Client communication is becoming critical to a growing business, spurring some wealthtech firms to launch tools to quickly engage with clients where they spend most of their time — on their smartphones.
Two prominent fintechs announced plans to launch text messaging services that let advisers reach out to clients using predetermined text messages that have been reviewed in advance by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. to ensure compliance.
Marketing tech platform Snappy Kraken and CRM software developer Redtail Technology are betting the more than 6 billion text messages that are sent globally every day are a sign consumers are open to communicating with businesses via text from confirming appointments to mobile banking. The new tools are another step toward making texting as mainstream as more traditional forms of communications, like email, according to marketing executives.
“People want to deepen existing relationships and communicate in real-time … and for people to receive their messaging on the device that is practically glued to their hand,” said Robert Sofia, Snappy Kraken founder and chief executive officer.
The firm said Thursday it has launched Convos, a desktop app designed for advisers to exchange compliant text messages with their clients. According to data from Snappy Kraken, text messages have a six times higher open rate (98%) than emails and are typically opened within six minutes.
Messages are sent from either an existing office phone number or through new phone numbers created on the platform, according to the announcement. These messages range from setting up appointments to sharing marketing content and can integrate with Salesforce, WealthBox and compliant texting platform MyRepChat.
Redtail Technology Inc. also provides compliance-approved text messaging tools on its platform called Speak, which originally launched in 2017. Redtail is currently working on a version 2.0, according to CEO Brian McLaughlin.
The roll out of text messages is a logical step to expanding the ways that advisers can get closer to clients, especially for clients that speak up about the medium they want to engage in, said April Rudin, founder and president of The Rudin Group.
“Advisers who are interested in deeper relationships must always keep in mind that hyper-personalization begins by dropping the one-size-fits-all mentality,” she said. “It also remains to be seen whether or not people will respond to marketing messages received via text message and separate the signal from the noise with the spam texts we all receive.”
However, advisers should remember there is no “magic bullet” in terms of client communications so what is a great feature for some people, will not work for others, Rudin said.
Marketing and social media expert Samantha Russell, an executive at FMG Suite, agrees that texting clients is a critical medium for engagement but for advisers to walk a “fine line” and remember that text messages are not always the type of funnel advisers want to put every prospect into, she said.
“I’ve been saying for years that the only way to stay relevant in today’s world is to be incredibly timely, and that mobile devices have basically become an extra appendage at this point — something we never go anywhere without,” Russell said. “But from a lead-gen and marketing perspective, how many people really want to get text messages from a company they are not yet the clients of?”
Advisers today are becoming more like marketers, relying on digital marketing tools to engage with clients and grow assets. To that end, sending personalized, timely, and relevant content to the client adds more value to the relationship, and can help clients feel like their adviser is engaging with them beyond scheduled meetings and check-ins, said Mike Orr, vice president with sales fintech Seismic.
Many people in today’s digitally-savvy society prefer to communicate and garner information by text message, and it’s not just millennials. Nancy Hetrick, owner and founder of Smarter Financial Solutions, said she’s been using MyRepChat for years for compliant text messaging and her clients love it, especially those under 60.
“It’s fast, far more personal, and instant,” Hetrick said. “However, if an adviser decides to implement text for clients, they must be prepared to be extra responsive. With these platforms, that’s fairly easy because they are app based and give me the ability to share my user ID and password with my admin staff so that they can respond instantly on my behalf.”
The trick for advisers will be ensuring marketing text messages don’t come across as spam, said Chris Chen, founder of Insight Financial Strategists. “Before long our clients’ SMS will be taken over by all kinds of messages from financial sales, to cannabis and everything else in between,” Chen said. “Briefly, it will get spammy fast. I don’t want to be seen as spam.”
Clients are already bombarded with content from emails, the internet and social media, so it’s wise to be careful to not become another piece of “junk” mail, according to Ashlee deSteiger founder of Gunder Wealth Management.
“I’m strongly against text-message marketing,” she said. “I don’t mind receiving text reminders about less professional things, but I don’t like the marketing texts. I already have too many emails and other app notifications, why would I want more texts too?”
Text messages are meant for communication and relationship building, not overbearing clients or prospects with offerings. “I would be cautious when texting too much to a client because once they turn off the approval you lose the texting ability to them or need to have them reactivate it,” said Ryan Marshall, partner with Ela Financial Group. “Don’t treat text messages like an email box. Clients are bombarded with information on a daily basis and we as advisers need to respect that.”