What if you as a retail brokerage could automatically interact with the entire lives and requirements of all potential new clients on a real time basis? Now you can as a new bot is continually online and takes the prime of prime brokerage sector into the world of artificial intelligence
There was a time, not so long ago, during which several ancillary service providers were established by former technologists within the retail electronic trading sector who had turned their attention to the need to refine the customer acquisition procedure, as well as the method by which online retail brokerages effectively retain their clients.
At the beginning of this decade, a number of small companies designed a series of third party customer engagement solutions which were intended to cut the cost of operating a customer service center by way of providing a series of ‘canned answers’ to frequently asked questions, and also to providing somewhat generic calls to action.
Where are they now? Pretty much non-existent.
The developers of software which was intended to employ a self-learning methodology which allows customers of FX firms to ask questions which are automatically answered, without requirement for human resource, by learning commonly asked questions and providing an answer based on the information collated by the system itself, entered the market, and then receded.
This largely occurred because the developers of the systems of the time had come from the affiliate marketing and lead buying sector, largely outside the financial services and financial technology industry, and had modeled the systems on those used in traditional sales call centers.
These days, things are considerably different. Large institutions are replacing entire key departments with artificial intelligence solutions which do not retort canned answers to the uninitiated, but instead use large data analysis methods to learn the specific tasks required by firms ranging from large banks to global professional services consultancies.
In China, PingAn, one of the country’s most avantgarde financial institutions that offers everything from ordinary bank accounts for retail customers to a completely integrated application from which investors can control their entire portfolios, has begun implementing artificial intelligence, a point of interest here being PingAn’s stake in eToro, which may well benefit from the same technology for verifying client records, thus reducing the cost of meeting ever changing compliance requirements.
Today’s requirement is not a simple equation in which customer acquisition costs are very high, and therefore removing a human resource cost and replacing it with scripted answers would suffice. Back in 1991, I was configuring deployable applications and developing internal connectivity solutions for bank trading servers at what is now BT Radianz, and one of the firm’s outsourced solutions was to provide managed services that showed call center staff a canned response to customer enquiries.
Old hat is an understatement, thus artificial intelligence these days must indeed mean intelligence, not just the automation of regurgitated, predetermined scripts.
FinanceFeeds is very much aware that genuine artificial intelligence is very much aligned with our highly technologically advanced electronic trading sector, however, as with most businesses that rely on strong technological leadership, it is our belief that it will enter the interbank and institutional trading sector before it heads toward the retail sector, which, ironically, is in greater need of such a solution.
It is like this with many industry sectors. The automotive business, for example, is reliant on continual technological R&D for the same reason as ours, that being regulation – safety in the case of car manufacturing – and also consumer engagement and diversity in what has become a very homogenous global industry.
The similarities remain in that Formula 1 motorsport, which can be written off as a folly and a sponsorship billboard procession, is far from that when viewed from an engineering point of view, largely because almost every advancement which is now taken for granted on a family minivan from disc brakes to adaptive ride and handling control has come from the Formula 1 racing sector.
So it will be for the FX industry. Today, FinanceFeeds spoke in detail to R&D executives at institutional liquidity provider and prime of prime brokerage Advanced Markets, which has begun to utilize its proprietary robotics for engaging with commercial customers, and also for its clients, which are retail FX brokerages, to give their customers which are retail FX traders, an intuitive service which operates with its own intelligence.
Initially, the ‘bot’ has been integrated into Advanced Markets’ blog in which the company produces unique content on various topics of importance in the global electronic trading industry.
At first glance, it appears to be a very simple and ergonomically designed method of allowing customers, retail and commercial, to have new blog posts sent to their messenger facility on social media applications such as Facebook.
This may well be viewed as a very good distribution channel for brokerages to get their content across to their audience, however it is much more important than that when its actual functionality is dissected.
Its developers at Advanced Markets in North America explained that users can interact with the bot from within Facebook messenger, performing initially standard functions such as subscribing to the company’s blog, which then generates a push notification on the user’s phone via the Facebook Messenger application when a new article is posted.
Customers can ask about anything via the messenger, including gain detailed and customer specific information on instruments, liquidity and execution, which instead of being a canned answer, would be delivered according to what the bot has been able to gain from ‘learning’ about the specific customer by using the data on the customer side as well as on the company side as it interacts with the customer’s social media, hence learning their requirements.
According to Advanced Markets, this bot can be provided to any firm and the company is able to customize it toward requirements.
“Everyone uses Facebook, even though it is no longer new” said Advanced Markets’ R&D executive. “In particular, younger people are continuing to use it for multi-faceted lifestyle matters, and therefore it is a resource rather than a social activity, and should be viewed as such. This is where the next generation of traders will come from, and therefore it is far more effective to engage them via this than by using downloadable apps that just distribute generic content.”
Absolutely right indeed.
FinanceFeeds concurs with Advanced Markets’ developers in that applications are now becoming obsolete. In leading markets such as China, FinanceFeeds has observed that pretty much every aspect of life is handled via WeChat, from buying coffee to conducting business transactions, to developing commercial relationships and to distributing vital information. Just one application and one service encompasses all, hence the days of separate apps are in their twilight period.
Property-neutral services dominate the world’s largest enterprises.
Amazon, Netflix, Uber and Airbnb are now cornerstones in the way of lives of many millions of people globally. There is no reason why retail FX cannot do the same, and then behind its customer experience-led backdrop, connect itself to the prime of primes and technology vendors as normal, so that on one end you have the market connectivity that the industry professionals understand, and on the customer facing end, you have trendiness, modernity, and over all, a familiar appeal that takes it away from a sales and deposit model, to an integral part of the every day lives of everyone, everywhere.
All services, from payment processing, through to receiving video news from FX brokerage market analysts, to charting and analytics can be integrated into a similar model to that used by Uber, Netflix et al, and can aggregate services from all providers, that would work with all brokerages from a single marketplace.
“We believe that one of the most important things here is that no company should need to develop its own app. Nobody downloads apps anymore, and we have noticed how many smartphone users have been deleting apps and reducing the number of third party solutions that are on their devices”
With regard to this particular solution, Advanced Markets ‘teaches’ it and feeds specific data to it, and it then self-learns according to its own data provision and also from the customer that it is connected to.
Advanced Markets’ R&D division explained “Anyone can get it from us, and it is always online, always refining its ‘knowledge’ so therefore is able to provide the most relevant information to the most relevant people. Brokers can take this and push relevant information completely automatically to their clients, and clients can gain their tailored responses very accurately on any subject.”
Indeed, this is certainly the way FinTech is evolving and it is encouraging to see the prime of prime sector utilizing it in this way.