A year after it acquired Mast Mobile, Hearsay Systems is introducing technology that gives financial advisors access to much more information on their mobile phones and the ability to turn that data into client calls, text messages and more.
The Advisor Actions mobile solution aims for advisors’ mobile phones to serve as “smart work systems,” so they — and other financial professionals — can spend more time with clients and less on computers.
It does this by tapping into customer relationship management and other core systems, creating shared workflows and triggering Advisor Actions (aka reminders) to do client-facing tasks, which (of course) are tracked.
Is it game changing? “Yes,” said Hearsay Systems founder and CEO Clara Shih, in an interview, without missing a beat.
While the company spent its first years rolling out ways for advisors to communicate on social media (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and be compliant, it then moved onto email marketing and texting.
“With Advisor Actions, we are going beyond these developments,” Shih said. “It’s a start to digitizing the financial advisor.”
By digitizing, she means helping advisors get information quickly and easily on their phones, including data from their broader sales team, as well as field and corporate networks. As this data is turned into client outreach, Hearsay assembles the interactions, which can be analyzed via its technology and integrated or automatically synced with CRM, marketing and related systems.
The comes less than five months after the fintech firm rolled out Hearsay Relate, a communications app to help advisors work with clients via text and voice using a separate business number for their mobile devices.
Advisor, author and blogger Michael Kitces reacted to the news via Twitter, saying: “Advisors have already been digitizing. This isn’t exactly a new ‘start.’ But it is interesting to see how Hearsay is evolving from its original social- media compliance core…”
CRM systems “have been giving reminders about tasks and tracking client communication for years, many via a smartphone …,” Kitces said. “Hearsay does appear to have a better interface for this.”
He adds: “Not that there isn’t a LOT of room for improvement in how advisors access information on the road/from the field. But this is an iterative improvement of solutions …”
Based in San Francisco, Shih and Hearsay strive to keep up with the pace of innovation in Silicon Valley and to get the financial services industry up to speed. The industry, she says, “has not kept up.”
“In the long term, the mobile phone can replace the office and the desktop computer for forward-thinking financial advisors,” Shih explained. At a minimum, Advisor Actions “is a replacement for the corporate BlackBerry” device.
Digitizing the advisor does not mean replacing the advisor with technology, she says, “but making the advisor better.”
With about two-thirds of the average registered rep or insurance agent’s day spent on manual processes, there’s room for improvement. “You can leverage the mobile phone, which we are with 24/7, and turn it into [a means] to get work done. Just by tapping it, you can send out a notification to a client, for instance.”
And this digitization doesn’t have to be overcomplicated, the fintech executive insists. “Advisors do not have to learn everything about compliance and information systems — nor do clients,” she said.
A Real Need?
About 12 months ago, Hearsay started getting requests from advisors and other financial professionals to make it easier for them connect with others and access information from the field via their mobile devices. “‘Can you make it viable and compliant?’ they asked us,” according to Shih.
There’s a lot happening in artificial intelligence, big data and technological innovation worldwide. “But clients still can’t text their advisors,” generally speaking, she said.
Others agree. Industry veteran Dewey Bushaw, head of Retirement Solutions at Pacific Life, says “very little has changed” in financial-services distribution over the years.
By “delivering important cues to sales reps … on their mobile phones and guiding them with the right actions at precisely the right times, Hearsay Advisor Actions has the potential to completely transform field distribution,” he explained in a statement.
The new technology aims to let advisors easily follow up on client leads, for instance, automatically reach out to a client turning 70 about required minimum distributions or share news when there’s a 5% or bigger move in the markets.
By decreasing the manual processing and increasing the ability of advisors to delegate tasks to a junior advisor or client associate, they should be able to reach more clients at critical or “timely” moment, Shih explains.
New York Life and RBC are “early adopters” of the technology, which works with Salesforce Financial Services Cloud CRM, Salesforce Sales Cloud, Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM, NexJ and homegrown CRM systems.
“People come to us and ask for this. They want to increase productivity in the field … and [to] improve the client experience,” she said. Thanks to high expectations for digital service stemming from Amazon, for instance, and cost pressures coming from ETFs and robo-advisors, “firms struggle with this” challenge.
“Digitization should be easier, not harder for the advisor and client, and we should scale [technology] to everyone,” Shih said. “Advisor Actions addresses this via smart-tech design.”