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Hearsay Innovation Summit 2016: Enabling the Omnichannel Advisor in the Age of the Always-Connected Consumer

Hearsay-IS2016-1409San Francisco was the perfect backdrop to Hearsay Social’s fourth annual Innovation Summit (#hearsaysummit), celebrating the intersection of financial services, innovation, and technology. Last week, we had the pleasure and honor of hosting over a hundred thought leaders in technology, wealth management, mortgage, insurance, and banking.
The Summit, which took place on Thursday at the Terra Gallery, provided a unique opportunity for a select group of senior executives, heads of sales, marketing, and compliance, and technology leaders to discuss the most important challenges and opportunities facing the financial services industry.

Key themes included the ongoing role of human advisors and agents and the necessity of firms to leverage technology to empower their advisors to keep them at the center of all customer journeys. Presenters focused on the changing business models and client expectations, including their perspectives of the industry, companies, people, products, and trends poised to emerge in 2016 and beyond.

Here are additional highlights, photos, and key takeaways from the day’s event.

Meeting the expectations of both advisors and clients will challenge existing financial services firms

Hearsay-IS2016-0409Kicking off the Summit was Shelley O’Connor, co-head of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management (@MorganStanley), who shared how her company’s goals to increase efficiencies in branches, enhance the advisor-client experience, and make it easier for advisors to touch more clients more often will be met digitally. 
Today’s shifting client expectations will require advisors to cut through the noise and deliver insights that go well beyond a company’s product offering, she said during Thursday’s opening keynote. I’ve shared this sentiment before and believe the key to connecting with today’s omnichannel client is to engage them in the ways they want to use, not the ways we find convenient.
Naureen Hassan, chief digital officer at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, outlined four key areas that the company will focus on to reach its digital goals; namely, marketing, digitized processes, next-gen products, and client experience. Hearsay-IS2016-0438The company uses data and technology to better understand, acquire, retain, and serve their clients during their whole life cycle.
My co-founder and Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih (@clarashih) spoke about today’s omnichannel advisor and client, and what firms must do to own the digital last mile. For example, in order for advisors to move up the value chain over the next several years, firms will need to leverage next-gen technology tools that enable advisors to deliver the right content, to the right person, at the right time.Hearsay-IS2016-0572
This underscores the importance of marketing to millennials and devising effective solutions that help reach, engage, and convert this highly influential market.

Understanding your customer is crucial to building an ecosystem that lasts

Kenneth Lin (@kennethlin), CEO and founder of Credit Karma, a financial technology startup that continues to challenge financial industry incumbents such as banks and payment networks, spoke during a fireside chat with Noah Wintroub (@nwintroub), global head of internet and digital media at JPMorgan, and challenged everyone to think of their data and what it can do to help companies truly understand their customers.
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The pair spoke about how communicating with customers via social and mobile is a huge part of that, as is optimizing your platforms to get a good grasp of what’s important to your consumer base. In Credit Karma’s case, they’ve built a billion-dollar business disrupting the credit score industry by giving people free access to their scores and helping to match consumers with mortgages, auto loans, and more.
In a fireside chat with The Wall Street Journal tech reporter Deepa Seetharaman (@dseetharaman), Braintree COO Amit Jhawar (@Braintree) discussed the next generation of online payments, and how his company democratizes payments, allowing easy access to loans for the masses. His advice? Companies will need to retool their business models to meet consumers’ growing demand for convenience and security. Hearsay-IS2016-1002

The advice industry must adapt to changing client demographics

Chip Roame (@chiproame), managing partner at Tiburon Strategic Advisors, led an incredible discussion and shared some staggering statistics, noting that consumer wealth is approximately $60 trillion and expected liquidation is $30 trillion. 
Hearsay-IS2016-1046In a robo-advice start-up versus traditional brokerage “debate,” panelists Michael Sha, CEO and founder of SigFig (@sigfiginsights), Bo Lu (@bolu), CEO and founder of FutureAdvisor, and Naureen of Morgan Stanley cleared up some misconceptions that often surround robo-advice options. All parties agreed that the future of wealth management will include a combination of traditional and online advice offerings to meet the needs of a diverse and ever-changing client base. Bo challenged us to think of our own jobs – how many of us utilize software to provide products and services. Advisors and agents have been somewhat under-armed, and firms must do a better job at ensuring advisors are armed. 
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Hearsay-IS2016-1375We were also thrilled to have as a guest Debbie Sterling (@debbieblox), CEO and founder of GoldieBlox, a toy company out to inspire the next generation of female engineers. During a fireside chat with The WSJ’s Deepa, Debbie shared why and how she has made it her mission in life to tackle the gender gap in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. Watch this video for an inside look at how the company has introduced engineering concepts to girls through storytelling and toy building.

Advisors and wealth managers aren’t making the most of technology

Jon Sakoda (@jonsakoda), general partner at New Enterprise Associates (a Hearsay Social investor), discussed the big tech challenges that lie ahead. He says we’re experiencing the “unbundling of financial services” and admonished that “disruption is a leap of faith.”
Hearsay-IS2016-1472The overarching takeaways from all the speakers? Advisors need every advantage to navigate uncertain change, including digital technologies that free their time to focus on what they do best – helping coach clients through tough life decisions.
Thank you to everyone who came to see us, and 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!
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View slides from the presenters at SlideShare, and check out the Summit videos on YouTube.
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Hearsay Social Ranks Again on Bay Area's "Best Place to Work" List in 2016

Hearsay Social has been chosen as one of the BPTW plaqueBay Area’s best places to work for the second year in row, and we are honored for the award! The San Francisco Business Times and the Silicon Valley Business Journal revealed the “Best Places to Work” list last week, and Hearsay Social was ranked 7th of all companies in the mid-sized company category–up from 8th last year.
Companies on the “Best Places to Work” 2016 list are ranked based solely on employee satisfaction surveys in areas such as employee engagement, work satisfaction, employee recognition, professional development, organizational leadership and management practices.
“We’re thrilled to receive this recognition; it’s a wonderful validation of our commitment to our team at Hearsay Social,” said Patty Buckley, VP of Operations, People and Culture. For one, “we’ve put in a lot of work in our professional development program, giving people a strong sense of ownership and supporting them in their endeavors to grow at Hearsay. We’ve also launched some great programs that highlight our team’s skills beyond their day-to-day work. For example, Hearsay Talks gives folks the chance to share their expertise on any subject that’s important to them. It connects us as people, not just co-workers, while also showcasing people’s individual talents and interests.” 
So, what makes Hearsay Social such a great place to work?

Great Leadership Team

BPTW cupcakes2Hailing from all points on the globe, the Hearsay Social leadership team embodies the innovation and agility that defines Silicon Valley, and do an excellent job at creating a work environment that fosters creativity, productivity, and collaboration. Senior leaders work to establish an environment where employees feel valued by the company, helping employees to stay motivated to share ideas, try new things, and have fun.

Engaged Employees

BPTW people photoAt Hearsay Social, one of our primary missions is to engage our employees by making sure they’re excited about the problems we’re solving for our customers and the team that they’re partnering with to a build great company. We’re a place where we want our team to make mistakes and encourage them to do so, so that we’re all learning and getting better every day. And Hearsay Social employees are engaged employees who values a work-friendly environment, customer-first mentality, effective team building, and getting stuff done (GSD).

Cool Perks and Benefits

Hearsay Social continues to add employee benefits as the company grows and evolves. We offer competitive salaries, full health benefits (medical, dental, vision, life), equity so that employees share ownership in what we’re building, unlimited vacation, a 401k plan, free daily lunches, and more.
BPTW dog photoWhile these are fabulous benefits and perks, the best part of our culture is our employees who voice what matters most to them and share it with all of us. Teammates lead Hearsay Makes sessions on crafting, coordinate climbing, basketball, tennis and soccer clubs, host regular game and movie nights at our headquarters. Our Hearsay Helps team has partnered with the Family House, a local non-profit in San Francisco, and hosts year-rounds volunteering and fundraising events for all of us.

Company Culture and Collaborative Workspace

When asked “what word best describes your work culture,” employees responded with the word “Fun”! “Our culture’s such an important part of who we are and how we approach our business and learn together, said Patty. “As we grow, our recruiting team and hiring managers work really hard to ensure we’re hiring people who, in addition to being smart, proactive, and talented in their craft, genuinely care about their teammates and customers.”
Interested In Working at Hearsay Social? We’re hiring! Check out our Careers page for open positions.
 

Transforming Traditional Advisor Channels: Announcing Hearsay Messages and the Predictive Omnichannel Suite


Today, there are millions of financial advisors and insurance agents worldwide, including more than 500,000 in the U.S. alone. And while technology is rapidly changing consumer behavior, preferences, and expectations, the way a typical advisor engages with customers has largely remained unchanged. What once worked before – cold calling, Yellow Pages, static advisor websites – no longer have a place in today’s digital world. A recent study confirmed 83 percent of consumers prefer communication via email, text and/or social.
Customers are now omnichannel: researching online, reaching out to connections via social and mobile for recommendations, and making purchase decisions long before interacting with a single sales professional. In fact, the average consumer spends six hours every day online – on social, mobile, and digital.
Add to this the onslaught of robo-advisors, self-service consumer e-commerce sites, and anticipated regulatory rulings, and advisors have even more pressure to deliver more to clients while charging less. Confronted with this reality, advisors must fundamentally change the way they do business in order to stay relevant and survive.
Advisors know they need to adapt; they know they need to deliver more value and be accessible across all the channels their clients and prospects are engaging on. But advisors aren’t marketing or compliance experts. And asking advisors to figure out how to do it themselves – or barring them from using these channels due to compliance concerns – has proven to be both inefficient and ineffective.
Six years ago, we saw an opportunity to leverage technology to begin addressing these inefficiencies and the need for change through social selling. Since then, more than 115,000 advisors and agents are using our platform to connect with today’s social, mobile, digital consumer. Today, I’m thrilled to announce our Predictive Omnichannel Suite (#omnichanneladvisor), a full set of integrated apps purpose-built for advisors to save time, stay relevant, and deliver more personalized service to their clients.

Hearsay MessagesWe’re also announcing a new product: Hearsay Messages. Many of you have told us that clients and advisors want to text each other, but compliance requirements got in the way. Hearsay Messages is our answer to your call – a compliance-enabled text messaging application that will allow advisors to send and receive business-related texts with customers using the mobile device they already have.
What is a predictive omnichannel suite?
Our four integrated apps (Hearsay Social, Hearsay Sites, Hearsay Mail, and Hearsay Messages) will help advisors engage across channels with their clients. Each app will have built-in predictive analytics to help advisors save time – everything from auto-suggesting meeting reminders to suggesting the “next best action,” i.e., who to reach out to, when to reach out, and what to say.
All four apps are built on the same single, unified platform so advisors don’t have to log in to four different systems, and compliance supervision teams don’t have to approve the same action four times.
Why are we doing this?
The world has changed. Clients expect and demand engagement on their terms any time, anywhere, and on every channel. Traditional field organizations have no choice but to adapt. It’s become our mission to help with this field transformation.
Looking back, it’s been an incredible year at Hearsay Social – thanks to your trust and confidence as well as to our second engineering office, which we recently opened in Seattle. It’s been an amazing journey to go from a single social media platform to a full omnichannel suite in less than 12 months.
Social selling, beautiful and modern SEO-optimized advisor websites, personalized email at scale that doesn’t feel like spam, and text messaging – all have become table stakes in today’s buyer journey and client experience.
We couldn’t have accomplished all this without your support. Here’s to many more milestones ahead together and to helping equip your field organization to succeed now and into the future.
For more details, contact your customer success manager and check out our new executive playbook, The Omnichannel Advisor. Also take a look at my keynote, “The Age of the Trusted Advisor,” from our Innovation Summit in June.

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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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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The Internet of things and other 2015 trends you need to know about

key15As a special holiday treat, eMarketer is sharing a complimentary report entitled Key Digital Trends for 2015.
The report is broken up into three distinct sections. First, it describes the the five key trends in consumer behavior and technology adoption that every marketer needs to know about. Next, it delves into five buzzy technologies that could possibly gain traction in 2015, but are still unproven. Finally, it plainly calls out the areas that “are more hot air than hard reality.”
Here’s a brief outline of the findings:

Five key things you need to know about 2015

  1. ‘Responsiveness’ will rule
  2. Mobile search will surpass desktop
  3. Programmatic will move beyond digital display
  4. The Internet of things will become a thing
  5. Cross-device targeting at scale

Five things that might get big (but might not)

  1. Wearables: not quite ready to wear
  2. Mobile payments? Wait until next year
  3. New life for social commerce
  4. Will content marketing sputter?
  5. Cord-cutting: still more hype than reality

Five things you won’t need to worry about

  1. The desktop
  2. QR codes: not the next big thing
  3. Social TV: the conversation is pretty quiet
  4. Baby boomers: going bust
  5. Privacy? Security? Yawn.

Learn more by downloading the full report and exploring additional resources below.
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Personal touches on social media key to building relationships

thinkadvisor-logoAs a busy financial professional, you don’t have a ton of extra time to manage your social media presence. A standard, solid strategy for advisors today is to find time once a week to post and schedule links to industry or company articles. But, as you’ve likely discovered, this doesn’t result in very many likes, comments, or other forms of engagement from your audience.
So how do you boost your social media presence and make yourself stand out from the pack?
While it’s crucial to share professional content — that’s how you establish credibility — there’s something equally important: showing off your own personal voice. Building relationships within the financial industry has always been about trust, and today you do that by being genuine and trustworthy not only in your business activities, but also on social networks. Customizing your content with your own voice is key to social media success: in fact, content with personalized messages performs six times better than generic links without your customization.
The five tips in this ThinkAdvisor article outline some easy steps you can take to become a more engaging social poster through your personality.
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Tech titans Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Gates, and Clara Shih participating in Code.org's "Hour of Code"

Thanks to the video from this week showing an 8th grader teaching President Barack Obama how to write his first line of code, you might have heard of the Hour of Code. This is just the latest in a long line of initiatives spearheaded by Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.
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As part of this week’s “Hour of Code” event, I’m honored to say that Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih will be joining tech titans Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Gates, and others in 15-minute video Q&As with 100 classrooms across the United States, including Pawcatuck Middle School in Stonington, CT, Birchwood Intermediate School in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, St Francis High School in Traverse City, MI, Cooper High School in Union, KY, Concord High School in Staten Island, NY, Perry-Lecompton Middle School in Perry, KS, and Houck Middle School in Salem, OR.
Watch Clara and her fellow thought leaders in the webchat at the bottom of the post. And here are some thoughts Clara will be sharing:

If an 8th grade girl thinks she might be interested in computer science, where would you tell her to start?

It’d be the same for girl or boy:

  1. Make sure you have a strong math, science, and general academic foundation.
  2. Start coding. It’s easy to start with Web programming and HTML.
  3. Attend summer camp, which is valuable even if you don’t end up doing computer science, which is becoming as foundational in life as reading or writing.

I am a girl and a nerd who is interested in computer programming. Who inspired you and were any of these mentors female?

  • Ada Lovelace (one of the world’s first computer programmers)
  • Grace Hopper (invented the first compiler for a computer programming language)
  • Anita Borg (computer scientist who developed the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology)
  • Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo! and Google’s first female engineer)
  • Bill Gates (co-founder and former CEO and chairman of Microsoft).

What would you consider “key” decisions you made or crossroads you encountered to get to where you are today?

Think entrepreneurially. The best jobs of 10 years ago aren’t the best jobs of today or certainly 10 years from now. The most important thing you can do is build a solid foundation, learn how to think for yourself, and then be opportunistic.
In your opinion, what is the most influential social media platform out there today and why?

Social media has become so widespread that it’s basically impossible to answer that question, like answering what’s the most influential Web app. There are too many. Social has come to occupy different parts of our lives, from professional to family and friends to romantic to quick messaging utility. Aside from the obvious big three, Pinterest, Instagram, and WhatsApp are also very interesting to me.
As new social media platforms pop up everyday, how does Hearsay Social stay on top of trends and change accordingly?

We download and try everything. It helps to be based in Silicon Valley, because we live and breathe technology here.

Improving efficiency and protection with new social media compliance enhancements

As head of legal and compliance at Hearsay Social, it is important to me that we continually provide cutting-edge improvements to the Hearsay Social platform to make the jobs of our compliance and supervision users easier.
Today we announced new enhancements to our compliance capabilities, and I want to share some of the key focus areas for these enhancements.

Streamlining the review and publishing process for static content

Request-Changes-to-Profile-Teal_NEW (1)FINRA sees social media profiles as “static” content and categorizes this content as “advertisements,” meaning profiles require pre-approval by a firm’s principal before they are published. Because we know this review process is a heavily used area of the Hearsay Social platform, we’ve created a new streamlined social profile review, approval, and publishing solution to make it even easier and more efficient for financial professionals to publish compliant profiles.
Many of our customers in highly regulated industries are already using this new profile solution, and I’m happy to report we’ve received extremely positive feedback. With one of the first implementations of the new LinkedIn API, Hearsay Social can now automatically publish approved profile content directly to the network. For supervision professionals, this new functionality ensures public profiles match what they have approved, minimizing risk for the organization and easing compliance for profiles. Plus, it saves advisors and agents the time and headache of having to update their profile manually after new content has been approved.

More pre-approval functionality for dynamic content

We heard from some of our customers that they wanted a better way to pre-approve dynamic social activity from advisors and agents. With recent enhancements, Hearsay Social now lets supervisors pre-approve social engagements such as Likes or comments before they go live on the social networks.

Archive support for photos

An effective social business program is not just text-based. In order to help our customers take advantage of all types of social content, we now provide the ability for firms to archive photos posted by agents and advisors through the platform. This ensures they’re capturing this type of activity in their records, even if it is deleted or removed from the social network at a later date.

Increasing context for improved efficiency

In addition to delivering a new static profile solution, we have added more note and attachment fields so supervision users can share comments or context with each other or advisors during the supervision process. These new fields are also pushed to the archive systems so that complete context is available upon record review. In addition, Hearsay Social now provides enhanced searching and sorting to supervision users so that they can be even more efficient when reviewing or auditing social business activities of agents and advisors.
We hope these enhancements will make our customers’ jobs easier and their social business programs more effective and compliant. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you’d like more information about the new solutions above or other functionality of the Hearsay Social platform.
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