The buzz of disruption is in the air, with artificial intelligence (AI) the latest technological advancement shaking up the financial services industry. Here’s why AI should be seen as a friend, not a foe.

I’ve just gone through the process of updating my financial plan – what a frustrating experience that was. After filling out fact sheet after fact sheet, I was left wondering why my financial institution, which I’ve been banking with my entire career, didn’t know a thing about me. I was treated as if I was a brand new customer. With all of the history and customer data they had – or should have had access too– I expected more.

As I talked to more financial planners and wealth advisers, it was clear that more and more customers were demanding a more personalised experience. Deeper customer relationships are only possible if  planners and advisers have visibility of my data, and the ability to be proactive – if my bank was using AI to improve customer experience combined with an aggregated view of my data through sites like Yodlee (available on Salesforce AppExchange) and MoneyBrilliant the value of conversations could increase considerably.

The benefits of getting on board the AI train are exponential, particularly when it comes to delivering an on-demand and proactive customer service – a mandatory in today’s instant world – and deepening client relationships. Savvy financial advisers willing to overhaul their business and customer service models, through the use of AI, are creating a serious competitive advantage and greater value for the customer.

How artificial intelligence works


AI works by analysing customer data and generating unique insights, predictions and recommendations. This could be identifying a customer who needs a review of their financial plan, or recommendation of a more relevant product. AI also facilitates the automation of identifying the most likely prospects who will convert to customers allowing financial advisers to focus their time on building deeper relationships.

Much has been said about the arrival of AI threatening jobs. The truth is, AI can’t yet account for human empathy, which means roles that require a level of human understanding are safe. But it can cut the admin burden. For advisers, this improves productivity, allowing energy to be focused on the important stuff: improving and deepening customer relationships.

Consequently, AI has the very real ability to transform the financial services sector, fundamentally shifting how financial advisers interact with clients, and it doesn’t need to be an overly complex process.

The argument for artificial intelligence


Nimble digital start-ups in our market – iSelect and Pepper Money – have up-ended customer experience expectations across the board. Consumers are no longer willing to suffer through a bad customer experience. They aren’t willing to be treated as just another number.

Closer to home, financial technology companies are converting customers in droves and consequently pushing the financial services sector into the technological future. By delivering killer customer experience, fintechs have reconstructed the way relationships between financial services providers and their customers work. The way customers expect financial advice to be given will never be the same.

We know that 63% of clients want to be able to collaborate in real-time with their advisers through their own personal portal – they want a 360-degree view of their assets. Customers want to know when there is a sudden change in the market. They expect to be updated directly and immediately by their financial advisers, not wait until a quarterly meeting. But with hundreds and hundreds of clients, this is a feat near impossible without utilising technology.

The need for personalised, relevant and timely communication


Gone are the days when financial institutions can treat customers like unknowns. We know that 58% of consumers are likely to switch brands if the customer experience is not tailored to their needs. Recommending an off-the-shelf product – one that conveniently has a sales target attached – is not good enough. This only erodes trust and inflames customer scepticism towards financial advice.

Embracing the capabilities of AI is key to unlocking these personalised experiences that customers demand. The risk of not doing so? People will just go elsewhere, to an organisation that will treat them like an individual and listen to their financial goals and objectives – as I did, after years with the one financial institution.

Deepening client relationships through better decision-making


United States-based United Capital is one wealth management firm reaping the rewards of technological investment and the implementation of AI. Investing in the Salesforce Financial Service Cloud, which includes AI by default, United Capital’s advisers have been provided with a means to get to know their clients better. They’re able to learn deeply how their clients think about money, with this intimate information stored digitally for future use. With the assistance of AI, advisers are then able to deliver more personalised counselling and financial plans at scale.

By automating much of the daily admin burden, advisers are able to spend more time connecting with clients and talking to them about what truly matters. This has resulted in better decision-making and a deeper customer connection – it’s an upward spiral.

Do you want to stay competitive but don’t know where to start? Download our ebook The Future of Wealth Management is Digital for practical digital strategies.

Vincent Cotte is Director Product Marketing at Salesforce. He tweets at @vcotteRead more from Vincent Cotte.