AI-Driven Efficiency and Effectiveness
We all know that artificial intelligence technology has captured the attention of businesses and investors over the past year. Although the future of ChatGPT and similar tools is still being written, one advisor—Dave Elder of Merit Financial Advisors—is already using AI to meaningfully improve his business processes, share mission-critical knowledge among his team, and even deliver a higher level of client service.
Elder believes AI’s primary value proposition (for now, at least) is enabling businesses to organize and communicate their institutional internal knowledge faster and better than ever. “It feels like we’re in an organization age instead of an information age,” he says. “We all have so much information, but the big question now is ‘how do we organize it and make sense of it—for ourselves, our teams and our clients?’.”
For Elder, the solution was to create three AI “chatbots” containing information he needs to run his practice and serve his clients.
In one bot, he uploads prospectuses and data for the structured notes he offers clients each month. He then uses it to pull together that information, and rapidly create emails and presentations that explain the differences between each of the notes. The bot delivers those facts quickly and accurately because it’s pulling from the official materials. “Instead of spending my time sorting and preparing that information for my clients, it lets me spend my time helping them and working with them to decide which of the options is right for them,” he says. “The AI actually enhances the human element of the advisor-client relationship.”
His second bot is centered on housing tech support details for the specific technology in his offices. Rather than wade though instruction manuals, wait for a response about a tech problem or sit on hold for an eternity, Elder can instantly call up whatever info he needs to address an issue. He likens this use of AI to an expertly-organized reference library staffed by a librarian who instantly knows where to find the desired information. “I had an issue getting my CRM to work on my phone after it updated. Rather than flip through some PDF, I uploaded it to the AI bot, typed in what I needed and got the answer in about 20 seconds.”
The third bot in Elder’s line-up is devoted to storing and sharing best practices that help his team deliver exceptional client service. He highlights an advisor who joined the team with expertise in helping widows. She told Elder al about her process when first meeting with a widow, explaining (among many other things) that a widow will feel more comforted and open to talking if the advisor placed a box of tissues where the widow can see and easily access it herself, rather than handing over a box of tissues when the widow starts to cry. Elder inputted the advisor’s step-by-step process for working with widows into the client service bot. “Now any advisor in Merit can go into that bot and ask it a question when they have a client dealing with the death of a spouse,” he says.
Likewise, the internal knowledge and expertise that this bot organizes and makes instantly accessible to anyone on the team enables the advisors to better collaborate on client solutions by bringing together specific insights that would otherwise reside only in each advisor’s brain.
Elder doesn’t claim to be an AI visionary, but he does have some advice for advisors thinking of implementing AI in their practices based on his experience:
- Create separate bots for each area of interest. Elder prefers that each bot focuses on one area—in his case, one for structured notes, one for tech help and one for client service processes and practices.|
- Stick to the facts. The more factual you ask the AI to be, at this stage, the better it seems to work. “Asking it to develop human-type opinions doesn’t seem to be there quite yet,” notes Elder.
- Have your team demo it themselves. It’s hard to convey the benefits of AI by simply telling people about them. Better they engage with a chatbot themselves by asking it questions and seeing both the speed and accuracy of the results.
- Proofread anything a bot creates before sending it out. AI is far from perfect—and you don’t want your reputation damaged by errors, poor grammar or other obvious mistakes.
- Don’t fear it. “There this idea that AI coming to take away our jobs, but I think it’s just the opposite,” emphasizes Elder. “I think AI will help us become better advisors and better entrepreneurs by giving us more time to focus on the highest-value tasks.”