#ItzOnWealthTech Ep. 47: COVID19 & the Million Dollar Question with Maree Moscati

“Advisors are in the business to communicating and helping people grow and retain their assets through whatever lifestyle changes they may have. So communicating honestly and authentically is always a key.”

–Maree Moscati, CEO, CopyTalk

Holder of FINRA Series 24, 7 & 63 licenses, Maree spent 30 years exceeding her goals as a leader in the financial-services industry – first as a financial planner, then coaching others to similar gains, and later as a President and CEO in Wealth Management and Trust Services. She is the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bank Insurance and Securities Association. Maree is a graduate of Laboratory Institute in New York City and completed all certified financial planner courses at Florida State University. She also carries the coveted Shared Assessments Certified Third Party Risk Professional (CTPRP) Certification; a distinction that is unique to CopyTalk in the transcription business, rare for CEO’s, and even rarer for female CEO’s.

Today, the firm continues to make strides in the vital areas of protecting the privacy of clients and safeguarding the security of their work.

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This episode of Wealth Management Today is brought to you by Ezra Group Consulting. If your firm is evaluating new technology or looking to improve your current wealth platform, you need to contact Ezra Group. Don’t spend another day using technology that doesn’t offer an elegant user experience. Your advisors and clients deserve better and you can deliver it to them with the help of Ezra Group.

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • High Demand During a Crisis
  • CopyTalker Integration > Voice Assistants
  • Asset Growth Through Transcription Services
  • The Million Dollar Question
  • Future of Investment Advisory

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Complete Episode Transcript

Craig: It's always a pleasure to spend time with all of you from the World of WealthTech. This is the stay at home version of the Wealth Management Today podcast. I'm your host Craig Iskowitz, and I run a consulting company called Ezra Group. We help wealth management firms make better technology and business decisions through our research and advice. On this podcast, I speak with some of the smartest people in the industry who are on the leading edge of technology and innovation. Before I forget, please subscribe and leave a five star review for us on iTunes, I would appreciate it and share this episode and every episode across your social media networks. And now let's get going with my latest interview.

Craig: My guest for this episode of Wealth Management Today podcast is industry veteran and CEO of Copytalk, Maree Moscati. Hello Maree.

Maree: Hi Craig. How are you?

Craig: I'm wonderful, thank you. And how are you?

Maree: I am just fantastic.

Craig: Well, as well as can be expected in these times.

Maree: Right, that's for sure.

Craig: We're all keeping our heads up and staying positive.

Maree: Amen to that.

Craig: How are things down in Florida?

Maree: Florida is warm and overcast today, but I'm happy to be here as a transplanted New Yorker for many reasons. I'm happy to be out of New York these days. Sarasota, Florida, where our corporate office is absolutely beautiful. It's a wonderful place.

Craig: That's excellent. I'm gonna have to come down and visit some time.

Maree: Anytime, we'd love to have you here.

Craig: So can you give the audience a 30-second elevator pitch of what Copytalk is about?

Maree: Sure. Copytalk has been around since 2001. We serve mainly the world of wealth management and financial services, and what we do is mobile transcription. So our service is assisting advisors and wealth managers in dictating their notes. Their notes come to our transcriptionists that work within our facilities, which is unique in this space. So they come into an office, like a FINRA testing center would be, their belongings go into lockers. They sit at our computers with no internet access, no personal devices at their stations, and they go to work. So we're pretty proud of our security and privacy overview. But the main reason is to help advisors document the why of what they're doing and to memorialize the conversations in meetings they have with their clients.

Craig: And that is unique in this day and probably you're pretty ahead of the curve because a lot of companies had outsourced to other countries and now that we're in the middle of a crisis, they're thinking about bringing that back in.

Maree: Yes, for a lot of reasons. And I think that our model is unique and the fact that I come from the world of financial services, it's one of the reasons why I came on board here is because of their security protocols, their processes and their commitment to security and privacy is second to none. And I couldn't represent a firm coming from the industry that wouldn't put the utmost of benefit into those processes.

Craig: Yeah. And especially considering that you used to be a chief compliance officer.

Maree: Yes.

Craig: A little bird told me.

Maree: The key word is used to be.

Craig: But still, you were, and you were an advisor when you started out. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Maree: Sure. I happened to have grown up in the world of financial services pretty much by mistake, but, it is an industry that I'm very proud of. It's an industry that I'm very passionate about. And I grew up scraping my knees and elbows. I started in, believe it was '84, '85, and by the way, there were practically little to no women in the industry at that time. So you could well imagine the challenges. But I grew up, learned a lot and eventually went into management and eventually became the head of a broker dealer and trust division.

Craig: It's a tremendous record considering you said how few women in the industry at all, let alone in positions of leadership with people reporting to them.

Maree: Right. And being FINRA licensed, I have to say I'm pretty proud of an immaculate U4 for all the years of service in the industry because I believe in doing it and doing it right.

High Demand During a Crisis

Craig: That's excellent. Back to your time at Copytalk, so now you're now you're CEO of this growing entity and a lot of advisors are depending on your services. And I'm curious with the lockdown and the virus, what have you seen in terms of usage of your mobile scribed services by advisors?

Maree: Well, we've seen a tremendous influx of incoming dictations, probably about three to four times greater than the average because we track this, it's a very systematic approach that we use and we have access to the models of what the averages were the same time last year and what we can expect in the incoming dictation. So the influx since this pandemic, actually I would say since the end of January, beginning of February, when markets go crazy, like it was, well, it still is actually, but when the market was really peaking and doing quite well, the transcriptions are traditionally greater than normal. And then through this pandemic with more and more advisors speaking to their clients, the influx of dictations has been just about three to four times greater than the averages. So we're seeing a tremendous amount of activity, which is great.

Craig: Indeed. And that's a huge increase 3-4x. Most firms, their systems would fall over if they got three to four times the amount of volume. So how did you build your systems that they can support 400% increase?

Maree: It's our process and we employ an amazing IT and development team. Our teams are all in house so they can have access. In fact, we just really upped our state of the art technology and servers, and systems so we can handle the influx. We were doing this before COVID, that happened to be very timely. So we don't traditionally see an issue, we have backup service to take overflow. We don't traditionally see an influx of folks getting a busy signal because the dictation service are busy. We keep excess servers on hand just in case something happens.

Craig: That is timely.

Maree: It happened to be very timely.

CopyTalker Integration > Voice Assistants

Craig: That's good thinking, good planning. And as part of your planning, you launched a new product called, am I getting this right? It's called Copytalker.

Maree: That's correct.

Craig: Copytalker from Copytalk.

Maree: Exactly. Very good, Craig. Copytalk is my baby. I'm pretty excited about it. It is a patent pending technology and because I come from way back when in the industry, for those of you like myself from a baby boom generation, you may remember the Franklin planner.

Craig: Sure.

Maree: So I was a Franklin planner girl, you couldn't take that away from me. And if you told me 10 years ago that I would be at the helm of a technology company, I would tell you you're out of your mind, going back to my Franklin planner days. However, I like being out with our advisors and with the firms that we're fortunate enough to do business with. And I talk to advisors all the time. Give me the good, the bad, the ugly. Tell me what we could do better, tell me what your needs are, tell me where your challenges are. And from all of that gathering of information from folks that use our service and folks that don't use our service to get some insights into what their needs are, it unequivocally, Craig, came back to me that I want all my technology in one place where I can simply push a button and do what I need to do. I don't want to toggle between platforms. I don't want to enter different passwords. I want it simple, which led me to come up with the Copytalker. I went back to my development team and said, I need a button. I need a button that will sit either within a CRM, or on an advisor dashboard, or within a FinTech platform where an advisor can simply push a button and be able to speak their notes and their notes would come right back to wherever that platform that this button sits in. Whether it's their client notes, whether it's something visual that they're working on while they're speaking, interfacing with a client and interacting with a client. They came back, they developed an API that will do just that and we named it the Copytalker. So I'm pretty proud of it. I'm very excited about.

Craig: So it's an API that other FinTech firms can use to integrate your services seamlessly into their products.

Maree: Yes. And the thing that makes it really super cool is whatever platform we're integrated with, that platform decides for their client base exactly where they prefer to have their notes come in. So it's really whatever device an advisor is using, whether it's their laptop, their desktop, a tablet, their phone, they can simply access the Copytalker. In fact, you don't even need a phone or any of our apps anymore. You could do it right from the device as long as they have a microphone. And what makes this really exciting for those firms and those individuals that are very serious about the security and the privacy of their notes, because of our platform, the API, the Copytalker utilizes the exact same security and privacy protocols as if you called us or used one of our apps. So it makes it a little bit different from the Siris and the Cortanas of the world.

Craig: So you mean like a voice assistant?

Maree: Yeah, exactly, instead of a voice assistant. But also, because we have, we have live transcriptionists that actually dictate, if you say the term "operator", you're giving our transcriptionists a command because we definitely type up whatever it is that you say. So we're a verbatim service. But if you say "operator, delete that last sentence", that's going to tell our operator or transcriptionist to stop typing, you're going to get a command. Or if you have a specific name, let's just say it's John Whyte, you can say, "Operator, Whyte is W-H-Y-T-E". So you can give those commands that you couldn't do with a voice recognition service. At least not in today's world. They'll come eventually, but for right now that's the case.

Craig: That's really valuable. I know I've talked to people who use automated transcription services and they complain about that. They just don't understand advisor lingo, financial services, investment advisory, any of that. And it takes a lot of time to figure that out, and you've already built that into your system.

Maree: Yes, because we're using live transcriptionists. Now if somebody has a very heavy accent or let's say they are, in a mountainous area, I know sometimes when I travel in New York, or Chicago and you're in very tall buildings in the downtown areas the service isn't as great, but the audio on the apps traditionally is much greater. So we have a system where advisors can rate a dictation and the transcriptionist can rate the person doing the dictation. So if somebody mumbles a lot or they're traveling through an airport, a transcriptionist can rate the dictation. We do have our operation supervisors do audits. And then we can either retrain a transcriptionist if that's the case if it's on our end, or we can help the advisor dictate either in a better locale, or explain to them, you may be moving your hands. I'm Italian, so I speak with my hands moving a lot. And sometimes that's not good when you're making a dictation. Or if you're traveling through an airport or you're driving with the window down and you're making dictations, there's a substantial amount of background noise so we could alert them specifically to their account how we can do better transcriptions because we want to be 100% accurate. And actually our accuracy ratings are quite high in the industry. So we take every precaution to delivering timely and accurate dictation back to our clients.

Invest In Others

Asset Growth Through Transcription Services

Craig: I had seen something you were talking about earlier, and I was really interested in how this works. So you were mentioning how financial advisors can grow their assets through transcription services. Can you elaborate a little bit how that would work?

Maree: Sure. If you're meeting with a client, there's a few things that advisors need to do. And one of the things that they don't recognize sometimes is you really want to have that eye contact. And you could be on Skype, you could be doing virtual conferences like they're doing today, but you really want to capture important details in that conversation you're having with your client. So here's a perfect example. When I was an advisor, I met with three gentlemen that owned a business together. They had their trucking company and a hardware store and the dad was there, and the three brothers on the business, well, they were talking about pretty substantial business. They were talking about, how their parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary blah, blah, blah. So I had made a note that they were doing that and I sent the parents, a bouquet of flowers to congratulate them on the anniversary. Even though they weren't potentially going to be a client. Well, they wound up being my biggest clients and, you would ask my clients, tell me why you selected me, or my potential clients when they selected me as their advisor or hired me as their advisor, I will always ask the question, tell me what it was. Can you share with me why me, if you would. And this family turned to me and said, because you cared about our parents and you paid attention. If you cared about them when we weren't clients, we knew that you would take care of us. We were confident that you would take care of us, which is a great example of paying attention to details of what your clients are saying to you. The little things, and it doesn't even have to be something that they say it could be their body language. So you know, if somebody moves in close to you, you can make a mental note. And then when you dictate your notes, you can make when I was talking about his children from a previous marriage, I noticed that the husband or the wife backed away a little bit with all of these blended families today.

Maree: So I think it's critically important when you memorialize a conversation and you make details of what you feel, whether it's said or unspoken, just through body language, when you document that it calls a lot of attention when you come back to see that client or if you take action in a certain way, like the example I gave you. Really it can set you apart. The other thing is when you go back to see a client, you want to have the conversation pick up exactly where you left off. You don't want to have to first go back and stumble through written notes, to find out all of the things that you needed to follow up on. Believe it or not, in today's world, some people still do that. I mean, it's everybody's choice to manage their practice. But utilizing our service can bring in a tremendous amount of AUM because you're documenting more and more of the details. And if you get into the habit of dictating your notes immediately after a client meeting, you're going to recall more than likely the majority of what just transpired that you need to document. So I always say it's documenting the why. It's documenting why you're going to make this recommendation, why are you going to make this proposal? And then to put that caveat in there, if you that they're glowing, that their granddaughter just got into college or something and you make a little notation of that and you follow up with a nice note or whatever it may be, then they know that you're paying attention to them. And I think the majority of people today want to know that you care more about their money than they actually do. And there's ways to do that. And this is one of those ways that has paid off and in really being able to garner more AUM underneath their practices.

Craig: You're saying it's more about that personal touch.

Maree: I think so I think it's the, it's the personal touch. It's being attentive and certainly paying attention to detail. Your clients or prospective clients want to know that you are listening to them, that you're paying attention to them. And the best way for advisors today, especially with so much on their plates, there's so much that they're responsible for. They want to know that they're the most important clients to you in the world and you need to relay that and what better way than paying attention and keeping track of those moments and memorializing those conversations.

The Million Dollar Question

Craig: So shifting gears a bit with the COVID-19 crisis, and I mean you've been in the industry for 30 years. You've been on both sides. You've been on the advisor side, the compliance side, now the vendor side. What do you see as the longterm impact of this crisis having on the investment advice industry?

Maree: Wow, that's the million dollar question today. I think we're going to do business differently. I think every firm today is looking at or analyzing what we're going to look like when this is when we're done with this. I mean I'm doing the same thing. We're analyzing, we're assessing and, what do we need to do differently, better, more impactful. How do we serve our clients more? And I think the investment industry is going to do the same thing. And I think we might see different changes that are due to generational differences, geographical differences people in remote areas may look to do business differently than people in geographical areas. And what I mean by that is if if advisors are working within a banking environment they may not have as many branches anymore. And I think those advisors that may not have taken well to working with clients remotely or through Skyping or even through a YouTube process, may start to realize that it's not so bad.

Maree: It's interesting. I don't have to travel 20 miles or an hour and a half a day to either get into an office or to go visit with the client. Now again, clients may react differently. You know, everybody's busy today and maybe they're now just getting used to saying, I could talk to my advisor virtually, that may not have ever thought about doing it before. But because of our current situation, I think the use of technology has come more to the forefront for those that either have resisted it or really didn't know how to implement it. So I think we're going to see a lot of differences. I also think that those advisors that, let's say their practice is mainly for retirees, I they're going to have to reassess their current book of business because retirees typically, in this type of financial environment, are impacted the most. Or soon to be retirees. They get seriously impacted when we see market downturns the way we're seeing. So I think there's going to be a lot of differences, and I think just like we went through 9/11 and if you want to do some kind of comparison who thought we'd have to take our shoes off to get on the plane, but now we just do it and move, we're accepting of it. And I think we're going to see a lot of differences come down the pike once we get to the other side of this pandemic. And I don't think that it's necessary negative. I think there could be some positive change. I'm the proverbial optimistic type of a person. So I look at how do we get better, where are the new opportunities that through this dark time we see a bright light that we might not have thought of before. I think we're gonna see some differences. Exactly what they look like, I'm not quite sure, but those were some of the things that I thought about.

Craig: Thank you for sharing that. Do you have any tips for other companies? Some of the things you've learned on how to improve productivity, communication to your employees, company culture in this time when people might be a little bit nervous. What are the things that you've learned from managing your, your company during this time?

Maree: A lot, but I will say that something I've always practiced is, I'm a big community communicator. I think that you have to be as a leader, as an advisor, you have to always communicate honestly. After all, we're in the business of providing a service to advisors. Advisors are in the business to communicating and helping people grow and retain their assets through whatever lifestyle changes they may have. So communicating honestly and authentically is always a key. I think we've learned different ways to do it. I think that we've learned ways to empower our people and inspire them through different means of communication. Whether it's through the proverbial conference calls these days or webinar processes, we see more and more of that happening. But I think, for productivity, when you see an environment such as this that we're in, I don't think that you can run and hide. Those folks that run and hide usually wind up losing. You have to stay proactive. You have to reach out to people. As I mentioned earlier, if you're not calling on your clients, you could rest assured somebody else is. If you're not communicating with your employees, you can rest assured they might be looking somewhere else. Because they're not happy or they're scared and they're not getting any direction or leadership or even inspiration.

Maree: I know in this time our customer service team has been inundated with calls and voicemails, and every morning before they're even open or online, I communicate an inspirational message or share a great email that we may have gotten from one of our clients to keep them inspired and to keep them going because they're not used to being remote. Our corporate office now is 50% remote and we're distancing people and practicing, not even in our facilities. We're running them 24/7 now. So we can have our transcriptionists be set apart from each other and give them the opportunity to work different hours, like off peak hours. So we've changed a lot of our culture, our normal culture. But in order to do that and keep people connected, you have to have communication. You have to show the leadership. And I try to put some humor in it because the one thing that makes us all join together, is to smile and to laugh. So it's, it's really trying to keep the culture going in a unique way that you may not have done before, but you have to keep it going. We use relationship managers. It's like you need to call firms that we do business with and let them know that everything's okay. And you have to keep that communication constant. It's not one and done. You have to check back and make sure they're okay. Is there anything else that they need? What can we do for you? Do you need anything from us that we're not currently providing? That little extra bit just to show that you care and that you're on top of things I think is the way to keep your productivity and your communication going and as well as your corporate culture. We're only as good as our employees. And I'm proud to say that I've never been prouder of a group and team of people than they are the Copytalk family. They're committed, they're collaborative, they work with each other, they support each other. They help our clients out to the nth degree because customer service is a big deal to us. It's a huge deal to us, so we've gotta be there. We've gotta be there to pick up the phone when somebody calls. We have to be there to listen to them. If they're going through a tough day, which a lot of advisors are experiencing that we have to be there when the C-suite calls us up, or their risk management team calls us up saying, Hey, how are you dealing with this? What's your business continuity plan? And you have to just keep it going. All of the above. But the message has to be one of positivity and that we're here to help. We're not perfect. We're going to get some things wrong, but the communication flow has to be there.

Future of Investment Advisory

Craig: Great. Thank you so much for being on this episode. I know you've been super busy, we had to reschedule this call a couple of times, so thanks for making the time for the call and sharing this with me and my audience.

Maree: Well, thank you very much, Craig. It's been a pleasure as always and stay safe and be well everyone.

Craig: Hey, it's Craig again. I really got a lot out of this interview with Maree. She's really open and forthcoming. I especially liked her background and some of the history from what she's seen in the industry since the 80s, that's a while. Interested in the tremendous uptick in meetings, not surprising, that she's seen with her system. And her system provides unique insights into what advisors are doing since it's not directly related to trading and investing, it's really client meetings and how many client meetings there have been and how interested people are in finding out more and probably nervous and talking to their advisors. So good data there. I liked her comments on how advisors can grow their AUM by using transcription services. Heard some of her views on how the crisis has had a long-term impact and some of her recommendations I really related to were recommending to communicate honestly and authentically with employees. You really can't go wrong with that. So this wraps up another episode, please remember to like us subscribe where you listen to podcasts and we'll see you all again next time.