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Abaka brings AI to automate the client and adviser roles

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Fahd Rachidy, founder of AI solutions provider Abaka, is driven in developing his business by the fact that his father never had a pension. “People are struggling to save for their retirement and get affordable advice,” he says.

Fahd Rachidy, founder of AI solutions provider Abaka, is driven in developing his business by the fact that his father never had a pension. “People are struggling to save for their retirement and get affordable advice,” he says.

Abaka creates AI-powered tech platforms, such as conversational chatbots and intelligent nudges, to help financial services providers improve customer engagement.

“We want to build a solution to help the industry secure financial futures for people like my dad,” Rachidy says.

The company was founded in January 2016 and is an enterprise solution for retail banks, retirement providers and wealth managers across the world. The firm has 15 clients and some 40 staff.

This year, Abaka is increasing its work in the IFA space.  Rachidy has strong views on robo-advice, questioning the validity of the term. “Robo-advice is what the industry has used as a marketing term,” he says. “It’s a misnomer as they don’t provide financial advice per se. They ask the consumer a few questions and then offer them a range of portfolios online.

“They can’t understand the actual client with regard to their personal situation. There is a huge gap where true advice can be powerful enough to help individuals achieve a better outcome for their portfolios.”

Abaka’s artificial financial intelligence programs are based on understanding an individual’s personal profile. “On average, your personal digital profile is made of 12,000 gigabytes of data per year online,” he says. “And tomorrow, that will be five times as much again as we create more and more. We need to be able to understand our clients and build up an experience that is hyper-personalised to their digital experiences from watching Netflix, to online shopping – this should be reflected in the financial sector too.”

Rachidy asks what are the messages and advice that are going to resonate and activate customers in retirement. “What will interest them? What channels are they interested in? Our system will analyse their data on an emotional, behavioural and social scale.”

He has found that at a customer level, they understand that by sharing some information they can get more value from their providers.

“We are at the point where technology can make a huge difference,” Rachidy says. “One of the biggest challenges in the IFA market is that the median age of a financial adviser is 57. Advisers are getting older so they will retire and they are retiring without new advisers coming in.”

 “We need to plug that gap as people are still in need of accessing that advice so it is critical for the industry to use technology to plug that gap, and technology allows for automation of a lot of the processes so that advisers can be focused on the client relationship.”

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