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Becoming Irreplaceable in an AI World

I was replaced by a machine yesterday.  Not really, but it kind of felt that way.  I was writing some draft content and my teammate ran it through an AI prompt.  The revised version was much better than what I had originally written.  To be honest, it bruised my ego and made me question my value a bit as I take pride in my writing.  It also started me thinking about value in general and the ability to be replaced, either by another person or by the rise of the machines. 


In financial services we talk all the time about our unique value proposition and why we are irreplaceable.  But, I think we all intrinsically know that nothing about our services or offering is truly one of a kind.  We do not have some special product or product mix that can solve for all of our clients needs and challenges.  We do not have algorithms and models that can successfully predict and guarantee the achievement of financial goals.  We don’t provide a client experience that is truly unlike anything our clients can receive from our competitors.  So what makes us uniquely valuable to the people that chose to entrust in part their current and future wellbeing to us?


I believe as we move forward, the most successful financial professionals will be the ones who connect on a deeply human level with their clients and enhance the client experience via technology.  The question now becomes:  what does it mean to provide a deeply human connection?  A few items immediately come to mind:

  • Establishing and keeping our clients’ trust.  The way to achieve this is to ensure every interaction we have with clients is authentic, honest, and transparent.  The old adage is true:  trust takes a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy. 

  • Simple, straightforward communication.  The ability to make the complex simple is the mother of all communication skills.  Avoid industry jargon and technical discussions at all costs.  Be brief and impactful when you speak.  Edit with a chainsaw, not a scalpel when you write.    

  • Genuine care and concern for the wellbeing of others.  Financial professionals talk a lot about displaying empathy, but there is a big difference between displaying empathy and actually having empathy.  Frankly, if care and concern for your clients is not genuine you are probably in the wrong profession.

  • Effort.  Effort manifests itself in preparedness and follow through.  The best way effort has ever been explained to me is:  show people what you intend to do and why, do it, and then show people the outcome of your action.  It is a simple process, but we tend to be so hampered by time constraints that we often fail to complete the process.  Do not find the time to display effort, make the time. 

  • Creating peace of mind.  As financial professionals, we help people achieve peace of mind in three important ways.  First, we help them see things they cannot see for themselves (unknown risks, potential opportunities, and how portfolios respond in different environments).  Next, we anticipate how they might want to respond to change not just financially, but psychologically and emotionally.  Last, we ensure the plan remains on track to achieve desired goals.  It is imperative to touch on these three vital areas during all critical client engagements:  initial discovery, formal onboarding, planning sessions, and portfolio reviews. 

  • Providing optionality.  Most people I know do not want to be told the answer.  They want to understand their options and choose the one they believe is best for them.  As a financial professional we must create paths and let our clients determine which path they want to walk.  Always remember, you are not the main character of the story.  You are the guide who is supporting the main character on their journey.    


The more I started to think about my recent run in with AI, the more confident I became that the technology was merely enhancing my ability to be human, not replacing it.  The idea I was conveying was deeply human, the technology simply helped me communicate it better.  I urge you to consider your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to being deeply human, how you can improve on these traits, and how utilizing technology can maximize your ability (look for my comments on this piece of the puzzle in my next post).  Your future success depends on it.  With all due respect to the great Beyoncé Knowles, you must not know about me.  You cannot have another me in a minute.  I AM irreplaceable.


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