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Kiwi non-profit launches AI KiwiSaver advisor

16 Mar 18

Simplicity announced today the first stage of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform for its KiwiSaver and investment funds, which is expected to roll out progressively over the next two years.

The first stage is a chatbot called Artie, which will answer member questions online.

“Artie’s a week old, and already learning quickly,” says Simplicity founder Sam Stubbs.

“A customer centre will follow up with the questions that can’t be answered,” says Stubbs.

“This is the first stage of our AI-driven robo-advice and education platform.

Simplicity is a nonprofit retirement savings vehicle which charges members only what it costs to deliver. 

“We want to make it available to all Kiwis, and third parties, at very low cost, ” he says. “Artie will ultimately provide personalised advice, and where the situation is complex, we’ll refer clients to fee-based independent financial advisors,” he says.

“It will take a couple of years to fully achieve, and we’ll need to be licensed to give advice, but it's all doable,” he says.

Simplicity has been working under the radar for six months to develop Artie, supported by specialist firm Jude.

It intends to make its platform open source, so others can adopt it if they wish to provide third-party advice.

“Open Source is the best way to get a lot of transparent advice and education into the hands of all NZers,” he says.

“It’s necessary given the range and inconsistency of advice delivered via many traditional channels,” he says.

“We need to learn from the Australian experience,” Stubbs says.

The Australian regulator ASIC has admonished the Australian banks and AMP for the quality of their financial advice.

They found that in 75% of the files reviewed, the advisers did not comply with the duty to act in the best interests of their clients.

It also found in 10% of cases the advice was likely to leave the customer in a “significantly worse financial position”.

The companies that were exposed in Australia are the owners of the ASB, ANZ, Westpac, BNZ and AMP in NZ.

“As a non-profit, we’re getting on with providing a financial advice platform that people can trust,” he says.

“AI and open banking are a threat to business models based on outdated distribution networks and expensive and excessive marketing.”

“Transparent, sensible, online advice is much more useful to Kiwis than cheesy, ‘feel good’ advertising,” says Stubbs.

“Transparency is the enemy of extortionate fees and poor advice,” he says.

Artie is available on the Simplicity websites and is integrated with Facebook.

In time, Simplicity aims to have Artie available on more platforms.