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Clara Shih to Discuss the Impact of Automation at Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2016 (#FortuneTech)

Artificial Intelligence HeadshotsHearsay Social CEO and founder Clara Shih (@ClaraShih) will join Adam Nash (@AdamNash), president/CEO of Wealthfront; Sallie Krawcheck (@SallieKrawcheck), CEO/co-founder of Ellevest; and Aydin Senkut (@ASenkut), founder/managing director of Felicis Ventures, for a lively discussion on the impact of artificial intelligence at 2016 Fortune Brainstorm Tech (@BrainstormTech) this week in Aspen, Colo.
Other scheduled conference speakers include Robert Iger, chairman/CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco, and Reshma Saujani, CEO of Girls Who Code.
Clara’s panel, titled “Artificial Intelligence: Can a Machine Make You Millions?” and moderated by Fortune assistant managing editor Adam Lashinsky (@AdamLashinsky), will address the current and future influence of automation on the workforce. Are machines better than humans when it comes to work? Why not both? Cognitive systems are bringing new levels of automation and productivity to a broad range of fields, from financial services to manufacturing. The panelists will discuss how these emerging technologies will change how consumers buy, businesses operate and investors fund companies.
As witnesses to how technology and big data are changing workplace fundamentals at lightning speed, the topic of automation and robots versus (or co-existing with) humans is a hot one, with sweeping cultural and social implications for both the current and future generations. Most recently, global consulting firm McKinsey & Company published initial conclusions from research on the degree to which automation will replace work activities performed by humans across a multitude of industries. Check out the full article from McKinsey, “Where machines could replace humans – and where they can’t (yet),” and a summary published in Fortune.
Follow the Brainstorm Tech feed for live coverage of the event and #fortunetech on Twitter!
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Clara Shih, Hearsay Social CEO, Named 2016 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Finalist

2016-EOY-Regional-Finalist-LogoThe Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year awards program this week announced their finalists, and we’re excited to announce that Hearsay Social CEO and founder Clara Shih is on the list!
The awards, which is celebrating its 30th year, recognizes entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year has been at the forefront of identifying game-changing business leaders for the past 30 years. The program has honored the inspirational leadership of such entrepreneurs as Howard Schultz of Starbucks; Jeff Bezos of; John Mackey of Whole Foods Market; Pierre Omidyar of eBay; Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn; and Mindy Grossman of HSN, Inc.
Clara was selected as a finalist by a panel of independent judges from multiple industries, including technology, finance, healthcare and more. The selection process included a nomination application and a series of in-person interviews. Previous finalists from the greater northern California region include Kenneth Lin, CEO and founder of Credit Karma (and guest speaker at our Hearsay Social Innovation Summit last week); Keith J. Krach, Chairman and CEO of DocuSign; and John Foraker, CEO of Annie’s, Inc.
The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 145 cities in more than 60 countries throughout the world. It has recognized more than 10,000 outstanding entrepreneurs for their vision, innovation, courage and leadership in building and growing successful businesses – businesses that influence the way we live, the products and services we depend on, and the economic vibrancy of our local communities and global markets.
For more information on the awards program, visit the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Northern California Region site.
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#HSonAir Podcast: Interview with Craig Iskowitz of the Ezra Group

IMG_9703In Episode 69, I interview Craig Iskowitz (@craigiskowitz), Founder and CEO of the Ezra Group, and publisher of two blogs: Wealth Management Today and Think Like a Consultant. The Ezra Group is a management consulting firm that provides business and technology strategy services to the financial services industry. They work with broker-dealers, banks, asset managers, RIA’s and technology vendors to share their deep knowledge and experience in wealth management products and services.
In our conversation we explore the trends and changes in technology affecting the financial services industry and the clients Craig serves. We also talk about robo-advisors, content,  platform consolidation, and the increasing value of data to drive decisions.
I invite you to be a part of the conversation with me @victorgaxiola on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.  If you have a question, comment or suggestion, please send an e-mail to   I also invite you to “like” our  page on Facebook where we share posts about the podcast, our guests, and other fun stuff.


Peter Thiel, Padmasree Warrior, Drew Houston, Clara Shih and other tech leaders center stage at Web Summit

u1Md_RDLIn Dublin for Web Summit next week?
Hearsay Social Social CEO Clara Shih (@clarashih) will be joining the technology industry’s most influential leaders–including Peter Thiel (Founder, Founders Fund, @peterthiel), Padmasree Warrior (Chief Technology & Strategy Officer, Cisco, @padmasree), Drew Houston (Founder, Dropbox, @drewhouston), and many more–for three days of discussions around innovation, marketing, machines, and the enterprise.
Here are some others that will be speaking:

Web Summit speakers

If you’re attending the Summit, you can see Clara speak in two separate sessions on Wednesday, November 5th:

  • At 10:15 AM on the Marketing Stage, Clara will be interviewed one-on-one by Martin Bryant (Editor-in-Chief, The Next Web, @MartinSFP).
  • At 11:45 AM, look for Clara on the Centre Stage, as she will be featured on a panel with Darian Shirazi (Founder and CEO, Radius, @darian314) and Tom Cheshire (Technology Correspondent, Sky News, @tomcheshiresky).

In both sessions, Clara will share background on Hearsay Social and the company’s growth trajectory in Europe, insights into entrepreneurship and women in technology, as well as her perspective on the growing importance of social media and technology at the executive and board level.
See you there!

Introducing Hearsay Social On the Air

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

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

The future of financial services at the Social Business Innovation Summit

Celebrating innovation, technology and social business, Hearsay Social last week hosted its second annual Social Business Innovation Summit in San Francisco, bringing together executives and thought leaders from across the financial services and technology industries.

The Social Business Innovation Summit brought together the greatest minds across financial services and technology. Clockwise from top left: John Taft (CEO of RBC Wealth Management – US), Silicon Valley CEOs (from FutureAdvisor, Braintree, and Prosper), Bryan Schreier (General Partner at Sequoia Capital), Clara Shih (CEO of Hearsay Social), and Eileen McDonnell (Chairman, President & CEO, Penn Mutual).

Hearsay Social President and COO Michael Lock with CEO Clara Shih.

Clara Shih, Lee M. Gammill, Jr. (Retired Vice Chairman, New York Life, and Advisor to Hearsay Social), Scott Perry (CEO, Bankers Life), and J. Scott Davison (CEO, OneAmerica) at breakfast.


In attendance were CEOs, heads of sales and distribution, CMOs, and compliance officers, who packed Dogpatch Studios on Thursday morning to network, learn and understand the trends and themes that are guiding how people buy products and services as well as the opportunities and challenges driving financial firms to adapt.

Inspired by the rapid-fire, rousing talks given at TED conferences, the Summit provided those in attendance–and anyone following our Twitter hashtag #SBIS14–a front row seat into the future of technology and innovation and how businesses will survive and thrive.

See below for photos, tweets, and four key takeaways from the Summit.

Social media is about enhancing human capital, not replacing it

Kicking off the Summit, Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih (@clarashih) shared how client expectations are changing, and technology is altering how consumers make buying decisions. Online sources today are key influencers in each purchase and consumers are conditioned to expect personalized service and an ability to communicate with brand on their own terms and with their own devices.


Faced with an aging advisor population, the firms of tomorrow need to prepare to serve the next generation of investors and provide the tools to recruit the talent that will serve them. Technology scales and offers the ability to serve those previously unreachable, as it challenges and redefines existing models.

Client expectations are changing, and technology is altering how consumers make buying decisions. Online sources today are key influencers in purchases. Additionally, consumers are conditioned to expect personalized service and an ability to communicate with brands on their own terms, with their own devices, through their own channels.

Chris Andrews (Managing Director, Northwestern Mutual) and Karen Kehr (Financial Advisor, Ameriprise Financial) shared how they are using social media to grow, maintain and serve their base of clients in this new climate. Key to their success was the realization that many of their clients were already using social media platforms to network and connect. A personal and professional presence was a natural extension of their existing platform use, allowing them to convert friends into clients and find new opportunities through organic referrals.

Chris Andrews (Managing Director, Northwestern Mutual) and Karen Kehr (Financial Advisor, Ameriprise Financial) in a conversation with Gary Liu (VP Marketing, Hearsay Social).

Eileen McDonnell (Chairman, President & CEO, Penn Mutual) in a fireside chat with Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih.

Establish a culture of innovation

Founded in 1847 in Philadelphia, Penn Mutual has seen its share of changes, and according to Eileen McDonnell (Chairman, President & CEO, Penn Mutual), the industry is in crisis. By the year 2020, over half of the workforce will be comprised of millennials, and financial institutions need to find a way to connect and add value to these consumers. The changing face of insurance means that firms need to broaden their reach to capture new talent, especially women and millennials.

This means firms need to employ tactical initiatives to address the change by choosing the right partners, embracing innovation, and stop making excuses.

“It’s not an either/or situation. People retreat to what is comfortable to them. It will tweak…but I do believe that there will be a next generation of advisor force that will operate very differently, and they will need to co-exist.” — Eileen McDonnell, Penn Mutual

Although Eileen admits that not everyone will be open to change, the next decade will show us new producers, as well as established ones co-existing to serve the market.

Embrace social influence with a human touch

On the advisor panel, Karen Kehr shared how she uses Facebook and LinkedIn to build brand awareness and connect with the multi-generational clients she serves. Through social media, she is able to connect on a personal basis with clients, getting to know their kids and grandkids, which makes the transition to new relationships and business easy.
Chris had a similar experience: recognizing that the financial services business is about high trust relationships, he understood that the ability to relate and share in similar circles makes it easier to grow a book of business based on commonality. Long gone are the days of using the phone to connect with new prospects and expect any kind of exchange, especially when people are avoiding their phones or not using them at all.

“The old models of calling people worked in the 1950s. The 40-calls-a-day model is now broken.  There is a lot of power in social, lots of information, and we need to keep it personal.” — Chris Andrews, Northwestern Mutual

Social doesn’t just help grow new business, but it also helps retain existing business. People will continue to work with advisors they trust and can relate to, and social makes it easier for people to understand who you are on a personal and professional level. It reduces the intimidation that one may feel working with a financial professional and makes clients feel comfortable and connected.

The dial-and-smile mentality is broken and no longer addresses how clients are making buying decisions. Karen concluded: “If you don’t have a presence, you don’t count.”

Joe Fernandez (CEO and founder of Klout, @JoeFernandez), whose software measures social influence and explores how people buy products and services, expanded on this idea during his presentation.

Joe Fernandez (CEO and founder of Klout) tells the story behind Klout and the meaning of social influence.

People today don’t pay attention to ads or billboards like they used to, and consumers are using information from peers to differentiate and select products. We listen to our friends, not brands.

“84% of millennial say user-generated content influences what they buy.” — Joe Fernandez, Klout

The leverage and reach provided by social media has increased the power consumers have over brands to influence the perception of products and services. In the post-advertising world, we only care what our friends say, and the power shifts back to consumers. If you don’t recognize the power of the people, you are missing an opportunity.

As an example of one platform that empowers both individuals and brands, Ralf VonSosen (Head of Marketing for Sales Solutions from LinkedIn, @rvonsosen) shared how LinkedIn is helping professionals connect with current and prospective clients, making them more productive and successful.

Ralf VonSosen (Head of Marketing for Sales Solutions from LinkedIn) talks the future of social networks.

In total, LinkedIn has over 300 million global members representing 300,000 jobs and billions of updates on a daily basis. They have built their platform to focus on three main areas:

  1. Identity: The resume is not as important as it once was when you can now use a digital resume that brings to life your professional background and the ability to create an online brand.
  2. Networks: LinkedIn continues to expand the growth of the network and talent pool available on a global basis.
  3. Knowledge: LinkedIn is quickly expanding as the definitive professional publishing platform, as evidenced by its acquisition of SlideShare, the growth of Groups and Pulse, and the expansion of its Influencer program.

At a high level, LinkedIn continues to define the role it plays in providing value to its members and continues to develop the platform to serve as an Economic Graph–a digital representation of the economy by connecting talent with opportunity at a massive scale and creating a capital of talent.

“The vision is to digitize this and then leverage this capital to where it can be more productive.” — Ralf VonSosen, LinkedIn

For users, this can only increase the value that LinkedIn provides its members, whether they are looking for job, a connection or new talent.

Resist naysayers and embrace disruption

Tapping into its Silicon Valley network, Hearsay Social was proud to present a unique panel of entrepreneurs–Bill Ready (CEO, Braintree, @williamready), Aaron Vermut (CEO, Prosper, @vermooti), and Bo Lu (CEO and founder, FutureAdvisor, @bolu)–who joined the Summit to share their views on entrepreneurship, technology trends in financial services, and how to succeed in the digital era. The panel was moderated by Amir Efrati (Senior Reporter, The Information, @amir).

Bo Lu (CEO and founder, FutureAdvisor), Bill Ready (CEO, Braintree), and Aaron Vermut (CEO, Prosper), share their view of financial services innovation with moderator Amir Efrati (Senior Reporter, The Information).

Although each business is focused on a unique value proposition, they each share a common theme: disruption.

Whether it’s addressing the underserved masses with financial advisory services, micro-lending opportunities or new payment options, each company is challenging existing business models with ones that are meant to improve efficiencies and client experiences.

This is not unlike what social media is doing in financial services. It would be easy for advisors and firms to ignore the benefits of social media and hide behind the excuse of regulatory or compliance concerns.  As the panel of entrepreneurs pointed out, however, the changing consumer base is wired differently, and technology is making it easier to disrupt existing systems that have yet to evolve, echoing some of the same sentiments shared by Joe Fernandez of Klout and Chris Andrews from Northwestern Mutual.

John Taft (CEO of RBC Wealth Management — US) provided a different perspective on the disruptive challenge these new companies are creating. Like Eileen before him, John recognizes that the next generation investor’s mindset is different and that more established brick and mortar businesses need to adapt to serve this new consumer. But it won’t happen overnight. And not all consumers are the same.

John Taft (CEO of RBC Wealth Management — US) in a fireside chat with Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih.

Financial services continues to be a high trust, high touch business that demands a personal relationship. The average age of clients is in the mid-50s and their advisors are about the same. Businesses have been built around the trust that advisors gain through personal connections established at local golf clubs, associations and common interest groups. RBC Wealth Management – US, although progressive in its approach to social, is not looking to address the unseen client market. That being said, they are looking to explore the effect that digital technology is having on wealth management.

John challenged the notion that younger generations don’t like or use the phone because it’s really a matter of where you are in your life cycle. Life gets more complicated as you age, as do your needs. Professional advice is a premium and, the more complicated your life gets, the greater the need to have someone help you navigate through the tough decisions.

To this end, technology is both part of the problem and the solution. Although consumers today have access to more information and are perhaps more confident to make decisions on their own, it’s still a relationship business. Social media provides the avenue for shared values and ideas that ultimately make it easier for people to select the financial professional who is right for them.

Bryan Schreier (General Partner at Sequoia Capital, @schreier) agrees with John that Generation Y is unlikely to abandon their phones once their lives get more complicated.

In the last session of the day, Bryan Schreier (General Partner at Sequoia Capital) and Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih discuss the next decade of Silicon Valley with Adam Lashinsky (Senior Editor at Large, Fortune).

Sequoia Capital spends a lot of time listening to college-aged consumers. What they’ve discovered is that this generation has a “lean back” mentality and prefers to see things in their social streams. They are very willing to share — by taking photos, using Snapchat and sharing online. However, they also expect the brands and services to come to them–an important lesson in the high touch and high trust environment of financial services.

Today, in the age of information, strong relationship management matters, and those that embrace technology to scale both new opportunities and maintain existing relationships will have success. There is a premium in offering personal attention and nothing beats face-to-face; in fact, that’s why we hosted the Innovation Summit in San Francisco, not online via a Web connection.

We’d like to thank all of our clients, partners, speakers and panel members for joining us in San Francisco.  And thank you to all of those who joined us on Twitter using hashtag #SBIS14, as well as the Hearsay Social team who made it happen.

Insights from the 2014 ACLI Executive Roundtable

ACLI logoThis week, I was honored to participate in the ACLI Executive Roundtable with 120 insurance industry CEOs. I’d like to sincerely thank my hosts ACLI President Dirk Kempthorne, ACLI Chairman Johnny Johns, and State Farm CAO Joe Monk for including me.
From attending the event, it was clear that everyone deeply cares about the industry’s collective mission to provide financial security for everyday people to live their lives without having to fear for the worst. Hearsay Social couldn’t be more honored or more proud to contribute in whatever small way we can to such a noble purpose.

The Rise of the Social Economy

In less than a decade, the social network economy has gone from zero to over $150B in revenue. The implications for the insurance industry are immense. For example, Facebook is now the online directory for everyone, becoming the ‘Yellow Pages’ of our time.
Agents need to have a presence on social media because that’s where their customers and prospects are. Clients actively use services like Facebook to learn about and engage with their friends, products, brands and current events. But simply being listed or having a page on Facebook isn’t enough. Industry representatives also need training on how to become effective Social Advisors. They need to understand how to be proactive, continually foster new connections, and listen and react to important events in the lives of their customers and prospects.
During my keynote, we took a real-time poll of the audience. We found that for a whopping 90% of CEOs, social media has elevated to a board and management team-level discussion.

Has the topic of social media for business come up in meetings with your management team or board of directors?

To succeed, social business initiatives need cross-functional coordination and planning. And all too often, social media initiatives get stuck in marketing or compliance where there’s not enough insight into the organization’s overall business strategy. Today, more and more CEOs understand that the push towards social business needs to come from the top down and are getting directly involved in driving adoption forward

Social In the Real World

This was the viewpoint shared by New York Life CEO Ted Mathas and AXA CEO Mark Pearson who joined me in the latter half of the discussion. Each took turn describing how they’ve made social business a company-wide priority and to foster a culture of innovation.
In my next blog post, I’ll talk more about the insights we shared and how financial services companies can embrace social to reinvent the industry.

Exploring the Implications of Social Business at the 2014 ACLI Executive Roundtable

As an outside observer who started working with the financial services industry only a short time ago, I’ve been watching with great interest how the industry’s leaders are managing this time of great change.

From margin compression to changing customer expectations, an aging advisor population and more, there’s no doubt we’re in an era where constant, unrelenting change is the “new normal” and the most successful companies will be those that learn how to face and adapt to these challenges head on.

Later this week, I’ll be attending and speaking at the 2014 ACLI Executive Roundtable in Phoenix, AZ. With more than 300 member organization in the US and abroad, the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) advocates in federal, state, and international forums for public policy that supports the industry and the 75 million American families that rely on life insurers’ products for financial and retirement security. For over 40 years, the ACLI has invited senior executives from the financial services industry to meet annually and examine current, emerging issues affecting the market. This year’s event will focus on how to build strength in these uncertain times and succeed in the competitive, global economy and I’m truly honored to be taking part in it.

I am honored to be addressing this impressive group of industry CEOs and am looking forward also to the remarks from a distinguished group of fellow speakers:

  • Ben Nelson, CEO, NAIC
  • Thomas Donohue, President and CEO, US Chamber of Commerce
  • Erskine Bowles, Former Co-Chair, National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility & Reform and Former White House Chief of Staff
  • Theresa Payton, CEO & President, Fortalice and Former White House CIO
  • Richard Sega, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Conning

I look forward to seeing you in Arizona and hope you can join for my session – How Social Media and Big Data are Transforming Insurance Distribution – on Wednesday, January 8th.

The 5 Risks of Not Being on Social Media: Recap from the Financial Services Roundtable

Every year, more and more companies get smarter about avoiding the risks while tapping into the opportunities of social media.
This year’s Financial Services Roundtable (BITS) in Washington, DC took that conversation to the next level with participation from many financial firms, including Wells Fargo, RBC, and Bank of America and regulatory bodies FINRA and FDIC.

Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih spoke alongside thought leaders like Mark Risoldi, Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase; John Anderson, Director of Platform Operations at Facebook; and Kathleen M. Higgins, Department of Homeland Security.

Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih speaking at the Financial Services Roundtable (BITS)

Specifically, she addressed the risks of not being on social media:

1. Customers can’t find you

Many people use the social Web today to answer whatever questions they might have. When it comes to their most important purchase decisions, for example, people tend to trust their personal networks more than any other sources. On average, buyers progress nearly 60% of the way through their purchase decision-making process before engaging with a sales representative, according to Corporate Executive Board. That’s why it’s so important for you and your business to be findable on the social networks.

2. Struggle to stay top of mind

As a natural progression from the above, you should know that people are researching companies and their sales reps before doing business with them. What are they finding? Having a solid, trustworthy presence on social networks–with relevant information available there–will allow you to boost your credibility and keep you top of mind.

3. Missing out on what customers are saying

People often share important events in their lives on social media, such as when they change jobs or move cities. Tapping into these “social signals” provides an unprecedented opportunity for you to stay current with your most important contacts, including customers and prospects.

4. Losing touch with valuable contacts

Rolodexes and address books have been obsolete for some time now, but even CRM databases today are often full of outdated contact information. Conveniently, everyone typically keeps their information up to date on their social profiles. As a result, social networks provide the most accurate information about where your contacts are and what they’re doing.

5. Lack of innovation

Would you do business with a bank that doesn’t have an online portal? With every technological innovation, from the telephone to email to social, customers will expect businesses to be forward-thinking in the level of service they provide. Today, that increasingly means adopting social media.

John Anderson, Director of Platform and Payments at Facebook; Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih; and Paul Smocer, President of BITS (Technology Division of the Financial Services Roundtable)

Patty Gaumond, VP at State Farm; Michael Varzally, Executive Director at JPMorgan Chase; John Anderson, Director of Platform and Payments, Facebook; and Mark Risoldi, Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase

Other sessions at the event focused on how social media fits into financial services, specifically in regard to changing customer expectations, regulatory and legal rules, and lessons learned from past events.
We look forward to the next roundtable!