Eran Livneh

Personetics’ Self-Driving Finance helps banks engage customer base

While driverless vehicles are commanding public attention, Personetics has developed an autonomous technology that is already accessible and which saves you money, VP of marketing Eran Livneh said.

Self-Driving Finance is a technology providing banks with a roadmap for engaging with customers, one which shows them how to be helpful in an age where automation permeates every aspect of our lives.

As society emerged from the recession, many felt traditional financial institutions were disconnected from their customers. In a search for larger profits, they showed less interest in average people and turned their attention upstream to bigger financial fish.

Guilty as charged in many cases. Those large financial institutions largely left the little person because with their existing technology they were making less servicing those clients. In their place came a host of startups, unburdened by legacy technology, companies whose founders combined personal experience during the recession with a deep understanding of the possibilities made available by automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Like those companies, Self-Driving Finance begins with financial wellness, Mr. Livneh said. Financial stress has been linked to various societal ills from workplace productivity to mental health. Yet as important and well-documented as the effects are, few people have the tools to effectively manage their financial wellness and reduce that stress. Those needing them the most don’t have financial advisors and tactics such as webinars and classes offered by financial services firms are poorly used.

A key is to meet those in need where they are comfortable and that begins with what’s in their pocket or purse, Mr. Livneh said.

“People spend time on their mobile device and interact with digital services. It gives banks an opportunity to re-engage people in a more helpful way.

“By utilizing data they can help people make better financial decisions. It’s more financially feasible and doesn’t require a huge amount of effort. Banks can do the heavy lifting through analytics. Small bits of information can help people.”

Much like autonomous vehicles, Self-Driving Finance’s goals are to get you from Point A to Point B while keeping you safe, Mr. Livneh said. In both realms early efforts focused on the former and not the latter. Cruise control got your feet of the gas pedal but did nothing to prevent you from rear-ending the car in front of you. The same for automated withdrawals into an IRA that failed to prevent overdraft charges. A better option is a service that can adjust the amount placed in your savings based on upcoming bills, and one which can help you control your spending through alerts and overdraft warnings. All delivered through the comfortable medium of your mobile.

Such efforts are important aspects of a financial institution’s positioning strategy, Mr. Livneh said.

“Banks are adapting and putting things into place which are helpful in their customers’ day-to-day lives. Basically they’re helping people reduce stress in their lives while improving their overall financial well-being. Banks become a partner you can trust when you are looking for additional financial services.”

When discussing Self-Driving Finance with potential clients, it comes down to two questions, Mr. Livneh said. Do you want to maintain relevance with your customers, and if so how should you go about it?

The answer can depend on the size of the bank, so Self-Driving Finance offers five levels of service. Data provides transaction categorization and account aggregation. Insights offer unexpected spending, unusual spending and insufficient balance alerts. Advice includes suggestions on which card to use, money transfer options and savings alerts. Single-goal Automation provides automated savings, investment and debt payoff capability while Cross-goal automation delivers automated money management across different activities.

The incremental process helps financial institutions build trust with their customers, Mr. Livneh said. Without that trust automation on its own will deliver far less value. It begins with banks providing information people trust, information they find useful and timely, not plain marketing jargon. Through its NOMI initiative RBC has delivered more than 400 million such insights to their customers in the first year, an average of more than 100 per user.

That service is clearly valued, Mr. Livneh said. The opt-out rate is 0.02 percent.

“People trust the automated function if they feel it’s designed with their benefit in mind,” Mr. Livneh said.

Learn more about RBC’s experience with Self-Driving Finance here.

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