When it comes to analyzing your clients’ portfolio performance, wouldn’t it be helpful and save time if all those charts and graphs could talk?
Now they can.

Narrative Science, a Chicago-based enterprise software company, has created artificial intelligence—dubbed Quill—that mines data for important information and transforms it into language for written reports. Last month, the company officially launched Quill Portfolio Review, a version of the software aimed at asset management companies, mutual funds and financial advisors that analyzes portfolio performance and spits out a customized report explaining the reasons behind the results.

“Financial advisors will tell you, 'I’d love to be able to spend time with all my customers,' but the reality is that they can only give the best service to their top 10%, and the rest just get the standard service, which is a log-in to a web portal and an asset allocation plan,” says Nick Beil, Narrative Science’s chief operating officer. “With Quill Portfolio Review, rather than spending time looking at a bunch of charts and graphs that tell you how a portfolio is performing, we provide that information as a narrative that can be used to communicate with the client.”

The advisor chooses how to receive the report: bulleted highlights that he or she can use to prepare for a phone call or meeting, or a complete statemen—written in the style and tone the advisor wants—to be sent to the investor. And it can be customized to fit clients’ needs. It can be as simple as a report showing them how their investments are performing relative to the benchmark. Or it can be a more detailed offering that tells them where they stand in relation to their goals.

For example, if Ms. Jones wants to retire at 60 with $10 million in the bank, the software will use variables such as age, asset allocation and market performance to tell her whether she’s on track.

All quite nifty, though the program does not come cheap. The annual subscription starts at $100,000 a year, and the company’s large enterprise customers pay in the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

Narrative Science was incubated at Northwestern University, where it started in 2010 as a co-project of the schools of computer science and journalism. The original prototype of the software wrote sports recap stories based on data from games. But today the company—which now has eight patents issued and another 13 pending—has little to do with sports reporting.

By the end of 2012, Narrative Science had pivoted to focus on the financial services sector, which now makes up more than 65% of its customer base, Beil says. The company has several large wirehouse and brokerage clients, which serve financial advisors and wealth managers, and is talking with a number of others.

“I see no reason why a technology such as this would not take hold throughout the industry over the course of the next five to 10 years,” says Bill Butterfield, a research analyst with Boston-based Aite Group’s wealth management team. For financial advisors, “any efficiency that can be realized with non-client-facing activities will only free up the advisor to spend more time with clients and more time prospecting for new clients.”

Narrative Science is privately held and venture-backed, so it doesn’t share financial results. However, Beil will say that it now employs 80 people and is growing at more than 100% a year, with roughly 70 large enterprise clients and more than 12,000 small and midsize businesses using its applications.