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Make AI your ally in business

Consider how artificial intelligence can benefit advisors.

In a continuously changing financial world, artificial intelligence (AI) is the ultimate partner for today’s advisors. From streamlining tasks to delivering personalized insights, harnessing AI can unlock untapped potential, empowering advisors to elevate their expertise and deliver unparalleled client experiences. 

The preceding paragraph is how ChatGPT recommended starting off this article – and it’s a good demonstration of one of the ways AI has the potential to support everyday tasks in an advisor’s business practice. And there are many more. Let’s explore a few. 

Create content 

AI tools can assist advisors who want to strengthen their digital presence by generating their own marketing content. This could include writing anything from insightful blog posts to compelling emails or client updates and letters. Now that mainstream technology firms have invested heavily in the integration of ChatGPT functionality across their suites of products, it’s becoming easier for anyone to create appealing content.  

Improve social media engagement 

Another simple way AI can help is by summarizing the blogs and emails you write (or write with AI assistance) for use in social media posts. Using a generative AI program, simply specify the length, read the response over and regenerate if it’s not quite right. An intriguing summary gives clients and prospects another reason to click your link.  

Generate a first draft of proposals 

Before AI became within reach, you may have met with a potential client, jotted down pages of handwritten notes, and then spent several hours considering the best strategies to recommend in an initial proposal. Now, you can feed the information you collected into AI-powered software, and it will generate a proposal for you, suggesting strategies you can accept or discard based on your human understanding of the person’s situation. 

Speed up annual client reviews 

Based on your notes about changes to a client’s situation, AI can very quickly propose adjustments to a financial plan – and a computer is less likely than a human to forget an important factor or miss an unintended consequence. You’ll still have to oversee anything an AI tool recommends, of course, but it can provide a time-saving starting point for client review updates. 

Access information 

Just as the internet provided unprecedented access to information, the integration of AI is now driving the evolution of search tools. It’s now easier to generate relevant search results, including stock prices, economic indicators and company financials, using general or straightforward language as your prompt. 

Create modelling projections in real time 

One of AI’s strengths is its predictive power. Based on a vast amount of data about the past, AI has the capacity to project, for example, the potential effects of several different client recommendations – and it can do this in almost no time at all. This speed makes it easy and quick to try out different strategies, and even to present the impact of various approaches during a client meeting.  

Monitor client portfolios and flag opportunities 

AI is also very efficient at tracking portfolios against what’s happening out in the real world. You could receive an alert when a portfolio strays from an investment policy statement, when a short-term loan taken at an interest rate peak can benefit from refinancing as interest rates fall, or when a tax change might save specific clients money. If you wish, AI could draft an email to alert the client, too. 

Free up time for relationship building 

The more tasks in your practice that can be delegated to AI, the more time you and your team will have to spend getting to know clients and developing plans to support their long-term goals. Used in collaboration with the other productivity-enhancing tools at your disposal, it may enable you to focus your efforts where they make the most difference to you as a professional, to your clients and to your practice. 

Regulatory compliance 

While the emergence of AI tools is causing excitement throughout every industry, it’s critically important to note that tools like ChatGPT may not align with the stringent regulations and standards mandated by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) or the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). In 2023, the Canadian Privacy Commissioner initiated an investigation into OpenAI following a complaint about the collection, use and disclosure of personal information without proper consent. Advisors who rely heavily on AI applications could involuntarily find themselves falling short of essential industry guidelines. 

While AI platforms will evolve and become more sophisticated over time, remain mindful that they are not currently capable of replacing the “human touch” that’s so vital to the advisory profession. Advisors should welcome these tools with both enthusiasm and caution, while continuing to uphold the high professional and ethical standards that distinguish the Canadian financial industry.  


Will AI replace advisors? 

The extent to which AI will upend the status quo is uncertain, and the perceived threat that it will someday replace millions of jobs may be misguided. While AI capabilities will presumably become more advanced in the future, it will take some time to replicate some of the human skills required in complex client interactions, such as empathy, ethical discernment and judgment. Situations that demand human insight and the ability to address client emotions, navigate conflicts of interest and make ethical decisions remain areas where human advisors are irreplaceable.  

In any advisory practice, some routine functions can be more reliably performed by a computer than by a person. But at the core of an advisor’s job are unique relationships built over many years with each client. AI might be better at remembering details, like a client’s birthday. But an advisor understands the significance and context of those details – including sensitivities, such as when a client’s birthday is also the first anniversary of a close family member’s death, and the usual cheerful greeting may not be appropriate.  

Recent surveys and studies appear to confirm that AI will have a profound impact on key aspects of practically all businesses, including financial enterprises and the many occupations within the industry. For example, 74 per cent of respondents to a 2023 survey believe AI will improve the quality of client service provided by advisors. Sixty-three per cent said they would support working with an advisor whose business uses AI, but 82 per cent said AI would never replace human-driven advice. 

AI is exceptional at identifying patterns, detecting anomalies and, as ChatGPT shows, processing language. However, it’s missing many components of human thinking, including creativity, imagination, intuition, flexibility, empathy, emotional intelligence and ethics. As long as that’s the case, it can be no substitute for an advisor’s professional insights and one-on-one connection with every client.  

As Macan Nia, Co-Chief Investment Strategist at Manulife Investment Management, pointed out in a recent episode of the Investments Unplugged podcast. “A study in the Harvard Business Review talked about the three elements of trust: one would be a positive relationship, two is exhibiting good judgment and expertise, and three is consistency. Right now, artificial intelligence cannot provide these three elements. It doesn’t mean it can’t in the future, but I think in our business, and in the advisor business, it’s a very human, trust, relationship business and computers will never replace that.” 

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