Recently, buzzy artificial intelligence tools have demonstrated the capability to shake up nearly any industry. That includes financial advising.
In recent months, artbots like DALL-E have shown how they can create works of art, while chatbots like ChatGPT can write text. In both cases, the software seems to have made the jump into genuine creativity, work once thought reserved for humans. And programmers continue to demonstrate and expand their software’s ability, sending ChatGPT through both business and law school exams, where it earned passing marks.
All of this technological advancement raises the question: Where can this technology go next? Specifically, will AI tools change the future of financial advice?
To answer this question, SmartAsset reached out to several experts in the field of financial technology. Here are their thoughts on how tools like ChatGPT will apply to the financial advising business. (If you are looking to grow your financial advisory business, check out SmartAsset’s SmartAdvisor platform.)
How Experts See AI Tools Changing the Future of Financial Advice
“Perhaps the greatest impact (of AI) for customers will be seen in financial advisory services,” says Arthur Weissman, co-founder of the firm Industry FinTech. “(It) will yield an improved customer experience, a lowering of overhead costs and (provide) greater access to more options for investors.”
Weissman sees AI as an invaluable tool for improving the customer experience. Chatbots have been proven to work for essential customer interactions, such as scheduling inquiries and administrative questions, he says.
Leaning into a more human-like AI can both reduce a financial advisor’s overhead and improve customer service. That’s because a customer could get questions answered immediately without having to wait for a return phone call.
Clients Still Need a Human Touch
Companies have spent years cycling out customer service in favor of bots. But those automated tools can infuriate customers as easily as engage them. The upshot is that a chat system can provide sophisticated, always-on support – as long as your firm can easily connect customers with a human when the system can’t handle their questions.
But fintech leaders are clear that AI tools won’t be limited to just routine questions. Instead, these systems will help firms develop portfolios and research investment opportunities.
A majority of financial advisors already see AI as a powerful tool to help them grow their businesses, says Zoe Barry, CEO of Zingeroo, a retail trading platform. It can help them streamline time-intensive tasks such as gathering research, finding potential assets and identifying patterns in the market.
But even with today’s tools, there are hard limits to how far an AI can go, Barry says. Ultimately, financial advisors still need to provide a personal touch to their client interactions.
While an AI system can act without bias, helping financial advisors check their own instincts toward emotional investing, that emotional connection is essential to helping a client figure out their needs.
A Powerful Data Tool
Financial advisors shouldn’t miss one of the most important features of AI. That’s its ability to analyze enormous amounts of data, says Mina Tadrus, CEO of Tadrus Capital, a quantitative high-frequency trading and fixed-income fund.
“One of the key benefits of using AI tools for financial advice is the ability to provide highly personalized recommendations,” Tadrus says. “AI algorithms are able to analyze vast amounts of data about an individual’s financial situation, including their income, spending habits, investment portfolio and risk tolerance. With this information, AI tools can provide customized recommendations that are tailored to each individual’s unique circumstances.”
This kind of data analysis is often at the heart of financial advising, whether you’re helping a client review their personal finances or you’re combing the market for investments that meet their stated goals. In all cases, the first step is to go over reams of data and look for patterns, which involves doing what technologists refer to as “high-routine” tasks. That means that while the process may be difficult, it requires essentially the same analysis every time. Advisors may be able to have an AI find those patterns for them.
“This allows financial advisors to focus on more complex tasks that require a human touch, such as developing long-term financial plans and providing guidance during major life events like retirement or divorce,” Tadrus says.
What Chatbots Can – and Can’t – Do
Chatbots like ChatGPT aren’t yet capable of true originality. They’re better thought of as stunningly advanced autocorrect than a mind at work. These tools work by scraping the internet for vast amounts of data in the form of written text. When you prompt the system, it searches this database for similar prompts and then returns the text that, in some other document, followed that input.
In some cases, it does so by filling out new text based on what, historically, is most likely to follow the previous word or sentence. In other cases, it may simply paste existing copy wholesale.
This is not to diminish the accomplishments here. These AI chatbots really do represent a novel and sophisticated technology. But, at heart, this is sophisticated database search-and-retrieval software. Chatbot software excels at retrieving text, patterns and ideas that already existed, not generating original ideas.
Artificial intelligence may revolutionize how financial advisors do their business from fielding customer interactions to analyzing financial information. Some experts believe that it will become an essential tool in the years to come. But the final step will still require human interaction. An AI chatbot can help clients with basic tasks like scheduling or unambiguous questions, but it will need a human option to back up the system.
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