The year is 2044. America has successfully sent men and women to Mars and brought them safely home. Global warming has been halted via the introduction of dozens of new technologies and capabilities. The average life span has increased to just under 120 years. The robots have arrived, taking care of certain tasks like cooking, cleaning and, most important, post-laundry sock pairing. Looking back just a short 20 or 25 years, the world, in some regards, is a better place. But it has also changed so dramatically that there is no going back.
Samantha, an independent financial advisor, has built a successful business with more than $1 billion in assets under management and one employee. She has just turned 30 and works out of her house in Austin. Michael, one of her larger clients, has an appointment with her at 8 a.m. He is based in Phoenix, and they plan to have breakfast together to discuss the wonderful news that he is about to become a first-time father. After her morning routine, she goes to the kitchen table, and Michael sits down at his. At 8 on the dot, the two are instantaneously connected not by phone or videoconferencing, but instead through a technology known as augmented reality. Through this technology, Samantha and Michael are sitting at the same virtual breakfast table. They both decided to have the same breakfast, an egg white omelet, which has been prepared for them by their kitchen robot, Alice. The augmented reality technology virtually connects the two rooms and creates a 3-D illusion that the two are sitting together 24 inches apart. The technology advanced from 4k and then 8k TVs in the early 2020s, then progressed to virtual reality via wearables and on to holograms in 2030.
As the breakfast meeting evolves, Samantha is empowered with a vast array of cloud-based artificial intelligence technology that can process Michael’s words, gestures, emotions and tonality in real time. Powered by incredible computing power, these quantum computers are able to analyze thousands of data points and reference them against brontobytes worth of information to provide Samantha with succinct themes and recommendations. This information is fed directly from the cloud to Samantha, where she is able to mentally consume the data without reading or listening. As the meal progresses, the conversation turns to taxes, and the predictive technology has already arranged for a CPA to join them. In seconds, Kathryn, the CPA, joins their breakfast for a last-minute cup of coffee and a bit of sage tax advice.
Despite the 300 clients that she supports, Samantha’s days are typically rather light, which allows her to spend most of her time with her top clients. This is due to the automation and AI revolution that has taken place over the previous 20 years. In 2044, accounts are opened, closed, transferred and maintained fully digitally via voice and gestures.
In our future world, smartphones have evolved into virtual personal assistants that are also cloud-based and always connected via an implant or wearable. When any of her 300 clients has a question, the assistant handles nearly any concern or inquiry via AI-based bots that can harness the collective intelligence of millions of interactions and seemingly endless amounts of data. Samantha’s employee and assistant, Stella, monitors these inquiries throughout the day with the help of automated systems that look for trends and themes, so she can ensure her client base is well taken care of. Necessary meetings are automatically scheduled if the system’s predictive engine detects any anomalies with any interaction or client life event.
The technology advances with data, AI, hyper-scale and quantum computing has also led to a major industry change. Regulatory audits have become a thing of history as fiduciary responsibilities, recommendations, transactions and more are monitored in real-time. As a result of a fully digitized world that is powered by predictive analytics and advanced AI, fraud has been reduced substantially and a partnership has grown with the regulators.
As Samantha’s day comes to a close, she jumps in her electric car for a dinner date with her husband. On her drive to the restaurant, she runs into a little bit of traffic. She wonders, “Will cars ever be able to fly?”
Ed Obuchowski is the chief technology officer of Advisor Group, a network of independent broker/dealers.