Hearsay Social adds RBC to its client list

Startup is collaborating with LinkedIn to help firms' social-media presence

Feb 14, 2014 @ 1:24 pm

By Trevor Hunnicutt

A startup firm looking to improve financial services firms' social-media presence is integrating more with social-media platforms, as well as the broker-dealer industry.

Hearsay Social Inc. has collaborated with LinkedIn Corp. to streamline social-media management for financial services firms that need to maintain regulatory compliance, chief executive Clara Shih said this week.

The firm has been working with Raymond James Financial Inc. since July. Now it has added RBC Wealth Management to its client list.

RBC didn't use a social-media compliance platform until last year, according to spokeswoman Ann Wasik.

The content of LinkedIn profiles for brokers has to be approved by field supervisors, according to regulations enforced by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.

That meant that whenever an adviser wanted to change his or her profile, it had to be approved, and then information such as interests and skills had to be copied and pasted manually into the new profile, Ms. Shih said.

But a new LinkedIn application programming interface allowed Hearsay Social to develop a more automated process for managers to approve changes, she said.

And the firm is making it easier to toggle, or move between, various profiles, such as the profile for an individual and the company page for a firm.

LinkedIn is by far the most popular social-media platform for financial advisers, with 65.7% using the platform, according to a 2013 InvestmentNews survey.

“LinkedIn has continued to grow, and financial services has continued to embrace LinkedIn, and now we're starting to see some exciting things,” Ms. Shih said.

“With innovation as disruptive and massive as social business is, technology is not sufficient alone. Change management requires education at every level of the company,” Ms. Shih said.

“Social media is rising to the board level agenda,” she said.

Hearsay Social, which was founded in 2009, has raised a total of $51 million, with major backing from venture capital shops New Enterprise Associates and Sequoia Capital.

Hearsay Social's platform helps advisers mine data about clients, conduct outreach efforts and meet compliance requirements on social-media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The firm also works with asset management firms such as Allianz Global Investors that are managing wholesalers and, in turn, their relationships with advisers.

Hearsay Social's offerings compete with those offered by Actiance Inc., from which it won the Raymond James account.

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