Hearsay Systems CEO Clara Shih.

Hearsay Systems showcased the latest trends and hottest innovations in financial technology at its annual conference Thursday in San Francisco, but CEO Clara Shih also gave a stark assessment on how limited fintech’s reach into advisors’ daily work life is today.

“Where are we now? Advisors are spending 70% of their time on menial processes like follow-up calls. They do not feel the [positive] change that technology offer them,” Shih said.

“With their workday dominated by tedious, manual servicing work and processes, they are losing … time they wish they could spend interacting with and adding value to clients,” the co-founder of Hearsay Systems added.

Shih went on to describe what the firm is doing to change this situation and what best practices she believes can best improve the advisors’ productivity via technology.

On Thursday, Hearsay launched a new communications app to help advisors work with clients via text and voice via a separate business number on their personal phones or other mobile devices. The app, Hearsay Relate, benefits from the firm’s acquisition of Mast Mobile in October to build out more apps that are compliant, according to Shih.

The firm says its new Relate app gives advisors tools to pass on tasks like scheduling meetings to colleagues; pre-scheduling text messages about client reviews, bills, etc.; and simplifying workflows, such as “quick reply” texts via artificial intelligence.

Fintech’s Role, Opportunity

“While we are here today talking about AI and deep learning, the basics are still not available to most advisors and teams,” Shih said. “This is a huge opportunity for us to make a difference.”

She cautioned that while firms may be able to quickly add digital programs, such moves can make advisors feel even more overloaded and produce lackluster returns: “You have to correctly structure programs” so advisors do not feel overwhelmed.

Thus, Hearsay staff and others in fintech are focusing on three priorities:

(1) helping advisors automate and/or delegate what is tedious;

(2) working with them to use digital resources for “high-value moments that matter,” meaning time spent with clients and growing their practices in other ways; and

(3) scanning and retaining all conversations with clients.

This third focus, Shih explains, “is an unexpected advantage of being in a regulated industry.” Overall, she added, “Digital technology is there to drive and impact [advisors’ practices] when it counts most.”

Fintech initiatives at Hearsay and other firms, the executive says, work best if they take advisors and make them “much more relevant to clients and … much more visible. Ultimately, this is about using technology to make humans better.”