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Beneath the Surface

The last twelve months have seen unprecedented public access to generative AI through ChatGPT and other Large Language Models. In this piece we ask whether AI can help advisors in understanding their clients more deeply, and whether it could ever compete with the human brain in this regard.

Beneath the Surface

“Wealth’s true purpose is found not in the riches it accumulates, but rather in the lives it enriches”
– ChatGPT, September 2023

This succinct but rather predictable quote aside, AI is of course the undisputed new frontier in almost all fields, and is certainly a source of frenzied discussion within the wealth management community.

It has also become hugely divisive.

Even before the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, clients and their advisors alike were considering the opportunities and risks that lay ahead. Will my wealth manager outsource my relationship to an AI language model? Can a robo-advisor make better decisions about my portfolio than a human? Can my job really be reduced to an AI chatbot? And so on.

How can we all eventually benefit from these recent massive advancements in AI? How can costs be saved, efficiencies be gained, and how can it be used to reimagine the landscape in yet-to-be thought about ways?

Introducing… the Right Brain
At Six Degrees we spend a huge amount of our time thinking about the idea of ‘purpose’, and more specifically, how our clients define the purpose of their wealth. This is not only a deep and fascinating area for exploration, but also a discussion which we think should be obligatory for anyone considering a new wealth management relationship.

The purpose of wealth tends to be emotionally driven, is likely to have its roots in one’s early life, and generally has little to do with actual wealth or money.

In Six Degrees speak, it is very much a ‘right brain’ type of conversation.

We think we’d be kidding ourselves to say for certain that humans will always be better than AI at uncovering this purpose. Given recent advancements, it is not inconceivable to foresee a time where technology within your smartphone can identify the purpose of your wealth even before you know it yourself.

“How did we do today?”
Technology exists today to allow firms, if they so wish, to analyse their interactions with clients, in order to identify insights into their feelings and emotional states. The oft-asked “How did we do today?” will not in the future require you to tap on a smiley face, or to complete a survey. The tech will already have worked it out based on words you’ve spoken, your tone, your body language, or your facial expressions.

We see vast potential in this, but also certain risks, including of course the not insignificant risk to personal and data privacy. Bringing genuine benefits of AI to clients will require us to be incredibly clear on what it is to be used for, and where the benefits to clients actually lie. It is likely that independent firms will be at the vanguard of using this new technology, given their greater ability and appetite to partner with third-party providers over banks’ often tortuous ‘build it in-house’ approach.

What are others in my position thinking?
Capturing anonymised information about client and investor behaviour, and then being able to analyse and share these insights with clients, is one area where we think there could be a great deal of benefit. It’s a truism that creating significant wealth can make you an outlier amongst your friends, and feelings of isolation can often follow. The opportunity to understand what others in a similar position are thinking, feeling, and what challenges they are facing, can create connection and can be complementary to the process of creating a wealth strategy.

It is important to ensure that we don’t get distracted by new technology, but instead harness its benefits to create a better client journey. One of the indirect consequences of lockdowns during the pandemic was to speed up the already ongoing digital transformation within HNW wealth management, and to ultimately make life easier for clients (think digital signatures for example). It will be interesting to see whether the ‘AI transformation’ will mirror its trajectory.

Regardless of the underlying technology however, we are confident that the question “What are others in my position doing/ thinking/ feeling?” will always remain amongst the most common and the most ‘human’ questions we receive from our clients. Listening for, and sharing insight on this topic, is something we are – and will continue to be – passionate about delivering.