Advisers are warming up to the idea of utilizing robo advice as a tool to help them serve more clients. The latest tech survey from Financial Planning found 19% of advisers it surveyed are using digital platforms now.

But will they be willing to accept new automation that can track and analyze how they speak to clients on the phone?

Given that some future CFPs may soon begin their careers at a call center serving a hybrid robo platform, the future of technology-driven adviser oversight can be glimpsed at one Massachusetts-based bank investing in technology to improve its sales-call operations.

"Our branch salespeople were tracking calls by Excel spreadsheet — it was very manual and prone to human error," Morgan Cambern, director of retail operations at the $1.9 billion-asset Belmont Savings Bank, tells American Banker.

In an attempt to make its sales team more efficient, two years ago Belmont partnered with Gryphon Networks, a Boston firm that helps financial services and other companies track and analyze sales calls; it also offers compliance solutions for outbound telemarketing. Belmont officials declined to say how much they spent on the effort.

Gryphon's system tracks every call and records where salespeople left off with prospects. It can send them reminders of when to make follow-up calls, and Belmont's 25 salespeople across six branches can also search in the system by phone number to check the status of a particular sales lead.

All of this is much easier than looking up notes manually in spreadsheets, Cambern said.

"The biggest piece is probably increased efficiency," she said. "Salespeople can make more calls; they're spending much less time manually inputting data."

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Gryphon's technology is its analytics technology that can dissect a salesperson's side of the conversation and help with training efforts. For example, it can flag if a salesperson is using throwaway words such as "like" or "um" too often.

MISQUOTE ALERTS

There is also a regulatory compliance aspect, Cambern noted. Gryphon's system can be set up to note whether an employee is using words like "guarantee" or "promise" that might cause regulatory issues.

"We're dealing in an environment that is highly regulated," she said. "[Salespeople] are making all these calls; they may not know every single regulation. So a branch manager or retail head can be alerted if they, say, misquoted a rate or guaranteed something they weren't supposed to guarantee."

That data is translated into easily understood tables or charts that can be shared with salespeople during training or evaluations, said Eric Esfahanian, a senior vice president at the company. The information can be tailored down to the individual.

"Rather than pouring over spreadsheets or listening to dozens of voice conversations to find something notable, managers can now access a graphical view of performance in their own customized context," he said. "Phrases and word patterns can be aggregated automatically to deliver qualitative insight into the conversations bankers are having with customers … as well as how the customers are responding to a particular script or rebuttal."

In all, Cambern said the bank has seen a 20% increase in sales conversions since using Gryphon. Still, in the beginning it took some coaxing to get the staff to fully utilize the system after being accustomed to doing things a certain way for many years, she said.

"It probably took seven to eight months to get them to understand they have to make all the calls through the Gryphon system," Cambern said. "They still wanted to tell [a manager] what had happened on the call like previously. But now everyone understands it's a tool to help them do their job better."

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