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Technology > Marketing Technology

Salesforce Buys Stake in Hearsay, ‘Doubling Down’ on Financial Services

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Hearsay Systems is working with Salesforce to help financial firms record and track all advisor-client communications — with the Hearsay for Salesforce tool now available on the Salesforce AppExchange. Hearsay also just received a minority investment from Salesforce Ventures. 

Though talks about a potential partnership started before the pandemic-related shutdown, the “remote-first environment” — in which advisors and team members work from home on personal devices — made the need for more tracking of these communications more essential, the two firms say.  

“This is really about Salesforce doubling down on wealth management and financial services,” said Hearsay CEO Clara Shih, in an interview Wednesday. “Part of this involves Salesforce investing in Hearsay, and also the two companies are coming together with a joint offering that delivers the complete client experience [for firms]. 

The developments are significant as “Salesforce moves Hearsay closer to becoming the utility for social media archiving in financial services,” said Tim Welsh, head of the consulting firm Nexus Strategy. ”Anytime a firm with such vast reach as Salesforce invests in a financial services technology company it means big things.”

Other technology and wealth management watchers agree.

“Salesforce and Hearsay partnering more deeply is like the Prom Queen and Prom King deciding they actually like other,” quipped Gavin Spitzner, head of Wealth Consulting Partners. “Respective leaders in their individual spaces, it makes perfect sense that they start ‘going steady.’”

What makes them complementary? Hearsay is “a proven leader in the last-mile compliant, connected client communication space,” Spitzner explained, but that’s “not an area that Salesforce is going to try to build themselves.”

By facilitating more connectivity between “opportunity identification [and] execution using preferred client communications channels, the integration and partnership is going benefit their joint clients,” he added.

COVID Context

Over the past few months, advisors have been having “dynamic discussions with clients about parents going to nursing homes, losing loved ones [and] funding college, for example, through text messages,” Shih explained.

“But advisors are so inundated and focused on reaching out to all their clients, but this [contact] is not being put into their CRMs,” she added. As a result, a CRM system might send out an automated campaign, say, around interest rates.

“The client might be interested in refinancing a mortgage, but now is not the right time because she just lost her father, for instance,” Shih said. If such a generic message is sent out, there’s “a cost” from this “tone-deaf” client communication, she explained.

The tie-up seeks to resolve this issue by combining Salesforce’s customer relationship management technology and its automated engagement tools with Hearsay’s compliant engagement resources. “That really completes the whole picture” for advisors and financial firms, according to Shih. 

High Demand

Hearsay says use of its technology has risen 300% year to date vs. the same period of 2019, Due partly to COVID-19. Also, the demand for integrating CRM and other core systems with direct advisor-client engagement, or communication between associates and clients, has “nearly doubled.”

“Hearsay’s last-mile customer engagement platform is a natural addition to our Salesforce applications,” according to Bill Patterson, head of Salesforce CRM Applications.

As firms in financial services and other industries face more regulations, they aim to keep communication between clients and sales, service and marketing teams compliant, Patterson explained. “With Hearsay, we are excited to deliver these enhanced capabilities to Salesforce customers,” he said.

Hearsay’s technology is used by about 170,000 advisors and agents with firms like Ameriprise, Morgan Stanley and Prudential. Other firms that have made a minority investment in Hearsay, which has 200 employees, are Sequoia Capital and NewView Capital.

For its part, Salesforce counts TD Ameritrade, HighTower, LPL Financial, BNY Mellon, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Schwab, Fidelity, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and others as clients.

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