It seems like almost any conversation you have with someone right now touches on the topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Are you using it? What do you think about it? Is this going to bring salvation to or cause chaos in our personal and professional lives? What is society going to look like in 20 years?, says Stu Breyer (pictured), CEO of mallowstreet.

I agree there are a number of broader questions that need to be considered when it comes to AI – from the role of regulation and policy to the ethics of its application – but the simple truth remains: it is here. The big question each of us needs to consider is how we incorporate into our daily rhythms. The decisions we make today will make a huge difference over the next 18 to 24 months.

How can you service your clients properly, efficiently, and safely using AI?

I struggle to put my head around the idea that AI is going to replace business dealings where human interaction and relationships lie at the heart of the exchange. As humans, we naturally connect with others and work with people we know, like, and trust (and steer away from those we don’t). Where I see AI helping in a big way is allowing humans to do what we are good at – i.e. building relationships – and taking over the tasks that many of us lack the time for and/ or find less interesting – e.g. writing up meeting notes or sending call reports.

Whatever activity you are focused on, always ask the question – is this something that only I can do, or is it best delegated and outsourced to an AI tool? Sometimes this can feel like a jarring consideration, but trust me, it is incredibly liberating.

How do we use AI to capture and best respond to client needs – how are we ensuring that all that information and data is stored and used safely?

Take the meeting. We have them, lots of them, and sometimes the follow-up just doesn’t happen – at which point, one can rightly ask: what was the point of meeting in the first place? We designed our AI tool, SOFI, to help understand the effectiveness and nuances of meetings, helping users save time, check messaging, improve delivery, monitor performance, capture questions, write up summary notes and surface action points.

The time saved is meaningful. If someone has fifteen meetings are week, and each meeting requires on average 30 minutes of follow-up, that is nearly eight hours each week that must be found. Imagine having all of this done for you and getting those eight hours back, each and every week.

I use SOFI in all my meetings, and I can tell you first-hand that the time saving is real. I’m able to actively listen and respond in my interactions, and spend the time I once diligently used to do follow-up to really think about the conversation and the needs of my clients. This has made a world of difference in my job, and I see the effectiveness and efficiency across every member of the mallowstreet team.

Can AI make our conversations safer?

When we were first developing SOFI a few years ago, some people were initially concerned about having a full record of every conversation. However, having worked in financial services for years, lots of people are used to having conversations on recorded lines – it is just the fact that no one ever knew what was actually happening to those recordings. In many cases, the answer is nothing. They just sit there and after a certain period of time are simply deleted.

The act of recording a meeting and giving all parties the same follow-up summary and action points is significant. It provides a single source of facts around a meeting for everyone to reference, ensuring people are on the same page. Of course, it should be noted there will be different points and different statements from any meeting that will be very important to one individual but not another.

In the case of a wealth manager, or anyone in financial services for that matter, the client can now be assured that there is an accurate and factual account of a conversation, and the other party can stop focusing on scribbling notes and instead focus on the conversation at hand. A meeting can become much more productive, as one can focus on asking the right questions to get to the heart of an issue, concern, fear, or to understand what is driving the underlying decision.

The ability to have the headspace to walk in someone else’s shoes and consider their frame of reference is a unique human trait. It requires focus, concentration, and perspective – all of which can be deployed if the brain is not concerned with remembering or capturing every detail of a conversation.

How do we ensure safety with the use of SOFI? How does SOFI address these concerns? How do we maintain vigilance and best practice as SOFI develops and is more widely used?

Governments and regulators will eventually move to draft regulation and guidance on AI, but that is months, if not years from now. It is important to note that different countries and jurisdictions are moving at different paces. So, in the meantime, it is up to individuals to ask the right questions.

First and foremost – who owns the data that is generated? Second, when it comes to SOFI, the user owns the data, we are GDPR complaint, and we use anonymised data to help train and calibrate our models in a secure environment with encrypted servers here in the UK.

Given all the questions surrounding AI, I appreciate why some people are reluctant. But my recommendation to anyone is the same. Start experimenting and using AI tools across your business. Think of the challenge you are trying to solve, and test, refine, and implement. I think you will be amazed at the results you achieve.

By Stu Breyer, CEO of mallowstreet