Though we may still be a while off having the likes of Blade Runner-style replicants walking among us, so humanlike we can’t tell the difference between them and the real thing, between optimising home electricity usage and helping us choose what we eat for lunch, artificial intelligence (AI) is slowly making strides into everyday life.
Our financial goals are also no stranger to the technology, with startups such as Investfit using AI to help users make smart investment decisions.
Looking to apply machine learning to help educate users about how to organise and optimise their finances is PictureWealth. Taking a snapshot, or “wealth selfie”, of a user’s finances and visualising it to the user, the PictureWealth app delivers robo-advice designed to help users plan their financial future.
Named ‘FLIQ’, the AI chatbot talks the user through how they can save, with information served through an activity feed that lists alerts and tips. For an in-depth look into personal finance, the app also generates custom reports designed to guide the user through their financials.
Cofounded by David Pettit, a veteran of the financial advice industry, the startup emerged as a way for Pettit to expand upon his love of helping people optimise their finances and leveraging technology to deliver financial advice to users across the world – at a low cost.
“Technology now allows people to deal with their money on the run and they can now easily and efficiently find time to look at their financial matters amongst the hustle and bustle of their daily lives,” he said.
“Research shows that being financially disorganised causes concern, and concerns have a funny habit of keeping us awake at night, and asleep in the morning. The simple actions and financial habits that PictureWealth introduces can have an enormous benefit on our financial, physical, and mental health.”
Joining Pettit to found the startup was Neal Cross, Chief Innovation Officer of DBS Bank in Singapore, who Pettit said helped launch the business with the goal of helping improve financial literacy, and developing advice tailored to an individual’s financial status.
“Neal is looking to deliver on his overall life mission, part of which is ‘bringing financial happiness to the world’,” added Pettit.
The startup launched last month out of beta, backed by $1.2 million in seed funding from backers including Cross and corporate advisory firm Super Advice. Carrying on from the beta phase, Pettit said the app aims to target any Australian who is not yet retired, and looking to either save more money, make more money, or protect their finances.
“The system assists users who have very simple to very complex financial matters, and it is not important how much money people have, the most important thing for us is that people make the most of the money that they have, and that the user wants to improve their overall financial picture,” said Pettit.
After entering their financial information, PictureWealth users are provided a wealth selfie – or “welfie”, as the startup puts it – of their finances, summarising a user’s income, cashflow, investments, insurance, goals and estate planning.
“You can then drill down into more detailed pictures, even as far as individual transactions from bank feeds or balance from superannuation or investment providers,” Pettit explained.
“The system’s algorithms are focused on educating and empowering people by delivering customised financial guidance on a large scale, at a low cost. By improving financial literacy we can assist people to make better financial decisions for themselves and their families.”
Most features on the platform are free to users, with a few of “enhanced functionalities”, which focus on personal finance advice, locked behind a $15 monthly subscription.
Also using robo advice to help improve the financial wellbeing of Australians are startups ProAdviser and Stockspot. ProAdvisor offers a platform designed to help millennials get affordable investment advice, while Stockspot focuses on delivering professional investment advice using AI and machine learning, and also facilitating that investment.
Elsewhere, Sydney-based startup Carrott aims to improve personal financial wellness by helping users identify their ‘lazy cash’, while bill splitting app Finch analyses spending patterns to help millennials budget their spending.
Discussing the growing shelf of money-management apps in the market, Pettit said PictureWealth stands ahead thanks to its focus on the welfie – delivering advice across “all aspects” of personal finance, rather than placing a singular focus on investment, budgeting, or financial planning.
“As new financial technology emerges, we want to make sure that our robo-advice experience is about ‘guided decision making’ that educates people along the way and improves their lives. It needs to be about far more than just about selling financial products,” he said.
“The digitisation of advice is inevitable, and we are excited to be at the forefront of that journey.”
Having recently launched in Australia, Pettit said the startup will now be focusing its efforts on finalising partnerships for a wider market distribution, while looking at expansion opportunities within Asia and New Zealand.
Image: David Pettit & Neal Cross. Source: Supplied.