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Let’s chat about AI

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As technology advances, you may be wondering: What does AI mean today for how I do business and work with clients? In other words, how can you use AI to enhance your business (not replace it)?

The answer to this question will likely change as fast as the tech itself. “AI is a fast-moving space where solutions will evolve and become more mature, so start small,” said Rebecca Tadikonda, EVP Strategy and Innovation for Athene. “Familiarize yourself with the tech, then demystify it by testing tools out to help save time, cut costs or make timely connections with clients.”

But let’s start by looking at how you can use the current tools on the market to help:

  • Save time and get more done.
  • Build stronger client relationships.
  • Keep pace in your industry

Currently, most people have yet to adopt AI technology for personal use. Research from Forbes in partnership with Athene shows only 17% of survey respondents say they are using AI regularly in their daily life, compared to 75% using online or mobile apps for finance and banking.* 

To start to tap into the power of AI in your own business, here are four things to consider.

1. Start with strategy.

As a financial professional, you’ve no doubt heard countless well-meaning people tell you to connect more often with clients so you can build deeper relationships and expand your business. 

To make this happen, they say, you should improve your content marketing. You should write a blog for your social channels, for example, or frequently share smart financial tips in social posts, newsletters and client letters.

That’s solid advice. But honestly, with everything else going on in your business, who has the time?

If this sounds like you, here’s some good news. AI can help. You can use the latest AI tools to create the first drafts of newsletters, blogs, social posts, video scripts and client letters (at least the ones without any private client data). You can even use it to design presentations and produce videos. And you can do all of these things faster, easier and with fewer resources.

You might, for example, go to ChatGPT or another AI tool and ask it to: 

  1. Explain the difference between fixed annuities and variable annuities in a way that’s easy to understand without jargon.
  2. Write a 500-word blog post with tips on how to plan for retirement.

If you’re thinking, wow, that does seem easier than creating all that content from scratch, you’d be right. At first glance, it is easier and getting even easier every day. Again, that’s the good news. AI can save you hours of writing and production time by quickly giving you first drafts of key marketing content. 

But it's vital to remember they are “first drafts.”  

If all you do is take the first version that your AI tool produces and then paste it into your client database and hit send, you aren’t likely to get results that are up to your standards. Why?

It’s important to review and verify all information. As a recent EY report on responsible AI use points out, the information AI delivers might be inaccurate or unverified. And AI models are only as good as the data they receive, which comes with its own biases.

As a savvy financial professional, the best approach is to use AI to share the kind of meaningful—and accurate—information your clients actually need. 

That means using AI as a starting point to help you develop better content marketing. It means viewing the content created by the tool as a first draft—and then editing carefully to make it relevant for your audience. It also means taking the time to: 

  • Add the kind of local, relatable details that show this was written by a real person.
  • Tailor information to your company or connect it to specific products and services (be sure to get compliance approval).
  • Make sure your tone matches the way you talk to clients in real life. If it’s too formal, jargon-y or sounds like a computer wrote it, change it to add your authentic voice.
  • Verify information and citations. If you take these steps and use AI tools more strategically, you can set yourself apart from those who aren’t personalizing their AI-generated outreach.

A key point to remember is most of us—your clients, your colleagues, everyone—want to do business with real people. And we put a greater value on information that is accurate, relevant and tailored to us.

2. Stay informed.

The latest research fielded by Forbes in partnership with Athene offers important insights to keep in mind as a financial professional. The research found:

  • 46% of respondents ranked life goals and aspirations in their top three factors impacting their financial decisions. By talking with clients to understand their goals and personal nuances, you’re building stronger connections, which is a skillset AI does not replace.
  • Even people who use digital financial planning tools may not use them exclusively. 54% of survey respondents said they sometimes use digital financial planning tools, balancing them with traditional methods. Accommodating individual preferences and comfort with technology can help you build trust and loyalty with your clients.

3. Keep pace with your industry.

ChatGPT is the kind of fun-to-use tool that steals the spotlight. In part that’s because it’s easy to have lifelike conversations with, and it can often provide adequate answers to questions about a wide range of topics. To become more familiar with the platform, you can try informal research with ChatGPT as well. Instead of a Google search, try ChatGPT to see what type of results it provides. 

Today, financial service firms and banks continue to step up their investments in AI tools—in particular, the “generative AI” that many people think about now when they hear the words, artificial intelligence.

An IMF paper from 2023 recaps some of the ways banks are developing and using these tools in-house. Here’s what they found:

  • Capital One: fraud and suspicious activity detection (with a reported significant drop in false positives, reduced costs and improved customer satisfaction)
  • Wells Fargo: automated document processing, chatbots and virtual assistants
  • Goldman Sachs: internal software and information analysis

While many of these larger rollouts are at big organizations, the technology continues to improve at a rapid pace. And as companies like Microsoft integrate AI into their software suite and open these tools up to business customers, finding a use for AI to get more done will be a realistic option for everyone, not just specialized teams.

4. Keep it human.

Research shows many people don’t want to talk to bots, especially when it comes to their money.

In fact, Forbes research, in partnership with Athene, shows that the preferred methods of communication with financial professionals are phone calls (56%) and in-person meetings (53%). Respondents could select more than one preference.

Forbes and Athene’s joint research highlights the need for a financial professional to step in and ensure there is a human element to assess recommendations from a tech platform.

  • 29% of respondents report “concerns about relying too heavily on technology and neglecting personal oversight.”

That’s why the customer experience and personalized service can’t be farmed out to AI. It simply can’t provide the same full-service experience that a personal relationship with a financial professional does. Clients instinctively know this and have responded accordingly.

This is good news for financial professionals: Start to think of AI as a tool that can enhance how you do your job—and help save you time—if you’re open to trying it out. Just remember, approach the tools cautiously. Review content carefully before you post. And be sure to:

  1. Start with strategy
  2. Stay informed
  3. Keep pace with your industry
  4. Keep it human

Because while the tools can help you do research, craft marketing content and make more informed choices, one of the best ways to stay relevant might still be the simplest one: 

Continue to provide personalized service and attention to your clients every day. 

After all, your client relationships are based on a deep, nuanced understanding of their financial needs and dreams. Above all, make sure content generated by any AI tools you use is compliant, accurate and aligns with applicable company policies.

Insights on Athene Connect. Tips, tools and resources to grow your business by helping clients retire with confidence.

* Forbes survey in partnership with Athene, Nov. 2023