I recently attended the TD National conference in San Diego. My trip to the airport in a Tesla Model 3 Lyft with Auto Pilot helped me prepare for my conversations in the VEO Village. I was intrigued but scared as the driver used the Auto Pilot to change lanes and to exit the freeway. I shared my concerns and asked did he like the service and was he scared it might someday replace him?. His answer surprised me and should help wealth advisors’ concern that AI solutions will take their jobs. His answer was the Auto Pilot helped him reduce mistakes when changing lanes but retained his control to override if necessary. Thanks Lyft driver! I hope to channel your bravery at the TD conference.
My new firm Optimal Asset Management is an AI solution for Institutional clients and Independent Wealth advisors. We hoped to present our solutions and receive some reactions from the advisors to help us improve and meet their unique needs. The responses were very helpful and fell into to three distinct categories.
During lunch I had the opportunity to ask people at my table what’s their favorite part of the conference. The unanimous response was the new technology solutions in the VEO Village. Most advisors do not accept sales calls from these firms but they were interested in learning more about the new technology solutions. Since my new firm provides an AI solution I was encouraged. My follow up question popped by ballon. Will you adopt any of the solutions? Their answer was not today because the risks of change are too high. Oh well inertia is a strong force.
TD was a trail blazer opening up their system to allow AI firms to create APIs to integrate with the TD systems. The open APIs would benefit advisory firms as well. The largest custodian, Chales Schwab has embraced podcasts like Choice Ology which educate advisors on the power of technology solutions. Unfortunately they need to walk the talk. The other reality holding back adoption of AI is the behavioral mistake of focussing on the failures of technology solutions. The tragic Tucson accident dominates the conversation regarding self driving cars. It is easy to say that your will not operate a self driving car until there are no accidents. That seems like an unrealistic bar. Computers are helpful tools to minimize our behavioral mistakes but even they are not perfect. We have become comfortable with Auto Pilot and Cruise Control. We need to do the same with AI.
It is fair to be concerned about our job security. I hope we can take a different approach that will insure our job security in the digital age. Computers did not replace good pilots and they won’t replace human advisors. We can insure this reality by educating ourselves and our coworkers on AI. AI can be a tool that allows us to improve the delivery of our solutions. Education can help us land our clients' portfolio during turbulent markets. A good AI firm should educate us instead of selling us.
Change is difficult and scary. I’ll continue to monitor the progress of self driving cars. Maybe someday I'll buy one. In the interim I don’t think I need one because I'm a pretty good driver.