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The Advisory Firm of the Future: A Case Study

We’ve written about the advisor of the future and the fundamental shifts in both client and advisor attitudes, behaviors, and relationships (not to mention the recent shift to remote-first work) that are driving adoption of new technologies for client engagement. And in order to meet expectations as the client engagement model evolves and stand out from the competition, firms need to be forward-thinking in how they support their field.

Not long ago, we were lucky enough to get an inside look at a visionary firm launching cutting edge programs to support their force of over 3,000 independent broker dealers and corporate RIAs. Amy Webber, President & CEO of Cambridge Investment Research, sat down with us to share how she and her team are getting Cambridge-affiliated advisors future-ready, today.

First, Webber shared the three things she sees as critical for advisors to embrace to be successful, today and in the future:

  • The advisor of the future needs to stay innovative and leverage digital engagement heavily.
  • They need to use technology to do the right things and delegate tasks that are not value add.
  • There must be a relentless focus on personalization and customization.

The ‘New Century Council’

Cambridge is ultra focused on making sure their advisors are enabled to meet the three requirements outlined above. They have a ‘New Century Council’ made up of progressively minded advisors and corporate team members, including Webber, that meet regularly to discuss tools they’ll need to be successful into the upcoming decade.

Several years ago, the Council raised texting as a channel that would be critical to success. Not long after, they began exploring solutions and started using Hearsay Relate. Webber herself is a Relate power user and shows strong executive sponsorship by texting with the field. “Every generation is texting. We pushed ourselves to think about how Relate could be used by the home office to communicate with the field, and started the journey believing we had to lead by example,” she explained.

Webber shared a story that demonstrated both the power of their onboarding strategy and how Camridge uses texting to build relationships with personal messages. One of their top producers was resistant to texting, so Webber personally helped get him set up and told him she expected him to send her a text once a day. When he missed a day, she checked in to see how he was doing. This showed him how his clients feel when they get that type of personal connection from him. Incidentally, Webber shares her Relate number with any of her 3,000 advisors who ask.

Though their advisors are all independent, Cambridge carries the cost of Relate for two reasons. First, it’s a critical tool that makes advisors efficient and productive. Second, and perhaps more important, it’s essential for risk mitigation. They weren’t willing to take a chance that compliance requirements weren’t being met.

Centralized Contact Service Center

Many advisors join when they’re embarking on the process to build their own small business and need or want to leverage the infrastructure of a larger company. In addition to offering Relate to all advisors, Cambridge also offers a centralized support center. By joining Cambridge, they get technology, practice management, products and services, compliance, regulation, and—for a fee—a centralized contact service center at a scale they couldn’t build by themselves.

The contact service center, a team of virtual office assistants, is one of Cambridge’s most popular offerings, for both solo and larger offices. The support staff’s pictures go up on the advisor/agency website, they talk to clients, pick up delegated activity in Relate, and clients know them as part of the team. This extended team helps the advisors deliver that level or personal and customized service that clients expect without the heavy lift of increasing headcount. It’s perfect for advisors/agencies who don’t have the bandwidth or desire to staff and train a support team – and enables them to hit the ground running.

A Blueprint for Success

With a continuing eye toward future trends, Cambridge has ensured that their advisors are ready for today and the future. When COVID struck, they were prepared to handle the 100% increase in text messages in the following month, thanks to the foresight of their New Century Council and Webber’s leadership in getting Hearsay Relate in place well before the crisis happened. And while they had a 5-year plan for digital transformation that now must be steeply accelerated, their ability to adapt and lead by example will serve them well.

Interview with Pat Hume of TrapIt: #HSonAir Episode 10

Pat-Victor-WebinarIn episode 10 of Hearsay Social On the Air we launch our Partner Highlight Series with an introduction to TrapIt President Pat Hume (@pathume66).
The episode features a replay of a joint webinar hosted by Victor and Pat on content marketing and the importance of having a content strategy to connect and add value to your social audiences. You can follow the webinar conversation on Twitter at #FinServContent and add your review and feedback to our show at #HSonAir.
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Interviews with Marie Swift and Michael Kitces at #FPABE in Seattle: #HSonAir Episodes 6 and 7

Marie SwiftIn episodes 6 and 7 of Hearsay Social On the Air we introduce and review the Financial Planning Association (FPA) Business and Education Conference (#FPABE) in Seattle and sit down with two thought leaders there.

Episode 6: Marie Swift

In episode 6, we interview Marie Swift of Impact Communications to discuss how she works with independent advisors and planners on their marketing and public relations activities. Also, if you’ve ever wondered whether social media activities can be traced back to real ROI–in dollars–this is an episode you don’t want to miss.
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Michael KitcesEpisode 7: Michael Kitces 

In episode 7, we extend our coverage of the FPA’s conference in an interview with Michael Kitces (financial planner, commentator, speaker, and educator at Kitces.com and partner of the Pinnacle Advisory Group@MichaelKitces). We learn about the evolution of his views toward social business in relation to financial planning, the power of having a blog as a content cornerstone, and the creativity of niche marketing.
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As always, remember to  join the conversation on Twitter with @VictorGaxiola and @ronnykerr using hashtag #HSonAir. We love hearing your feedback!
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Introducing Hearsay Social On the Air

hearsay-podcast-onair (1)As part of our ongoing commitment to serve the financial services community, we are excited to announce the launch of the “Hearsay Social On the Air” podcast.
The podcast is designed specifically for the financial professional, bringing together the latest insights and developments of financial social media solutions covering the entire digital experience.
Hosted by yours truly and Ronny Kerr, Corporate Communications Manager at Hearsay Social, the weekly show will feature interviews with our team, customers, partners, industry thought leaders, and trailblazers of social adoption.  We will specifically focus on how financial professionals are leveraging social media to connect with customers, attract prospects, and grow their business.
The podcast is available today on iTunes (Apple devices) and on Stitcher Radio (Android devices).
Our launch programming includes interviews with Amy McIlwain (president at Financial Social Media@amymcilwain) and Stephen Selby (AVP of social media, audit, and government relations at LIMRA, @StephenFSelby). In the weeks to come we will also feature interviews with Kristin Andree (president at Andree Media and Consulting and social media columnist for Investment News, @andreemedia), as well as Marie Swift (president and CEO at Impact Communications, @marieswift), Michael Kitces of Kitces.com (and partner and the director of research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, @MichaelKitces), and Ted Jenkin (co-CEO at oXYGen Financial, @TedJenkin).
Many of our programs will also highlight our participation, observations, and insights from social and industry conferences providing an inside look at what’s to come and the conversations that are driving the financial services industry forward.
In order to ensure that our programming is meeting the needs of our listeners, we are open to feedback and suggestions on our show on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir and directly via “Ratings and Reviews” on iTunes and Stitcher.
Click here to subscribe to Hearsay Social On the Air on iTunes

Click here to subscribe to Stitcher Radio for Android devices
Listen to Stitcher
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