The quest for customer engagement that motivates clients towards positive actions and outcomes is a holy grail for the financial services industry. The reality is that it will take a concerted effort between an understanding of human behavioral biases and barriers with a creative application of technology. The good news is that this mega-merger is well under way.
The financial services industry is in the midst of a rapidly developing alliance between behavioral science and next generational digital technology – an alchemical mix of behavioral finance and Nudge Theory with AI, analytics, chatbots and APIs. This effort is leading to enhancing customer engagement through personalized content and smart analytics coupled with a customizable user experience tailored to individual client needs. The key to this new design is to be at once both a consistent and seamless experience across all the different touchpoints with the customer.
We reached out to new Institute members Kevin McNee, Director of North American Sales, and Andrew Lea, Director of Nudges and Insight of ABAKA – a London-based AI driven digital savings and retirement solutions platform that some might term a Financial Wellness platform, but they put up their trademark flag as Artificial Financial Intelligence™ . We wanted to do a deep dive interview to see how they combined technology with Nudge Theory into a customizable platform. This is a great case study in how to apply technology with a human touch to drive engagement and actions towards a more secure financial future.
Hortz: What was your motivation in building your financial wellness platform? What problems and needs are you addressing with your technology?
McNee: The genesis for ABAKA was the result of a negative personal experience encountered by our Founder’s father due to a lack of financial education and no access to affordable help or planning. This led to a recognition of the need to reduce the advice gap and democratize financial advice for all. Our mission then is simple - to get people better engaged around their finances to produce better outcomes.
ABAKA is an award-winning Enterprise SaaS platform specifically designed to power digital customer engagement and advice on wealth, savings, and retirement. We do so through an AI powered, cloud-based platform to educate, motivate, and empower customers. Using our proprietary conversational AI and “Next Best Actions” or hyper-personalized “nudges”, ABAKA helps to facilitate a cost effective, hyper-personalized, omni-channel client experience.
We provide financial firms with the capability to quickly access customer data, build insights, and actionable intelligence to drive next steps. Our array of digital solutions covers retirement (accumulation, decumulation), banking (personal financial management, savings), and wealth advisory (goal-based investing, data aggregation) with built in process automation, scheduling, and lead generation and conversion tools.
Hortz: Can you break down some of the technology components you decided on and how they were applied to design solutions to some of challenges you just mentioned?
McNee: ABAKA has built an ecosystem of truly differentiated digital front to backend solutions that leverage new technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), open banking APIs, and omni-channel engagement. This enables our clients to access customer data, build insights and intelligence, and engage at scale with their clients.
Our best of breed conversational chatbot, AVA, drastically increases engagement, converts traffic into qualified leads, and helps scale up advice reach and capabilities. AVA is programmed on over 30 million inputs, exhibiting an accuracy level exceeding 94% with domain expertise across retirement, banking, and wealth management. It can be deployed on any traditional or mobile site and integrates with other apps where clients engage such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack or intelligent assistants including Siri and Alexa. The chatbot can answer questions, monitor transactions, place orders, perform screening functions, link and schedule customers to their advisors and deliver accessible, affordable, scalable advice.
According to a 2019 E&Y Global Wealth Management Research Report, the preference for chatbots is greatest when seeking financial advice, followed by learning about products and services. We engage users across all age and income demographics. Key data points include an average of 8 minutes per session, leading to a reduction in servicing time and costs, a 500% increase in digital traffic lead conversion, or a 32% jump in forecasted retirement income for those who take advice through AVA.
Aside from cost, we have also addressed “black box” concerns inherit in compliance departments across the industry. AVA is structured on an open architecture canvas, allowing compliance oversight, and the ability to create and edit as needed. By adhering to internal policies and procedures we help firms to stay on the right side of regulatory oversight.
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