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We Need the AIs: Paul Chong

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Paul Chong could help hundreds of thousands of Americans live well in retirement.

Chong is senior vice president of retirement plan services at CUNA Mutual, a policyholder-owned insurer based in Madison, Wisconsin. CUNA Mutual works with retirement plans that serve about 300,000 employees and have a total of $20 billion in retirement plan assets.

Chong has been working in CUNA Mutual’s retirement services operation since 2013. Before that, he had stints as an executive vice president for corporate development at Prudential Retirement and head of institutional consulting and 401(k) at UBS Wealth Management.

Via email, we asked Chong a set of questions that touch on both his professional knowledge and what he does off the clock.

1. What market indicator, industry statistic, regulatory change or advisor trend are you watching most closely right now and why?

Right now, I am watching digital adoption rates for asset managers and financial advisors. This preexisting trend was very quickly accelerated after the pandemic forced advisors to completely reassess the way they provide services.

2. How has it been changing recently (2021), and how do you expect it to change (2022)?

There is a lot of room for growth in the adoption of new technology. For example, according to an Accenture survey from May 2021, only 28% of asset management firms are experimenting with AI adoption. This type of technology has huge implications for the financial services space and has the potential to make it much more affordable and efficient for clients.

3. What would you suggest advisors do now or consider doing in the future about it?

All advisors should educate themselves and seek out ways to incorporate technology in their work to augment their client relationships. Enhanced use of capabilities such as digital portals and AI are proven to keep clients engaged and provide them with better returns.

4. Who or what critical source of information do you track, or follow online, to keep up with this or other trends?

There are so many great resources that help those following advisor trends; since we serve a diverse clientele, I like to keep track of many different news sources. I find that being well versed on a wide range of issues makes me a much better professional since it gives me a holistic perspective on the industry.

5. Are you changing any of your work habits at this stage of the pandemic? Why/why not?

As restrictions ease and vaccination rates increase nationally, I am starting to travel again for priority business meetings. It’s been great to connect with people in person and grow some newer relationships. In hopes of preventing burnout and Zoom fatigue, I’ve also been actively looking to minimize meetings that are just for “awareness and alignment” and could be discussed over email. People have seemed to really appreciate this so far!

6. What’s your biggest hobby, and what was the last event/activity you did related to it?

I am a huge tennis fan. I am currently participating in a USTA trilevel competition.

7. How about your latest community/charitable activity/event/cause?

My family and I have recently been volunteering at Visions and Pathways, a wonderful New Jersey organization that has helped abused, neglected, homeless, missing and at-risk youth since 1970 by providing housing and a variety of services such as mentoring programs and mental health resources. As a New Jersey resident, it’s great to be involved with a local group that’s making a real difference nearby.

8. What book are you reading/show are you watching now, and why?

I have been speeding through the Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. It’s an engaging science fantasy series about a massive continent called the Stillness, in a far-future Earth that follows the characters through frequent world-altering natural disasters. Jemisin is a fabulous writer.

9. Any special holiday plan, activity or focus you’d like to share as we near year-end? Or a New Year’s resolution that you’ve decided on?

This holiday season, I hope to rediscover the joy of discovery with family and friends.

10. Any other update/fact about you or piece of advice/wisdom you’d like to share with our advisor audience?

It’s been almost two years since the pandemic changed our notions of safety and security, and we’re now living in an era of near-constant economic uncertainty, meaning families need help and guidance more than ever. They are relying on you to provide them the resources they need to ensure they have access to a brighter financial future. Ensure you are up to date on the latest advisor technologies, news and trends.


Paul Chong (Photo: CUNA Mutual)


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