicon Valley view of the industry, Metromile CEO Dan Preston (@danpresspoke about how his pay-per-mile car insurance company is turning the traditional way of pricing and purchasing car insurance on its head. What I found interesting is that, as insurance carriers refine risk modeling using predictive analytics, how much we must pay for insurance will have a much greater impact on essential decisions such as where we live, work and play.
Dave Girouard (@davegirouard), CEO of Upstart, a marketplace lending startup, gave attendees a stark message: People who have no business being in your industry will disrupt it. Will you embrace it or be consumed by it? This is a question I’ve shared many times in my own presentations and authored articles. The former Google executive is an example of a technologist who saw a market that was being overlooked by Silicon Valley – financial lending – and went on to create an efficient, Web-based platform that makes it easy for lenders and borrowers to connect.
Last but definitely not least, we heard from Elad Gil (@eladgil), CEO and co-founder of Color Genomics, a startup with a mission to democratize genetic testing by using software and automation to substantially decrease costs. (Full disclosure: I’m an investor and on their advisory board.) Elad discussed how, as wearable device technology becomes mainstream, the way we view and access health care will be dramatically different; for example, consumers can continuously self-monitor on their own, creating a huge amount of data that can be quickly mined to prevent, diagnose and manage disease. This has enormous implications not only for the wealth management, retirement and life insurance industries, but the human lifespan as a whole.
The big takeaway from all the speakers? Technology is here to stay, and the financial services firms and advisors that will succeed must not only embrace its disruptive impact, but use it to enhance and scale what this industry is built upon: trust-based relationships.
Thanks to the entire Hearsay Social team, our attendees and invited guests, and our partners for the support and for making this the best Summit yet!
For additional insights, watch my keynote from the Social Business Innovation Summit 2015 and view my presentation. Please also download our Executive Report on The Advisor of the Future: How to Stay Relevant in the Digital Age.

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Kicking off Social Business Innovation Summit 2015.

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Tash Elwyn of Raymond James and Associates.

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Knut Olson of Thrivent Financial.

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Dan Preston of Metromile.

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Dave Girouard of Upstart.

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Elad Gil of Color Genomics.

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UK's FCA Sets New Rules on Social Media Use

shutterstock_79159834The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the UK’s regulatory body, recognizes the importance of managing social media in the financial services industry, and has recently published its guidance on using social media for financial promotions. In the UK alone, 58% of financial advisors say they use social media to actively engage with their clients and prospects, compared to 75% of financial advisors in the US sector. According to a social media survey by PAM Insight last year, compliance and regulatory concerns still present one of the biggest barriers to social media adoption among UK advisors. Yet, only a quarter of UK-based financial firms have introduced formal policies setting out social media best practices.
In the new guidance issued on March 13, 2015, the FCA outlines ways in which businesses can use social media for financial promotions in a way that is “clear, fair and not misleading.” The FCA’s acknowledgement that social media can be a significant value to firms in the way people communicate is a testament to the robust financial markets in the UK, the innovative nature of the companies and people, and the active participation by industry regulators.
Here are some important take-aways from the guidance:
1) ‘Click through approach’ and standalone compliance: Consumers’ tweets are standalone promotions and must comply separately with FCA rules, as well as being “clear, fair and not misleading.” This is also the case when tweets are used to link through to a website, known as the ‘click-through approach.’ Firms can apply this rule by having adequate systems in place such that every communication is monitored and supervised. For example, legal disclaimers can be given for each statement that is a financial promotion. These rules apply to all members of the financial firm that communicate “in the course of the business” and not just advisors or agents.
2) Distinguishing between personal and business use: Whether a social media post is compliant or not depends on the content that is being use for professional use, e.g. “in the course of business,” as opposed to personal use. Here are some practical tips for ensuring these requirements are met:

  1. Distinguish between the firm’s own social media sites, and sites for individual officers or employees at the firm. For the firm’s own sites, there should be a clearly defined policy about who is permitted to post material, and with what level of review (before or after the postings).
  2. Some firms only have firm-level social media sites, and prohibit individuals at the firm from making business-related postings on their own social media sites, although this approach is becoming less common.
  3. Firms should clearly distinguish between allowing for their advisors to use business-related sites for work versus their personal sites. For personal, non-business-related sites, advisors typically bar the individual from discussing business on those sites.
  4. Firms should monitor and retain content only on the individual’s business-related sites.

3) Responsibility when sharing or forwarding communications: Unlike other channels, “Retweets,” “likes,” and “shares” can take on a different meaning than the original communication on social media. The FCA declared that if a consumer shares or forwards content via sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, the firm is only responsible for the original communication. In this case, businesses should pre-review or post-monitor the appropriateness of any content. If, on the other hand, the firm is sharing a post that did not originate from the firm AND if the comment endorses the firm or their advisors’ posts that have regulated financial product or service, then sharing or forwarding by the firm will constitute a promotion by the firm. In this case, the firm is responsible for the retweet. The only exception to this rule is where the content is related to “customer service” which is an area that does not fall within the jurisdiction of the FCA.
4) Sign-off for digital communications: The FCA maintains, as it did in its earlier release, that firms have an “adequate system” in place to sign off on all digital media communications which it considers as best practice for managing business risk. Therefore it is important to think through the resource implications of social media. If a firm anticipates having multiple individuals with business-related social media activity, then the firm should make sure that it has adequate supervisory systems and compliance resources to monitor that activity. Firms should also think through crisis scenarios – have a plan in advance for how it would respond in social media in the event of an unexpected negative event/story.
5) Record keeping: To protect a company from legal, regulatory and reputational risk, a key requirement should be that the firm has the ability to retain and retrieve its social media communications, including both content from the advisor or agents, and the responses to that content. While the FCA does not provide specifics on length of time records should be retained, generally it is good practice (as is the case in US) to have a three to five-year retention period for communications with clients and potential clients. Third party technology solutions, such as Hearsay Social, allow firms to archive social media content, and to escalate content to supervisors or compliance for review. Further, with cybersecurity being in the forefront of financial services concerns, it is important to include social media in the firm’s information security program.
The key takeaway for businesses from this recent guidance is that the FCA is committed to providing clear and practical recommendations on how this new channel can be used in businesses to promote products and services in a way that is “clear, fair and not misleading.” However, there remain some challenges, the first of which is how these regulations can keep pace with evolving technology to ensure that guidelines continue to be practical and flexible for businesses. As firms scale and roll out their social media programs to their advisors and begin adhering to these guidelines through training, process, and social media compliant technology, the FCA may periodically revisit these new guidelines to adapt to this changing landscape.
To assist with this challenge and in the interest of creating an on-going dialogue within the industry and with the regulators, Hearsay Social is partnering with the Financial Services Forum to create an industry working group. The working group will provide continual ideas, practical tips and best practices for implementing social media channels in a compliant manner. If you are interested in contributing to how social media should be regulated, in UK or in continental Europe, we are interested in hearing from you. Please contact us at EUcompliance@hearsaysocial.com
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