AI & Finance™ | News for the Week Ending 6/7/24

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Months after launching AI and Finance, the world is still in the extremely early stages of integrating artificial intelligence technology with the financial services industry. While many promising applications have been launched, and even more are in development, adoption is still best visualized as a gradually increasing curve. 

Thus, a recent FINRA foundation survey finding low levels of adoption of AI for financial advice and planning by consumers shouldn’t surprise us—a new technology that many people are uncertain about isn’t immediately going to be embraced for financial management anyway, no matter how prevalent it has suddenly become. 

In “The machines are coming (with personal finance information). Do we trust them?”,  The FINRA Foundation found that most of the respondents in a survey of more than 1,000 American adults sought out financial professionals or advice from friends or family when making financial decisions. Only 5% consulted an AI engine. 

In many cases, financial professionals are more trusted than AI, for example, when making decisions about homeownership and portfolio allocation. 

However, in some cases, AI is already more trusted than human financial professionals—more respondents trusted information about projected stock and bond performance from an AI than a human professional by a slim 34% to 33% margin. When it comes to information about savings and debt, respondents “generally trusted information whether it came from AI or a financial professional.” 

That brings us to another study from Commonwealth, supported by JPMorgan Chase, to determine the potential benefits of financial artificial intelligence for low- to moderate-income households. In that study, it was found that conversational AI offers financial firms a chance to improve access for low-to-moderate income households; in a course of three national surveys and follow-up interviews, 57% of respondents said that using AI-powered chatbots had helped improve their financial situation. 

“Field test respondents said they valued the judgment-free space with a chatbot for asking sensitive financial questions without shame,” said the Commonwealth study.

“Participants also preferred to use a chatbot to resolve straightforward, and commonly experienced actions with easily defined outcomes. Conversely, participants preferred speaking with a human representative when they knew their issues were more complex, potentially involved higher stakes or risk to their finances, or had fewer certain outcomes. However, there is a significant demand for more capable chatbots that can assist with banking actions beyond providing information.” 

Taken together, these studies suggest that there is both a demand for AI applications to offer more access to financial services, and a trust deficit that exists in consumers’ minds when it comes to artificial intelligence handling more complex financial questions. 

Time and experience with the emerging technology should serve to erode some or all of that trust deficit—and barring some new technology or service offering capable of providing access to financial services for low-to-moderate income households, the demand for financial AI is probably not going away. 

This week, we have 23 AI and Finance headlines to cover, including news from Alltius, CLARA Analytics, Conquest Planning, TIFIN and Upstart. 

READ ON…..


1. Abrigo 

Abrigo, a provider of commercial lending software and services for U.S. financial institutions, announced the launch of Abrigo Small Business Lending, a commercial loan origination solution optimized for small business lending. The newly enhanced product will enable financial institutions to accelerate and expand small business lending, empowering small businesses to grow and their communities to thrive. Importantly, it also ensures compliance with 1071 small business data collection requirements for lenders, which are moving forward after the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling. 

Abrigo Small Business Lending uses innovative automation technology and explainable AI to ensure banks and credit unions can more quickly scale their small business loan portfolios and get funds to those small businesses needing them most. The new automated loan processing experience allows for easy lender intervention as needed and offers a transparent, AI-powered loan scoring system that looks beyond traditional financial metrics, as well as an early warning system for emerging risks in the loan portfolio. Combined, these features ensure faster processing and stronger risk management. 

2. Alltius 

Alltius announced the launch of its new Gen AI suite tailored for financial services sales and customer support. 

Alltius’ Gen AI platform, which is built on decades of research from Carnegie Mellon University and the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, helps organizations transform their customer and employee experiences with accurate and skillful AI assistants for sales, support, product discovery and self-service. With the new product suite, financial institutions can rely on a Gen AI platform with enhanced security measures, financial domain expertise while adhering to strict info-sec requirements. 

Leading financial institutions like Assurance IQ have partnered with Alltius to improve their contact center experience. Assurance IQ used Alltius’ Sales Assistants to ramp up new agents within 2 months as opposed to 6 months earlier. “One of the best [platforms] we have seen in the market. Also, they are one of the best teams we have worked with among our vendors after trying this ourselves for 2 years,” said Nick Howard, CTO, Assurance IQ. 

3. Appian 

Appian announced a strategic partnership with ReleasePoint, a premier provider of medical information solutions for the insurance industry. The partnership includes integration between ReleasePoint’s solution and Appian’s Connected Underwriting Workbench for Life Insurance. 

The integration automates the medical record retrieval process and unifies it with underwriting workflows within Appian. Underwriters and case managers can now initiate medical record requests directly from the Appian Platform and receive comprehensive medical reports without leaving the Appian interface. This transforms the way underwriters access and manage medical information, saving hours of manual work, optimizing medical underwriting processes, and accelerating underwriter decision-making. 

ReleasePoint has more than 50 years of experience in medical record retrieval. The company is known for its expertise in seamlessly retrieving and transforming medical records and electronic health records (EHR). ReleasePoint’s flagship MIDAS technology and service solution is used by multi-line carriers in North America to achieve a single, data-driven review of an applicant’s complete health history. The future integration of MIDAS within Appian’s Connected Underwriting Life Workbench will bring to bear the power of human expertise and artificial intelligence to accurately extract and aggregate clinical information, expediting the underwriting process while ensuring review accuracy and efficiency. 

4. Caju AI 

Caju AI announced the successful closure of a $3 million Seed financing round. This strategic investment is backed by Grotech Ventures, Felton Group, the family office of Charlottesville, VA based hedge fund manager Jaffray Woodriff, and angel investors. This funding milestone propels Caju AI into a new phase of growth and innovation, reinforcing its position as a leader in AI-driven customer engagement and compliance solutions. 

Caju AI’s platform, renowned for its robust Generative AI capabilities, securely captures and analyzes customer communications across all messaging channels as well as customer engagement data to deliver advanced analytics for conversation intelligence, call summaries, regional activity monitoring, key trend analysis, and actionable business intelligence, all designed to accelerate field engagement and enhance customer satisfaction across the enterprise. At the same time, Caju AI ensures regulatory compliance, prevents data loss, and mitigates other risk concerns. 

The investment from Grotech Ventures and Felton Group underscores the confidence in Caju AI’s vision and technological prowess. Grotech Ventures, renowned for backing transformative tech companies, and Felton Group, the early-stage investment arm of AI hedge fund titan Jaffray Woodriff, bring capital and strategic expertise to accelerate Caju AI’s market expansion. 

5. CLARA Analytics 

CLARA Analytics announced the launch of a groundbreaking new fraud detection product that leverages the company’s AI platform and large workers’ compensation datasets to increase visibility into suspicious claims. 

The new product, CLARA Fraud, provides alerts and data-driven justification for special investigation unit (SIU) referrals. It builds upon the company’s industry-leading expertise in AI-enabled claims management to analyze millions of case details, billing records, medical transcripts, and legal demand letters. CLARA Fraud will give claim professionals confidence to refer suspicious claims for investigation with limited false positives and uncover fraudulent activity from bad actors across millions of claims. 

Fraud continues to be a heavy burden on employers and insurers. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) estimates that workers’ compensation fraud costs the insurance industry over $30 billion annually in the United States. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud suggests that about 1-2% of all workers’ compensation claims are fraudulent, although the financial impact is disproportionately large. Recently, law enforcement organizations have published even higher rates, estimating that 10-30% of workers’ compensation claims have elements of fraud. 

6. Conquest Planning 

Conquest Planning, a technology platform modernizing financial planning with customized and convenient advice, announced SAM INSIGHTS and Ask SAM, the latest iterations of its artificial intelligence (AI) based strategic advice manager (SAM). Financial advisors using SAM are able to build detailed, flexible financial plans quickly and with a high degree of accuracy. The new SAM enhancements incorporate INSIGHTS, which identifies problems, opportunities and achievements specific to a plan and Ask SAM a Command and Query feature. 

The SAM INSIGHTS feature empowers advisors to create financial plans more efficiently and effectively, while providing deeper plan analysis. INSIGHTS leverages AI to improve plan quality by providing proactive warnings when plans are no longer on track, prompts advisors to highlight planning opportunities such as insufficient insurance or new strategy considerations and more. Ask SAM, the Command and Query feature, enables users to navigate the application, ask questions about a plan and search for a report or strategy via voice and text. In the future, advisors using Conquest will be able to ask the application to summarize plans into a digestible takeaway for clients. 

SAM INSIGHTS will permit advisors using Conquest to delve even deeper into clients’ financial plans by generating insights and revealing opportunities when it comes to estate planning, education planning, retirement planning and more. Plan projections can span up to 60 years, enabling advisors to revisit plans on a recurring basis and make adjustments in real time to remain aligned with clients’ objectives. The new features also include a “SAM Score” that allows advisors to provide an on demand holistic health check on the plan. 

7. FinRegLab 

FinRegLab announced that it is conducting new empirical research to evaluate the inclusion impact of machine learning credit models, including those built with bank account data as well as traditional credit report information. The organization has also been invited by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to co-chair a new Technology Working Group within the OCC’s Project REACh initiative. 

While large banks and fintechs are increasingly adopting machine learning techniques and cash-flow data sources for credit underwriting, no publicly available research directly compares their separate and combined effects on lending models’ predictiveness, fairness, and inclusion. This unique research will build on FinRegLab’s prior evaluations of the potential for cash-flow data to increase financial inclusion and explainability and fairness tools to help manage machine learning credit models by assessing the financial inclusion benefits of using machine learning models with and without bank account data. 

Credit plays a critical role in helping households bridge short-term financial gaps and make long-term investments in homes, reliable transportation, and small business formation. Yet millions of consumers and entrepreneurs—including disproportionate numbers of Black, Hispanic, and low-income applicants—struggle to access affordable credit because they are difficult to assess using traditional data sources and analytical techniques. 

8. First Rate 

First Rate, a global leader in WealthTech providing AI reporting and compliance services for the wealth management industry, announced its investment and strategic partnership with Fispoke, an innovative WealthTech company led by experts from wealth management, banking, and technology. First Rate Ventures, the WealthTech corporate venture capital fund, provided guidance and is the lead investor in this initial funding round. 

Fispoke, led by entrepreneur and CEO Robert Clare, delivers a transformational platform seamlessly integrating private lending and banking solutions, tailored for the advisory market, into the everyday platforms used by financial advisors and their clients.  

9. FundGuard 

FundGuard, the first fully cloud-native, AI-powered multi-asset and multi-book investment accounting utility announced a strategic collaboration with ICE’s data services business, which is part of Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services. 

The collaboration will provide asset managers, asset owners and fund administrators with integrated access to ICE’s leading pricing and reference data via FundGuard’s investment accounting solutions for IBOR, ABOR, and NAV Contingency. 

Financial Services firms are currently navigating complex challenges such as cost and fee pressures, a dynamic regulatory landscape, increased market competition, and limitations due to outdated software. This collaboration between ICE and FundGuard provides access to cutting-edge technology and timely, high-quality data, empowering organizations to effectively manage these challenges and scale as needed. 

10. Gateless 

Gateless, a revolutionary mortgage technology company on a mission to transform the lending experience, announced the appointment of Mike Brown as its Chief Revenue Officer (CRO). Brown brings extensive experience in the FinTech and mortgage technology sectors to Gateless and has a proven track record of developing and executing growth strategies that deliver exceptional results. 

As CRO, Brown will lead Gateless’ sales and revenue generation efforts. He will focus on expanding Gateless’ customer base and driving the adoption of the company’s industry-leading intelligent automation platform. 

Brown’s appointment comes at a time of significant growth for Gateless. The company’s innovative, intelligent automation platform is rapidly gaining traction in the mortgage industry as lenders seek solutions to address the industry’s persistent inefficiencies. 

11. iFOREX 

iFOREX announced the launch of its innovative artificial intelligence tool designed to enhance the trading experience for its users. This cutting-edge AI assistant is now live on the iFOREX website, providing traders with instant answers to their questions about trading with this renowned broker.  

In a bid to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving trading industry, iFOREX has developed an AI tool that offers users the ability to ask a wide range of trading-related questions and receive immediate, accurate responses. Whether you’re a seasoned trader or a newcomer to the trading world, this AI assistant is set to become an invaluable resource for all your trading inquiries. 

The new AI assistant on the iFOREX platform is designed to address the needs of both novice and tech-savvy traders, who demand quick and reliable information. From understanding market concepts to navigating the iFOREX trading platform, users can now rely on this intelligent tool for comprehensive support. 

12. Informed.IQ 

Informed.IQ, the fastest growing technology supplier of AI verification software to the finance industry, and Fuse, a next-generation loan origination system (LOS), announced they’ve launched an integrated solution that powers streamlined verifications and fraud detection for financial institutions. 

Fuse enables banks and credit unions to build custom workflows and integrations with their next-gen loan origination software. The new workflow allows users of the Fuse system to take advantage of Informed’s AI-powered verification suite to reduce operating expenses, detect income fraud, shorten loan processing times, and allow lenders to access that information in a single location in the LOS. Fuse’s diverse and growing customer base across consumer, commercial, and auto lending will extend Informed’s technology across multiple lending verticals. 

13. Lendbuzz 

Lendbuzz, an AI-based fintech company that helps consumers obtain better access to credit when purchasing a vehicle, announced that it has closed a $100 million credit facility with MUFG. The additional warehouse capacity will fuel Lendbuzz’s continued loan origination growth. 

The expansion increases Lendbuzz’s capacity and ability to grow the number of borrowers its proprietary AI-based auto finance platform serves. The platform enables Lendbuzz to continue to focus on assessing the creditworthiness of consumers across the credit spectrum, many of whom are underserved by traditional banks and offering its consumers a modern, digital lending experience. This group includes those with no credit, thin credit, and near prime, and accounts for over 40 percent of the adult U.S. population. 

14. Open Lending 

Open Lending Corporation announced Dan Berger, former President and CEO of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (“NAFCU”) will be a strategic advisor to Open Lending’s executive leadership team. As a trusted advisor, Berger will collaborate closely with Open Lending to enhance product offerings and innovation, drive market share, and further expand relationships with credit unions across the country. 

Berger brings a wealth of expertise in the financial services industry, having led NAFCU through a period of significant growth and innovation. Under Berger’s leadership, NAFCU grew its membership by nearly 50 percent. NAFCU now represents approximately 56 percent of the industry’s assets. 

Open Lending’s proprietary Lenders Protection™ program, which provides “more than a score” that evaluates the borrower, the vehicle, and the structure of the deal for true risk-based pricing, fully automated decisioning, and built-in default insurance, has revolutionized the way lenders evaluate and approve auto loans. With Berger’s strategic guidance, the Company aims to further optimize its offerings and expand its reach to even more credit unions nationwide. 

15. RepRisk 

RepRisk, a global technology company that provides transparency on business conduct and ESG risks, announced the newest addition to its suite of data solutions: Due Diligence Scores. Ushering in the next generation of ESG risk management, the scores assess specific risk factors such as biodiversity and human rights on a 0 (low risk) to 100 (high risk) scale, empowering a fast and focused assessment of a company’s risk profile. Recognizing that companies may have low exposure in some areas while facing higher exposure in others, disaggregated scores empower decision-makers to pinpoint risk where it matters. These industry-first thematic scores are now available to all RepRisk Data Feed clients1. 

Clients can select from a range of ready-to-use packages or customize their own set from 200+ individual scores to align with their specific risk priorities. The scores comprise individual ESG pillars (environmental, social, or governance), frameworks, and regulations such as SDG, SASB, SFDR, the German Supply Chain Act and Modern Slavery acts, and specific issues, ranging from human rights and biodiversity to climate and greenwashing. 

Within the S&P 500®, a recent report by RepRisk shows, companies have varying degrees of risk across different ESG pillars, as illustrated in the graphic below. Higher levels of risk are typically concentrated in one specific area rather than across all three pillars. 

16. Seismic 

Seismic shared how its customers in wealth management and across the financial services industry are leveraging its AI and automation technology to deliver more personalized, impactful client engagements and drive revenue growth. 

According to Cerulli, advisors spend more time conducting and preparing for client meetings (32%) than any other business activity. What’s more, advisors spend 11 hours per year, per client on meeting-related activities, according to The Kitces Report. Wealth management firms are seeking a modern approach to free up advisors’ time while delivering exceptional client engagements. Enablement technology powered by AI and automation makes it easier than ever before. 

Seismic – which works with more than 400 financial services firms worldwide, including four of the top five largest wealth management firms in North America – provides several products and capabilities that enable advisors to deliver the digital experiences that today’s clients expect. 

17. SRM 

SRM (Strategic Resource Management, Inc.) announced the launch of a suite of Artificial Intelligence (AI) advisory services focused on generative AI, especially Large Language Models (LLMs), for financial institutions. SRM’s experts are helping clients accelerate their AI aspirations with compliance-driven policy development, AI strategy, AI opportunity assessments, vendor data security reviews, and implementation support. 

The potential impact of AI on financial services is enormous and expanding, and AI adoption has reached a tipping point in the boardrooms of financial institutions worldwide. SRM’s new AI offerings are laser-focused on policy and risk mitigation, specifically emphasizing how third-party providers that financial institutions rely on are using AI technologies. 

Connor Heaton, Director of Artificial Intelligence at SRM, has already led projects with long-time clients focused on bringing AI solutions onboard to empower their employees and meet customer and member expectations. The new AI services are backed by SRM’s best-in-industry analysts, consultants, and strategists. 

18. Swift 

Swift announced two AI-based experiments in collaboration with its member banks, to explore how the technology could assist in combatting cross-border payments fraud and save the industry billions in fraud-related costs. 

In the first pilot, Swift is enhancing its existing Payment Controls service – which helps financial institutions detect anomalies that could be indicative of fraud – by using an AI model that will create a more nuanced and accurate picture of potential fraud activity, using historical patterns of activity on the Swift network. Swift will work with Payment Controls customers to refine the enhancement, and the test will use the customers’ own live traffic data – giving the findings real world applicability. 

In a separate experiment, Swift has convened 10 leading financial institutions to test how it can use advanced AI technology to analyse anonymously-shared data from different sources, in a way that will strengthen the global financial ecosystem. AI’s capability for confidential data sharing could be a game-changer for the industry. The tests could lead to the wider use of information sharing in fraud detection, building on its success in assessing cybersecurity threats. 

19. TIFIN 

TIFIN announced the appointment of Ken Denman to its Board of Directors. Mr. Denman is a seasoned entrepreneur, investor, executive, and board member with a track record in building, scaling, and exiting technology companies. He will bring this deep domain expertise to TIFIN’s board as the company continues to revolutionize the wealth management industry through artificial intelligence. 

Mr. Denman’s wealth of experience and forward-thinking perspective complement the expertise of the current TIFIN board members. The TIFIN board currently includes Dr. Vinay Nair, Founder & CEO of TIFIN; Rob Heyvaert, Founder & Managing Partner of Motive Partners’ Tom Tinsley, Former Managing Director, General Atlantic and former CEO of Baan Software N.V.; Cathie Wood, CEO and CIO of ARK Invest; Glenn Hubbard, Director of the Chazen Institute, Dean Emeritus, and Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia Business School’ and Anil Arora, Senior Partner at TIFIN and former CEO of Envestnet | Yodlee. 

Mr. Denman has extensive experience as an investor, chief executive, and strategic advisor across the technology, telecommunications, and finance industries. Currently, he serves as a General Partner at Sway Ventures, a U.S.-based venture capital firm investing in early- to mid-stage technology companies. In addition to Sway and TIFIN, he holds positions on several prominent boards, including Costco Wholesale and Motorola Solutions. Previously, Mr. Denman was President and CEO of Emotient, a leading authority on automated facial expression analysis, which was acquired by Apple in 2016. He also held other CEO roles at Openwave Systems and iPass Inc. His expertise in driving organizational growth and innovation is complemented by his active involvement as an investor and mentor to start-ups. 

20. Upstart 

Seattle Credit Union announced a new partnership with Upstart (NASDAQ: UPST), the leading artificial intelligence (AI) lending marketplace, to provide personal loans to new and existing members. 

Seattle Credit Union became an Upstart Referral Network lending partner in February 2023. With the Upstart Referral Network, qualified personal loan applicants on Upstart.com who meet Seattle Credit Union’s credit policies will receive tailored offers as they seamlessly transition into a Seattle Credit Union-branded experience to complete the online member application and closing process. 

21. Wealth.com 

Wealth.com announced that it has joined forces with Facet, the consumer subscription fintech company that is building the future of financial planning. This collaboration not only equips Facet’s planners with next-gen estate planning tools, but also delivers added value to its members by providing a simple and seamless way to keep their estate plans up-to-date. Facet members continue to benefit from a holistic financial planning experience, empowering them to take charge of vital aspects like asset distribution, guardianship and healthcare decisions. 

In a landscape where more than one in three Americans believe their assets don’t justify an estate plan, Facet has partnered with wealth.com to demonstrate that financial status shouldn’t prevent their members from securing a legacy for themselves and their loved ones. The timeliness of this partnership is highlighted by recent data collected by Facet’s Annual Wellness Report, indicating that 67 percent of its surveyed respondents do not have estate planning documents. When considering those with documents older than five years, this concern escalates to 78 percent of respondents that either lack any estate planning or possess potentially outdated documents. This potentially places their health, wealth and families at risk, underscoring the vital need for estate planning services as part of a holistic approach to financial well-being. 

22. 1Fort 

1Fort announced the launch of the first AI-driven specialty insurance marketplace helping independent brokers save time and place more commercial risks. The platform is now available to the hundreds of brokers who partner with 1Fort. 

Using cutting-edge AI, 1Fort’s platform provides brokers direct and wholesale access to instant quotes from leading insurers, then auto-generates in-depth coverage analyses, comparisons and recommendations across all options in seconds. 1Fort has also developed a proprietary GPT chatbot enabling brokers to interact with policies and answer complex questions from clients. 

Prior to 1Fort, brokers reported spending up to 10 hours a week manually quoting, comparing coverage, and answering client questions. Leveraging 1Fort’s AI-powered platform, brokers have saved up to 8 hours per week, while increasing their bind rates by 20 percent with higher-quality proposals. 

23. 11thEstate 

11thEstate announced the successful closing of a $2 million seed round. The round was led by top-tier fintech fund Social Leverage, known for backing successful fintech giants such as Robinhood, Alpaca, and Stocktwits. 

11thEstate was founded by Stan Vick, a 20-year investment veteran, after he lost a $1.5 million investment in a biotech stock caught up in an alleged securities fraud. 

Since its launch, 11th Estate has helped investors claim over $100 million across major cases like Apple, Google, and FTX. It has partnered with TradingView, empowering the world’s largest trading social network to help its 550 million users in investment recovery. 11thEstate’s AI-driven engine scans the global markets for any available investor compensation, matches it online with the users’ portfolio, submits all the necessary paperwork, and delivers the payout directly to the client’s account.