Envestnet Tamarac launching new apps for advisers' clients, one with AI

Chatbot would engage clients to take financial actions and encourage adviser meetings

May 4, 2017 @ 1:48 pm

By Liz Skinner

Envestnet Tamarac will make financial apps available to advisers' clients over the summer that can help them budget for monthly bills and other expenses and show them their total net worth, including assets held away from the adviser.

The Chicago-based technology firm, which is hosting its annual adviser conference this week near Dallas, also will add an app next year that will illustrate where clients are spending their income each month, and the firm will follow that by integrating some preliminary artificial intelligence capabilities with its data.

At that point, for example, a $50,000 deposit into a client's account would spark an automated, interactive series of questions with the investor about how to best put that money to work on the client's financial priorities.

"Technology is profoundly changing the way that financial advice is helping clients," said Jud Bergman, chief executive of Envestnet, addressing about 1,100 advisers attending the conference.

Like many fintech companies, Envestnet Tamarac is seeking to help advisers make their clients' experience as efficient and easy as what they get from companies like Amazon and Netflix. That means more digital interactions will be coming to clients of the 7,000 advisers from 860 registered investment advisory firms who use the Tamarac platform.

To that end, the firm is focused on enhancements to the client portal, where these new fintech apps will reside.

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Once the AI capabilities are integrated, the client could automatically receive a note suggesting they pay off their credit card debt, including offering a client who says they might be interested in this to "learn more." A chatbot, or conversational computer program, would then send a note pointing out that in the previous 12 months the client paid $3,897 in interest and fees.

The goal is for the client to be able to sign off on funding the debt payment through their mobile device, the platform Envestnet Tamarac wants investors to be able to use for their financial activities.

About 65% of clients with access to an Envestnet Tamarac portal through their adviser actually log in and use it, a figure that's up dramatically from a few years ago. Client use is key for advisers who stand to benefit from such implementation.

"The widgets that are part of the portal that advisers leverage for clients create more of a sticky relationship between the adviser and investor," said Stuart DePina, president of Envestnet Tamarac.

When the AI-powered chatbot is enabled next year, it also would encourage adviser interaction in some instances. For example, by analyzing deposit history, it will be able to figure out that someone has a new job, shooting off a note: "It looks like you have a new job. Is that right?"

If the client responds yes, it may send a message, such as: "It's a good time to think about 401(k) plans and rollovers, would you like to schedule an appointment with your adviser, John?"

The firm also is upgrading the document vault on the portal, including adding folders so that files can be better organized, a feature that is the top request from advisers, according to Brandon Rembe, chief technology officer of Envestnet Tamarac. (His announcement of this feature Thursday actually drew a burst of applause from a room of advisers.)

Additionally, the system will soon allow advisers to add a document expiration date to files so the vault isn't crowded with outdated documents, he said.

(More: Advisers use technologies to attract millennials)

The portal also includes financial planning tools, and next year will be fully integrated with eMoney. It already has such capabilities with MoneyGuidePro, Mr. Rembe said.

Providing the portal to clients has deepened their client relationships, according to some advisers.

"When we introduced the client portal, we found they liked having that access and being able to see what's going on with their accounts," said Kyle Imhof, director of technology at Clintsman Financial Planning. "It was like pulling back the curtain and showing them what we are doing behind the scenes."

Mr. Imhof is one of three advisers who were recognized by the technology platform for the way they've integrated its tools to improve the client experience and their business operations.

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