Are there any disconnects between the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) technology and its adoption by financial advisors (FAs) and their firms? Are wealth management firms in North America aware of their FAs’ perception of AI?
To answer these questions, Accenture went directly to the source and surveyed 500 financial advisors in Canada and the U.S. earlier this year. We wanted to fairly assess their familiarity of AI and what, if any, disconnects exist when it comes to using this technology. Our intention was also to better understand financial advisors’ relationships with AI technology—their perspective, how they use it, what is needed, and their ambitions and specific interests.
The results paint a clear picture of “AI technology readiness”. Almost all FAs want AI solutions and were already using AI to some extent in their current work world. Their enthusiasm was further evident in that FAs already know AI can help them to grow their business.
Artificial Intelligence will have a significant impact on client-advisor relationships
In a survey two years ago, we found 79% of North American C-suite executives in the wealth management industry believed their organizations were “digitally ready” to adopt new AI tools while six in 10 were already focused on deploying AI technology across targeted business groups. 1
What’s exciting to highlight from our current study is that FAs are also bullish on AI tools that could help them gain more insight, become better informed, and as a result, be more efficient in their role:
These statistics demonstrate a high level of agreement among the FAs and wealth executives. This is a somewhat unique scenario when it comes to implementing a new technology to find shared beliefs and interests among key stakeholders who are equally willing to transform their work practices and learn how to use a new technology in the most productive ways. Some challenges remain however in the case of using AI in wealth management on how firms could stand out and effectively compete as they prepare to participate in what has already become a thriving and crowded marketplace.
Pacing is essential—and advisors want to be involved with the roll-out.
Our research revealed that the pace of an AI roll-out should be done in lockstep with a firm’s business goals and with buy-in from their FAs. The same research further showed that while more than 9 in 10 (92%) FAs acknowledge that their firms have taken steps to act on their AI strategies, some barriers to adoption still need to be addressed. For example, 5 out of 10 advisors feel like their firms are challenged to act on their AI vision.
To prepare a more seamless roll-out of AI technologies, we recommend multidisciplinary teams to be created and assigned to coordinating the roll-out for their particular work area to seek best results. Wealth management firms need a “smart deployment” model so there is alignment between the firm’s pace of innovation using AI in relation to the rate of adoption, use and value they aim to realize across their business operations. Multi-disciplinary, in-house teams are likely to be more familiar with these specifics and, therefore, best suited to manage this work.
Preparing for the move to AI
Mapping out an AI roll-out requires a strategic mindset. We’ve identified three critical favourable factors to help improve a wealth management firm’s ability to scale, overcome typical roadblocks, and help the team realize AI’s full benefit:
- Focus on seeing a single use case or program through to the end: Aim for an approach driven by a clearly defined business strategy, not by the technology. Too many pilots or work-in-progress initiatives could cause FAs confusion and frustration. We recommend undertaking a single use case or program to demonstrate the value that could be built to a point of providing real value to the advisor.
- Ensure firm’s priorities align with where advisors find high value: Keep financial advisors in the loop to help define the priorities of your roll-out. The adoption of AI requires a high amount of change and effort—moving forward requires an honest and ongoing look at costs, priorities and FA’s input.
- Have continued support from management to ensure success of AI programs: AI implementation is an ongoing process as technologies evolve. Having executive sponsorship is critical to set the tone at the top and ensure the internal capacity, funding and dedication is sufficient to meet AI goals. This sends a powerful signal that successfully scaling AI requires an operating model with defined processes and owners for measuring value, appropriate levels of funding and established executive support.
What to do next?
AI adoption is not just about speed, money, more data or a single leader—it’s about moving deliberately, aligning investments to the right places, driving the right insights, retaining the best talent and providing people with the best tools and capabilities.
After years of study and assessing the landscape, we have found there is overwhelming positive support for the implementation of AI within the wealth management sector. In the survey summary attached, we highlighted a flavor of select insights but welcome the opportunity to share more robust findings from the study with you directly. We also have the experience and expertise to help you build your plan and master each stage of your AI roll-out. The next step? Get in touch and let’s get started.