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5 Themes from SIFMA's 2016 Social Media Seminar

Social media is transforming the advisor-client relationship in very significant ways, from enhancing client services to enabling advisors to authentically communicate with clients and prospects. This year’s SIFMA Social Media Seminar, which aptly took place in the heart of San Francisco’s financial services district on February 25, brought together over a hundred professionals and thought leaders in wealth management, marketing, compliance, and social media to explore how to maximize the use of social platforms amidst an ever-changing regulatory framework. Here’s a look at some of the key themes that emerged throughout the day. 
Regulations and the future of wealth management are top of mind
Our own Founder and CEO Clara Shih (@clarashih) kicked things off during a fireside chat with John Taft, CEO of RBC Wealth Management-US (@RBC), to discuss the role of social media and digital technology and what that means for the wealth management industry. At the onset, they discussed the impact the Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary rule might have on advisors and brokers, emphasizing that advisors must continue to add value by embracing technologies and delivering information when, where, and how consumers want. 


Clara shared an engaging slide that illustrated the ways today’s clients want to engage with advisors–both online and offline–setting the tone and thought leadership that became an integral part of the discussions throughout the rest of the day.

Social business is everybody’s business

In a lively panel presentation on the importance of integrating social media into corporate and financial advisor communications, Sunayna Tuteja (@sunaynat), Director of Social Media and Online Communities at TD Ameritrade, gave everyone a stark reminder that social business is everybody’s business, and social media can no longer be disassociated from a company’s overall marketing strategy. As we’ve often said before, instead of relegating social media to a social media marketing intern, for example, companies must “move social media out of silos and into total integration,” as explained by Dan Greenberg (@dangb), Sr. Account Executive of Financial Services at Twitter, during another panel discussion. 

Consumption shifts will expand into mobile and video platforms

LinkedIn’s Head of North America Financial Services Marketing, Menaka Thillaiampalam (@menakathill), along with Twitter’s Sr. Account Executive of Financial Services, Dan Greenberg, and DoubleDutch CEO and Co-founder, Lawrence Coburn (@lawrencecoburn), discussed some of the key trends facing the financial services industry, mainly centered around the consumer consumption shifts that are currently taking place. One major consumer trend is that the high-net worth market is growing and the way consumers process money will change. Menaka calls it a “societal shift, more so than a generational shift.”
Case in point: “71% of millennials would rather go to the dentist than listen to what their banks are saying,” says Menaka, according to a recent LinkedIn study on the mindset of affluent millennial investors. In reaching out to millennial investors, Twitter’s Greenberg advised the audience to make mobile–and even video–part of their marketing plans, stating that “mobile has doubled the time we spend online.” Moreover, the use of social media has boomed from 7% of individuals in 2010 to 65% today, he says. “And with those that have more than $75,000 of investable assets, the use is very high.”


The discussion moved to the topic of content and the need to focus on communications around social media and educational content. “75% of investors want their financial advisors to give them educational content online, and 35% of prospective clients turn to social media and other online platforms for advice,” says Menaka. “They are using social media to validate their choices, so thought leadership should be seen as a tactical or strategic step,” she said.

The power of the authentic voice (Hint: Create content that makes you seem human)

According to the presenters on the financial advisor panel, authenticity remains a critical means for communicating and engaging with today’s clients and prospects. The group discussed some of their most successful social media strategies for enhancing communication via social media platforms and highlighted how content that resonates is content that wins the day. For example, Karen Goodwin (@karenjgoodwin), a financial advisor at Ameriprise Financial, talked about her successful use of Facebook to promote a Mother’s Day event. Chris Norton (@RogersNortonWM) of Raymond James spoke about how social media allowed him to garner community support for an employee’s child who was participating in an important Little League series.  


Overall, social media allows advisors to grow their customer base with the right type of people.

Evaluate social media compliance in context

Last, but not least, our own VP of Legal and Compliance, Yasmin Zarabi (@yasminzarabi), along with Marc Gilman, Executive Director of Enterprise Legal at Morgan Stanley, and Michael Lisi, Director of Litigation Support at Fidelity Investments, ended on a strong note on a social media compliance panel moderated by Hardy Calicott, Partner at Sidley Austin. Yasmin reinforced to the audience and fellow panelists that compliance is still a large component of any digital strategy, but the rules are really not so black and white. In other words, context really matters. When you look and evaluate whether someone is doing something wrong, you have to look at the totality of the circumstances, she added. 


For information on how to boost social business across your organization, download our latest Hearsay Social Adoption Guide.
Check out our events page for upcoming event information, and please join us as we continue the conversation at #OmnichannelAdvisor.

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Advisor use of social media matures, regulatory requirements are still a challenge: Recap from #SIFMAsocial

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Last week we attended the sold out SIFMA Social Media Seminar in New York City, a one-day event in the heart of Wall Street that brings together experts from a variety of business roles including marketing, business, compliance, and legal, as well as financial advisors, to discuss the expanding use of social media for financial services.

Major themes from the conference included:

  • The financial services industry has greatly advanced its use of social media in recent years, but there is still a lot of opportunity for social media to impact the business.

  • Interpreting regulatory and compliance requirements continues to be a challenge for firms and financial professionals.

  • Social media can be a truly valuable tool for advisors and branches to build their business, especially if they leverage it to expand their client base in a target niche.

Michael Lock (President & COO at Hearsay Social, @michaelhlock) kicked off the seminar with a lively perspective on technology trends and how consumer expectations are changing. In his session, Michael shared some ways in which financial professionals are using social media to build customer relationships. Harking back to a lesson familiar for every good salesperson, he reminded us that social media is about listening first. OnWallStreet author Andrew Welsch (@AndrewWelsch) published a great recap of Michael’s session here.

Here are more key takeaways from the event:

Updates from the social networks

The next session was a panel moderated by Mike White (CMO at Raymond James, @MikeRJF) with financial services industry leaders from LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Mike set the stage with learnings from a roundtable conversation that a group of SIFMA members had shared the day before: “We’ve come a long way over the past few years, but there is still a lot of opportunity,” he said, however, noting “the importance of not looking to social media as a standalone panacea. […] The most successful advisors and firms are looking at it as a piece of an overall marketing program.”

The following conversations from the respective social networks followed these same themes. Some of their insights included:

  • Brad Murphy (Client Partner, Financial Services Vertical at Facebook) described how the Facebook platform has evolved over the past 18 months. Although many business owners have seen a decrease in the organic reach of their pages, Facebook has greatly expanded its targeting ability with its evolving advertising program. Brad specifically referenced new data partnerships, such as with Acxiom, that help financial professionals reach exactly the audience they’re targeting.

  • Jennifer Grazel (Head of Category Development, Financial Services at LinkedIn, @jgrazel) provided insight into the core pillars of focus for LinkedIn: “identity, network and knowledge.” She also explained how the network’s continued push into content publishing and sharing is intended to support the “knowledge” pillar. In addition, she said that LinkedIn’s acquisition of Bizo will support the company’s plans to enable marketers to run nurture programs.

  • Michael Wong (Head of Financial Services at Twitter, @mw145) said that when it comes to content, timing and quality is more important than frequency and volume, citing Vanguard and Motley Fool as two organizations that excel at sharing good content during volatile times. He also predicted that, going forward, the focus will be on developing a mobile experience for end users as well as better analytics to measure effectiveness of campaigns and activity.

Static vs. dynamic content and other regulatory requirements

In the second panel, “Navigating The Web of Social Media Regulation,” Rick Apicella (Morgan Stanley Wealth Management), Thomas Selman (FINRA), Doug Preston (Bank of America Merrill Lynch), and Melissa Callison (Charles Scwhab) discussed the regulatory requirements that govern social media use.

Selman, who is responsible for advertising policy at FINRA, summarized how the regulatory authority thought about social media. They “took a principles-based view of social media,” he said, in order to write regulation that would not have to be changed every time the technology changed. And they “tried to leverage existing rules and terminology” wherever possible instead of introducing new terms. This approach lead to FINRA Regulatory Notices 10-06 and 11-39, which directly address social media.

Supervision and review requirements for social media address two key content categories: “static” content and “dynamic” content. FINRA requires that all static content be pre-reviewed before it is published, and therefore what is categorized as dynamic or static is often a hot topic in conversation amongst legal and compliance professionals.

At this event, Thomas Selman notably commented that “a case can be made for why a tweet is considered dynamic content.” Somebody from the audience even asked him to repeat this because this opinion was in contrast to other interpretations of the regulation that we’ve heard.

“Content is king, and context is queen”

After spending the first half of the day discussing mostly advisor use of social media, the panel “Social Media Strategy & Use at the Corporate Level” specifically zeroed in on corporate and brand use of social media.

Ruth Papazian (HD Vest Financial Services) moderated a discussion with Joe Corriero (Bank of America Merrill Lynch), Kraleigh Woodford (UBS Wealth Management Americas), Jon Pauley (Ameriprise Financial), and Melissa Socci (LPL Financial). This conversation kept coming back to the importance of content, with each team member describing how their respective organization sources, develops and distributes content.

It was especially interesting to hear how firms of different sizes deal with the challenges of creating social content. Joe Corriero, for example, said that Bank of America Merrill Lynch created a “social media newsroom,” which is a regular meeting bringing together all the disciplines (including research, marketing, legal and compliance) to brainstorm and plan their content timelines. And sometimes internal teams aren’t enough. For example, Melissa Socci explained that they occasionally turn to contractors to create additional content pieces like infographics for social media because their traditional, print-first content team doesn’t have quite the right skillset for that. With a much leaner team, Ruth Papazian and her team rely upon the integration of Trapit and Hearsay Social to curate a regular stream of social media content.

Kraleigh Woodford from UBS Wealth Management Americas pointed out that, in additional to the common adage “content is king,” “context is queen.” Kraliegh argued that “it’s the ‘why do I care’ factor” that leads to successful social content. Companies don’t have a shortage of content but they have to be thinking about what people want to consume through social media; feeding them the wrong content, like “linking to a 60-page report,” might not be the be the most effective strategy.

When it comes to a corporate presence and approach to social media in financial services, Melissa Socci said it best: “We are not social media marketing, we are marketing in a social media age.”

Social media strategies for financial advisors and client communication

In the second panel moderated by Mike White (CMO at Raymond James, @MikeRJF), five financial advisors representing Raymond James Financial, Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, Ameriprise Financial, LPL Financial, and Robert W. Baird & Co. shared some of their most successful social media strategies for enhancing communication with clients and prospects.

One theme that stood out? Each of the panelists has found success using social media a little bit differently–depending on their target clients, location, and team structure.

Evan Shear (Branch Manager with Raymond James Financial) uses social media to stay up with what is happening in the lives of his client. One anecdote he shared: he saw via social media that his client had lost a family pet, and so he sent a thoughtful sympathy card and gift. Fueled by what he learns through social media, according to Evan, this type of activity strengthens client relationships and builds deep client loyalty.

Charles Camilleri (Financial Advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services) uses social media to stay top of mind and to get the word out to his extended network that he is a financial advisor. Within a week of using social media for business, Charles got a new client referral from a friend of a friend, simply due to the fact that they learned Camilleri’s profession after connecting on LinkedIn.

In addition to the financial advisors on the panel, Dan Swift (Director of Financial Services at LinkedIn, (@danjswift) shared insights into social selling and some of the exciting functionality that LinkedIn Sales Solution provides to help financial professionals. Dan described how LinkedIn Sales Navigator solves for the “now what?” feeling that often accompanies users who are new to social media. He recently spent three months on the road training 160 advisors on social selling with LinkedIn, and they saw some amazing success. Within that same time period, a subset of those financial professionals won over $100 million in new investable assets–impressive ROI for a program that was just getting started!

With the various success stories that can be correlated to a social presence, we think financial professionals would do well to take advice from one other participant on the panel, Jamie Cox (LPL Financial): “You don’t have time to not be on social media.” We would agree.

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Proud to expand our partnership with SIFMA to help you drive social business best practices

hearsay-social-sifmaToday at the SIFMA Social Media Seminar we proudly announced the renewal and expansion of our strategic partnership with the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) to drive increased thought leadership and education around social media use within SIFMA’s member firms.

Since first partnering with SIFMA in 2012, we’ve worked closely together empowering and educating hundreds of member securities firms, banks, and asset managers on social business best practices. As partners, we’re committed to helping companies like Wedbush–a SIFMA member firm and newly announced Hearsay Social customer–drive better engagement and deeper relationships with clients.

At events throughout the year, including the SIFMA Annual Meeting and SIFMA Social Media Seminar, member firms will receive access to training seminars, greater advocacy with leading social network providers, and more insight into available digital technologies and social media solutions. Kicking off the renewed partnership, Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih keynoted today’s SIFMA Social Media Seminar in San Francisco with a discussion of the increasingly central role social media plays in financial services.

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A conversation with leaders of social media at the SIFMA Social Media Seminar, including Dan Greenberg (Account Manager – Financial Services, Twitter), Jennifer Grazel (Global Head of Category Development – Financial Services, LinkedIn), and Keith Watts (Financial Services Business Lead, Facebook), moderated by Mimi Bloom (Director, Digital and Social Channels, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.).

Over the past several years, the financial industry has increasingly invested in being more customer-centric and having more transparent communications with the public. As more and more financial advisors join social networks to connect with current clients and find new opportunities, it’s clear that 2014 is the year social media moves from an optional tool to an essential way to grow business.

With social media for business becoming an industry standard practice, we’re delighted to expand our partnership with SIFMA to help firms become better practitioners of compliant social business to drive greater client engagement.

Learn more:

Hearsay Social and SIFMA Expand Strategic Partnership to Drive Social Business Education & Thought Leadership for SIFMA Member Firms

Enhancing the social business experience for financial advisors at Wedbush Securities

What broker dealers should expect from the SEC on compliance

Insights from LinkedIn, Raymond James, and Hearsay Social at the SIFMA Social Media Seminar

Another week, another successful SIFMA Social Media Seminar (#SIFMAsocial). Executives and thought leaders across the financial services industry met in New York City yesterday to explore the rapidly evolving social media space and what it means for you, our customers.

“A Conversation with Social Media Leaders” at SIFMA Social Media Seminar, from left to right: Kristin Shevis (Director, Financial Services, Hearsay Social); Jana Friedman (Senior Sales Manager, Twitter); Jennifer Grazel (Global Head of Category Development for Financial Services, LinkedIn); Jayme Lacour (Social Media Director, Putnam Investments); and moderator Steven M. Samuels (Managing Director, Strategy Execution Client Solutions and Segments Group, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, SIFMA Private Client Services Committee)

The seminar succeeded in bringing a wide and varied range of perspectives: we heard from social network executives (LinkedIn and Twitter), we heard from financial advisors (Ameriprise, Wunderlich Securities, and Raymond James), and we heard from SIFMA and FINRA themselves.

Here are a few of our best takeaways from the event:

Share content on social media to be relevant

Kicking off the day was a session featuring social media leaders from LinkedIn, Twitter, Putnam Investments, and Hearsay Social.

Many advisors value LinkedIn most among the social networks because that’s where they find their customers. That was one of many findings Jayme Lacour (@jjlacour, Social Media Director, Putnam Investments) presented from a new Putnam survey on Financial Advisors’ Use of Social Media. Twitter is also growing in usage.

Even on LinkedIn, the way advisors use the network is in flux. The first use case, according to Jennifer Grazel (@jgrazel, Global Head of Category Development for Financial Services, LinkedIn), was building a prospect base. In addition, more advisors are using the platform to stay informed through LinkedIn Today, which serves as a custom newspaper for your industry. One specific thing she noted is that broker dealers are realizing that, to be relevant on social media, they need to be sharing content.

Our own Kristin Shevis (@SheviNY, Director, Financial Services, Hearsay Social) confirmed this, highlighting it as one of the four steps to social business success: get found, grow your network, research and act on social signals, and then–through shared content–build credibility.

Show your clients you care

In an afternoon session hosted by Mike White (CMO, Raymond James Financial and Co-Chair, SIFMA Private Client Services Committee), we heard firsthand from advisors at top financial firms, including Ameriprise, Wunderlich Securities, and Raymond James.
Betsy L. Billard (@fabulousmoolah, Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, Private Wealth Advisor, Ameriprise) shared a real story of how she gained new business through social media: a college connection from years ago saw that she was speaking at a SIFMA conference and connected with her on Facebook. Now he’s CMO at his company and a huge client of hers.
Andrew Bloom (@AbloomBloom, VP, Financial Advisor, Wunderlich Securities) mentioned Hearsay Social being incredibly versatile for his social media use. If he reads something interesting, he posts it through our platform. Agreeing with earlier comments from Betsy, he also said he relies on a close relationship with compliance so that he knows he’s using social media correctly.

Another advisor on the panel, Timothy McNeely (@mcneelyfs, Branch Manager, Independent Contractor Division, Raymond James), said he researches his clients on Facebook because he believes they appreciate that he takes an interest in their lives. One example: he saw a client mention on Facebook buying a piece of art, so the next time he saw her, he discussed it with her, demonstrating that he cared about her and her interests.

Compliance wants to help, not hinder

Of course, you can’t have a social media-focused financial services event without talking about compliance. Thankfully, the conversation has shifted from “how do we prevent this” to “how do we enable this in a safe and compliant manner.”

Joseph E. Price (VP, Advertising Regulation and Corporate Finance, FINRA) compared social media to another popular communications tool: the phone. When FINRA first addressed social media, some worried social networks would make it easier to commit fraud. The truth is, however, FINRA couldn’t block people from using phones any more than they could block social media. So, instead, they provide guidance.

In a later session, we heard loud and clear that the times are changing, when Melissa Callison (VP, Communications Compliance, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc) said it’s “such a good time to be a compliance officer.” More than ever, compliance wants to play an active role in enabling social media. They’re not just saying “no” anymore.

All in all, we found the SIFMA Social Media Seminar to be extremely helpful, and we’re already looking forward to SIFMA’s next event. Feel free to share your own takeaways in the comments!