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How U.S. Advisors Can Drum Up Business by Texting [Infographic]

Considering 90 percent of text messages are read within three minutes of delivery, texting represents one of the most powerful communication channels today. For advisors and agents, it can be a powerful tool for converting prospects into clients and strengthening ties with existing clients to grow business.
Take a look at the following infographic for important stats on advisor-client text messaging, and the benefits that can’t be ignored.

Learn more about compliant-controlled text messaging for advisors.

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5 Texting Tips for Increasing Lead Conversion

This blog post is part 2 of a 2-part series. Read part 1, “4 Reasons to Text Prospects for Better Conversion.”
shutterstock_298429103Now that you know how important text messaging is for converting prospects into clients, it’s critical to understand the nuances that make texting such a powerful way to communicate. According to a study by Morgan Stanley, a whopping 91 percent of adults keep their smartphones within arm’s reach. But that doesn’t necessarily mean advisors and agents know the most effective way to use their phones for text messaging. 
Here are five text messaging tips to help turn prospects into clients:

1. Know when to text

Texting is an earned privilege. It’s most effective when you’ve had some type of interaction with a prospect. Have you ever received a text from an unidentified number? It can feel intrusive. That’s the last feeling you want to give a prospective client. Once you’ve communicated with a prospect, the door is open to texting. Texting at this stage can significantly improve conversion up to 112.6 percent over average conversion when following up on leads, according to a study by Velocify

2. Be concise

The beauty of texting is that it’s acceptable and appropriate to keep your message short. Be concise. Ideally, you’ve met your prospect or talked to her before you text, so there should be some context when you reach out. Say hello and if you feel it’s appropriate, perhaps refer to something you discussed when you saw her last. Then, get to the point. Even if you were introduced to this person by a friend, he or she is likely talking to you with a purpose. Prospects aren’t looking for a new best friend; they want you to help them with major life decisions. Be concise. Don’t ramble.

3. Set professional boundaries

It’s easy for texting to feel familiar—it’s an intimate channel that can be used to communicate with faraway parents, partners and close friends. As an advisor, on the other hand, you don’t fit neatly into these categories and, although texting can feel familiar and friendly, you need to maintain a business relationships with your prospects. So, when in doubt, ask yourself, “Would I text this message to my manager?”

4. Text as part of a bigger close strategy

Use texting as a means to communicate when it makes the most sense. In general, texting is a good way to set up meetings, send reminder messages or check in about something happening in your prospect’s life without having to make a call. For example, if you want to send a prospect detailed information about a life insurance plan, it might make better sense to send her that article over email. If you can keep your prospect’s text preferences in mind, you’ll be even better off. Some people will want to catch up or ask you questions over text, while others will prefer a phone call.

5. Be yourself

Nobody wants to feel like they’re texting with an automated machine, and texting gives you the opportunity to be yourself and interact with a prospect in a casual way. You can comment on the rainy weather in your town and easily transition to asking about a prospect’s new job or aging parents. Moreover, texting allows you the time to think about what you’re going to say (before you type it) and respond thoughtfully.
When done right, texting is a crucial component of your digital strategy as a savvy, successful advisor or agent. By texting at the right moments, you can build deeper relationships and convert prospects faster.
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4 Reasons to Text Prospects for Better Conversion

This blog post is part 1 of a 2-part series. Check out part 2, “5 Texting Tips for Increasing Lead Conversion.”

Whether you’re waiting in line for your morning coffee, commuting to work, or even sitting in a meeting—there’s one thing you can count on happening all around you today. Everyone is texting. According to Pew Research Center, 97 percent of U.S. smartphone users text at least once per day. In fact, text messaging has become the most widely used feature on our phones, followed by using the internet, making voice/video calls and email.
Texting has become a crucial part of any high-performing advisor or agent’s communication arsenal. By texting with a prospect, you’re 40 percent more likely to convert that prospect into a client. In a hyper-distracted world, it’s a critical way to connect with prospects.
Here are four reasons to text prospects for better conversions:

1. Millennials don’t answer their phones.

By 2020, almost half of U.S. workers will be millennials. They simply don’t answer their phones. If you’re serious about reaching this tech-savvy sector of the workforce, you have to text them. Many millennials find voice calls intrusive compared to receiving a text. A Nielsen study showed that among 18-to-34-year-olds, average monthly voice minute usage has dropped dramatically from 1,200 to 900 minutes while texting among 18-to-24-year-olds has more than doubled in the same period from an average of 600 messages a month to more than 1,400 texts per month.

2. Communicating via text is a quick, efficient way to get your message across…and get a response. 

Texting, by definition, is a short message (it wasn’t called a Short Message Service, or SMS for nothing). With email, there is a higher expectation for more context, but texts are supposed to be brief. When you’re reaching out to a prospect, texting is a great way to force yourself to keep the message concise. If you’re setting up a lunch to go over a retirement plan, you can worry about the details in person. Just text a note to set up a time. Texting will save you time (emails take longer to write) and help you get to the point quickly.
But texting isn’t just an efficient way for you to get in touch with prospects. It’s also the best way to guarantee your prospect will get your message and respond. A study by Radicati Group showed that 98 percent of texts that are sent will be opened by recipients and 90 percent of texts are read within three minutes of sending them.

3. Texting is personal.

Texting is the most intimate and personal form of communication available to you as an advisor or agent. A great email can still get lost in your prospect’s inbox, but a text message appears alongside your prospects’ texts from her closest family and friends. It’s also casual means to send someone a quick text, which can feel more thoughtful and help build relationships. As an advisor or agent, you’re often communicating about big life ups and downs—a divorce, a new baby, a college savings plan. These are sensitive topics and being able to talk about them one-on-one over text can feel more intimate and private. 

4. Texting provides an easy entry point for a follow-up.

Because texting has such high open and response rates, it’s a great channel for beginning a serious conversation about financial products and services. Perhaps a client of yours introduced you to his friend Gary at a party. You guys chatted casually and at the end of the conversation, Gary mentioned he’s looking for a new home. But you didn’t get his phone number. You follow up with your friend for Gary’s number and text him.
In today’s world, this is a totally kosher way to communicate. Setting up a meeting or call by text is easier for both you and Gary. This requires little effort on your end, and also makes it easy for him to ask for more information. Since you’re highly likely to get a response over text, you can start the conversation about being a first-time home buyer there and follow up over email with information about the real estate market in your city or mortgage loans. Texting makes for a great conversational starting point for business when prospects want to learn more.
It’s a no-brainer as an advisor or agent that you should be taking advantage of texting as an effective communication channel for converting prospects into clients. As long as you’re using a compliance-enabled solution, it’s hard for any prospect to ignore a concise, to-the-point text from you.
To learn more about compliance-enabled text messaging, visit
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Advisors Are Texting, But Are They Compliant?

shutterstock_268912451Text messaging. We’re all doing it. In a recent Pew Research Center study, researchers found that 97% of smartphone owners send text messages. Not only is text messaging easy to do from a mobile phone, it’s a highly effective and efficient way to communicate — and financial services companies can’t ignore it.

But opening up a new communication channel for financial advisors isn’t easy, especially from a compliance standpoint. With regulators paying closer attention to compliance infractions via text messaging, firms need to have the proper supervision over their advisers’ activities on this channel.
What the Law Says
Regulations issued by the FINRA and the SEC require that all electronic communications sent from advisers, including text messages, be supervised and recorded for compliance. Specifically, Finra Rule 3110 requires member firms to have a system to supervise the activities of each registered representative, registered principal and other associated person, and that the system must be reasonably designed to achieve compliance with applicable securities laws and regulations and with applicable Finra rules.
Additionally, Finra Rule 3110 requires a broker-dealer to retain e-communications made by the firm and associated persons who relate to the firm’s business as such. Finra is increasingly bringing disciplinary actions against firms that fail to enforce supervisory oversight over e-communications in violation of Finra Rule 3110.
Compliance Challenges
Until now, comprehensive compliance solutions for text messaging did not exist in the market and firms have tried to address the compliance requirements in a variety of ways that have exposed some of the unique challenges of managing text message communication. For example, some advisors are prohibited outright from text messaging for work purposes, while others use cellular carrier-based systems to capture text messages. Still others have company-issued devices like BlackBerrys that not only have controls which limit the ability to text, but often burdens advisors with having to operate and carry two separate devices.
As mobile devices become an essential part of daily life, there’s now a growing trend toward having a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, even at the big wirehouses. BYOD policies can further blur the lines because advisors are able to conduct both personal and business communications from a single device, further opening up the risk for crossing the line and breaking policy. This year alone, there have been a number of disciplinary actions for failure to supervise e-communications.
Addressing Risk
If there’s a failure to appropriately supervise company-issued devices, the frequency of violations will only increase as more companies migrate toward BYOD policies. It is not a matter of if, but when. Enforcement actions will be taken for text messaging violations either against the company, an employee or both.
In this digital age, advisors need to have as many tools and communication channels as possible to build and deepen relationships with clients and prospects — including text messaging. Companies must be able to provide this technology with the right controls in place. How can they bridge the gap?
It starts with employee education. Representatives of the firms must understand the appropriate use of text messages and when to use another communication method (i.e., in person). Employees should also be educated on policy and process early and often, and companies should include attestation from these employees that they understand the rules and company policies.
Companies must also supervise communications and keep complete records. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines and policy changes that have a significant impact on the business. There are a variety of ways in which organizations can not only manage, supervise and control adviser text messaging but also provide the ability to archive activity; they include third-party technology platforms that enable them to do all this within one dashboard.
Text messaging also poses some consumer privacy risks. Companies should consider monitoring text messages for personally identifiable information communicated via text message to ensure security of all parties’ private information. For example, an organization may want to monitor lexicon terms so they can set up controls and alerts based on the types of messages advisers are sending.
As regulators increasingly crack down on e-communication infractions, the onus is on firms to educate the field about relevant rules and regulations for new channels. Firms must take the appropriate measures to control and supervise texting and still enable advisors to grow their businesses.
This article originally appeared in InvestmentNews.
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