Skip to content

Leading by example: Empowering the next generation of distribution managers at GAMA LAMP 2014

“Leadership requires us to take risks and risks help us become great managers.”

So said Howard Elias during his opening keynote at GAMA International’s 2014 Leadership and Management Program (LAMP) conference. As GAMA’s retiring president and CEO of Guardian Life Insurance’s Wealth Advisory Group, Howard drew on his decades of leadership experience as he addressed the event’s more than 2,700 attendees. His session focused on the important role distribution leaders have in delivering value to their clients and in keeping the industry relevant to future generations. This was a sentiment that was shared by speakers throughout the conference.

Hearsay Social was excited to be among the event’s participants. Thank you to everyone who came to our sessions or stopped by our booth.  For those of you who weren’t able to attend, here are some of the best takeaways we discovered.

The value of transparency and trust

Robert Krumroy, founder of Identity Branding and creator and CEO of, reminded the audience that they need to build trust and foster relationships before the sales process can begin. “No one cares about your company, commodity or brand,” he said, “… you need to educate your customers. And if you’re not doing it, you have to ask who is.”

Other key points he addressed included:

  • “Stop sending drips and start sending tips.” The most effective advisors use the Internet to share financial information their clients may find useful.

  • “79% of people are more likely to buy from someone they have a connection with. You can’t set an appointment with a prospect until they have emotional safety.”

  • “Social media is not a replacement for social connection. Don’t dismiss the value of using your database to nurture relationships over time.”

Getting down at the Denim & Diamonds Bash
From left to right: Jean Paul LaBelle (Strategic Account Executive, Hearsay Social, @jplabelle), Bonnie Godsman (Vice President, Corporate Relations, GAMA), Clara Shih (CEO, Hearsay Social, @clarashih), Gary Liu (Vice President, Marketing, Hearsay Social, @garycliu) and Shawn Davis (Senior Vice President, Transamerica, @shawncdavis).

How social media and big data are transforming distribution

Next on the stage was Clara Shih, Hearsay Social’s CEO and Founder. In her session, Clara discussed how social media and big data are helping financial services firms address the challenges of the evolving industry.

“People don’t want to buy from institutions,” Clara said, “they want to buy from people they know.” Customers share over 1 billion buying signals each day and advisors who have insight into “three or more life events” are more productive, see an average of a 10% increase in sales and are more likely to get customer referrals.

Clara Shih at GAMA LAMP 2014
Establishing trust and relevancy have never been more important for financial services firms. “Social media is a key way consumers validate their purchasing decisions,” said Clara. “But consumers across all generations still prefer to engage with trusted advisors face-to-face. Today’s technologies should enhance your producers activity. Help them become more successful by encouraging them to tie their digital activities to their real world channels.”

The dawn of the superhuman advisor

In a special Leaders of Tomorrow and Today (LOTT) session, Jason Suen, Hearsay Social’s Director of Customer Success, was joined by Eileen Forrest, Head of Sales Support, AXA Advisors & President, AXA Network, Robert Keorkunian, Regional Director at Modern Woodmen of America, and Desi Doise, State Manager at Woodmen of the World. Their session focused on key tactics financial services firms could implement to drive social business success.

Not surprisingly, compliance was initially a key concern for each of the panelists and their firms. “We started our social media program three years ago as a pilot with a focus on compliance,” said Eileen. “Hearsay Social made it possible to use social media as a marketing program,” a transition that was echoed by the other panelists. As their firms began to embrace digital channels, social media training and access was offered to more and more producers in the field.

Other key takeaways included:

  • Top social networks: “Facebook and LinkedIn are the ones we use the most,” said Robert. Desi agreed. “We use LinkedIn a lot for recruiting,” he said. “By the time we speak with candidates, they already know something about our firm.”

  • Digital replaces other forms of advertising: “We’ve gone from Yellow Pages and mailers, to social where it’s all about giving our clients and prospects quick access to information,” said Robert.

  • Provide social media access and training: “We’ve rolled out our social business program to all of our advisors,” said Eileen. “But before getting access, they need to go through a three-part compliance training program. We also offer a weekly opt-in social media class that covers a variety of topics.”

  • Know your audience: To use social media effectively, advisors need to strike a balance between business, educational and fun content. “We encourage our advisors to share different types of content,” said Eileen. “There should be a 5:1 ratio of fun to business posts,” agreed Robert. “Keep your posts to a schedule and 3-5 posts per week is a good number to shoot for.”

Recruiting and retaining the next generation of talent

The issues of the aging advisor workforce, and challenges of recruiting (and retaining) new talent were discussed throughout the conference. In our next post, we’ll share the best advice we heard for attracting millennial candidates, effective recruiting strategies and empowering new advisors to be successful from day one.

You Can Sell, But You Can’t Hide: Join Hearsay Social and Farmers Insurance at SXSW Interactive 2014

SXSW_Blog_image (1)Going to SXSW? We’d love to see you there!

There are over 800 confirmed sessions for SXSW Interactive alone, featuring a host of influential technology and business leaders including Anne Wojcicki (CEO and co-founder of 23andMe), Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Jelly), and Chelsea Clinton, who is currently Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation.

Here’s one session you don’t want to miss: On Monday, March 10 at 11 AM, Hearsay Social and Farmers Insurance will be leading a talk titled You Can Sell, But You Can’t Hide, which will explore the state of social media in today’s business landscape.

We’re especially excited because our session is a “Core Conversation,” meaning that instead of being a traditional single person or panel presentation, all attendees are invited and encouraged to participate in the discussion. That means we want you and your colleagues to attend our session with fresh ideas on how social media can make an impact across businesses. Come ready to talk!

You Can Sell, But You Can’t Hide

WHEN: 11 AM on Monday, March 10

WHERE: Hilton Austin Downtown, Room 616AB, 500 E 4th St

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 2.51.22 PM

WHO: Jason Suen (Director, Global Customer Success at Hearsay Social, @JasonSuen) and Patrizio Spagnoletto (Head of Digital, Farmers Insurance, @patospago)

WHAT: Social media has changed the game for salespeople, who can no longer survive without adopting new technologies. Today’s buyer is more informed and more connected than ever before, and this change has forced salespeople to adapt or become obsolete. In this session, Hearsay Social and Farmers Insurance, two leaders in the world of social business, will walk through the changing landscape of the connected buyer, and discuss why and how salespeople have to step up their game.

Learn more about our session on the SXSW website or check out one of the below resources from SXSW 2013:

SXSW in 60 seconds: Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih on the most exciting innovation of 2013

“The Death of Marketing” at SXSW 2013

Brian Solis and Clara Shih discuss social content marketing at LinkedIn’s #SXSW Influencers Reception

Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih to keynote on social media, big data and distribution at GAMA LAMP

HeaderLogoToday we’re excited to announce that from March 16-19 we’ll be in Nashville for GAMA’s annual Leadership and Management Program (LAMP), which brings together more than 2,500 field leaders and industry executives representing more than 50 insurance companies from around the world.

GAMA has organized what’s sure to be a superb event, featuring top practitioner speakers including GAMA 2013-14 president Howard J. Elias (Guardian Life), Harry P. Hoopis (Northwestern Mutual), Peter S. Novak (MassMutual), Gregory R. Smith (Farm Bureau Insurance) and more.


Additionally, we’re proud to say we’ll be kicking off the event with a keynote from our CEO Clara Shih on Monday morning. In addition to Clara’s keynote, we will be hosting a workshop on day two of GAMA LAMP with distribution leaders from major financial firms participating. Also, take advantage of the chance to meet one-on-one with a key Hearsay Social executive onsite to explore how social business applies to your specific situation. Sign up here.

Here’s some more information about our sessions at GAMA LAMP:

How Social Media and Big Data are Transforming Distribution

Over one billion people today look to Facebook and Twitter for news and recommendations. At the same time, people are broadcasting life events every day across the social networks. How can advisors today tap into these opportunities to engage with their current and prospective clients?

In this very special keynote kicking off GAMA LAMP on Monday at 9:15 AM, Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih (@ClaraShih) will share how insurers can leverage big data insights from social media to bring digital channel efficiencies to advisor forces and transform distribution.

The Dawn of the Super-Human Advisor

On Tuesday, March 18 at 3 PM, Jason Suen (Global Director of Customer Success, Hearsay Social, @JasonSuen) will be leading a panel with distribution leaders from major financial firms to discuss their experiences with social business. Panelists will share both qualitative insights and concrete actions every leader should be taking to get from “likes” to generating business on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other popular social networks. Participants in this workshop will walk away with a blueprint for leading their organization to success in the social media era.

See you at Clara’s keynote on Monday morning, Jason’s workshop on Tuesday afternoon, booth #435 (where you can enter a daily drawing for a chance to win a set of Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones) and online at #LAMP14 all throughout the event!

Learn more about social media and financial services:

Sales has changed more in the past 10 years than it did in the previous 100

How SunLife Leverages LinkedIn and Stays Compliant

Enhancing the social business experience for financial advisors at Wedbush Securities