Virtual assistant

“Benjamin” applies to be your AI-driven virtual assistant

Few advisers have heard of Benjamin, but the company launched a year ago as a tool to streamline back-office workflows for financial advisors. Today, the technology is being relaunched as an end-to-end artificial intelligence-based business support system for RIA companies, or as the company describes on its website: “The world’s first AI assistant created for advisers by advisers”.

Fundamentally, Benjamin delivers on the promise that he can integrate with a company’s current technology, “learn” many of the workflows and processes of a consulting business across a range of businesses, from organizing meetings to sending newsletters, and possibly “automate” these tasks. , freeing up time for the advisor and support staff to do other things.

Co-founder and CEO Matt Reiner, who holds both the CFA and CFP designations, began his career working at wealth management firms. He said he and his colleagues continued to stumble in areas where the efficiency of the tech stack they were using could be improved. In fact, the company later discovered, through its own research, that 41% of advisors’ time is still spent on tasks that could, and probably should, be automated.

While hasn’t yet seen a demo of the platform or heard from analysts familiar with Benjamin, the intent is for the technology to help advisors recognize and automate as much of the regular, repetitive processes they already have as much as possible but that they can do manually.

The platform is cloud native and hosted on Amazon Web Services. It was designed and built in-house, partly on in-house robotic process automation technology and partly on custom off-the-shelf natural language processing tools from Microsoft LUIS (Language Understanding). Based in Atlanta, the team behind Benjamin worked with AI experts from Georgia Tech and currently has three dedicated engineers and developers.

So far, the vendor has enrolled 50 RIAs in its beta deployment to both build its data model and help the system “learn”, record and document workflows.

“We start learning trends and then are able to apply self-learning AI and teach it the ‘best next action,'” Reiner said. “We are able to provide relevant recommendations and ultimately we will be able to score specific workflows that have the highest level of ROI.”

Reiner, however, pointed out that the neural network aspect of the platform can only be fully developed over time spent engaging with Benjamin.

This can take the form of automatically sending emails or text messages to provide documents or research, as well as setting up meetings and planning events. The company claims to have “automated” 100 different tasks, from the most mundane aspects of prospecting and customer interactions like meetings, to ongoing relationship management.

The Benjamin Platform has full suite API-based integrations with all three major custody platforms (including TD Ameritrade, now owned by Schwab). There are also API integrations with many individual vendors, including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Redtail, and Junxure in the CRM business, as well as Orion and SS&C Black Diamond in the portfolio reporting business and DocuSign for electronic signatures. . When it comes to office productivity, there are integrations with Microsoft Outlook and Google Docs suites.

Next on the team’s list of integrations is to work with leading providers of financial planning apps, Reiner said.

Entry-level pricing for Benjamin starts at $5,000 per year, with the final cost based on the number of households a company is looking to serve. While Reiner was reluctant to go into further detail, he said the pricing was intended to help small businesses grow by reducing the cost per household as the number of households increases. The company also offers relationship-based discounts for businesses working with some of the companies Benjamin integrates with.