Today's connected world requires constant visibility and steady ongoing reinforcement. For advisors, this can lead to reinforcing their presence, expertise, and ensure they are top of mind when important financial topics are weighing heavy on people’s minds. Visibility in front of clients and prospects drives the perception of value, satisfaction, and can lead to referrals.
The challenge is the substantial amount of time, money and effort needed to manually design and implement this outreach process by yourself. The good news, as we have been covering here at the Institute, is that there has been a quantum leap in the art and science that has been developed in client/prospect engagement tools and systems. Many new marketing and client nurturing tools are using advanced data analytics, AI, social media tools, and email/social marketing automation technologies once the strict purview of large mega corporations like Netflix and Amazon.
To explore this further, we reached out to Institute member Brendan Kenalty, partner and CMO of Reachstack - an innovative new enterprise level intelligent email & communication service for advisors and Wealth Management firms. We asked questions to better understand how an advisor can accelerate revenue growth by being visible in every client's newsfeed every week and knowing how to engage with client on the right topics.
Hortz: What was your motivation in creating Reachstack? What important topic area for advisors does it address?
Kenalty: My partners and I are serial tech entrepreneurs always looking for emerging & compelling market opportunities to build products and solutions around. Working in the email marketing, data collection, and sales acceleration arena for 20 years, we saw a big opportunity to use digital channels to help advisors and firms grow their business, simply by adopting proven best practices and tech from other industries. Historically there have been clear gaps in current tools and services being used in financial services firms, mostly driven by a comfortable culture not seeing a need to change what’s working.
Well times have changed. Client expectations have evolved rapidly and firms are scrambling to combat competitive pressures from early adopters of technology and digital services. Digital is increasingly seen as a legit channel to build relationships and new business, with wealth clients now proactively choosing firms and advisors who effectively use them to connect and provide service. Advisors are starting to ask for more help and pushing a lot of ideas and solutions from their perspective, as well as starting to see leaders at some firms driving change. When senior people get involved, they want to see bigger solutions with enterprise scale, integration to other systems, efficiency, and most important measurable business impact.
So, we worked to solve some of the challenges: Deliver clear, measurable & compelling impact for firms against their objectives; make it easier for advisors & marketers to get impact; make the technology integrate with all existing systems; and make it lower risk for compliance.
Hortz: How did you go about developing your digital communication service?
Kenalty: Our most successful products always come by listening to problems people are having…then figuring out how to use our technology to solve them. Last few years we heard a lot from wealth management & financial services firm. As the financial services business environment is changing, margins are getting squeezed and new competitors are entering. Advisors voiced the need to be more visible and proactive to be competitive.
Client expectation around advisor information sharing has drastically changed. Clients today are bombarded by financial advice all day from everywhere. There is a growing need to communicate more directly with clients to be relevant and competitive. We saw how advisors who understand what their clients are interested in have the opportunity to be more proactively strategic with communications and conversations and are winning through deeper engagement.
Our goal was to help advisors share targeted (personalized) information with each of their clients, easily, on a regular basis. But the key to personalization is understanding each client’s unique interests and needs, an area that’s been missing from the marketer’s data set on each client. Because email data is captured at the individual level, we saw the opportunity to use a client’s content consumption to build that interest data set for marketers and advisors to use on 1-1 basis.
Hortz: How does your proprietary client interest tracking & content matching technology actually work?
Kenalty: The key parts of the process are:
First….as we ingest content into our library, we add a layer of meta data which provides rich details on what each article of content is and why someone would read it…including format, author, length, topic, and product affiliation.
Second…as advisors send content to their clients, all interactions are tracked allowing us to build rich data profiles on each client’s individual activity & interests.
Third….leveraging data analytics and AI we match client interest profiles with tagged content, then filtered around a firm’s compliance and commercialization objectives, we curate personalized content for each advisor’s clients that deliver higher engagement, satisfaction, and demand generation.
Hortz: How does ReachStack work with content partners & other providers?
Kenalty: We are not a content producer, but as a content distribution channel we need lots of high quality content to make the system work. As such we need to be able to help our customers source the content they want for their programs. We break content into 5 buckets, and we’ve developed numerous partnerships in each area:
- A firm’s branded content – links to a customer’s blog or websites
- General web content – services that search and provide articles on 3rd party or industry websites (e.g., Upcontent)
- Custom content libraries - 3rd party libraries of custom written content including evergreen and seasonal articles (e.g., FMEX / CentsAI)
- PayWall content – ability to syndicate and provide access to articles from behind paywalls (e.g., Wall Street Journal, Marketwatch, Barron’s)
- We have an option to add FInRA / IIROC compliance filters like Proofpoint to any content feeds to streamline & reduce the time for the review and approval process
Hortz: How complex is the work of combining all the individual tools of modern data analytics, AI & email marketing automation technologies, in just the right way, to increase the impact of your client communications?
Kenalty: Well, it is very complicated, but we’ve taken an organized, phased approach over a number of years. Our data warehouse is at the core of everything we do. It holds all the behavioral information we have collected over time about what each client wants from their advisors based on communication activity. In some cases, the more information we have pulled in from a customer’s CRM and other systems enable other types of targeting like demographic or life stage. The data base allows us to build our other “next best action” components on top of it. Examples are applications like content performance analysis, prediction & automated content matching, and providing Advisor’s with client interest and opportunity lists.
Hortz: What kind of statistics and results can you report for this kind of communication automation cycle?
Kenalty: Leads - Demand for new products and service (cross sell opportunities); Advisor Adoption - participation in program (do they find it worthwhile and helpful); Visibility - interactions between Client and Advisor; Net Promoter Score - referrals; ROI and investment increases.
Hortz: How are advisors and financial firms specifically using your service in creative ways?
Kenalty: Customers are using the platform to do 2 things: 1.) Client satisfaction & referrals - program helps advisors increase client satisfaction & referrals by easily increasing level of data driven communication & information sharing with their clients and 2.) Demand Generation - Build new “owned” digital channel they can use to generate demand for each advisor’s services and firm’s other products.
One example is the Wealth Management group at one of Canada’s famous “big 6” banks who deliver compelling ROI on the program from several areas: 16x increase in advisor communication leads to higher visibility, credibility, satisfaction & advocacy with result of 44% higher Net Promoter Score; over 70% participation rate vs 15% of other digital tools; higher efficiency for advisors by providing data driven hot lists focusing time on best revenue opportunities; stronger content ROI with more reach and impact of firm’s content investments.
Hortz: Any other thoughts or recommendations you would want to share with advisors and wealth management firms?
Kenalty: In an environment of hyper-competition and accelerating change, be bold and start trying things. There are lots of ways you can dip your toe in the water and test things before going full on. And remember that you do not have to do everything yourself. There are lots of partners are out there to help. Take advantage of outsourcing the use of marketing tools, turning them into services for yourself and your advisors. Look for opportunities to drive impact at scale by doing something for ALL the advisors across the organization. Make every program advisor-centric that adds value to them.
Now is time for the time for modern, high impact, efficient enterprise level solutions that focus on driving meaningful metrics in key areas of client visibility, satisfaction, referrals, and demand generation vs simple clicks and likes.