Guideway launches ‘game changing’ AI paraplanning avatar

23 October 2023
| By Jasmine Siljic |
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Guideway Financial Services has announced a new artificial intelligence (AI) avatar paraplanning service which can present advice to clients, enabling financial advisers to further grow their practices and improve the client experience.  

Guideway first launched its own AI tool called FinTalk in August this year, which converts meeting recordings into compliant advice file notes by analysing what has been discussed with a client and breaking down the relevant information.

Speaking to Money Management, Chris Garlick, executive manager of compliance, risk and technology at Guideway, said the file noting tool saves an adviser approximately 45 minutes on average for a client meeting.

“Since then, we’ve been thinking about how we can apply it more in client-facing settings and how it can relate to the delivery of advice,” he explained.

“With our AI adviser, it can present advice and have a two-way conversation through a chatbot interface. We know that clients still want to see their adviser because that’s who they’ve built their relationship with, so that’s where the AI avatar comes in.”

The process works by recording an adviser in a professional studio to capture their facial movements and tone of voice. The recording is then fed through the AI tool which develops a digital avatar of the adviser to implement into a video presentation.

Rather than paraplanners producing a 50 to 60-page PDF document, they can now create 15-minute video SOAs, which are presented and narrated by the adviser’s on-screen avatar.

“It’s a big game-changer we’re finding for advisers, paraplanners and licensees because it’s a totally different way to deliver advice,” Garlick said.

At the moment, Guideway is using the avatar service with its advisers within its dealer group.

“We’re also talking to two large super funds in advanced stages about rolling it out with them. They’re pretty excited about it, given the potential productivity uplift and efficiencies from a member engagement perspective,” Garlick shared. 

Since launching the service three weeks ago, Garlick has observed significant uptake, including half of Guideway’s 18 internal paraplanners working on video SOAs.

Freeing up advisers’ time

According to Garlick, the avatar service can save advisers up to 90 minutes per day, enabling them to be more focused on growing their business and attracting more clients.

“AI isn’t competing with them; it’s working alongside them to improve the client experience. There’s a massive difference between receiving a personalised video presenting their advice document and receiving a PDF, which the client has to work through and try to understand,” he said.

“This is the next evolution of video SOAs.”

The Quality of Advice Review (QAR) is a significant driver behind the AI development, particularly with the removal of the safe harbour steps in the best interest duty and the requirement to capture complete records.

“Realistically, the only way you can take complete records is by adopting AI in your business. Once the QAR recommendations become legislated, we’re anticipating this will halve the production time for advice.”

As more of these tools are launched on the market, the executive manager expects it to make the licensee space more competitive. 

“We’re finding a lot of licensees are very resistant to adopting these new technology solutions, and we think they are really going to struggle.”

The resistance is largely due to data security concerns and the fear of the unknown. However, Garlick explained that this service is no different to storing data in Xplan. 

“That’s why a lot of advisers are going self-licensed, because their licensee places controls on them, not just from a compliance perspective, but it also stops them from growing their business.”

Many of the practices that work with Guideway have considered switching licencees due their licensee not allowing them to adopt the new AI tool.

The impact on paraplanners

While the Paraplanner Hub recently found that nearly 40 per cent of paraplanners are worried about the threat of AI impacting their roles, Garlick reaffirmed the transformative effect it will have on their skill set, with a greater focus on preparing video presentations enhanced through AI.

He said: “They are still there adding their value in the advice piece and working out the strategy that the adviser wants to recommend. 

“Paraplanners are still needed in the back office to do the technical work, build out the client documentation, and do everything behind the scenes.”

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