Artificial intelligence is one of the keys to building a successful firm, but the AI tools being adopted by many firms are too complicated to be used efficiently, advisors say in a recent survey.

The way to fix that is for advisors to play a role in their firm's AI adoption process, said Keri Smith, applied intelligence lead for the banking and capital markets division of Accenture, a consulting and information technology company based in Dublin, Ireland. Advisors want access to top AI technology and they want to participate in the process of firms adopting the newest tools, Smith said in an interview. Firm owners and managers need to involve the advisors, because they are the ones who know what works and what doesn’t, she added.

“The use of AI allows advisors to get to know their clients on a deeper level, more quickly,” Smith said. The best AI tools, used efficiently, get smarter over time about telling advisors what clients want, and this information allows advisors to fulfil clients’ needs, she said.

“Clients want to feel their advisors are invested in their life’s journey. AI can help them do that,” Smith said.

Accenture recently released “AI in Wealth Management: A Financial Advisor Study,” based on a survey of 500 financial advisors in the U.S. and Canada, and also conducted a cross-industry study that included the financial industry, “The Art of AI Maturity: Advancing from Practice to Performance.”

In the survey, 98% of advisors said they believe AI is transforming how advice is created for, delivered to and consumed by clients and 97% said that AI can help grow their book of business organically by more than 20% “However, while 92% of advisors acknowledge that their firms have taken steps to act on their AI strategies—from proof of concepts to deploying AI within targeted business units, or even scaling it across the entire organization—the advisors also pointed to several barriers to adoption that need to be addressed,” Accenture said.

“AI can help wealth management firms achieve a strong competitive advantage, and our research tells us that the vast majority of advisors are ready to adopt the technology,” Smith said in a statement. “But to fully realize the value of AI, insights derived from it must be specific, actionable and easy to understand. Wealth managers need to do a better job creating clear use cases that help advisors serve their clients better or reduce time spent on administrative tasks, all while giving their advisors a voice in the process.”

Half of the advisors surveyed said their wealth management firms face challenges in trying to enact their AI visions; 55% said that their firms’ AI tools and insights are too complicated to use; and 64% said their firms are taking on too many AI programs at once in its push to adopt the technology. 

“Against increasingly challenging market conditions, AI has the potential to help wealth managers sustain and drive new growth, create operating efficiencies and transform the customer experience through more hyper-personalized insights and products,” Scott Reddel, who is one of the heads of Accenture’s wealth management practice in North America, said in a statement. “Now isn’t the time to take your foot off the pedal. Firms can overcome adoption speedbumps with continued commitment from management, focused applications that deliver business value, and, perhaps most critically, collaboration across business lines.”

Accenture’s research found that U.S. companies that are the most AI-mature achieved 50% higher revenue growth than their peers and that the capital markets and banking industry, which includes wealth management, had the lowest AI maturity score out of all industries analyzed, Accenture said.

The advisor survey also found that 80% of financial advisors said they are ready to adopt more AI-based client engagement and collaboration tools, and 87% said they believe AI’s greatest benefit is translating clients’ data into actionable insights.

“For instance, advisors who are looking for long-term relationships with clients can use AI data to reach out to them at crucial times in their lives, not just when they want to sell them a product or review their investments,” Smith said. “Firms also can use a robust AI offering as a re recruitment tool for onboarding new advisors.”