So much has been written about how AI will change everything for financial advisors—or not—that I’m already a little bored by the conversation and have no interest in inflicting more “hot takes” on our readers.
So in this issue we decided to just let AI do our work for us. Our cover illustration came right from the deep, dark hive-mind of some unknowable neural network, accessed through an AI image generator called Midjourney using only the prompt “Wealth Management.” The result was untouched by our (very human) art director Sean Barrow.
The goal was to let the machine create the picture without any additional words, ideas or prompts that would add bias or influence the outcome. In its purest form, this is how this AI pictures us.
It’s an odd image, and I can’t explain it. But, it’s far less odd than some of the other covers our robo-art director threw at us from the exact same prompt. There was variation, but a visually consistent theme emerged. Some included images of what looked like the fiery pits of hell, with mutant animals flying through the sky and grotesque human-looking creatures interacting with one another in unnamable ways; something that looked like a hanging gallows; porcine men—always white men—wearing glasses and holding briefcases; and lots of islands and mountains. See page 38 for four other examples of the output.
For the cover story itself, however, we put the human beings front and center. Technology editor Davis Janowski tapped half a dozen cutting-edge startups that are building tools for this industry that will take the most advantage of the latest versions of AI.
We all know ChatGPT and its ilk can help advisors create client-focused content for marketing. These entrepreneurs, though very early, have more ambitious goals in mind—uses that may redefine what it means to be a financial advisor. Workflows will change, as will client proposals, reports and portfolio management. As one of these founder’s suggests, the machine will know when a client’s dog dies and send a sympathy note with very little effort required by the advisor.
The vision these entrepreneurs seem to share is for deep personalization of the client relationship and a lighter lift by the human advisor to make it happen.
It could all go horribly wrong, of course. But most likely, successful advisors will adapt and take full advantage of the tools. The details of the job will change, but not the guiding spirit. As an old publishing entrepreneur once said, “The purpose of business is to create happiness.” Follow that path when building the future of your firm, and maybe the big computer brain will eventually dream up a very different cover for this magazine.
Inside this issue:
WMRE (Wealth Management Real Estate)
RIA Edge 100 Profiles