CogniCor’s CEO Explains How Artificial Intelligence Accelerates Growth, Mobilizes Synergies and Enhances Holistic Solutions Across Insurance and Wealth Management
Not long ago the promise of artificial intelligence portended mass unemployment and a rise of the machines. While research and reporting has yet to prove the second risk unfounded, the first evaporated in recent years, especially within the holistic wealth management space.
Financial advisory and insurance firms have been deeply impacted by compounding trends recently, and particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As millions of Americans reconsider their personal and professional priorities, requiring them to alter financial plans, these firms face a major staffing shortage.
Additionally, the industry itself is searching for scale through inorganic growth, forcing firms to train and onboard large numbers of people in a very short time.
These problems cannot be addressed without the support of technology, and according to Dr. Sindhu Joseph, co-founder and CEO of AI-enabled digital assistant leader CogniCor, the only adequate technology for this task is artificial intelligence. WSR asked her to expand on these trends and how firms can utilize cutting edge AI to stay ahead of the curve.
WSR: What are the biggest operational or back-office obstacles for insurance firms seeking to drive accelerated growth in rapidly aligning their solutions with wealth managers?
Joseph: Disseminating information about rapidly evolving product offerings to wealth managers is challenging, especially when they work remotely. Financial professionals and wealth managers tend to offer the product lines that they are familiar with rather than personalizing the offering with newer products provided by their firm to fit a client’s circumstances.
When growth is driven by rapid M&A activity, onboarding wealth advisors in large numbers and making them functional in a short time is a significant challenge. Dimensioning support processes to handle accelerated growth effectively is another challenge, given traditional contact centers are under a severe resource crunch, due in part to “the great resignation.”
Finally, meeting customer expectations in terms of transparent and instant access to information and electronic, straight-through transactions presents additional potential stumbling blocks given that most of the systems were not designed to provide these kinds of functionality.
WSR: For firms that encompass wealth management, broker-dealer and insurance platforms that serve financial professionals, how can AI solutions be developed and mobilized to drive back-office synergies between each of these business lines?
Joseph: Through our work and research, we have seen that AI-embedded solutions can augment human efficiencies at scale to alleviate many of the most pressing problems in the back-office. AI-powered guided decision making can be very effective to serve up a common simple front-end, unifying disparate information sources from wealth management, broker-dealer and insurance platforms through a system that shares the same information and knowledge.
Often product and policy related questions drive calls to back-office contact centers. Service professionals who may not have expertise in many of these areas and systems can still effectively serve financial professionals when using AI to guide them.
Another significant use of AI-enabled solutions is to drive scalable efficiencies in operations through front-to-back automation of key business processes. From wealth management to insurance, every process starts and ends with filling a form. Providing intelligent, responsive forms that are easier to find and pre-filled would eliminate many not in good order (NIGO) errors.
Within business process automation, scenario-based assistance is an approach gathering momentum in firms that have combined offerings, as it allows the system to treat a client’s individual situation holistically. For example, in a divorce scenario the system would not only initiate the separation of retirement accounts, but also beneficiary changes in insurance products.
WSR: Do you believe activities at the intersection of wealth management and insurance will continue to increase, and if so, what are the key considerations that chief technology officers and chief operating officers at both insurance firms and wealth management firms should consider as they build out their tech stacks?
Joseph: Not only will the intersection of wealth and insurance products increase, it’s very inefficient to see them separate. Just to drive the point home, many insurance products are focused on securing the future financial health of the customer and positioned as an investment strategy – so are all the investment products. A unified view is necessary to understand the current and future wealth of a client and how a hypothetical situation will impact and influence that wealth.
While unification of insurance and wealth platforms may not happen immediately, it’s necessary to have a system that can share information across each part of the business helping employees, financial advisors and clients in guided decision making about wealth and insurance needs. We should shift away from today’s siloed experience to let AI-powered systems drive automation journeys and navigation between multiple platforms behind the scenes to provide a unified end-to-end user experience.
Michael Madden, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at email@example.com