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Cetera Adding Facial Recognition Software To Advisor Tech Stack

With Decipher, Cetera believes it can map client emotions to improve advisor engagement and increase the face value of financial planning.

Some say you can never replace the value of meeting face-to-face with clients, but Cetera Financial Group believes client faces can be worth even more. 

The network for independent advisory firms announced Tuesday the upcoming launch of Decipher, a new facial recognition program designed to give deeper insights into how clients feel about financial goals, decisions and concerns.

Using any computer or device equipped with a webcam, advisors affiliated with Cetera can show clients short, personalized video vignettes featuring real-life scenarios. Decipher will map the client's facial muscles and track emotional responses. Using a cloud-based artificial intelligence engine, the program determines how the videos make clients feel and how it aligns with their stated financial goals or priorities. The client will get a report that Cetera says will provide a more thorough understanding of their financial needs and concerns, and advisors will get a report with actionable intelligence for how to engage with the client.

Cetera hopes Decipher will help deepen engagement with existing clients while providing advisors with a better understanding of their clients, a unique way to reach prospects and new business opportunities with existing clients. The tool is also designed to provide more transparency into the advisor’s decision-making process in order to remain compliant with the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule.

“As experienced advisors know, client decisions about personal finances have always been significantly influenced by emotions that clients and their loved ones may not be fully aware of, and which are frequently left unsaid,” Cetera Financial Group CEO Robert Moore said in a statement. He called Decipher an “unprecedented opportunity” for advisors to take in the nuances that drive important client decisions.

While it certainly is a unique tool in the wealth management world, facial recognition technology has been used for some time in other industries. Moore wouldn’t name who Cetera worked with to develop Decipher other than “one of the top private technology companies in the world,” but did say the technology is used by a number of companies in the security and consumer testing fields to detect specific emotional responses.

To bring the technology to wealth management, Cetera provided its own proprietary data to map the results to conversations that can be used by advisors.

“The premise here is that the future of the industry will be defined by its ability to enhance the advice-centric experience for all those who participate in the solemn and important work [of] providing for individuals’ financial futures,” Moore told WealthManagement.com.

Decipher, the latest tool in Cetera’s Advice Architect Ecosystem, is the company's plan to unify the disparate technology offerings across its network that the firm launched in March. Cetera eventually plans to incorporate an automated investment tool — or robo advisor — into the Ecosystem. And while Moore said there is potential to integrate the facial recognition software into an online risk profile assessment, those plans are not part of the foreseeable future.

“We have every reason to believe that it’s important to take these results and use them as part of a further dialogue,” Moore said. “It’s not meant to map directly to products.”

After a pilot program this summer, Cetera anticipates rolling out the product across its network over the course of the third and fourth quarter.

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