9 in 10 financial advisors have positive view of AI, Arizent’s “2024 Predictions” study finds


In an industry as cautious and prudent as wealth management, one might expect people to be wary of a disruptive new technology like AI. But in fact, financial advisors overwhelmingly support it.

New research from Arizent, Financial Planning’s parent company, shows that the vast majority of advisors are bullish about artificial intelligence. According to Arizent’s new study, “2024 Predictions,” 87% of wealth managers believe the technology will be beneficial to their industry.

“Overall, AI is going to have a positive impact on wealth management,” said Jay Zigmont, founder of Childfree Wealth in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. “We haven’t embraced AI yet, but it is on our list for 2024.”Like Zigmont, most wealth managers plan to use this new technology in the coming year. Eighty-one percent told Arizent they’ll “leverage AI to support their business” in 2024.

Those are impressive poll numbers, especially for a technology that only just recently began to take off. At the end of 2022, OpenAI launched ChatGPT, a chatbot that could synthesize the knowledge of the internet into clearly written — though not always correct — answers to users’ questions, carrying on conversations much like a human being. In its wake, other tech companies created a plethora of other AI chatbots, making this technology widely available to the public.

How will wealth managers use it? In “Predictions,” the most common answers were tasks related to financial advising, but not the advising itself — at least not yet. Forty-nine percent said they’ll use AI to improve emails and marketing communications. Others said they’ll use it for client onboarding (35%), informing investment strategies (28%) and lead generation (27%).

“I use AI to generate social media taglines and posts,” said Nick Gertsema, CEO of Gertsema Wealth Advisors in St. Joseph, Missouri. “I’m not the greatest at writing, so it helps.”

But so far, most advisors are hesitant to use AI for the core of their work: devising financial strategies.

“AI can help with a wide variety of back-office tasks and automation, starting with the basics of client notes,” Zigmont said. “As it matures, AI will be an asset in decision-making, as long as we know the right questions to ask and the right situations.”

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On the other hand, not all planners ruled it out. In open-ended responses, 10% of Arizent’s respondents said AI could help with portfolio management in 2024.

“At this point I think the largest benefit we are seeing is in client communications,” one anonymous survey respondent wrote. “This may expand to portfolio management in the near future.”

This enthusiasm is striking, considering the rest of Arizent’s research. For the most part, “Predictions” found that advisors plan to manage their practices largely the same way in 2024, staying the course on everything from fee structures to remote work.

At first glance, technology looks like another example of this. Sixty-seven percent of advisors said they’ll increase their tech spending in 2024, roughly the same as the 65% who said so in 2023. And for some, a rocky economy may hit the brakes on that progress: 26% said market volatility will slow down their adoption of new tech.

And yet, when it came to AI, many advisors were eager to try something new and different.

“We are looking to use AI as a springboard to make our advisors more productive and reduce client handle time,” one respondent told Arizent’s survey. “We believe AI can help power up our advisors so that they can serve more clients than traditionally possible.”

“It’s like having a co-pilot,” another said.

But this doesn’t mean wealth managers have no concerns about the new technology. As many advisors — and plenty of others — have noticed, chatbots often give answers that are concise, eloquent and wrong.

“Generative AI can give information, but can’t consistently give true information,” said Robert Persichitte, founder of DeLAGify Financial in Arvada, Colorado. “That is why discernment is so important, and why giving advisors resources to research and be sure about their recommendations is most important.”

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Others believe regulators have a key role to play in making sure AI is used for knowledge, not misinformation.

“I think that in the long term, AI will have a net positive impact on financial planning, but the use will have to be understood and regulated,” Gertsema said. “We have enough issues with product sales being masked as advice, and my fear would be that salespeople will integrate the new tech before regulators get their arms around it.”

As with all technologies, Gertsema said, AI has the potential for both positive and negative uses — depending on who’s using it.

“Technology is a tool,” he said. “In the right hands, it can be a benefit and help an advisor to scale the advice they give. In the wrong hands, it can cause damage to unsuspecting clients.”



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