Stevens Institute of Technology Pioneers Accessible Financial Planning with Generative AI

If financial advisors adopt the product that earned Tilak Chandana and Chandana Neerubhavi second place in the 2024 UBS Pitch Competition, they may “Fin Ally” solve their problems of effectively managing their time, information and client communications.

The road to success began during a study session when Chandana showed Tilak an email about this year’s challenge. The task at hand was “to harness new and emerging technologies with the aim to develop a groundbreaking prototype for a ‘Wealth Advisor SmartAssist.’ This innovative tool aims to empower wealth advisors by providing real-time insights and prompts during client interactions, improving their ability to offer comprehensive financial advice.”

“The first thing I did was get into Google and start doing secondary research so I could get to know what the day-to-day looks like for financial advisors,” he said. “I searched several platforms where financial advisors explained the problems they faced, the problems in the industry, why there is unrest, and why clients might have a negative overview about financial advisors.”

One of the first things he discovered was that unless a client was an ultra-high net worth individual, it was not likely their advisor was spending a lot of time focused on their personal needs. Many clients felt they were being overlooked. He then switched his perspective to the advisor and investigated the mistakes they make that helps their competition get better results.

From his research, the idea of Fin Ally was born. The initial competition entry described it as, “a prototype proposal fueled by a human-centered design thinking approach, poised to disrupt the status quo. Imagine advisors with superpowers: unveiling client needs in real-time, offering personalized guidance on the fly, and even sensing unspoken emotions.”

The idea for Fin Ally was to use technologies like AI, natural language processing and machine learning to enhance the financial advisors’ performance through risk analysis, predictive analytics, speech-to-text functionality, sentiment analysis, personalized communication and client insight refinement. But it goes beyond the technology and numbers. The driving force behind the product is to even the playing field and allow everyone access to quality financial planning. The proposal even listed how the product would directly address three of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: No Poverty, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Reduced Inequalities.

The proposal was one of six chosen nationally to compete in the final round. Tilak had one month to turn the idea on paper into a functioning prototype they would present to the judges.

“The AI tool was built to help financial wealth advisors in their work, managing clients and help in giving more personalized advice for their clients, which is the actual need for clients who opt for financial advisory services,” Tilak said. “Time-consuming research and client interaction don’t give advisors a lot of options except to give general advice. That can work but it isn’t really the best advice. Fin Ally AI helps solve this problem. It saves financial advisors time, whether doing market research, client portfolio research, or understanding clients’ needs and goals.”

The platform allows advisors to view a complete list of their clients, access their clients’ portfolios and get AI recommendations, connect directly with their clients, prepare for future interactions, and store documents for future research. The “UBS Connect” function calls clients directly from the platform, records the conversation and stores the transcript in a database where advisors can get insights about their clients’ emotions and behavior.

“Advisors can access their client’s portfolio and get the recommendations from the artificial intelligence recommendation engine which we have built,” Tilak explained. “They get portfolio recommendations based on the clients, personal needs, whether they’re short-term goals or long-term goals. There is also a function similar to ChatGPT where they can ask any question about that particular client, and it gives information in a fraction of the time.”

Tilak Chandana holds a microphone pointing at a PowerPoint slide while he stands on stage with his team at the Business Case Study Competition.Tilak Chandana presents with his winning team at the Stevens Business Case Study Competition.Success in business competitions is nothing new. Tilak was also a member of the winning team in a Business Case Study Competition organized by all the student clubs at the School of Business. The teams were tasked with developing a business strategy for an international expansion of a subsidiary of P&G by finding the optimal market and developing the expansion plan. He also won the SSB Business Intelligence & Analytics Club “OptiHack” Business Case Optimization Competition, where students had to build a supply chain management strategy to optimize the utilization of a manufacturing plant.

Tilak earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, specializing in robotics and 3D design, before working as a digital transformation business manager for a year. His interest in business led to his enrollment at SPJIMR and Stevens.

“I got to study at two different business schools and understand the true global perspective,” he said. “This program has really helped me understand core business concepts and real-world problem-solving. Courses like Design Thinking, Wise Innovation, Machine Learning, Applied Analytics, Service Innovation and Digital Product Management have helped me better understand problem-solving and empathizing with people for effective problem-solving.”