2-minute article

Alexa, what’s AI?

It's likely that a growing number of your clients are searching financial terms using digital assistants, such as Alexa. After all, nearly half of Americans use them, according to Pew, and that number is growing.

Many people may not realize, however, that the driving force making these assistants so powerful is artificial intelligence (AI).

Getting to know you

Not only do digital assistants — including Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana, and Google's Assistant to name a few — use artificial intelligence for voice recognition, they also use it for search.

Unlike an internet search, where you can scroll through pages of results, digital voice assistants may only have one chance to provide you with a few responses to a given inquiry.

This makes it extra important for the assistant to anticipate your preferences. To this end, digital assistants can access a wide variety of information about you (including search details or purchase history). They then use machine learning to analyze the data and predict your future preferences based on past choices.

For financial professionals, this can have big implications for how people might search for you and your services, and the way you might want to optimize your business for clients.

In the past, financial services websites might have been optimized for keywords like "financial planning" or "retirement savings." Now, it's time to upgrade to more robust phrases that mimic human speech, like "How much do I need to retire at 50?"

Remember, we speak to digital assistants in a casual vernacular. This allows these assistants to log and learn those speech patterns. It also provides content creators — everyone from government agencies to news organizations and advertisers — to create content that more closely fits the way we speak and think.

Increasing integration

Digital assistants aren't just for individuals. Financial institutions are exploring uses as well: Bank of America uses Erica to help clients check their balances and perform basic tasks and TD Ameritrade lets investors place basic trades using Alexa or check their account balance using Google.

There is also back-end software available that uses AI to assist financial professionals. For instance, much of the software that helps assess client risk is based in AI.

AI and your clients

As digital assistants become more common, and your clients become more comfortable with connectivity, they may begin asking you about the role AI is playing in their financial lives.

Start by explaining any way you use AI in your practice; for example, if you use risk management software, you might discuss how it works to their benefit. Or highlight any products in their portfolio that take advantage of cutting-edge technology. For instance, Athene uses AI in an index strategy to help put innovation to work for your clients.

Two things you can use today:

  1. Are you using key phrases (versus just key words) to optimize your website for search?
  2. Ask your clients if they're using digital assistants and start the conversation about AI and money.