9 Ways to Get Started With Compliant Mobile Messaging

July 13, 2021

You can ban advisors from texting but you can’t stop clients from initiating texts. Nor can you blame advisors for responding. Texting is a baseline expectation. So are popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat. The question is not whether to allow them, but when and how. In this guide, we share the most common use cases and nine scenarios that are ideal for getting started.


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Chapter 1:

The Case for Compliant Mobile Messaging

There are two sides to the case for compliant mobile messaging. The first is that texting (and messaging—we’ll use them interchangeably) is about the client experience. Clients today can bank on their smartphone and FaceTime their physician. It stands to reason they should be able to text an advisor. Eighty-seven percent of advisors say their clients ask them about it.

Each time an advisor declines their client’s text, and instead pleads for a phone call, that advisor squanders precious social capital. It doesn’t put them in a position to grow the relationship—just the opposite.

The other side is about compliance. Copious studies prove that bans tend to have the opposite of the intended effect. Moratoriums create more of the banned activity, not less. In the case of texting bans, an advisor who knows a deal is on the line has every incentive to respond to their client’s text. If they do, and they realize nothing goes wrong, they begin their journey into so-called “dark communications”—messaging clients outside the company network. Bans push messaging underground where it can’t be monitored. 

Remote and hybrid work only strengthens these cases. For nearly a year and a half, clients and advisors have grown accustomed to texting, FaceTiming, and WhatsApping advisors. Those habits are now fixed. With the regulatory holiday over, every firm is faced with the decision about whether they’ll try to shove it all back in the box. 

What firms decide will undoubtedly affect advisor and client retention. As an author writing for the publication Asian Private Banker points out, candidates are increasingly choosy about firms’ technological tools. Many demand to know what customer management software the bank uses before they’re willing to apply.

Enter compliant mobile messaging

For all these issues, compliant mobile messaging (CMM) is the answer. CMM is a service that allows a firm’s relationship managers to interact, exchange ideas, and transact with clients via popular instant messaging platforms SMS, WhatsApp and WeChat, as well as make phone calls.

The service provides each relationship manager one business phone number that works across devices and platforms. That means they can start a text thread with a client on mobile, but continue to reply within the CRM. 

Everything they do on the service is logged, captured, and controlled. And because it all happens on one service, it effectively separates work and personal. It protects those employees’ privacy—they know that their personal conversations remain separate on personal devices—and it safeguards corporate data in one searchable locker.

There’s a lot that goes into it. But the simple story is it frees advisors and clients to communicate while at the same time, providing compliance, legal, and IT teams visibility and control. 

So the question that naturally follows is, what should your firm use it for first?

Chapter 2:

Use Cases

Clients find compliant mobile messaging to be a relief. It means they only have one number to reach their relationship manager, no matter which mode of communication they prefer. For relationship managers, it’s also a relief. They can cater to the client, and follow that conversation across devices.

A relationship manager can, for instance, initiate a text thread on their personal device, reply to it from their desktop, and then continue that thread from within the CRM. Compliant mobile messaging keeps that thread consistent and secure, and reassures relationship managers that everything they do on it is above-board. 

But compliant mobile messaging also caters to compliance, legal, and security teams who, behind the scenes, decide what’s allowed. They have controls to create custom policies to restrict what’s permissible via text. Or they can set the service to automatically redact personally identifiable information (PII), offensive language, and even questionable words like “guarantee.”

For this guide, we’ve identified the 11 most common use cases, pictured.

The use cases explained:

Think of these as your “toolkit,” to apply in different scenarios.

Chapter 3:


Now, let’s explore the different scenarios in which you’d want to use compliant mobile messaging.

You suspect users are skirting the texting ban

Texting and messaging bans place relationship managers in double jeopardy. They can either comply and frustrate clients or they can text illegally and build business. For most firms, you can be certain some messaging is happening. You just don’t know by who, and what sort of risk that creates. 


The texting ban is frustrating clients

Sixty percent of clients want to text with their advisor, and telling advisors it’s not allowed doesn’t stop clients from initiating. What those clients want, ultimately, is greater convenience, individualized advice, and a relationship. The ban only serves to frustrate this, and puts your firm at a disadvantage. 

Now, some firms respond to the pressure to text with an ineffective halfway measure—they allow some texting but require advisors to screenshot those communications. Wherever messaging is high-friction, meaning there’s a lot of busywork around it, and it’s not entirely clear what’s above-board, it tends not to happen.


Remote and hybrid work have created risk

For the better part of two years, clients and advisors have grown accustomed to using text, WhatsApp, and FaceTime. There’s been little to no division between personal and work. Now, to achieve compliance, big banks are asking employees to surrender personal devices and conversations—and creating an uproar. They’re also reimposing pre-pandemic restrictions that frustrate relationship managers and clients alike.


Sensitive information is being communicated over text

Bans or strict guidelines don’t, unfortunately, enforce themselves. Wherever decisions about what to send or not are left up to users, there will be issues—especially in settings like retail banking. Not every employee will read, interpret, or recall the policy the same—no matter how clearly worded. And not all will stick to approved messaging channels.

The worst part is account numbers may be leaking over insecure methods, like plain old SMS text, and compliance teams won’t know it. 

Advisors are frustrated by internal tools

When advisors have to push clients to approved but inconvenient channels, it creates a loop of busywork. For instance, if every time they want to discuss a trade, they have to push clients to schedule a call, they delay deals. 

Similarly, if the approved channels aren’t connected into one united messaging service, information is easily lost. Advisors have to sift through their email and handwritten notes to find out what was said. All that device hopping tends to equate to hours of wasted time each week.

Relationship managers aren’t seen as “strategic”

The status quo these days is that advisors spend an increasing amount of time engaged in “work about work.” These are activities that merely enable more activities, and may or may not move them toward their objective. For example, scheduling calls to discuss things that could have been an email, or taking time out of their day to retype notes in the CRM.

When burdened with too much busywork, relationship managers don’t have time to conduct research and provide individualized advice. And so, they’re viewed as order takers, and are less likely to influence clients.

The firm is perceived as losing market share

When financial products can’t be a firm’s competitive differentiator, quality of service must be. But if firms are mired in older technologies, such as clunky client portals, physical paperwork people must come in to sign, and emails full of novel-length disclosures, it damages the firm’s image. This makes it unnecessarily difficult for relationship managers to acquire and retain clients. 

All else being equal, clients will prefer the advisors at institutions where it feels easy to transact.

Advisor turnover is high

Advisor turnover is a progressive tax. The more it occurs, the more it is felt. You’ll know the firm is developing a reputation for being a “revolving door” when clients grow jaded about the longevity of their newly appointed advisors and say things like, “Oh, another person?” Once established, this sort of reputation is difficult to shake, and it’s compounded by the fact that information is lost in each transition. It forever feels like new people are starting over.

Auditors want you to prove compliance

Many firms are emerging from nearly two years of inconsistent policy and nonexistent enforcement. That leaves them at risk when auditors come knocking. Not only can’t they prove they have the proper controls in place (bans and policies are increasingly seen as insufficient), but they don’t actually have the conversations archived. If anything occurred on relationship managers’ personal devices, they have to request it, and potentially aggravate entire departments. 

“The real value comes from being able to demonstrate quickly, easily, and obviously that you are meeting your requirements.”

Dave Mitchell, CTO Cantor Fitzgerald Ireland

Chapter 4:

Where will you begin?

It’s best to begin your journey into compliant mobile messaging (CMM) with one or two use cases, and no more. A narrow scope will help you quell doubts within the firm, help relationship managers understand what it’s for, and objectively prove success. After that initial use case is successful, you can always expand. 

What you’ll likely find in your test is what firms like JPMorgan Chase, UBS, and Shanghai Pudong Bank have—that there are two big benefits. On the customer experience side, it relieves clients and advisors, and frees them to connect. And on the compliance, legal, and security side, it brings all those dark communications to light, and allows those teams to restrict PII and control the conversation. 

You may not be able to prevent clients from initiating text conversations with relationship managers. But with the right service, you shouldn’t need to. That’s clients telling you they want more personal service, and with CMM, you have everything you need to provide it

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