This year’s conference was jam-packed full of content. Billed as the event for following innovation in wealth management, this year’s incarnation did not fail to deliver on that. NexJ was among twenty 8-minute “Disrupt Demos” presented this year. It was a great way to get a lightning tour of the industry’s latest and greatest. Certainly a lot of common themes – using analytics and Artificial Intelligence to help advisors scale the delivery of personalized financial advice. Everything from portfolio risk analytics and insights, to non-traditional customer segmentation and intelligently curated content for digital engagement.
For me, the discussions around the evolution of hybrid advice and how human advisors will leverage AI was particular interesting. Two different takes: a hybrid advice model, and an AI-assisted traditional model.
Naureen Hassan, Chief Digital Officer from Morgan Stanley talked about the advancements they were making there. She put it best by providing stats proving that even millennials want face-to-face advice, but also want the ability to stay up-to-date and on-top of the everyday aspects at their leisure. I think her angle was more about focusing on what was achievable today given the technology which centered around 3 main pillars of scalability:
- Intelligent market insight used for personalized advice. She had a great example of the research teams publishing an outlook on a particular security and then being able to automatically identify impacted customers and provide them with personalized summaries of how that research affects their portfolio, delivered via their preferred channel. And here’s the key – allowing the advisor to inject a personalized touch if they want.
- Enabling an omni-channel experience. In her example, this was allowing the client to reach out for face-to-face video chat if they want to discuss the content.
- Automating every-day processes. She gave a great example of a client-initiated transfer and skipping the traditional sign-fax-call verification method, replacing it with a simple mobile and fingerprint-authenticated process. Simple, easy, and fast!
Betterment CEO, John Stein, talked about how they were offering human advice alongside their successful robo solution. I’ve heard others talk about “advice moments,” and I think that’s the intent here. Give people access to real, useful advice, as and when they need it and want it. People clearly both need the advice and want the advice.
What became clear throughout the conference though was that it’s about contextualizing and personalizing at scale but keeping it centered on the customer. Analytics and AI are a huge help for this, but they need data – lots of data. During one of the executive panel discussions, one of the senior IT members in the crowd had the courage to ask “how do we get all that data together?” I’m glad they asked. I heard a really great answer to that from the Accenture panelist, which is not to try and embark on some epic data strategy – but rather to focus on the problem and desired outcomes and just start with getting the needed data points together for that. Then evolve the data integration strategy from there over time. Where have I heard about a sustainable, scalable, evolutionary approach to data management that can work equally well with streaming data and data at rest from both behind the firewall and up in the cloud? Here 😉
The other major common theme was everyone bringing together a modern UX centered on the advisor workflow. The trouble was that everyone wanted to be the main portal and force you to integrate to them as the master. Instead, I propose using the best parts of each, and then building your own integrated advisor experience (desktop and/or mobile). There are some good insights from Celent here on that topic.
Another great conference, and it was a pleasure to meet so many forward-thinking innovators. Leave me a comment below if you were there and let me know what you thought were the main takeaways.