An Interview with Aaron Klein, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Riskalyze


FST Media: What are your business and digital priorities for the next 12 months?

Klein: We continue to innovate at the centre of how advisers engage with their clients.

FST Media: What are your business and digital priorities for the next 12 months?

Klein: We continue to innovate at the centre of how advisers engage with their clients. We’ve recently rolled out a new feature called ‘Check-ins’, which allows advisers to automatically report to clients month-by-month between client reviews. The objective of ‘Check-ins’ is to help support the adviser’s message and give investors context and confidence about their investment. We’re very excited about that.We’ve also built a robotechnology platform for advisers called ‘Autopilot’, which is structured around the ‘Risk Number’. This unique client engagement model puts risk at the centre of how advisers help clients, not only in guiding portfolio creation on a robo platform, but also in driving more profitable conversions for advisers.


FST Media: What technology or innovation is proving to be the single biggest game changer across the finance industry?

Klein: For me, based on the massive change in the variety and sophistication of consumer technologies, it’s about investors changing their expectations of advisers.With apps like Uber taking the hassle out of summoning transportation, clients have developed an expectation that similar technologies could take not only the hassle out of how they invest, but also how they access and interact with advisers. Advisers who don’t stay up-to-date with technology trends run the risk of feeling like a Blackberry to their clients.


FST Media: How can banks and financial services work towards innovation in the finance sector?

Klein: It’s always more powerful when traditional firms inside an industry invest in innovation, because they understand the market and customers so well. By the same token, it’s interesting to note that when traditional firms fall behind – which we’ve seen a lot of in the US and now globally – many non-traditional firms pop up and begin to drive the agenda of an industry. By way of example, American Express has an amazing mobile app that I can jump into with my thumbprint – without having to key in my password – allowing me to make instant payments, check recent purchases, or receive fraud alerts quickly. The fact that this app has made my life so much easier drives me to choose American Express as my preferred credit card. That’s the advantage that non-traditional providers can bring to the table, if they’re willing to adopt technology advances that incumbent businesses are not.


FST Media: How important is it to have disruptive fintechs, as well as those that work hand in hand with established services?

Klein: Fintech companies that actively try to disintermediate, or disrupt, advisers will find it enormously challenging to do so.
Financial services is all about trust. Established advisers already have a business model that works and a proven way to build trust with clients. For this reason, advisers have adopted our ‘Risk Number’ at amazing rates. Indeed, one of the best ways for prospective client to build trust in you is to show them why they’re not invested in the right way. In addition, this helps to drive increased engagement with our customers as a result of our ability to make smarter predictions about their needs and behaviors, and respond quickly to their expectations.


FST Media: How does the Riskalyze model seek to transform the way people invest?

Klein: There are two things that advisers are trained never to talk about with their clients: risk and the short-term. When advisers say ‘risk is a negative subject’, I want to minimise that discussion. I want my clients to be long-term investors. The problem is that, at their DNA level, humans are incapable of ignoring the short-term; they react to risk in the short-term and ultimately sabotage themselves as investors.That’s why we started Riskalyze. It was our belief that the industry needed a brand new model to deliver advice, which we built around the ‘Risk Number’. The ‘Risk Number’ is a concept developed by Riskalyze to understand how much risk an individual investor can handle: it’s a number that’s deeply personal to them, which is quantitative, objective, and can be used by advisers to build a portfolio that fits the client. It turns a fearful investor, who makes bad short-term decisions, into a fearless investor who makes good short-term decisions that protect their long-term financial goals.


FST Media: What has your experience taught you about the potential of fintech to reshape or challenge the industry?

Klein: First and foremost, the best strategy is to properly equip established players in the industry, not to just put them out of business – that’s our philosophy. Obviously, there are a lot of players out there that disagree with us, but we think that’s a bit of a fool’s errand. Fintech companies can play a significant role in reshaping the industry, but it’s probably through existing channels, helping established players adapt and change, that they’ll effect greater change.


FST Media: What is next big thing for Riskalyze and how will you measure its success?

Klein: One of the next big things for us is our ‘Autopilot’, or robotechnology, platform; we’re taking the long view on this. It’ll take time to build out this platform, but we’re excited to be working with some key asset managers in the US, with plans to develop the platform for international markets. Autopilot is a long-term bet on the adviser’s business model and the idea that technology can enable advisers to be more efficient, more productive and help them compete and win in the 21st Century. We’re betting on a victory by traditional advisers using advanced technology, rather than the disintermediation of the industry. If you can supercharge a model that already works, you’ll end up making it vastly more profitable.


FST Media: Where do you look for emerging technology trends?

Klein: When you work with some of the brightest minds on the planet – individuals who are revolutionising how advisers deliver advice – it’s truly rewarding. To some extent, we’re helping to lead the way with those trends.We have the right people and the right innovators in place. We have a strong vision about where the industry is headed and how these technology trends will unfold. We want to listen closely to our customers, to understand their challenges, and to ensure our vision is solving them. But you’ve got to have a core vision as a company otherwise you’re just following around trends and trying to jump on them


FST Media: How do you maintain a culture of innovation in your team?

Klein: When you hire great people – we call them A-players – who are so much better at their jobs than you could possibly be, and you bring great minds together around a mission, which in our case is to align the world’s investments with investors’ ‘Risk Number’, innovation takes care of itself.


FST Media: What is your top tip of advice for budding fintech entrepreneurs?

Klein: Have a core vision for how you believe the industry will unfold, and think carefully about who your partners will be.Nothing in the financial services world gets done in a vacuum – it takes partnership. Far too many fintech entrepreneurs go out with half-baked ideas; it’s better to stay focused, stay small, and stay lean until you find a point where you’ve developed an innovation that changes how advisers do things.