The world of AI: why customers need to speak to a human more than ever
AI is changing how the world does business, but the need for personalised advice still drives the demand for face-to-face interactions with financial planners.
The world of traditional financial advice has been disrupted by the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots and machine learning (ML). The aim of this technology is to provide clients with a personal recommendation on how to invest their money without the need for face-to-face appointments.
Keeping up with advancements in technology
Sanlam itself has embraced AI and ML in a few of its investment solutions, such as the Sanlam AI Global Managed Risk Fund. The benefit? Computer systems can do things that humans would typically find challenging, such as complex equations or making accurate, snappy decisions based on reams of data.
But will the introduction of these advancements mean that financial planners, face-to-face meetings and client relationships built over time will be replaced? According to a World Economic Forum June 2015 report titled ‘The Future of Financial Services: How disruptive innovations are reshaping the way financial services are structured, provisioned and consumed’, not necessarily. In fact, in a world where AI becomes increasingly prevalent, human qualities may become more in demand than ever.
The things artificial intelligence can’t do better than you can
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) White Paper ‘Realizing Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: An Agenda for Leaders to Shape the Future of Education, Gender and Work’, professionals will thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) if they become more creative. The WEF points out that while robots will help us get our answers faster, they can’t be as creative as humans (yet).
Another top skill needed is emotional intelligence (EI). In a space like financial planning, where understanding your client’s emotional needs is critical in helping them feel secure, this is an especially important human skill.
While a robot will tell clients how much they need to save for the future, it won’t calculate the fact that a financial reassessment is needed when Mr and Mrs Khumalo find out they’re pregnant. Nor will it pick up that, in a face-to-face meeting, while the advice being given is sound, for some reason Mr and Mrs Khumalo still aren’t feeling 100% confident, and so this needs to be talked out and trust built. Humans are still fundamentally social and emotive beings, with a need to connect with other humans in order to trust them (and their advice). Financial planners who are able to nourish these human connections with their clients should continue to see success, in spite of AI advancements. In fact, AI should enable financial planners to calculate solutions and scenarios more efficiently – giving them more time to focus on the aspect of their business that only a human can do: relationship building.
Disruption? Financial services have already embraced the revolution
AI and ML are not something to fear. After all, adapting to change is not unfamiliar to the financial services sector. In the past two decades alone, the financial services sector has seen a number of serious shake-ups including the introduction of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR), FAIS regulatory examinations and the introduction of the Twin Peaks model.
As long as financial planners embrace the changes that come from AI and ML – rather than seeing them as a threat – they can be the ones to benefit and, in turn, provide more services for their clients, and even enhance relationships. Read this to find out what it takes to build a prosperous relationship with a financial planner.
Planners can look forward to having some of the more mundane tasks replaced by robots. For example, chatbots can converse with and answer basic questions clients have outside of office hours, leaving expert planners to tackle more complex client needs during office hours.
Where artificial intelligence can supercharge financial planning
On a more advanced level, AI and ML can remove human bias and emotion from investing – something we are all prone to when stock markets suffer short-term volatility from macro-economic events such as Brexit and Coronavirus.
Digitalisation will also help planners cater to all clients, as AI platforms will save time and money, making financial advice more accessible to lower income earners.
Ultimately AI and ML will help planners to produce results quicker while still providing the human touch and empathy that comes with navigating stressful life changes, such as choosing the right retirement annuity and buying a house.
While data has become instantly accessible, it can still be confusing, especially for older generations that may not be as technologically savvy as millennials that have grown up in a digitally connected world.
With this in mind, there’s never been more of a need for an emotionally intelligent financial planner that can help make sense of all the data. A knowing smile. An empathetic voice. These are not things that can be outsourced to a robot for many years to come.
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