Advocis establishes technology task force

By Kate McCaffery | October 30 2017 07:00AM

Photo: Unsplash

Artificial Intelligence (AI), along with robo-advice and other fintech developments are poised to disrupt the industry in a significant way. To grasp and understand their impact, Advocis is establishing a national technology task force to help frame future regulatory discussion, and to help advisors adapt and use the technologies going forward.

“Disruptive is not a bad thing necessarily,” says Ed Skwarek, Advocis’ vice president of regulatory and public affairs. “I think the next five year period is going to be incredibly transformative.”

Akin to the industrial revolution, he says there is an AI revolution taking place that can’t be ignored.

“Artificial intelligence has its own momentum. There’s no way of stopping it. We need to understand it and operate with it. I think that’s what makes it so exciting,” Skwarek says. “The experts who understand artificial intelligence need to keep doing what they’re doing, and we’ve got to have that broader conversation to see what the social and business implications will be.”

The task force will be charged with job of understanding AI in financial services, but across other industries as well, to see how companies use it to augment and refine existing processes.

So far, the response to Advocis’ call for volunteers is so positive the association says it will likely establish two groups – one made up of member volunteers and another for external stakeholders who’ve expressed interest. “The number of responses we have from both members and non-members was unbelievable. Incredibly qualified people.”

“We’re setting up both our internal discussion, as well as a more broad discussion where we will be meeting with these external providers to look at continuing the conversation with them as well,” he says. “We really want to represent our membership, but at the same time, we recognize that we need other voices as well if we are going to do our job effectively.”

Rather than become hung up on whether or not computers will replace advisors in the future – Skwarek’s belief is that it won’t replace the face-to-face relationships that help clients achieve their financial goals – instead the group hopes to get in front of the new wave, and learn how developments might positively affect and refine an advisor’s business.

In Advocis’ regulatory circles (the technology task force will examine a range of issues and update the Law and Regulatory Policy Committee on a quarterly basis), the discussion is also designed to help the association’s position when regulators inevitably take an interest in AI developments.

“We’ll be talking to advisors and we’ll hopefully be talking to the companies doing this. Ultimately (we’ll be talking) to the OSC or other regulators, insurance regulators, as well, to ensure that everybody understands,” Skwarek says. “You want to avoid having regulators deciding they’re going to regulate something a certain way and define the market without understanding all the interests at play. Instead, let’s talk to everybody in the market and get everybody involved in that conversation.”

“If you already have that conversation taking place with all stakeholders, it’s easier to deal with problems. It’s also easier to lift up and promote the positive aspects as well.”