Get ready for the greatest wave of technological innovation

Be at the forefront of the technological revolution by understanding AI’s potential and preparing for its integration in the financial planning industry.

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How technology advances the financial planning industry

We find ourselves in a time where technology is changing quickly, with artificial intelligence (AI) at the front of the pack and about to change the financial planning and advice business. Forever. If you did not feel a little sick when reading the words “artificial intelligence”, you haven’t spent enough time on it yet. Also, notably, now that many (if not most) use Microsoft 365, the time is right for game-changing tools like Microsoft’s Copilot. Copilot and similar tools can help with both efficiency and new ideas in ways that have never been possible.

The revolution in AI

The latest information from the Microsoft Envision conference in London and Microsoft Ignite in Seattle shows that we are living in a very important time in the history of technology: Microsoft is putting a lot of money into AI, and they see the launch of Copilot as being like the release of Windows and the personal computer.

They candidly shared that the last major innovation was the iPhone in 2007 and before that, the Internet in 1993. And they believe this is much bigger. This should give us a preview of how Copilot could change the way work is done similarly to how these technologies did before.

Copilot isn’t just another piece of technology; it changes the way we do work in a big way. It’s supposed to turn boring tasks into streamlined processes, give people more personalised experiences and let companies build their solutions. Instead of taking a slow walk, its release is like riding a bike – faster, more efficient and with less effort.

The two types of AI

According to the Gartner Opportunity Radar, there are two types of AI, namely Everyday AI and Game-changing AI.

AI offers many benefits and opportunities for financial planners and advisors.

Everyday AI is very much about AI that everyone will be using, and it is the type of AI that most of us are currently exploring and experimenting with. Without Everyday AI, you will not be able to compete with others. Everyday AI will be vital in your back office and some firms will be comfortable using this in client-facing scenarios as well.

Game-changing AI is about creating new products and services never been seen or delivered before. It is also about investing in creating new core capabilities never possible before. This type of AI is costly at the moment and therefore only big corporate businesses and the like are currently focusing on this.

What AI means for financial planners and advisors

AI offers a lot of benefits and opportunities for financial planners and advisors. Imagine being able to automate simple jobs or keep an easy-to-read log of all your interactions with clients. AI tools like Copilot can look at data, draw conclusions and even make beautiful visualisations that make complicated information easy to understand.

AI can revolutionise taking notes, writing documents and doing prep work in the real world, making these jobs faster and more accurate. By automating these tasks, financial professionals can focus on making strategic decisions and having one-on-one conversations with clients, which will help the business grow and improve the level of service.

Virtual agents are a big step up from the traditional chatbots we came to dislike over the years. Why? These virtual agents can have human-like conversations and draw on information from your firm and your practice that relates to the client it is engaging with. In other words, it will have a normal conversation with context. This will be helpful to provide a 24/7/365 service to clients to answer questions and provide them with relevant information on a real-time basis.

Getting ready for the AI wave

To deal with this AI wave, you need to be strategic. People who work as financial planners and advisors or who run a financial planning or advisory firm should learn more about AI tools and how they work.

It’s also important to organise and optimise data so that AI can use it and use AI tools to get hands-on experience. Working with tech experts and experienced AI professionals can help you learn a lot and make the switch to an AI-integrated workflow go smoothly.

Other ways to learn include LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, YouTube and Udemy.

Three Pillars for AI-readiness

The three pillars are principles, data and security. This is evident from the focus at several events I attended over the last number of months.

The first step is to be clear about your own ground rules when it comes to the implementation, adoption and use of AI. Your do’s and your don’ts. Your clients’ do’s and don’ts. Regulatory do’s and don’ts. This is your decision framework.

The second step is getting your data ready. And not all your data needs to be ready. Identify the 20% of data that is important for 80% of the services and tasks you perform and focus on that. An important aspect is to be able to identify data that is used for specific tasks using tags (or labels). As part of the data step, documented processes are a must.

The third and final step is ensuring that you implement the relevant security measures and protocols. Who will have access to what data? Who can share data? What data can be shared? How will you ensure secure communications with clients, products and other service providers? How will devices be secured and managed? And what training will you facilitate for staff and clients alike?

Must-know highlights from Microsoft Envision and Ignite

One of the best features, M365 Chat, is going to become an AI assistant that is essential to both work and personal life. This app is meant to be a hub for work and life, and it encourages interaction between users that is like talking to a real assistant.

Copilot’s integration features are a game-changer because they make jobs like making client presentations possible in a matter of seconds. Also, Copilot and Azure make it easier to build custom technology. For example, we quickly built a client fact-finding landing page using the Microsoft Power Platform and Copilot. Because making technology is so easy, financial advisory firms can now produce their own solutions, which is a truly ground-breaking development.

Copilot’s data security is very important, especially for financial planning companies that deal with private client data. Professionals who are worried about data breaches can take comfort in the fact that Microsoft has put a lot of effort into making the Copilot ecosystem’s security strong.

Lastly, Microsoft wants users to learn how to prompt AI tools well so that they can move away from standard search engine queries and towards more conversational, instruction-based interactions with AI.

Risks and taking charge

There are risks to consider, even though the benefits are plenty. Privacy and protection of data are very important, especially when dealing with personal and related financial data. To reduce these risks and stay ahead in the business, you need to keep learning and adapting to how AI is changing and what to look out for.

In conclusion

AI isn’t just a fad; it’s the way things will be in the future for financial planners and advisors. You can be at the forefront of this technological revolution by understanding AI’s potential, preparing its integration and managing the risks that come with it. You can use AI’s power to improve efficiency, customer service and business growth.

Stay curious!

Photo of Francois du toit_ Founder and Head of Content and Sales_Propulsion
Francois du Toit, Founder and Head of Content and Sales, Propulsion