Texting is crucial to businesses today. After all, it’s the most frequently used form of communication for Americans under 50 (Source: Gallup). And plenty of evidence shows that if financial advisors want to keep clients happy, they need to be able to text with clients too. One of the top reasons clients move on from an advisor is lack of communication. This is particularly apparent amongst the millennial demographic, where the JD Power 2018 U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction StudySM found that 44% indicated they were ready to move on when not satisfied with advisor communication.

Unfortunately, compliance concerns have tended to slow down financial firms’ texting initiatives, leaving advisors behind the curve. To properly support financial advisors with texting solutions, firms can start by taking these critical five steps to get a compliant texting program in place:

1. Ensure message capture and retention. All texts with clients and prospects should be captured, time-stamped, logged, and archived for e-discovery per FINRA SEA Rule 17a-4, FINRA Rule 4511, and FINRA Notice 17-18 (in Canada, per IIROC NI 31-103). Activities performed by assistants, admins, and supervision teams such as message deletion should also be logged for audit trails and intrusion detection.

Time to market is of the essence, so it is best practice to select a solution that can be deployed quickly and has out-of-the-box integration with leading archives like Micro Focus, Veritas, Actiance Smarsh, Global Relay, Proofpoint, and Bloomberg.

2. Make communications “fair and balanced.” As with other communication mediums, text messages must be "fair and balanced" and not mislead consumers. To mitigate advisor exposure and reduce supervision workload, questionable text messages (unsuitable recommendations, PII) should be blocked from going out in the first place by leveraging forbidden keyword lexicons. Otherwise, supervision teams could be saddled with hours of additional manual review and infraction follow-ups each day. Using smart blocking is also a key data loss prevention technique, to keep advisors from purposely or accidentally transmitting sensitive or critical information.

3. Separate work and personal numbers. Advisors should not use their personal mobile number for client communications; personal text messages are not able to be encrypted, they can’t be archived and, in the case of an audit, they are subject to regulatory review.

Based on feedback from over 150,000 advisors, we know that advisors can benefit from a dedicated compliant business number on their personal device, with a strict privacy shield that protects their personal communications – and broker-dealers from anything in their personal communications that might reflect unfavorably on the firm.

4. Add crisp voice quality. Advisors are using their cell phone as their office so they need the ability to do more than just text. Your advisors are on-the-go and VoIP connections can’t cut it in many remote locations. Clients should be able to contact advisors on just one number either through text or voice.

Choose a compliant texting solution with cellular voice calling for sharper call quality and a lower rate of dropped calls than VoIP. Even better find a solution that connects to your landline number.

5. Turnkey CRM integration. To this day, advisors spend up to 70% of their day on tedious, manual tasks. With turnkey CRM integration, advisors save as much as an hour each day in manual data entry. Identify a solution that integrates with Microsoft, Salesforce, homegrown CRMs, and ANY other CRM on the market. CRM integrations should capture every advisor-client text message interaction and all call metadata and leave no manual data entry for your advisors.

For a more comprehensive look at this topic, download Creating a Compliant Texting Policy: A Guide for Financial Services Firms.

Chris Andrew is COO and GM of Hearsay Relate at Hearsay Systems.