But not all companies are jumping on the bot bandwagon just yet. Vancouver-based Wealthbar, which provides online investment portfolios and financial planning services, has raised $5.5 million in funding to improve the client experience with Wealthbar’s team of financial experts. The funding was led by Nicola Wealth Management, one of Canada’s biggest high-net-worth wealth management company with $3 billion in assets under management, and Howard Atkinson, an ETF industry pioneer and former President of Horizon ETFs.
Wealthbar’s co-founder and CEO, Tea Nicola, said that the company is looking to provide a more personalized client experience. “Many Canadians are not financially ‘fit’ – so much like a personal trainer or dietitian, with the right tools, data, and our own financial experts we want to help clients develop positive financial habits,” said Nicola. “Our clients already get personalized online financial planning with a WealthBar financial advisor. In the near future, we want to take this even further and enable our clients to collaborate with advisors in even more useful ways including ongoing and proactive financial coaching.
Nicola says that while chat bots represent an exciting trend, the traditional finance industry is generally slow to take advantage of emerging technologies — and, in general, clients aren’t ready to embrace AI and machine learning right now. Instead, chat bots should be leveraged to support human interactions. “Human advisors provide a sense of comfort and trust, and frankly they bring personality to what we do. Clients enjoy having real conversations,” said Nicola.
And this approach seems to be paying off — the company has been growing 25 percent month over month, as more customers become turned off from high investment fees from banks, and learn about FinTech startups working in this space.
“In the near future, we can see chat bots acting as personal assistants for advisors, answering basic questions, scheduling appointments, collecting information, and generally helping by making the best use of an advisor’s time. Eventually, we could even see them being used for some financial coaching interactions. They could provide friendly interactive reminders to improve financial fitness, make suggestions around spending and savings habits, and coach intelligently based on user data.”