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Financial plans are important documents and take a substantial amount of time to create and communicate to the customer. But, should they really take that long from start to finish? The answer might surprise you in this article comparing two very different banks.

To showcase how a finance chatbot could revolutionize customer experience, this article details the traditional financial planning approach versus the newly transformed, automation-enhanced approach. 

The Traditional Financial Planning Process without Chatbot Technology

At many institutions, the process of creating, verifying, approving, and delivering a financial plan is a long, drawn-out process. A total timeline of two or three months is not uncommon. In researching how this process unfolds, the bottlenecks identified were intriguing, because there seems to be a workaround for these issues. But before getting ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the case study in detail. 

A financial plan constructed within the four walls of a traditional bank goes through a particular cadence, which could vary from company to company, but in general the process is slow and labour intensive. The onus is placed on the bank’s employee to collect information and manually input many pieces of data. 

A Sequence of Human-powered Steps to Financial Planning

When a client requests a financial plan from a bank, it sets off a series of events, as follows:

  1. The client fills out a questionnaire about their desired financial plan and current information.
  2. The client books a call with a financial advisor.
  3. The advisor goes through the questionnaire inputs the data manually into a separate system for internal use.
  4. A separate entity, housed in an entirely different business unit, then takes the data from the financial advisor and inputs it into their own system, manually. 
  5. High-level financial planners then review and overlook the plan and the process.
  6. The financial plan is then relayed to the client via the original financial planner.

Heaven forbid a change request is received at any point during or after this process, such that it then needs to start all over again. The client has already waited over a month, and more than likely 6 – 8 weeks to receive the first plan. Now, another lengthy process awaits, and the financial advisor is the go-between, often having to manage expectations of the client, while working in an antiquated system.

Within the steps above, information is entered manually, by humans, three times. And while there is a level of checking and double-checking happening here that is good for correctness, there’s also an equally likely chance that data could be entered incorrectly by people. Oversight in finance is great. But redundant human data entry is ripe for disruption. 

Financial Planning Powered by Cutting-edge Finance Chatbot Technology

Now think about how much faster (and more accurate) the process could be if automation was put in place. Anywhere that data entry is heavy, automation is the key to offload monotonous tasks from employees and to ensure that data is captured correctly (just once). 

Automation and artificial intelligence are technologies at the heart of chatbots. And while many forms of automation could be put to use in this process, chatbots make it easy for financial advisors to do their jobs, providing a human-like interface to work with.

There are forward-thinking financial institutions that have already started to embrace this technology to speed up their financial planning service delivery. The process is condensed:

  1. The client fills out a questionnaire on their needs and current financial information.
  2. The client books a call with a financial advisor.
  3. Automated software takes the information from the client’s questionnaire and inputs it directly into the financial planning software for the advisor to review.
  4. The financial advisor reviews the plan and sends it to the client. 
blue and yellow graph on stock market monitor Finance Chatbot
Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

The automated process, saving the financial advisor on manual data entry, and instead allowing them to focus on the higher-level planning, also saves the customer time. They receive their financial plan in two to three weeks. Speed is obviously important in today’s customer service industries, but by cutting down on the time it takes to create the financial plan, it’s more likely that the plan itself will still be useful. Think about how much changed in 2020 and now into 2021. A plan constructed at one time may no longer be valid three months later. 

When the client requests a change to their financial plan at this automation-embracing bank, they simply fill in a new questionnaire with the updated information. The automated system then updates the plan, and they have the numbers in a matter of days, not weeks. The only time required is that of the financial advisor looking over the updated numbers, and not on a long process of data entry, oversight, and manual data transfer processes. Automation allows for banks to provide more flexible services that don’t require a complete re-do of the financial plan.

Finance Chatbots Takes Experience to the Next Level

Not only are customers delighted by how much faster they receive their financial plan, but the financial planners/advisors have a much better employee experience. Eliminating boring tasks, like data entry, help to give financial professionals more time on complex problem solving and planning. In addition, with AI technology backing them up, allowing for better turnaround times and even more accurate reports, they look better to their clients. Relationships between customers and financial experts are strengthened when finance chatbots are part of the process.

Consider how your financial institution might be able to put a finance chatbot to work in your processes. Chatbots have already been carefully developed with compliance in mind, specifically for the financial industry. You could even add functionality to improve accessibility to your products and services. For example, adding a voice component to your chatbot would improve accessibility to those who have a visual impairment. 

If this article got your brain waves flowing about how finance chatbots could be used in your company, reach out to one of our chatbot consultants today. We’d love to discuss your ideas and bring your vision to life.

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Artificial Intelligence (or AI) is already being widely deployed across industries, sometimes in ways you wouldn’t even have imagined. The financial sector, which is heavily regulated, may not seem like an industry that would be poised to harness cutting-edge technology. But with the right planning, regulatory experts, and smart selection of use cases, AI can be put to work for the good of the employees and customers. 

Where AI in Banking and Finance Gets Put to Work

AI in banking and finance can also lead to huge cost savings, within different business units or channels. There are three main channels where banks can use artificial intelligence. These include the front office (for tasks such as conversational banking), the middle office (for fraud detection and risk management), and the back office (for processes like underwriting). It is estimated that in the next 10 to 15 years, AI-powered applications will create $1 trillion in savings for the industry.

  1. Conversational Banking

The front office is client-facing, and incorporating AI generally means including messaging applications as part of the client experience. Having chatbots within the suite of customer service tools allows for clients to receive answers faster, while interacting with a human-like interface. Conversational banking will continue to improve as more institutions harness AI to elevate their customer and employee experiences. AI in banking and finance can:

  • Support customers by answering frequently asked questions quickly
  • Increase employee satisfaction by eliminating repetitive tasks
  • Boost sales by allowing AI to better serve and sell to clients
  • Help to improve marketing efforts and services by collecting data
  1. Fraud Detection and Risk Management

Within the middle office, AI is perfectly placed to identify any out-of-the-ordinary behaviour within financial accounts. Machine learning and AI are based on data analysis and pattern recognition, with each getting better and better the longer they are utilized. Unfortunately, fraud is an increasingly costly problem. But, AI used cleverly in risk management can perform data analysis in milliseconds, which makes it the most efficient way to detect fraud quickly. AI can:

  • Increase efficiency in identifying fraud and freezing suspect accounts
  • Improve customer service by providing account access and unlocking options in automated and easy-to-access applications
  • Reduce intensive human labour in fraud detection, allowing for employees to focus on developing the software and systems that improve security, rather than searching through transactions to identify fraudulent actions
  1. Underwriting

Underwriting is when your income, assets, and debt are verified as you attempt to apply for a loan. In the back office, AI can be put to good use for underwriting tasks that include data entry, data transfer, automated financial plan creation, and collection of loan application statuses. So much of the processes today are various data collection systems and oversight processes. In a bid to save time and allow the software to do some heavy lifting, AI can:

  • Process underwriting submissions
  • Make risk decisions based on past data
  • Give coverage recommendations 

Check Out Some of These Progressive Financial AI Chatbot Examples

Some of the largest banks in the United States and Canada have embraced AI in the form of a chatbot that interacts with clients. These examples of conversational banking have received rave reviews and are used by millions of users. Conversational AI is at the heart of each of these chatbots, used to ensure that the customer experience service that feels human-like, supportive and customized.

  1. Bank of America Chatbot: Erica

In 2016, Bank of America had a vision for a digital assistant that would help clients online, where they wanted to seek service. Not long after, Erica was born. This chatbot is considered the first widely available virtual assistant in finance. 

Erica can send notifications to customers, give money-saving tips, provide credit reports, and dole out balance information. When you call into your bank, these are all options you have, either in an automated response or when speaking to a representative. But 43% of online bank users would rather use a chatbot than speak to a representative. Erica provides answers much faster than a human ever could.

To say Erica was a hit is an understatement – within two months she already had 1 million users. As with most conversational AI chatbots, the more Erica interacts with customers, the smarter she gets. The initial investment that Bank of America made in the chatbot is paying off now, without needing to reprogram or upgrade the system. She is able to learn what customers need and how best to converse in order to provide the most up-to-date help.

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  1. RBC NOMI Digital Banking Assistant

RBC’s NOMI has received a lot of good press, and for good reason. The AI-based NOMI Digital Banking Assistant is four things in one:

  • Offers real-time personalized financial data to customers
  • Automatically finds and saves money by analyzing cash flow
  • Budgeting tool that is driven by insights derived from data
  • A chatbot that can respond to both text and voice inquiries

NOMI is built on the Personetics Engage AI platform, and RBC customers can simply click on a button to enable its use. There’s no setup required; it gets to work automatically providing insights, suggestions and budgeting help based on the customer’s own personal trends, data and preferences. 

The magic of this AI-powered solution is that it’s completely tailored to the customer from day one. When clients are reviewing their banking, they get insights that help them be more intentional with their money, such as “You spent $56 on coffee last week.” The find-and-save feature is also very popular where the AI technology can determine how much money could be automatically saved each month without hurting cash flow. 

More than 1.1 million users have enabled NOMI on their accounts, and less than 1% of customers turn the AI-powered platform off. As a result, users have received more than 1 billion insights, helping them spend better, save more, and learn about their finances. Talk about next-level customer service.

  1. Capital One Chatbot: Eno

Capital One’s chatbot, Eno, is used to help customers access account information, see transaction history and pay bills. Eno was the first natural language SMS chatbot from a U.S. bank. This means that Eno understands a variety of text lingo and short forms (helped by the pilot project that saw 100,000 users try out the platform). 

Eno doesn’t just answer questions for customers though, he also detects spending behaviour that is out of the ordinary. Eno can flag possible fraudulent activity to keep your accounts safe, but it can also provide insights on activity that seems out of the ordinary, such as a higher than usual tip or a monthly bill that seems to be more than normal. 

Eno sends messages to clients just like a human would and it analyzes the responses using its AI-powered chatbot. By understanding natural language and detecting human intent, it can converse with clients and help them solve problems in a way that feels customized and friendly. Clients love that they can check their balance or pay a bill simply by sending a text.

What Will the Future Bring for AI in Banking and Finance?

To take things one step further, and looking beyond the solutions that already exist in finance, there are additional options that AI and chatbots can harness for even more powerful customer experiences. The following is just a taste of what added technologies can bring to banking and finance:

  • Virtual reality+chatbots = illustrating the impact of long-term savings
  • Real-time status+chatbots = an update on a cross-border transaction
  • Facial recognition+chatbots = zero-click transactions
  • IoT devices+chatbots = voice conversations with customers in many locations

If you are wondering how you can incorporate a financial chatbot, reach out to a Chatbot Consultant. Our experts understand the industry and chatbot compliance requirements.