Artificial intelligence is increasingly used to help people perform their jobs better, arming them with information they didn’t have access to before. To harness these insights, financial firms are spending millions on data analytics.
But these are unprecedented times. While financial advisers provide a wealth of knowledge, experience, and service, such turbulent periods are precisely when advisers must bring their intuition, empathy and the human element to the forefront. Many have faced other “black swan” events, though they have never experienced anything before quite like COVID-19 and its ripple effects. So a word of caution to those relying heavily on AI during these times — technology should be used to strengthen relationships, not replace them.
Modern relationships: It’s complicated
Consumers today are savvy. They understand why the ads they see match their browsing history. Some have become fiercely protective of the information they provide to third parties, worrying whether it will be compromised or how it will be used. As such, data fed into analytics systems often range from incomplete at best to completely inaccurate at worst (think false profiles and online personas).
This means that as sophisticated as AI and data analytics have become, they are not enough. For instance, advisers leveraging AI might be guided to encourage their clients to take their required minimum distributions before tax day, but AI data wouldn’t know that the recently passed CARES Act waived RMDs for 2020.
There still has to be a human element to complement data-driven business systems through direct connections. Machines and humans must form symbiotic relationships. Humans need data insights to be their most effective selves, while machines need humans to enter and update information from live client interactions to yield relevant, actionable results.
The technology exists for advisers to be productive and authentic and meet the requests of clients in dire need of faster response times, experience-driven insights and customized investment strategies that reflect their needs, values and goals. But it’s not enough to simply hear a live voice — the message must be delivered with accuracy and empathy.
It can be challenging for adviser teams to really know their customers, despite all of the information at their disposal. As a result, trust is often lacking, which becomes problematic when dealing with money — especially during a financial crisis.
Financial matters are inherently personal, therefore a strong relationship is paramount. Even an infusion of AI, given that it is only as good as the data within its system, is not enough. Clients require and deserve authentic personalization but sadly, the last mile in client service is often missing the needed technology.
New technologies, such as compliant texting and social media bolstered by intelligent workflows, help advisers deliver the last mile in a smarter way, elevating their service for the good of the client and the firm. With the right technology tools, advisers can strengthen relationships and simplify the process as they guide clients through this uncharted territory.
Inching closer: The final 50 yards
Financial advisers loathe recapping conversations in customer relationship management systems, so automating this information capture is an essential step forward. Fortunately, these systems are becoming more integrated and user friendly, resulting in more valuable and comprehensive insights generated by AI and data analytics. Now advisers can make informed, accurate recommendations for each individual client.
In fact, smart workflows not only feed advisers information — they help them understand what to do with it, and when. For example, an intelligent system can guide an adviser to know exactly the right time to contact clients or when they should text rather than call or email. A fully updated system, based on learned best practices, can transform each of your advisers into your best.
In these extraordinary times, technology has accelerated how advisers can quickly orchestrate authentic outreach that fosters relationships at scale, proactively guiding the final 50 yards of client service. By embracing these technologies, advisers will be better equipped to improve the client-adviser model under any economic uncertainty, paying off well into the future.
Chris Andrew is chief product officer at