At first glance artificial intelligence (AI) and behavioral finance might seem like polar opposites, as one is a cutting-edge technological trend and the other a movement to better understand and serve the human experience around money.

But according to Orion CEO Eric Clarke, the two concepts are irreversibly wed, to the extent that Orion’s approach to AI stems from the desire to better link technology, like Orion’s suite of tools for advisors, to the way investors behave around money.

“When advisors think about a lasting value proposition, it centers around that humanization of advice,” said Clarke on a recent episode of "The Big Reveal" podcast with industry consultant Suzanne Siracuse. “It's all about understanding that client, helping them feel understood and then helping them make the best decisions they can today that lead to a bright tomorrow. And for us, if we can connect those dots between AI and BeFi I, I am really, really optimistic about our ability to support our advisors into the future.”

Suddenly Relevant
According to Clarke, it is the recent launch of ChatGPT that has propelled advisor and firm interest in artificial intelligence.

"Six months ago, we surveyed all of our advisors and we asked them ‘how many of you are planning to incorporate AI into your business?’ and only 18% responded with yes,” said Clarke. “Then ChatGPT was launched, and all of the sudden it became a reality in ways we hadn’t expected. I know if we were to redo that same survey today, we’d see over 90% of our advisors saying ‘I’m going to incorporate AI or have already incorporated AI into my business,’ right?”

Orion has one application of ChatGPT’s AI currently within its platform, around Speak, a tool within the Redtail Advisors CRM used for text-message archiving.

Within Speak, ChatGPT will react whenever an advisor receives a text message, poring through the advisors’ thread of messages with that particular client to help write a personalized, proposed response to that client.

“The advisor can then come in and edit the response to get it into a familiar tone, or they can hit a request to have ChatGPT reconfigure the message, if they don’t like the tone of it or whatnot,” said Clarke. “Ultimately it tees up that response so the advisor can respond in a timely manner, they’re all set up to get back to that client in the context of their conversation.”

While that’s the only ChatGPT application Orion has active today, it is working on “dozens” of others, said Clarke, who noted that the tool can be used to analyze and compare portfolios and provide commentary around investments or a financial plan.

The power of AI like ChatGPT, according to Clarke, is to take labor-intensive, highly analytical tasks out of people’s hands and deliver output that is easily consumed and used. 

Behavioral Focus
At the same time, Orion is focused on instilling behavioral finance concepts within its suite of advisor software, said Clarke, to the extent that it retains a chief behavioral officer, psychologist Daniel Crosby, obtained through its 2020 merger with Brinker Capital.

“We are leveraging Dr Crosby's skills to help investors be successful,” said Clarke. “You hear so much about how technology from a psychological perspective is being used, whether it's by a social media company to create addictions, if you will, or drive our desire to come back to the application. We're trying to create technology experiences that will help the investors stay invested, stay the course and reduce their emotionality around the investment process and really maximize their anxiety-adjusted returns.”

Crosby’s work has already been infused in Orion’s Protect.Live.Dream bucketing functionality, questionnaires for use by advisors with clients, and reports, said Clarke.