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How Firms Will Reach Next-Gen Investors

shutterstock_156997538The way consumers interact with service providers—whether retail, health care or banking—has profoundly changed from just five years ago. Even in heavily regulated industries like financial services, digital disrupters have drastically altered the status quo, forcing companies to rethink traditional business models in light of new digital entrants and shifting client expectations. From robo advisors to new regulations, millennials to baby boomers, new developments are making clear that the ways of the past are no longer the keys to success in the future—or even today.
The urgent necessity of firms and their employees to adapt to the changing expectations of today’s always-connected consumer was a key theme at Hearsay Social’s recent Innovation Summit in San Francisco, which focused on the transformative changes taking place within the financial services and insurance sector, as well as the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
To stay relevant and succeed in the face of such profound changes, here are five things to keep in mind:

1. Financial technology is an evolution, not a revolution.

The phenomenon that is happening in financial services is an evolution, rather than a revolution, according to Naureen Hassan, the chief digital officer at Morgan Stanley, in her opening remarks on the future of wealth management. Amazon and Google have set the bar for what consumers now expect and demand. These new consumer expectations do not mean that traditional wealth management firms have to completely change course, but they need to evolve.
Consumer trends that started in retail are now clearly affecting regulated industries like financial services. For example, mobile now accounts for 21 percent of all transactions at Starbucks. Allowing customers to order via mobile before picking up their drink moves people through lines more quickly, but still allows for personalized customer experiences. Consumers expect to have access to certain information and activities through their phones, but that doesn’t mean that human interaction is going away. Leading financial firms are exploring similar practices and next-gen tools, and may look to retail leaders like Starbucks for ways to enhance customer experiences.

2. Skate where the puck is going.

This should come as no surprise, but following the money is always a good strategy. There is a lot of buzz in the industry about robo advisors and digital-direct financial products, but those channels only capture a small portion of invested assets. The 10 leading financial advisor channel firms still tout more than $13 trillion assets under management, compared to $250 billion for robo advisors. Focusing on capturing the generational transfer of wealth is a much bigger opportunity. As Chip Roame of Tiburon Strategic Advisors points out, baby boomers, who still hold the majority of America’s wealth, will liquidate some portion of the $59.4 trillion in retirement plans, personal assets and small businesses they currently control. A significant portion of this money will go to the current millennial generation, and getting in touch with them now is essential.

3. Know your next generation of clients.

Financial planners and advisors looking to reach this next group of investors need to know that millennials have already taken the mantle as the largest portion of the American population, and just last year became the biggest part of the American workforce. This is quickly creating a lot of new client opportunities, but firms will need a refined understanding of how to meet the unique needs of this growing demographic, as my co-founder and CEO of Hearsay Social Clara Shih has shared.
Moreover, what financial professionals may not know is that despite their digital dispositions, most millennials still crave face-to-face interaction with an advisor, just like their parents before them. However, millennials also expect those advisors to be digitally savvy. Having a strong online presence and communicating through a variety of digital channels is imperative. Digital technology is not just a disrupter, but also an enabler, opening doors for advisors to have the same human interactions with a younger generation.

4. Digital technology is not turn-key.

Simply opening new digital channels of communication for customers is not enough. You have to put in the effort to actually engage with customers where they want to interact. Kenneth Lin, founder and CEO at Credit Karma, demonstrated how his company conducts all customer interactions online, with no cold calls and no physical touchpoints. While this may not be the right approach for other financial services professionals, it certainly shows that communication will often originate online.
Today, customers expect to find and hear from you exactly when, where and how they prefer: on social media and mobile devices. Millennials are even more likely to share their experiences on social media. As a result, firms that fail to provide desired communication channels for their advisors to reach their clients—like text messaging—puts firms and advisors at risk of being left behind. Amitabh Jhawar, COO of Braintree, said his company uses social media data to inform risk modeling.

5. Financial services are being unbundled.

The primary driver of disruption in financial services is deconstruction of the one-size-fits-all product, according to Jon Sakoda, general partner at venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates. This unbundling allows new entrants to disrupt large incumbent firms by offering specialized, niche services at scale. To compete, traditional financial organizations must offer faster, more efficient services while playing to their “human” strengths. High tech but also high touch is how to win in today’s marketplace.
The undoubted winner in the digital evolution of financial services is the consumer, who will have a wider array of options at cheaper prices. If there are any losers, it will be those who fail to put forth the effort to arm themselves with digital technology to meet the needs of the always connected consumer.
This article originally appeared in 
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Photo Recap: Highlights from Hearsay Innovation Summit 2016

Hearsay Innovation Summit (#hearsaysummit) may be over, but the inspiration and conversations that took place in San Francisco live on. From the networking to inspiring presentations, this year’s event delivered on its many promises. See below for a photo recap of some of Hearsay Innovation Summit’s most memorable moments.

1. An inviting entrance and a behind-the-scene look…


Hearsay-IS2016-00042. Guest arrive at the Terra Gallery in San Francisco.


3. Early in the morning, attendees were treated to a tasty breakfast buffet and smoothie bar.

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4. Lots of networking and mingling took place at Thursday’s event, which included just under two hundred attendees.


5. An inviting and warm welcome by Hearsay Social co-founder and COO Steve Garrity.

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6. After the welcome and opening remarks, the audience was treated to a stellar lineup of presenters which represented both traditional brokerage and fintech ‘disruptors’, including a presentation on the omnichannel customer journey by Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih.


7. After the break, we heard from Hearsay Social’s VP of Product Mark Gilbert and Barry Nelson as they shared Hearsay Social’s product roadmap and vision, followed by a fireside chat with Braintree’s Amit Jhawar and an engaging, fact-driven presentation by Chip Roame of Tiburon Advisors.


8. Guests mingled and engaged in inspiring conversation during lunch.


9. After lunch, a panel consisting of representatives from leading fintech companies and a large brokerage firm took center stage.


10. Goldieblox CEO Debbi Sterling moved the audience with her story of how she turned a concept to empower girls to explore STEM fields into a booming toy company.

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11. Jon Sakoda, general partner at NEA, presented the closing remarks and shared a dynamic presentation on Silicon Valley Perspectives.


12. A captive audience and an insightful Q&A.


13. And finally, a group photo of Hearsay Social senior leaders and industry C-suite executives, customers and partners.

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14.  The day concluded with a book signing of The Social Business Imperative by Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih (on sale now) in which everyone received a complimentary copy.

That’s a wrap!
On behalf of our founders, senior leaders, and employees of Hearsay Social, we want to send a heartfelt “thanks” to everyone who came out to make this the best Summit yet! We’re already looking forward to next year!

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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.
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. 
Hearsay-IS2016-1187  Hearsay-IS2016-1214
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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#HSonAir Podcast: An Interview with Steve Garrity (CTO/Founder) of Hearsay Social

steveblogIn episode 36 we sit down with Steve Garrity (@stgarrity), CTO and Founder of Hearsay Social, to discuss his background and the origins of the company.  We also talk about his recent experience presenting at SxSW and his thoughts on the evolving digital transformation in Financial Services.
Be a part of the conversation on Twitter with @VictorGaxiola and @EliZelig using hashtag #HSonAir. We also invite you send your questions and comments via e-mail to In the spirit of crowdsourcing, we are also looking for your suggestions to help improve our podcast outro. Have a great idea? Don’t hesitate to send it in. We’ll review all submissions and share the best ones in upcoming shows.
To that end, be sure to take a listen to the NEW podcast by our Engineering Group: Software Engineering Fireside Chat,  available on iTunes.
Finally, we’d like to congratulate Duke for winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship on Monday.


Stop Making Sucky Enterprise Software

Note: You only have until September 5 to influence the final sessions for SXSW 2015. Head over to the PanelPicker now and vote for Hearsay Social’s proposed session, “Stop Making Sucky Enterprise Software” Thank you!

Bryan Schreier (Partner, Sequoia Capital) and Steve Garrity (CTO and Founder, Hearsay Social) chatting at @StartX.

In addition to Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih’s proposed session, we’re also backing an engineering-focused session led by our CTO and co-founder Steve Garrity (@stgarrity) for next year’s SXSW Interactive:

Many people in the technology industry believe you have to work in the consumer space to have the biggest impact on the most people. Everyone wants to build the next Facebook or Snapchat, the next app that captivates the minds of millions and gets called “sexy” in TechCrunch articles — simple, beautiful, impactful. People say it’s hard to do this with enterprise software citing how painful most enterprise software is and how many people waste countless hours of their lives fighting it. But why does it have to be that way? Hearsay Social Founder and CTO Steve Garrity, an expert in software development and architecture design, believes we deserve better and will convince SXSW audiences to fight sucky software and demand better experiences with their enterprise business software.

We’re excited about having Steve share his insights and experiences, from developing the services platform at Microsoft to founding and scaling Hearsay Social to where it is today, at SXSW 2015. Help us by voting!

Thank you–Here’s to the next three years and beyond

Three years ago, we left our jobs at Microsoft and to create the next generation of enterprise software. In the wake of the financial crisis, businesses hungered for innovation because they knew they needed step change in order to stay relevant to an increasingly social and mobile customer. Before “social business” and “big data” became part of the common vernacular, we founded Hearsay Labs to take advantage of their intersection. We developed software for relationship managers to attract, retain, and grow customers through social media, and dubbed this “social sales.”

The original Hearsay Labs team working out of a conference room at Sequoia Capital (March 2010)

PowerPoint slide from the original Hearsay Labs “Series A” pitch deck about the social sales value proposition (January 2010)

We dreamed of building a different kind of enterprise company: one which could move at the pace of today’s demanding customer and which could translate the unprecedented innovation and sharing happening on consumer social networks into business value for the enterprise by doing three simple things: 1) driving sales, 2) addressing governance and compliance, and 3) focusing on training and customer success.

In the spirit of that original mission, we are delighted today to announce a $30 million round of Series C funding and more than doubling of our enterprise customer base over the last year.

Hearsay Social has raised an additional $30 million in Series C funding led by existing investors, Sequoia Capital and NEA, bringing its total funding to $51 million.

To our long-standing customers: thank you for believing in us and joining our journey early on. To our newest customers, including Raymond James Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Bank of the West, Nationwide Insurance, Allianz Global Investors, Wunderlich Securities, Modern Woodmen of America, Southwest Business Corporation, RPM Mortgage, and Mortgage Master: a heartfelt welcome from the entire Hearsay Social team! We are excited to use our new funds to drive even greater innovation and social sales success for you.

Between our newly opened European offices and exclusive partnership with LIMRA in the life insurance industry, it has been a busy year at Hearsay Social. But we are just getting started in the social sales movement. We are humbled beyond words by these tremendous milestones that we share with you today, and above all, we thank you, our customers, for your vision and partnership. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Here’s to the next three years and beyond. Here’s to your success in the Social Era!

Our very best,

Clara and Steve

Founders of Hearsay Social (formerly Hearsay Labs)

Hearsay Social team today (July 2013)

To learn more about today’s announcement, read the full press release.

Can your enterprise keep up with the social networks?

Ed. note: The following is an excerpt from David F. Carr’s InformationWeek article on a presentation delivered by Hearsay Social founder and CTO Steve Garrity at the recent E2 Innovate conference in Santa Clara. Read the article in full here.

Part of the challenge of social business is matching speeds between enterprises and organizations like Facebook with a “move fast and break things” philosophy, says Hearsay Social CTO Steve Garrity.
When two spaceships rendezvous in science fiction, the trickiest navigational maneuver is matching speeds and directions so they can dock, or maybe beam across. Captain Kirk’s Enterprise accomplished this on a regular basis, with all sorts of alien craft. Can your enterprise do as well at matching speeds with the social networks?
This question is inspired by Hearsay Social CTO Steve Garrity’s presentation on How to Match Speeds Between Your Enterprise and the Social Networks from the recent E2 Innovate conference in Santa Clara.
“Facebook changes every single day,” with Twitter and LinkedIn keeping almost the same pace — far different from the steady, measured pace of enterprise system development and implementation. “Move fast and break things” is a company motto at Facebook, he pointed out.

Read this article in its entirety at InformationWeek.

TechCrunch Founder Stories spotlights Hearsay Social's strong engineering culture

Engineers are the lifeblood of any true Silicon Valley organization. For any company with a vision of improving the world and streamlining the way business works, as Hearsay Social does by driving deeper customer relationships, great technologists and engineers are essential.
That’s why we’re so proud to see TechCrunch recognizing our strong engineering team and culture.
In the interview below, Michael Abbott (general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, previously Twitter’s VP of Engineering) talks to Hearsay Social founder and CTO Steve Garrity about our company’s engineering culture—from its early development to the present.
What was it like starting an entirely new company after leaving one as large as Microsoft? Why does Hearsay Social regularly send engineers into the field to speak with customers and end users? How do we implement efficient processes to make the most of each engineers’ time?
Steve details answers to these questions and more in the interview. And remember, Hearsay Social is always hiring the best engineers, so get in touch!

Connect with Hearsay Social at leading conferences around the world

Hearsay Social CTO Steve Garrity speaking at InformationWeek 500

Social media may be all about connecting in the online world, but we at Hearsay Social know very well the value of face-to-face conversations. For that reason, we regularly speak at fantastic conferences and events all around the country. It’s always an honor to share our ideas with other industry-leading experts to help companies understand how social sales and marketing can help them engage with customers on social media.
Here’s a sampling of upcoming events where you can connect with us:
This morning at 8:30 AM, Hearsay Social CTO and co-founder Steve Garrity will deliver a session at E2 Innovate in Santa Clara entitled How to Match Speeds Between Your Enterprise and the Social Networks. The APIs for social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ change rapidly, often leaving IT departments reeling. In his session, Steve will explain how companies and their beleaguered IT departments can navigate and become insulated from rapid network API changes.
Later this month, on Monday, November 26th, Mark Tamis (Head of Customer Success, EMEA, Hearsay Social) will be on a panel at iStrategy London titled “From Digital Teams to Digital Businesses”. Mark and fellow panelists will discuss the importance of businesses expanding social and digital outreach from small marketing teams to an organization-wide focus. They will highlight what is required to generate, curate, and nurture a social presence, and what steps companies need to take to ensure success.
In early December, I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be participating on the Social Business Track at LeWeb Paris. Additionally, Mark Gilbert, VP of Product at Hearsay Social, will be speaking on “Social Business Innovators” at Interactive Local Media (ILM) West on December 5. Finally, at the Gramercy Institute’s ninth annual JFAM Financial Marketers’ Summit: WEST on December 5 – 7 in San Francisco, a hand-picked Hearsay Social executive will join fifty senior marketing leaders (mostly from major financial firms) to present on the state of social media as it relates to financial services
Connect with Hearsay Social at these events in the next couple months:

Hearsay Social also recently participated in the following recent events:

Hearsay Social CTO speaks on InformationWeek's 'Valley View'

Hearsay Social co-founder and CTO Steve Garrity was a featured guest on Valley ViewInformationWeek’s monthly live show.

Garrity (right) on set with Valley View hosts David Berland (left) and Fritz Nelson (center)

Garrity, who recently spoke at the InformationWeek 500 conference participated on the show’s Elevator Pitch segment, in which he had two quick minutes to deliver Hearsay’s message to a panel of judges. With a combined score of 23/30 from the show’s three judges, Garrity’s pitch earned the highest score of the segment.
The three critics appreciated Hearsay’s ability to empower local representatives to engage with customers via social media while maintaining brand consistency and protecting against marketing and PR blunders. To watch Garrity’s 2-minute pitch and the rest of the episode click here.
Valley View features the latest business technology news and sheds light on the most compelling happenings in Silicon Valley. Each month three “hot” companies and their executives are placed on the “hot seat.” The co-founders of Taptera and Alteryx participated in the segment with Garrity.