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Envestnet | Yodlee's AI Firm Purchase Is a 'Strategic Move': Tech Insider

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Platform provider Envestnet | Yodlee says it has bought Abe AI to let advisors and financial firms take advantage of conversational artificial intelligence in their interactions with clients.

The AI technology, which is based on natural language processing, means financial firms can talk with clients via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, for instance. Abe AI’s technology also works on SMS, Facebook Messenger and other interfaces.

“It’s a very smart, strategic move,” said Gavin Spitzner, president of Wealth Consulting Partners, in an interview. “As Envestnet gets deeper into delivering financial wellness and client-engagement solutions, a fully integrated natural-language-processing AI capability is a logical value add — in particular for the majority of wealth managers who haven’t yet incorporated these tools.”

The news comes two months after BlackRock said it was buying a roughly 4.9% stake of Envestnet. That deal allows the platform provider’s advisor clients to work more with BlackRock’s planning and risk overlay tools.

“Conversational artificial intelligence will immediately complement our entire Envestnet portfolio, propelling financial data interactions and analytics to the next level,” according to Brandon Rembe, Envestnet | Yodlee senior vice president of product management.

Abe AI’s technology can be integrated with Yodlee’s financial wellness APIs and apps, as well as other banking solutions, according to Envestnet, and these capabilities will be added to Envestnet’s wealth management platform in the future.

“Whether in the bank space where Yodlee has largely played or the broader wealth management arena that Envestnet serves, to the degree that the firm wants to support enterprise client-engagement capabilities (like client portals, account aggregation, advisor/client collaboration), the Abe IA deal makes a great deal of sense,” Spitzner said.

As banks move to integrate more bank and wealth operations, buying the AI firm should help “solidify Envestnet’s position in the market,” he adds. “It’s a natural tie-in to the delivery of hybrid digital/call center advice services, as well.”

Envestnet technology is used by about 3,500 firms with some 92,000 advisors, including 43 of the 50 largest wealth management and brokerage firms and 500 large RIAs. Its headquarters are in Chicago.

Founded in 2016, Abe AI has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Orlando, Florida.