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  1. Honest. Constructive. Objective. No Bull. We all have a comfort zone at work. Topics which we could talk about until the cows come home. WealthTech propositions are my bread and butter, they sit very comfortably in my ‘safe place’. A number of new tools, ‘artificial intelligence’, ‘machine learning’, and ‘deep learning’, have rapidly crept into the WealthTech space. These self-teaching systems are busy revolutionising many industries. WealthTech is no exception. You need to ask yourself whether you want to jump on the train and work them into your ‘safe place’, or rather wait for the next train to pull in. My fear with the latter is that you'll be late! It’s true that artificial intelligence has been around for decades, but for the majority, it’s something we have typically reserved for the latest James Bond movie. These tools crop up regularly in our research. I talk in length to various proposition owners about how these technologies are being implemented. More often than not, they are on their ‘to do list’ and still to be added to their roadmap. “I’ll get back to you on that Kerry” “We can’t disclose anything at the moment, but we’re working on it” There is a lot of chatter about these innovative technologies. A few firms are already rolling out such services in the real world. It's these that I want to take a look at today. To the majority of us, it’s something new. You need a certain level of skill to understand how it works. Your brain needs to tick a certain way. It’s not always important to understand the inner workings of these technologies and algorithms. It is important however, to understand how they are going to change the way we design and deliver financial services. Hedgeable Every now and then I speak to an organisation which turns everything on its head. This is exactly what happened when we met Hedgeable. They are primarily a technology company. Having successfully developed and deployed its own digital wealth platform in the US in 2009, the company decided to open up its architecture and partner with organisations across the globe. The technology consists of four key open application programming interfaces (APIs). Partner organisations will use these open APIs to form the infrastructure / back end of their digital wealth proposition. The API’s are available on a modular basis so you can pick and choose which ones best suit your business. Hedgeable’s co-founder, Mike Kane, described the process as ‘plugging in’ their API’s into your existing framework. Once you have the back end in place, you can add on a number of optional customer facing modules. One of these, being a truly fascinating artificial intelligence module. The following video from the recent Finovate Spring conference gives a great feel for the system. Hedgeable AI Lab Digital Wealth Insights analysts are producing a more extensive analysis of Hedgeable’s functionality which will be available from this site shortly. Abaka We recently reviewed Abaka’s intelligent savings proposition targeted at employers looking to improve the financial wellbeing of their employees. (see their full review here) What makes Abaka different from other workplace propositions is that its powered by artificial intelligence and delivered via both a mobile App and a chatbot called AVA. This technology collates and translates the employee’s data to provide insight and nudges into their personal financial life. It also provides comparisons of their financial life against that of their peers or others with similar circumstances as themselves. Crucially, Hedgeable and Abaka are both LIVE physical propositions available to use in the UK today. We are in an era where technology can take our data, read it, understand it, and provide us with proactive insights to make changes before reaching a particular unhealthy situation. Over the course of the next few months I’ll be looking at ways in which artificial intelligence is changing the way we develop and deliver financial services. I highly recommend getting on the artificial intelligence train sooner rather than later. Step out of your comfort zone. It’s incredibly exciting!
  2. Honest. Constructive. Objective. No Bull. Never has a term rung so true. Many loud, rambunctious and confident announcements have been made in the press and via social media the past six months about the launch of innovative, industry changing, kitchen sink inclusive, WealthTech propositions. In the hope that a new proposition will be well received and communicated to our audience, we are approached by these organisations, with much gusto, and told of the wonders of their tools. That’s not how we roll. When it comes time to lift the actual bonnet and start our review, the process is promptly placed ‘on hold until further notice’. Why? Is there nothing to show for all the chatter? A particular favorite of mine, are the three savings or budgeting applications that I downloaded onto my mobile last year which claim to automatically assist you find various savings. Still pending! Large traditional institutions have called in with incredible enthusiasm, announcing the imminent launch of their very own robo adviser. When it comes down to the details, suddenly everything goes dark. Readers with roots in Africa, will relate when I liken these propositions to the feathered phenomenon, the Hadeda bird (Football fans may identify more closely with the flying vuvuzela!) "haa-haa-haa-de-dah" 'Marketed but not yet launched’ is the official standpoint. ‘Jumping the gun’ or ‘all talk and little action’ may be a couple of ways to explain it, but my gut tells me that neither of these is typically true. Understandably, it’s important to create interest, establish positioning, grow your beta community, engage the industry and entice investors. Equally, we are talking about a regulated environment here, so crucially you would have to get your compliance on point. I wonder however, whether this premature marketing launch instead harms a proposition’s first impression and opportunity to capture their target audience. From my perspective, I can't help but feel disappointed and slightly skeptical. Importantly, I'm not talking about the odd hadeda here and there! I'm talking about a full on flock of these big flappers. Vaporware assumes that the organisations making these announcements have no intention of actually releasing the tech / functionality any time soon. Again, my gut tells me that this is not the intention, but rather a cautionary trend within the UK industry. We simply seek perfection before taking that first step. Please, don’t miss the boat! Waiting for the perfect product could take months or even years. Each month that goes by, another few propositions are launched, taking a chunk out of your target audience. Get the fundamentals right first. Absolutely. But then go for it! Introducing new and improved functionality as and when you have it has many advantages: · An agile development process can be exciting for users. · It shows them you are continuously adapting and evolving. · You can change your priorities according to demand and not a deadline. · It will force you to innovate from within more regularly. Be honest with your audience. Tell them what is coming. Tell them how you are building things to benefit them. Ask them for help and then tell them you listened. Reward them for their loyalty. People like honesty. Approach your users with your cards on the table. You will be giving them a reason to stay. That better day may never come. Your competitors are already leaving the harbor. Stand up. Be present. Be brave. Own it. Launching a half-baked proposition today without all of the ‘bells and whistles’, may put you in a better position than if you waited for that perfect bake.
  3. Honest. Constructive. Objective. No Bull. "I've got this" - my final thought before I walked out my front door and faced the day we launched http://www.digitalwealthinsights.com/ At F&TRC usually they come to us. They pay us. They ask us to help them 'fix it', 'build it' or 'measure it'. Not this time! With our new service we went to them. We told them. We are going to 'review it', 'compare it' and 'rate it'! I must give credit where it is due. 90% of organisations opened their doors and welcomed us in. They were proud of what they had created. Analysing a single proposition from the ground up, including the size of their underwear, teaches you a hell of a lot about it. Analysing multiple propositions, teaches you about the industry. It identifies trends, and offers up valuable perspectives from numerous angles. Yes, it's our intention to share these with you! The brief for Digital Wealth Insights is to be thorough. The objective is to provide unbiased, constructive and honest analysis of each proposition we select. Above all else, it had to be accurate! Each review was sent back to it's 'owner' to welcome challenges, debate reasoning, and check against accuracy. Many an hour I sat with bated breath waiting for the phone to ring, or my inbox to beep with messages from irate founders, cheesed off developers, and maniacal MDs. If you want to run with the 'Big Dogs' you've got to learn to take a pee in the long grass! Right? Right! 'Difficult' conversations are now par for the course, a daily hazard of my day to day job. Or so I thought. Instead what I found was intelligent debate, gratitude for the transparency, and acceptance of our measures. It is safe to say that there is no ‘one size fits all in FinTech!’ I’ve met with; Individual entrepreneurs who have put their heart, soul and life savings into their passion to help other people. Industry giants with years at the helm looking to modernise their offerings. Groups of friends / colleagues who have pooled their crazy high IQ’s and mind boggling skill sets, into providing a service for the ‘people’ Technology gurus who have been building bridges and plugging holes all over the industry. So much so, that they now have a full suite of functionality to offer their own standalone product. As an analyst of UK WealthTech propositions, I’ve picked up a few overarching pearls of wisdom these past few months: Showing excellence doesn't necessarily mean having all the bells and whistles. It's also an attitude, a drive, and a commitment to achieving something that actually makes a difference. Most WealthTech players are heading in the same direction. If you want to stand out from the crowd, think of delivering the ordinary in an extraordinary way. Options, always give the end user options. We are not all cut from the same cloth. Customisation is a USP. The ability and depth of customisation is crucial for customer longevity. Simple, keep it simple. (Do offer the complicated option, but keep it simple first). Education breeds security. Security breeds contentment. Contentment breeds longevity. Longevity breeds a well-funded bottom line. It all starts with education! The foundations are well and truly down! Where is the innovation? Don't get comfortable. I get it. You want to make sure you perfect your current proposition. But don't lose sight, keep up, innovate from within. (Before someone innovates for you) The opportunity is there. It's everywhere. Digital Wealth Insights was launched with an initial set of 20 propositions: Each week we will be adding more proposition reviews to the service. The next week we plan to look at Abaka and Intelliflo’s automated advice process. As more trends, facts and figures emerge we intend to share these with you through our various ‘Digital Wealth Insights’ social media accounts. To see a summary of our analysis identifying the areas of strengths and where we believe there is scope for improvement visit http://www.digitalwealthinsights.com/ (This does require you to register to the service to gain access to our free summary of each proposition). Further detailed analysis of the various propositions can also be accessed via this link. However, please note there is a subscription fee for the additional level of information.