In episode 26 we interview Rohit Bhargava (@RohitBhargava), founder of the Influential Marketing Group, trend curator, and expert in helping brands and leaders be more influential. He is the author of five best selling books on topics as wide ranging as the future of healthcare, building a brand with personality, and why leaders never eat cauliflower. Rohit has advised hundreds of global brands and is a Professor of Marketing at Georgetown University.
Today, he joins us to share insight on his latest book “Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict the Future”, now available on Amazon.com. The book is fifth in a series exploring how to use the power of non-obvious thinking to grow your business and make a bigger impact in the world. We think you’ll enjoy the entertaining insights Rohit provides and the lively conversation that follows. Please join @VictorGaxiola and @RonnyKerr in the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.
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As a special holiday treat, eMarketer is sharing a complimentary report entitled Key Digital Trends for 2015.
The report is broken up into three distinct sections. First, it describes the the five key trends in consumer behavior and technology adoption that every marketer needs to know about. Next, it delves into five buzzy technologies that could possibly gain traction in 2015, but are still unproven. Finally, it plainly calls out the areas that “are more hot air than hard reality.”
Here’s a brief outline of the findings:
From Southwest Airlines to Asos, customer engagement has already been transformed by Twitter. Representatives not only respond to customer complaints and inquiries at breakneck speeds, but they share content which show off the company’s unique style and culture, appealing to their respective audiences. Retailers from Burberry to Starbucks (where I’m proud to serve on the board of directors) not only shine through creative campaigns and audience engagement, but they have also made cutting-edge social- and mobile-enabled technology their core business.
Even in financial services, an industry sometimes perceived as slow and sluggish due to the regulatory environment, I’m excited to share that Hearsay Social enables the world’s largest banks, insurers, and financial firms to “get social.” We now support over 100,000 financial professionals, allowing them to meaningfully connect with clients and prospects across multiple social networks and devices.
Whether it’s improved responsiveness to customer complaints, greater audience reach, more instantaneous market insight, or the opportunity to connect with a new lead, compelling business cases now abound on social media.
In most organizations, however, social media still sits in a silo by itself. And some companies are still investing in social just to say they are social. Therefore, my big idea for 2015 is that social media will cease to exist as an individual silo, but instead will become integrated into standard business practice.
With the initial business case proven out, it is time for the C-suite as well as functional leaders to institutionalize social as a core part of how business is done every day. Here’s how:
Define a customer-centered vision for transformation
We like to think we’ve come so far, but change comes from the top. And how much can be said when, in 2014, two in three CEOs still have no social presence on any major social network whatsoever? (Source: 2014 Social CEO Report, CEO.com.) Of those CEOs who do use social media, two in three are only on one platform. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the only Fortune 500 CEO on every major social network is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is arguably the best equipped to understand the power of social.
We need to change this next year. If you truly want to create a customer-centered organization–that is, a company dedicated to long-term success amid seismic shifts in consumer expectations and behavior–then executives at the top must articulate why the transformation needs to take place. The first step towards articulating this is leading by example: CEOs, functional and line-of-business heads, and first-line managers all need to be practicing what they preach so that they are not only more credible but are also better equipped to lead and influence from within their organizations.
Create a new methodology, process, and metrics
It’s no longer acceptable to be doing social media for the sake of doing it. Have a plan in place, no matter how simple. Document your plan and intended goals, train employees and managers on it, drive success by checking in regularly, and, of course, measure people on it.
Our customer success team at Hearsay Social, for example, has developed a four-step methodology for financial firms and their advisors who may initially feel overwhelmed when approaching social: First, establish a presence, which can be measured simply by seeing who has online social profiles. Second, grow your network by connecting with colleagues and clients where appropriate–yet another step that can be easily measured. Next, listen to your network for opportunities that could help you grow your business. Finally, share content and thought leadership to continually stay top of mind with your audience.
Having a methodology, process and metrics in place for the social program helps institutionalize social as part of a company’s DNA and standard operating procedure while ensuring repeatability and scale as the company brings on new employees.
Cut and consolidate
Regardless of the organization, resources are never unlimited. Employees can only get so much done in a day, and there’s only so much cash flowing to fuel projects.
With that in mind, even the largest companies in the world must start thinking like startups by adopting a mentality of ruthless focus. In other words, you need to decide what you’re not going to do in order to make room for social.
For example, many of the insurance agencies we power on social media have decided to stop advertising on park benches and in the Yellow Pages. Instead, they are using their funds to buy promoted posts on Facebook. Another company, a financial services firm, which previously provided two separate training programs for “inter-generational wealth transfer” and “social media” realized that there was actually an opportunity to combine the two because social media should be core to any effort to appeal to future generations of heirs.
Let your people teach and inspire one another
The first three steps are all top-down, but equally important, if not more so, is the groundswell of employee engagement and feeling of ownership. Companies more than ever need to have bottoms-up evangelism and peer-to-peer sharing to succeed in the digital era.
As partners of our client companies, we regularly attend national conferences hosted by our client organizations that bring together advisors across the country to share ideas about how they do business today. Time and time again, we hear anecdotes of social-savvy advisors sharing their success stories and ROI proof points, which serve to sway even the most skeptical advisors to become social media believers and practitioners. In the end, though executive buy-in is crucial, peer-to-peer evangelism will be much more credible than corporate departments pushing their initiatives down. You need both.
Expect continual iteration
To succeed as a company in 2015 and beyond, it is imperative to accept that change is ubiquitous and accelerating. There’s new tech coming out every day–from mobile payments to virtual reality, connected cars and homes to the Internet of Everything–destined to challenge and upend every established sector. In turn, each of these disruptions will cause even newer technologies like social media to evolve, and there will always be new use cases. Perhaps your company may pave the way to the next innovation in social media case studies.
In 2015, social will be disrupted by going mainstream across the enterprise. Soon, we will no longer call it out separately. Social as a silo is going away. A decade ago, we spent a lot of breath talking about “online” experiences, but today we assume every customer is always online. Social will be the same.
At the recent LIMRA Annual conference, innovation and opportunity took center stage. The theme of this year’s conference was “The Leadership Challenge: Connecting in a Distracted World,” highlighting for executive-level conference attendees the importance of evolving their firms to grow their business in today’s digital era.
Presenting at the conference were industry speakers and moderators including Scott Davison (President and CEO, OneAmerica), Joe Monk (chief administrative officer, State Farm Life), Bob Kerzner (President and CEO, LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global, Inc.), Kenny Massey (President and CEO, Modern Woodmen of America), Deanna Mulligan (President and CEO, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America), William Wheeler (President, Americas, MetLife), and Larry Zimpleman (Chairman, President, and CEO, Principal Financial Group), as well as external speakers including Lou Gerstner (former Chairman and CEO, IBM Corporation), Clara Shih (Founder and CEO, Hearsay Social), David Plouffe (SVP for Policy and Strategy, Uber), Don Yaeger (President, Greatness), and Jason Dorsey (The Gen Y Guy, The Center for Generational Kinetics).
Speakers focused on a few key consistent themes throughout the conference:
Adapting to changing demographics
One trend that fueled the topic of change was Millennials. According to LIMRA studies, 37% of Gen Y are unemployed, marrying later, and less likely to trust firms and individuals. In spite of all that, Millennials are more likely to buy life insurance than any other generation. They represent 80 million individuals spending $1 trillion in the US alone, 70% of whom want to learn more about financial education.
Conference speakers such as Bob Kurzner, David Ploufe and Jason Dorsey recognized that this segment of consumers represents a huge opportunity for financial services firms – especially their advisors, but that Millennials are going to buy differently than Boomers.
Adapting to the new buyer journey
Reaching Millennials will require very different methods than past tactics of “smiling and dialing.” For example, Millennials will decide to refer individuals and professionals they trust based on their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. In addition, Millennials consider phone calls an invasion of privacy, preferring engagement via text, email (only reading the subject line, of course), and social media.
Millennial buying drivers also differ, requiring financial education about different topics than their parents. According to Deanna Mulligan of Guardian Life, Millennials seek a secure platform for paying off loans and/or taking care of parents as opposed to buying a home and saving for the college education of their kids – more traditional priorities from the past.
The implication is that advisors need to adapt to consumer changes – both in how they engage and where they engage.
With the rapid emergence of cloud technology, mobile devices, and social media over the past several years, consumers – and not just Millennials – now expect different things from businesses. The conference highlighted key technologies that require advisors to adapt to stay relevant in the digital era:
Mobile & website experiences need to be on par w/Amazon or ESPN experience – ease of use, control & flexibility via @davidplouffe#LIMRAAC
Kicking off the conference, Bob Kerzner highlighted how industry firms need to enable agents to be authentic and engage as individuals, not as brands, especially since the financial services industry is among the least trusted industry (per a recent Gallup survey). Deanna Mulligan also said that social media is required to be where clients are and that social media is key to engaging with clients. Larry Zimpleman agreed and offered that, for the middle and upper income clients, there are primarily two locations to reach potential retail clients: in the workplace and on social media.
The good news is that, based on a LIMRA study earlier this year, 93% of life insurance companies now have social media programs in place vs. 55% in 2010. 70% of surveyed life insurance firms now have a social business program for their advisors.
People trust others in local community — applies to life insurance industry & oppty to be informed by tech + engage as individuals #LIMRAAC
Clara Shih, in her presentation, “The Future of Distribution and Marketing – Staying Relevant in the Digital Era”, discussed how today’s consumers and customers have vastly different client expectations than those from the past. This has primarily been driven over the past five years by rapid growth of technology acceptance, from the Internet to mobile devices to social media. This expectation isn’t driven by competitors in the financial services industry, but rather by the likes of Amazon, Starbucks and Uber.
Clara also highlighted for the audience how social media addresses three key challenges that the Life Insurance industry faces today, including (1) changing client expectations, (2) an aging agent force coupled with the generational gap between agent and new clients, and (3) an outdated distribution model that needs to increase productivity at scale.
Finally, Clara challenged the leadership in the room to innovate beyond social within their firms, revealing the opportunity to enable a true omni-channel experience for clients as well as the opportunity to leverage technology for information discovery, data mining, and informed interactions to simplify the customer experience from signing up to underwriting to customer service.
With today’s big data & predictive analytics technology being more business-friendly along with the right models and data specialists, the industry has the opportunity to apply behavioral economics and data mining to better understand their clients.
In closing, Shih offered three final actions that leaders can take to lead their organizations for success in the digital age:
Commit as management
Incorporate into business process – training, prospecting, etc.
Let early adopters do the talking
Like other industries, the financial services and insurance industry has three choices: ignore these trends and opportunities, innovate, or die. Clearly, the sentiment during and after the conference was that life insurance companies must embrace technology, adapt and integrate this into their training and internal processes, and enable their advisors to engage their clients at scale through technology, strong leadership, and innovation partners.
In episode 5 of Hearsay Social On the Air we introduce Kristin Andree (president at Andree Media and Consulting and social media columnist for Investment News, @andreemedia) in a recorded conversation after the Social Shake Up Conference in Atlanta. In the interview, we learn about the coaching work Kristin does encouraging advisors to use social media in their practice, and we also discuss industry trends.
Listen to the podcast below and join the conversation on Twitter with @VictorGaxiola and @ronnykerr using hashtag #HSonAir.
In episode 3 of Hearsay Social On the Air we introduce Stephen Selby (AVP Social Media, Audit, Govt. Relations, LIMRA, @StephenFSelby) in a recorded interview during the 2014 LIMRA Social Media Conference for Financial Services in Boston. In the interview, we learn about the origins of the conference and social media trends observed since its inception.
Listen to the podcast below and join the conversation on Twitter with @VictorGaxiola and @ronnykerr using hashtag #HSonAir.
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“Financial services (and particularly asset & wealth management) [are] beginning to be disrupted much like retail, publishing, journalism, music, & travel industries.”
While specific discussions were off the record, this was the #1 high-level trend addressed at this year’s Tiburon CEO Summit XXVI, an executive event that brought together the leaders in financial services and technology to discuss the industry’s most important topics.
Hearsay Social’s very own CEO Clara Shih joined executives from across the financial services industry, including Mark Casady (CEO, LPL Financial), Mary Mack (President, Wells Fargo Advisors), Jeff Saut (Chief Investment Strategist, Raymond James & Associates), Jon Stern (Managing Director, Berkshire Capital), and Bill Van Law (President, Investment Advisors Division, Raymond James Financial), onstage to tackle many of these topics and trends.
Clara provided a contrarian “pro-advisor” view amidst an interesting panel of mainly “robo-advice” entrepreneurs Bill Harris (CEO, Personal Capital), Jon Stein (CEO, Betterment), and Alexa von Tobel (CEO, LearnVest). Afterward, industry leaders Mark Casady (CEO, LPL Financial), Mary Mack (President, Wells Fargo Advisors), Scott Curtis (President, Raymond James Financial Services), and Mark Tibergien (CEO, Pershing Advisor Solutions) validated the importance of technology in keeping up with ever-changing client expectations as well as being able to recruit and retain the next generation of advisors. In fact, this was the second most important underlying trend discussed, on a list of 50 trends shared by Tiburon: technology powers the future of financial services. From products to channels to digital marketing and social media, technology is changing how asset and wealth managers engage with both current and prospective clients.
Among the hundreds of financial and technology leaders in attendance, it was refreshing to see the industry’s commitment to embracing new technologies and innovations in order to move business forward.
“SIFMA members share in the common goal of bettering the industry along with the ability to change it for the better” – from SIFMA Private Client Conference 2014
At the SIFMA Private Client Conference hosted by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) earlier this month, “the client” took center stage. Over 300 leaders across the private client industry gathered in New York City to discuss and share best practices regarding how to provide better client services, serve the next generation of clients, and bring on a new digitally-enabled advisor to improve the overall client experience.
Our very own Clara Shih (CEO and founder of Hearsay Social) and John W. Thiel (Head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management)–both pictured above–joined other main stage speakers at the conference including:
Valerie Brown, CEO, Cetera Financial
Gregory Fleming, President, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management & Morgan Stanley Investment Management
Mary Mack, President and Head, Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC
Robert Mulholland, Group Managing Director & Head of Wealth Management & Investment Solutions, UBS Wealth Management Americas
Joseph E. Sweeney, President, Advice & Wealth Management Products & Services, Ameriprise Financial, Inc.
John Taft, CEO, RBC Wealth Management
and Mike White, CMO, Raymond James Financial.
The client experience, changing expectations and the next generation
Kicking off the conference, Robert Mulholland from UBS Wealth Management Americas shared that, with a large aging population in the U.S., discussions at the dinner table among Baby Boomers have shifted to concerns related to long-term care, including the health of aging parents.
With this changing set of priorities, Robert argued that advisors need to be attuned to their Boomer clients’ needs, as well as those of their children, in order to improve client services and the overall client experience.
Bob Mulholland @UBS says ah-ha moment came when surveyed showed #1 concern for affluent clients last yr: long term care @SIFMA
With over $30 trillion flowing from Boomers to Generation Y over the next few decades, the topic of Millennials came up as a key segment for financial advisors to reach. Millennials are seeking financial advice but will check online first (e.g., Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles) before reaching out for help or speaking with advisors, according to Valerie Brown, CEO, Cetera Financial.
Valerie added that advisors need to understand the outlook of the Gen Y investor who keeps 52% of their assets in cash, don’t want to be sold to, are much more skeptical than their parents on the value and returns of capital market, and demand transparency. Perhaps most striking: most Gen Y heirs don’t stay with their parents’ financial advisors.
With these evolving client needs and expectations, Mary Mack, President and Head, Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, highlighted that the industry and its advisors must work to transform the client experience. She added that this is especially the case since the client is now used to interacting when and how they want in today’s world of Amazon, Google and Starbucks-like consumer experiences. Mary also highlighted in her talk that the industry must adapt to a client who is on social, digital, and mobile.
Communications strategies, interactive strategies have got to change @WellsFargo Mary Mack says #SIFMA
How technology can enhance, not replace, the financial advisor
To reach clients – older and younger — Brand Meyer, Head of Independent Brokerage Group, Wells Fargo Advisors, commented that people are consuming info differently – 24/7 – and that the industry must embrace mobile and online solutions as an extension of their forms of communications and services.
Valerie cited a survey stating that loyal clients have up to 24 non-financial “touches” (i.e., informal communications) per year from their financial advisor over 12 months versus those less loyal clients who get 3 non-financial touches per year on average.
So how does social media help advisors?
The digitally enabled advisor
With a growing set of Gen Y investors, an aging population of Boomers, and a third of advisors set to retire in the next ten years, a critical call-to-action was made to grow the advisor base organically and enable advisors with technology.
In her keynote, Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih stated that social media can help the industry and financial advisors with many of the top challenges they face, from meeting the changing expectations of clients’ consumer behavior, to enabling advisors to build and deepen client relationships, to growing the advisor population, and to addressing the lack of trust in institutions by empowering the individual financial advisor.
Clara reinforced that advisors now need to meet their clients where they are, noting that nearly two billion people, including 60% of online adults 50 – 64 years old, now regularly access social networking sites.
Advisors are starting to meet that challenge: according to a recent survey, over 75% of advisors report using at least one social media account for business purposes. More importantly, they are starting to see real value from social media use.
More from Hearsay Social's Clara Shih at #SIFMA Private Client: 61% of advisers in 2013 landed a client via LinkedIn.
Clara further noted that social media is an ideal, complementary channel for wealth management for three primary reasons:
Clients are sharing and posting relevant, personal life events, which are key moments of truth for financial advisors to serve their clients’ needs.
Millennials and Boomers go to social networks and other sites online for recommendations and content.
The cost of staying in touch scales through social media, which provides wide reach while still feeling personalized thanks to photos and other forms of multimedia content supported on social media.
Clara closed by offering the audience members a few actions they can take to help their private client services succeed in the digital age. First, in order to stay relevant with end clients and advisors, leaders must help shift the organizational mindset from defense to offense for use of social, mobile and digital technologies. Second, they must help advisors seamlessly incorporate social, mobile, and digital into their practices by offering the right tools, training, and program. Finally, Clara submitted that, to be a champion for social media, the leaders in the audience need to lead by example and learn about how to use social media for business and be on social media themselves.
Hearsay Social will continue to explore these topics at its upcoming Social Business Innovation Summit next week in San Francisco. Top C-level, sales, and marketing leaders from financial services firms along with leaders from Silicon Valley companies such as LinkedIn and Klout will explore the topic of how social, mobile, and digital technologies can help transform the landscape of the financial services industry, enable advisors, and put the clients first.