Offering enables compliant use of testimonials and endorsements to drive business growth
Hearsay Systems, the trusted global leader in digital client engagement for the financial services industry, today announced that it is expanding its compliance capabilities to help financial professionals make the most of testimonials and endorsements. The new functionality, which will be available in early October, is designed to assist advisors and firms in adhering to the SEC’s Modernized Marketing Rule, which goes into effect on November 4th.
The new regulations are aimed at simplifying and harmonizing guidelines as well as bringing them in alignment with more modern, digital practices. Under the Marketing Rule, endorsements and other testimonials written about advisors and shared publicly by the advisor via social media are treated as advertisements.
This is significant because financial professionals are increasingly operating in a social world driven by likes, comments, and shares. Testimonials and endorsements are critical tools in an advisor’s marketing toolkit. For both prospective and current clients, testimonials increase credibility and inspire trust and confidence, and endorsements help position and clarify relevant financial skills and expertise.
Most importantly, the emotional resonance driven by testimonials and endorsements translates to real-world dollars and cents for advisors:
- Websites with testimonials saw an average 45% increase in traffic compared to those sites that didn’t and can increase conversions on sales pages by 34%.
- Prospective clients are influenced by—and respond to—positive reviews; 72% of consumers will act only after reading a positive review.
“It is clear that testimonials and endorsements will become increasingly important to the success of financial advisors,” said Bill Simpson, Compliance Principal at Hearsay. “But complying with the Marketing Rule can feel daunting. Hearsay provides solutions that enable firms to fully leverage testimonials and endorsements while making compliance as efficient and thorough as possible.”
Making Compliance Work for Financial Professionals
Hearsay has upgraded four key components of its programs to support the use of testimonials and endorsements within the new Marketing Rule framework. With deployed supervision coverage for LinkedIn Recommendations and Skills and Facebook Reviews and Ratings fields, teams can now use testimonials and endorsements to enhance authenticity and personal branding while inspiring client trust and confidence, all from the Hearsay platform.
Specifically, Hearsay Social’s new capabilities allow supervision and capture of:
- The text of LinkedIn “inbound” recommendations (i.e., recommendations written about Hearsay users) when they are published by the Hearsay user.
- The text of outbound LinkedIn recommendation requests made by Hearsay users (e.g., “Could you please write me a recommendation...”) when the request is made.
- LinkedIn skills added by the Hearsay user, which are recorded as part of the Profile.
- Facebook ratings/reviews posted to Hearsay users’ pages, which are recorded as Activities.
In all instances above, the information is passed on to the archive and alerts are created for administrative compliance review.
Advisors will also be able to attest to any solicitation, conflict, client, and paid status of each of their testimonials within the Hearsay system, and these attestations will help guide the workflow according to each firm’s specific policies, automatically removing any testimonials that don’t adhere.
As with other areas of Hearsay compliance, there are several customization options. For example, firms that want to see every testimonial regardless of risk level can enable that setting, whereas firms that are comfortable letting the least risky testimonials pass through are also free to use that setting. This gives platform users maximum control over what they see.
Finally, because different scenarios require different disclosures, Hearsay will automatically update comments and bios to satisfy SEC rules; custom disclosures set by the compliance administrator will indicate whether the testimonial was solicited, paid for, or constitutes a conflict of interest.