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Biometrics, Data and Virtual Reality

Aside from the clothes, a lot of what was predicted in "Back to the Future" has become reality.


We asked several industry leaders to speculate on what the wealth management industry will look like in the year 2037. This one is from Eric Clarke, CEO of Orion Advisor Services.


When I was a kid, I looked forward to Saturday morning cartoons each week. The Jetsons was a favorite. This futuristic cartoon family offered a glimpse of what a modern home could look like. The movie Back to the Future had Michael J. Fox time-traveling ... to 2015! The one aspect where these shows were most off-track was the clothing—otherwise, much of what was predicted has come to fruition. Smartphones, microwaves, personal computers, AI that tells you the weather and can adjust the thermostat in your home ... even the Jetsons’ flying cars are on the horizon. Google and Uber are hard at work.   

We are in an amazing age of innovation and we’re blazing forward at warp speed. It is incredibly exciting to ponder where our industry is going to be 20 years from now—in 2037.   

Here are some advancements coming down the track that I believe will be commonplace in finance within the next two decades:  

  • Analyzing Risk Tolerance With Biometrics. To analyze risk today, we ask a series of written questions, and based on the complexity and the person’s thoughtful responses, they are assigned a risk category, or (as with companies like Riskalyze) a quantitative score. Going forward, a computer will ask questions designed to elicit a physical reaction and gauge a person’s facial reaction, breathing and heart rate. (This is already in the early stages of rollout by companies like Fidelity.) You may verbally or in written form answer a query in a particular way, but your body may be signaling a very different response. Actual risk appetite will factor into these variables to provide much more accurate insight.  
  • Advanced Performance Data, Dashboards and Real-Time “Ripple Effect” Analysis. Say you are in the market for a new car, and you’re contemplating a Mercedes or a Honda. At first glance, this seems like a simple calculation based on price and short-term financial impact. But the choice will actually also impact, by a matter of months, when you might be able to put a down payment on a home, or purchase that boat you’ve been contemplating. Every financial decision you might make can be input into your virtual financial life dataset to give you a very accurate predictive analysis of the ramifications of that decision.  
  • Virtual Client Meetings. Samsung has already unveiled a virtual reality headset and video games that let you interact with players sitting in living rooms on the other side of the world. Advisors will be able to meet with clients in a virtual setting as if in the same room. Technology currently affords companies the ability to have employees spread far and wide and connected via computer and phone. But soon we’ll be able to meet with clients and teammates as if we’re physically together, and the word “virtual” will drop from the lexicon. It will simply be reality.   


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