By Ernie Wallerstein
Lately there’s been much hand-wringing over the Department of Labor’s new fiduciary rule, which went into effect this month. Enacted by President Obama and initially challenged by the Trump administration, the new rule asks brokers to avoid conflicts of interest when giving retirement advice. The rule is noncompromising regarding the legal and ethical role wealth managers must fulfill in looking out for the best interests of their clients.
As wealth managers ready themselves to adopt and adjust, this is where quality management software (QMS) comes into play as a timely and powerful ally. But what exactly is QMS? What does it do? And how will it help wealth managers rise to the compliance challenges posed by the new rule?
Answering the Qs of QMS
While not new to the tech world, QMS has advanced significantly over the years in its ability to oversee, capture and analyze business communications. Integrated within a contact center or unified communications environment, QMS can be deployed to monitor customer interactions in real time—whether by recording phone calls, an online chat or other customer interactions.
You can also think of QMS as a platform: one that uses communication data to address a complex web of issues that includes risk management, information control, employee training and performance, and the handling of complaints, to name just a few categories. A generation ago, these areas and the data they generated often existed in silos. Today, QMS brings them together in service of larger goals, with compliance being one of the most important in light of the new fiduciary rule.
Using QMS, a wealth management firm can use its recordings to go back and review what was said on a call or an SMS chat to ensure an agent didn’t offer any noncompliant advice. It also ensures contracts are explained clearly and correctly.
The data collected via QMS can then be used to effectively evaluate the performance of agents and review interactions to achieve any number of goals, from improving customer experience to creating a roadmap for better agent performance by distributing recordings across a business network (hence the familiar phrase “This call may be recorded for training purposes”).
That combination of features and functionality can also mitigate risks of rogue advisors selling something they shouldn’t, or providing recommendations that fail to comply with fiduciary standards.
Even if agents act with the best intentions, the rule is so new they could unintentionally miss meeting the standard. But QMS provides an effective defense in the fight to stay on the right side of the rule by facilitating a constant process of “review, refine and improve.”
Real results in real time
One element of QMS that makes this possible is real-time speech analytics. Think of it as a “virtual coach” that helps agents say the right things in the right way on calls, and respond positively to customers in any given situation. It also lets supervisors track exchanges between clients and employees and offer live, actionable feedback to sales team members.
As a call progresses, QMS “listens” to employee and customer speech and “comments” on what’s said and how. And because it monitors stress levels, speech clarity and script adherence, agents can sharpen their skills by making adjustments and self-policing in real time.
If an agent or broker goes off track, for example, their supervisor is alerted by trigger words. Or if they misquote an offer, a prompt appears to correct them. The software also warns advisors when increases in client stress levels are detected, or when they start to talk over the client (a sign of their own stress).
The versatility of QMS is especially crucial given that markets and wealth management protocols are far more complicated than just a generation ago. What’s more, the new DOL rule only adds another level of scrutiny to the way business must be done.
QMS gives wealth managers access to a high-tech tool that attends to details one client interaction at a time. Customers on the receiving end of QMS-guided calls or interactions get the attention they deserve, and not just a knee-jerk response to a new federal requirement. QMS leads to and reinforces peerless service, which in turn builds consumer loyalty and trust.
The industry can treat investors not just the way they need to be treated, but also how they want and deserve to be treated.
Ernie Wallerstein is President, Americas, for Enghouse Interactive, a technology company with tens of thousands of customers worldwide, supported by a global network of partners across the company’s international operations.