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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.

Hearsay Social Named One of Gramercy Institute's Most Valuable Partners in Financial Marketing

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 3.21.50 PMThe Gramercy Institute, a leading global network for senior marketers from the world’s leading financial institutions, recently released its 2016 list of 20 Most Valuable Partners in Financial Marketing and Hearsay Social is honored to be included.
“In 2016, financial marketers must engage with true strategic partners in order to effectively compete,” explains Bill Wreaks, CEO and Chief Analyst of the Gramercy Institute in a press release. “Understanding which partners provide real value through true partnership can make a tremendous difference to the achievement of marketing success.”
Members of the 2016 judging panel included senior executives from several Fortune 100 firms including:
Renee Baker, Sr. Manager, Marketing & Investor Relations, Aberdeen Asset Management
Jeffrey Kochie, Vice President, Marketing, Blackrock
Jacqueline Quasney, Senior Brand Manager, Personal Capital
Erin Meijer, Director, Thought Leadership and Content Strategy, Guardian Life
Amy Jackson, SVP, Content Marketing, Bank of America
Amy Sokotch, SVP, Media, Citibank
Francie Staub, Director, Digital Marketing, TD Ameritrade
Bryan VanDyke, Managing Director and Head of Digital, Morgan Stanley
Phillip Wang, SVP, Brand & Advertising, Wells Fargo Bank
Unlike many awards programs that allow companies to nominate themselves, the Gramercy Institute program requires submissions from clients at a financial brand who either currently or had at one time worked with the nominated company. Nominators provided an assessment of each nominee’s value to the financial firm’s marketing success, its innovation, its customer support levels, and its ability to delivery on expectations.
At Hearsay Social, one of our core team values is to put our customers above all else, and we’re both proud and humbled that our 130-plus enterprise customers consider us to be critical partners to their long-term success and growth.
For more information, check out the Gramercy Institute’s announcement.

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#HSonAir Podcast: What's Changing in Websites and What To Do About It

IMG_0489In Episode 74 we invite Greg Kroleski (@gregkroleski), Product Manager at Hearsay Social and resident website expert, to discuss how mobile, personalization, and the rapid rate and change of acceleration is justifying a different approach to websites today. We also talk about the five things every Agent/Advisor website should have to be most effective. 
We invite you to be part of the conversation with @victorgaxiola and @alissadossantos on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.  If you have a question, comment or suggestion, please send an  e-mail to OnAir@HearsayCorp.com.   We also invite you to “like” our podcast page on Facebook where we share posts about the podcast, our guests, and other fun stuff.
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#HSonAir Podcast: Customer Spotlight Series- Interview with Leah White from Modern Woodmen of America

leahwhiteIn Episode 71 we continue our Customer Spotlight Series with an interview with Leah White (@LeahMWA) Marketing Associate at Modern Woodmen of America. In our discussion, Leah shared how her early exposure to the insurance industry in the field has influenced her approach to working and supporting Modern Woodmen financial professionals from the home office.  We dive into the adoption and evolution of social media and websites, lessons learned on the effective use of content, and how Modern Woodmen is investing in developing the next generation of talent.

I invite you to be part of the conversation with me, @victorgaxiola on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir. If you have a question, comment or suggestion, please send an e-mail to OnAir@HearsayCorp.com. I also invite you to “like” our podcast page on Facebook where we share posts about the podcast, our guests, and other fun stuff.


Episode Links:
Modern Woodmen of America Website and Careers Page, and all social pages on Facebook,  LinkedIn, and Twitter.
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#HSonAir Podcast- Interview with Terry Golesworthy of the Customer Respect Group

terry400x400The financial services industry is in a constant state of flux, and in Episode 61 we interview Terry Golesworthy (@TerryCRG) President of the Customer Respect Group to get his thoughts on the changing landscape of digital technology and social media in the insurance space and how his organization has been a trusted source for benchmark data and online strategy advice since 2003.  
In our interview we also explore the evolution of social adoption, including the influence of competition both within the industry and outside the industry as well as highlight one of the best industry resources: Social Eyes.  Launched in 2011 in response to the demand for objective data and analysis, Social Eyes is a special newsletter/guide produced by the Customer Respect Group that provides insight on the “Insurer’s View of Social Media”, and an invaluable resource for industry insiders. To learn more about the Customer Respect Group and Social Eyes visit their website at www.customerrespect.com
Join the conversation with @victorgaxiola and @elizelig on Twitter, use hashtag #HSonAir.  If you have a question, comment or suggestion, please send an e-mail to OnAir@HearsayCorp.com.  
Remember to “like” our  page on Facebook and find out more about the long westward journey of our good friend Ronny Kerr on Twitter using hashtag #RonnyWalk
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Hearsay Social Wins the Wealth Management Industry Award for Best Social Media Platform

WealthManagement.com Industry AwardsWe’re honored to announce that Hearsay Social was named the best social media platform by WealthManagement.com and REP. magazine, as part of the first annual WealthManagement.com Industry Awards program (#WMAwards). The winners were announced last night at a black-tie dinner event at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City.
The awards program acknowledges excellence among vendors and suppliers serving the financial advisor community and recognizes forerunners of innovation and leadership in support of advisor success. Finalists and winners across 37 categories demonstrate industry expertise, superior products, top-notch service and innovative technology.
“The new platform from Hearsay Social lets advisors identify cross-channel client activity across multiple online and digital channels, including social media and websites,” said the awards committee. “Through machine-learning algorithms and predictive technology, the platform recommends the right content (from its built-in Predictive Content Library), and encourages the advisor to share it with the right person at the right time.”
See the full slideshow of winners.
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Marketing and Compliance Teams Partner for Social Business Success at #FTFSMAC 2015

ftfLast week, the Financial Technologies Forum hosted its annual Social Media and Compliance in Financial Services (#FTFSMAC) conference in New York, and it was every bit as informative and engaging as in years past. The conference featured many interesting presenters and topics around social media and compliance, and brought together representatives from across banking, wealth management, and insurance to discuss and share best practices for successful and compliant social media programs.
I was delighted to lead a session, “The Friend Request: An Honest Conversation Between a Social Media Manager and a Compliance Manager,” and picked up three key takeaways from the event.
SMAC image1

Cross-functional partnership is key

Social business programs must include partnership between cross-functional teams to be successful. Several presenters stated that assembling working groups that consists of members from across marketing, compliance, communication, and practice management is key to the ongoing success of any social business program. In terms of building a successful team, Adam Sherman (@adsher1), Social Media Director, New York Life Insurance, said “everyone has to be on the same page.”  Their organization does this with regular working group meetings that include a combination of all of these functions. When they first started, they met weekly, but were able to scale it to monthly meetings as the program progressed. Similarly, Rick Apicella and Rocco Procopio, both from Morgan Stanley (@morganstanley), employs a cross-functional committee that meets every other week. And “for any effective social media program to work, marketing and compliance must walk hand-in-hand,” says Mr. Apicella.

Change is constant

If there is one thing we’ve learned in this business is that change is bound to happen. According to the presenters, it’s important to know of these industry changes so that you can adapt your programs and policies. Michael Bello, Compliance Director for MassMutual (@MassMutual), joked that the social networks change so much that they were updating their policies as often as once per month.
Joking aside, in the session “Keeping Up with the Cool Kids: Staying Current While Staying Compliant” one panelist mentioned that there had been over 350 “meaningful” social network changes in 2014. These included changes to the social network interfaces, API functionality, new features, and new social networks. He told us it takes a team effort across an organization to keep up with these changes. Others stated it also takes relying on technology vendors, like Hearsay Social, to stay informed of the changes.

Always be educating

FTF’s core message was that education is key for enterprise social media programs. The group discussed two key areas for education: 1) educating compliance and supervision teams on social networks’ functionality, and 2) regularly training employees on a firm’s social media policies and practices.
Moreover, “the key to effective supervision is understanding what you are supervising,” said Michael Bello, Compliance Director, MassMutual. In similar fashion, Corina Roy (@corinaroy), AVP, Digital Experience, MassMutual described what the education process was like when they first started. She even encouraged some of the compliance and supervision professionals to set up their own social profiles so they could really understand the in-and-outs of the social networks.


In addition, regulations require annual training and attestation of a firm’s social media policy, but some say annual training is not enough. Lori Hale, Vice President, Senior Corporate Compliance Officer for Bank of the West, says to make information easily available for social media users as well as provide quarterly updates. Likewise, in-person events, such as advisor sales conferences, are another great opportunity for education. Ms. Roy, for example, has conducted multiple sessions at her firm’s annual sales meetings.
https://twitter.com/SEIAmyS/status/644543294526103552
Overall, this year’s FTF SMAC conference fostered great conversation and information sharing on the compliance and social media topics from many levels. It was valuable to hear what different organizations are doing, and I look forward to hearing how they evolve at next year’s event!
If you missed the event, you can still follow the conversation at #ftfsmac.
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The Rise of Social Recruitment, Early Adoption, and Other Insights from LIMRA's 2015 Social Media Conference

IMG_8578Last year, when Stephen Selby, Assistant Vice President of Regulatory Services for LIMRA, announced that the LIMRA LOMA Social Media Conference for Financial Services (#LLSMC) was coming to San Francisco, no one was more excited about the news than I was. You could hear the enthusiasm in what at the time was only our third Hearsay Social On the Air podcast.  
As many of you know, Hearsay Social is based in San Francisco, and having the conference in our hometown was going to provide us an opportunity to show off our beloved city to all the social professionals in attendance and “paint the town red.” Our keycard photo competition was built to get people out of the hotel, explore our city and have some fun at the same time. 
I’ve been lucky to attend #LLSMC for the past four years in a row, providing me an opportunity to observe just how far the financial services industry has evolved in a very short amount of time. Changing consumer expectations and the growth of the internet of things has certainly forced this industry to adapt. Well, I am happy to report that the financial services industry is not only evolving, it is thriving. I hope my ongoing optimism isn’t clouding my objectivity.
As you can imagine, wrapping up three days of conference activity isn’t easy, so after careful reflection, here are my four key takeaways from this year’s conference:

1. Social recruitment is on the rise

A new and welcomed addition to the conference was a Hackathon session on day one that was led by Greg Bailey (@gbaileyco), Partner at Insure.VC. and known industry veteran. Greg rarely needs an introduction amongst these circles and we had the privilege of interviewing him on or podcast a few months ago about his latest venture. Popular in these parts, hackathons are created for educational or social purposes to encourage and create new ideas and actionable solutions. In our case, we were asked to focus first on some of the biggest problems facing the financial services industry and then make recommendations on how to solve them. The key takeaway from the assembled group? We need to do more to recruit and retain talent, and social networking and digital technology should be part of the solution.

This is not the first time this has come up. As a facilitator of multiple customer roundtable events, and as a participant at industry conferences, this has become a recurring theme. However, the appetite to leverage social media as a solution to address this challenge has been gaining ground. I anticipate that as more and more distributed teams have access to social to manage relationships and connections with clients and prospects, the next stage of development will be to use social as a way to recruit and retain talent.

2. Early adopters of social media moving ahead of the competition

It has been nearly five years since FINRA released its guidance on the use of social media by the financial services industry. Organizations that mobilized a social strategy and implemented a solution shortly thereafter are now leading the industry and charging ahead. It’s as if all of us were at the same starting gate of a long race five years ago and today it’s become much easier to identify which organizations are pulling ahead and lapping the competition. I attended two sessions that illustrated the evolving growth of social, the first was a fireside chat between Corina Roy (@corinaroy), Assistant Vice President, Digital and Customer Experience at MassMutual and Abhay Rajaram, VP of Customer Success at Hearsay Social.   The other was a session facilitated by New York Life by Phyllis Tozzi (@phyllistozzi), Corporate VP, Social Media Marketing, Aaron Brickman (@aaron_MMA) and Louis Cardello (@louiswcardello), both Senior Associates, Social Media Marketing. In both sessions the keys to success and their social evolution closely matched the key findings from our own Social Business Maturity Model released last week, namely that organizations that succeed and progress in their maturity typically have a collaborative team to move the social project forward, and the support and buy-in from and senior leadership. There are many other factors that contributed to the evolution of the programs at Mass Mutual and New York Life including the need for constant evaluation and training, course corrections based on feedback, and ongoing communications across all levels of management from the home office to the field and back. What both of these organizations illustrated was that the entire endeavor is a process that will take time and some occasional set backs for it to grow and mature.

3. Want to win? Fight for attention with creativity and authenticity

IMG_8589One of the advantages of attending a conference like this one is the opportunity to hear from outstanding speakers, and this year was no exception. We heard from the likes of Chris Brogan, Clara Shih, Scott Klososky, Debra Jasper, Betsy Hubbard and Julian Aldridge, and many others. The overlying theme of all the presentations was that today’s consumer expects more, and that earning their attention is becoming a bigger and bigger challenge. A challenge that is being met by creativity, and then supported via an authentic voice. People want realness. People want to feel that you care. It reminds me of something we used to say when I worked as a financial advisor, “people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” Let that sink in.
At no time was this more evident than during the announcing of the annual Silver Bowl Awards.  As a judge for the second year in a row, I got to review multiple entries across categories and was impressed by the level of creativity and thought that went into the development of multiple campaigns. Even more impressive was how much of the work was driven internally and developed organically without the use of an agency.  
If you’d like to win the award next year, my suggestions is that you get creative and stay authentic. It’s a formula that works and apparently wins awards.

4. Although still an important and critical component of social business, compliance is no longer the main focus

IMG_8602This last observation did not come to me until well after the conclusion of the conference as I was reflecting. Almost as an afterthought, I realized how little talk there was around compliance. I assure you that this was not the case just a few years ago when it seemed it was the only focus. Mind you, this is not to say that compliance doesn’t matter anymore, it does, it’s just not the main conversation anymore. In my opinion, this is a very positive sign that the industry has evolved and we are much further along in embracing social as a business tool embedded in the DNA of our marketing and sales process.
Addressing compliance concerns will continue to be a pre-requisite to any social program, and our continued participation at FINRA events and relationships with the regulatory bodies will ensure we are abreast of how their decisions and guidance affects our customers and their business.
In conclusion, the industry continues to move forward and we are seeing some encouraging and creative approaches that businesses are taking to further their evolution to connect with clients, prospects and recruit new talent.  Knowing that it would be a challenge to encapsulate three days worth of a conference material in a blog post, we released an entire podcast (see below) devoted to exploring the themes of the conference. I encourage you to not only listen to it, but to also be a part of the conversation by sending us your questions, comments and suggestions to OnAir@HearsayCorp.com or via Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.
If you attended the conference in person, or followed along on the conference hashtag #LLSMC, what did you think?  I’d love to hear from you.

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#HSonAir Podcast: Themes from the LIMRA Social Media Conference for Financial Services

FullSizeRender (3)The LIMRA Social Media Conference for Financial Services (#LLSMC) was in our hometown of San Francisco and we were there to cover the event as we painted the town Hearsay Social Red. In episode 56 we discuss the themes, conversations and highlights of the conference including: the rise of social for recruitment, how early adopters are pulling ahead, and how organizations are getting creative in their use of social.
As part of our podcast we also expand on the ideas presented by the conference speakers and the #SilverBowlAwards. To see a list of this year’s winners of the Silver Bowl Awards, check out our post from last week, that includes back-to-back winner Thrivent Financial for best use of Social Media by a Financial Advisor.
Join the conversation with @victorgaxiola and @elizelig on Twitter, use hashtag #HSonAir. If you have a question, comment or suggestion, please send an e-mail to OnAir@HearsayCorp.com.
Remember to “like” our NEW page on Facebook and continue to follow the progress of our good friend Ronny Kerr on Twitter using hashtag #RonnyWalk

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Social Business, Recruitment Take Center Stage at GAMA LAMP Asia

Field leaders and executives in investment, insurance and financial services in Asia and beyond converged earlier this month for the annual GAMA LAMP (Leadership & Management Program) Asia conference to learn, network and recharge with the industry’s best and brightest. Held in Hong Kong this year (which also happens to be Hearsay Social’s Asia headquarters), it drew more than 1,000 attendees – from managers to CEOs of leading firms – around the theme of “leadership to outperform.” Hot topics throughout the event included recruitment, marketing, technology and diversity.
GAMA LAMP keynote Clara Shih
Our CEO and founder, Clara Shih (right), delivered the conference keynote and joined a prestigious list of speakers that included Bonnie Godsman, CEO of GAMA International; Daralee Barbera, managing principal of Waddell & Reed and current president of GAMA’s board of directors; Edward Deutschlander, CEO elect of North Star Resource Group; and Richard Weylman, best-selling author of “The Power of Why: Breaking Out in a Competitive Marketplace” and Hall of Fame speaker.
Clara and Hearsay Social managing director Jason Suen (below) together hosted a session on the four key steps to establish a successful social business program. AttenGAMA LAMP jason suendees gained practical knowledge on social media best practices, as well as how to use social as a recruiting tool to attract high-performing talent that understands and utilizes technology to grow business.
One overarching theme from the conference was the shift from a features-and-benefits selling approach to one that leverages individual customer priorities and emotional, social positioning. According to Richard, rather than focusing on “attributes” (e.g., better products, qualified experience), a more effective way for advisors to reach customers is to talk about the emotionally-charged outcomes they desire (e.g., achieving better financial health, protecting their families). Technologies such as social media, email and other digital avenues now make it easy and more efficient for advisors to get to know their clients and prospects on that personal, social level.
Recruitment and the advisor career was another key theme, as evidenced in Edward’s talk about how people join people and causes, not companies. To attract top talent, firms must be able to align themselves to a meaningful purpose, and field managers must instill in advisors that their core motivation is finding, educating and inspiring consumers to take action to better their well-being, he said. Thanks to the explosive growth and influence of social media, it’s never been easier for both companies and advisors to publicly show and reinforce their mission and values.GAMA LAMP Hearsay Social
The atmosphere of this year’s GAMA LAMP Asia was electric throughout the three-day conference, and we’re thrilled to have been a part of the action!
Read more about Hearsay Social and how we’ve empowered over 115,000 advisors and professionals to deepen relationships with clients using social media.
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